People are always interested to know how many more clicks they are likely to receive if they appear at position 1 of the search engine results pages for their chosen key-phrases. There are many different studies and statistics available about organic click-through rates on the internet, many of which are contradictory. This report details findings from some of the more well known studies and how much you can actually learn from them.
Below is a chart detailing the data from the famous AOL data leak in 2006. Although old, this data is still often quoted as gospel.
This study was conducted by Neil Walker, a UK based SEO expert. Some Blog posts suggest Walker’s study is based on Webmaster Tools data across 2700 keywords. Walker himself claims that the data comes from a study of Webmaster Tools in 2010, the AOL data of 2006 and an eye tracking study conducted in 2004.
Another well known study conducted in 2010 was by Chitika, a data analytics company in the business of advertising. For their study, they looked at a sample of traffic coming into their advertising network from Google and broke it down by Google results placement.
What can we actually learn from this?
Well, it is clear that if you are at position 1 in the search engine results pages, you are very likely to receive substantially more clicks. However, there are always exceptions to this rule.
A famous example:
For a long time, if you searched for ‘mail’ on Google, Gmail would come up at position 1 and Yahoo would come up at position 2. Still, Yahoo received in excess of 50% of the click-throughs. Studies indicated that this was because people searching for ‘mail’ were looking to login to their Yahoo mail account.
This example illustrates that if people are looking for something specific, they will not always click on position 1 if it doesn’t seem to offer what they are looking for. Another example is Wikipedia: they are often displayed in high positions for a wide range of phrases, but won’t always receive a high click-through rate because people aren’t always looking for general information.
In summary, at position 1 of the search engine results pages you are extremely likely to receive the most clicks, but exactly how many more than the lower positions is impossible to say. However, the figures in the studies detailed above can give a good indicator of what to expect. Search engine results positions and click-through rates will always be dependant on high quality SEO, your choice of key-phrases, and the area of business in which you operate.