Is It Really That Lonely At The Top of Google SERPs?

For anyone who knows anything about click through rates, also know as CTR,  you know just how important and powerful something as small as a 1% increase in CTR can effect your campaigns.   And there is no better CTR than organic listings on Google.  The rates vary greatly between positions with the first position historically taking the lions share of the traffic.

So just how much more traffic will I get if I rank above the fold in a Google organic search?  That depends on what position you’re in.  In 2017, a study by Smart Insights found that CTR tends to be higher on organic results.  Especially the top position with more than 56%.


Previous CTR Studies

As innovative as the 2017 study might be it wasn’t the first of it’s kind. There have been a number of studies in the past that have tried to find out the CTR for organic results.  The first was released in 2006.  It was a study done after AOL released more than 20 million search queries.  After that there were a number of studies released on CTR data related to Google Search Engine Results Page, also know as SERP.

Findings from online ad network, Chitika, found in 2013 that the #1 spot receives an average of 32.5% of traffic from SERP listings.  The study claims that #2 spot dramatically decreases to about 17.6%, and continues to decrease all way down to .4% at the #15 spot.  While the numbers may have changed since then, it still shows that historically top positions take the majority of traffic.


Estimating organic traffic based on CTR

One of the great things about knowing the CTR for each position in the organic search is that we can calculate the organic traffic potential of a website.  Theoretically, if we use a simple equation of search volume multiplied by CTR you can figure out the expected website traffic.

Traffic = Search Volume * CTR

As nice as this formula is, there are a few things you might want to keep in mind.  The first being that according to Advanced Web Ranking the expected CTRs can vary based on branded searches, search intent, etc.  So while this might be a good general guideline it should be noted that it isn’t fail safe.

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