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SERP Click Through Rate of Google Search Results – AOL-data.tgz – Want to Know How Many Clicks The #1 Google Position Gets?

Well after some gentle persuasion of MySQL the AOL-data.tgz files have surrendered some interesting, if not wholly unexpected, information about the relative strengths and click through rates of SERP positions.

The dataset contained 36,389,567 search queries with 19,434,540 clickthroughs. While we all knew the importance of the top 3 positions in the Google SERPs, this analysis further reinforces that fact:

SERP Clickthrough % of Top 10 SERP Positions
SERP Click Through Rate of Top 10 SERP Positions

Interestingly, the #1 SERP position recieves 42.3% of all clickthroughs. The #2 position only accounts for 11.92% of all clickthroughs – almost 72% less clickthroughs than the top position in the SERPs. Attaining the #1 position for your keywords/phrases results in nearly 4 times more traffic than that of your nearest rival – now that’s a serious difference in both traffic and potential revenue.

A #3 placement in the SERPs results in a 8.44% clickthrough rate, almost 30% less than the #2 and over 80% less than the top position on the first results page.

As we move down the page the rate of decline in clickthrough also falls. Notice that a #10 position in the SERPs receives slightly more clickthroughs than #9. This is most probably related to users glancing at the final listing as they scroll to the page navigation:

Clickthrough Analysis of SERP Pages 1-4
Image showing the SERP Click Through Rates of #11, #20, #21, #31, #41

Moving off the first SERP the rate of decline in clickthrough picks up considerably. The clickthrough rate for listings with #11 rank dropped to 0.66%. That’s an almost 80% decline in clickthroughs from the #10 SERP position and shows that being on the first SERP page results in far greater SE traffic than lower listings.

Google SERP Click Through Rates – The Raw Numbers

Rank# Click Throughs % Delta #n-1 Delta #n1
  19,434,540 100%    
1 8,220,278 42.30% n/a n/a
2 2,316,738 11.92% -71.82% -71.82%
3 1,640,751 8.44% -29.46% -80.04%
4 1,171,642 6.03% -28.59% -85.75%
5 943,667 4.86% -19.46% -88.52%
6 774,718 3.99% -17.90% -90.58%
7 655,914 3.37% -15.34% -92.95%
8 579,196 2.98% -11.69% -92.95%
9 549,196 2.83% -5.18% -93.32%
10 577.325 2.97% -5.12% -92.98%
11 127,688 0.66% -77.88% -98.45%
12 108,555 0.66% -14.98% -98.68%
13 101,802 0.52% -6.22% -98.76%
14 94,221 0.48% -7.45% -98.85%
15 91,020 0.47% -3.40% -98.89%
16 75,006 0.39% -17.59% -99.09%
17 70,054 0.36% -6.60% -99.15%
18 65,832 0.34% -6.03% -99.20%
19 62,141 0.32% -5.61% -99.24%
20 58,382 0.30% -6.05% -99.29%
21 55,471 0.29% -4.99% -99.33%
31 23,041 0.12% -58.46% -99.72%
41 14,024 0.07% -39.13% -99.83%

Click Through Rates of Google SERPs based on AOL-data.tgz

Here’s the same table in image format:
AOL Clickthrough Data
SERP Click Through Rates of Google SERPs based on AOL-data.tgz

The volume of clickthroughs for lower SERPs is so trivial that for all but the highest volume search terms these positions will generally yield little or no benefit to site owners (obviously some niches will prove to be exceptional).

The main message from the AOL data is that page 1 SERP is where the real action lies and #1 positions reign supreme.

114 replies on “SERP Click Through Rate of Google Search Results – AOL-data.tgz – Want to Know How Many Clicks The #1 Google Position Gets?”

I was hoping you could clear up some confusion for me. When you do a search on AOL, the first 3 positions are for sponsored links (PPC) followed by 10 search results for natural search results. Is the data you provided above about positions considering the #1 position the sponsored results or is it just based on the natural results?

Ken

Hi Ken

I pretty sure that the dataset contains only organic listings and having looked at the data I haven’t seen anything that would resemble PPC ads.

I will check the readme.txt again to make 100% sure.

Richard,

I appreciate the quick response to my questions on Ken McCarthy’s blog. It would be helpful to others if you posted your reply here. I have learned a lot from your work. Thank you. The world of search is a living, breathing, everchanging , unpredictable game.
I love the challenge.
I will continue to support Recardinal on Merlist.

Thanks,

KF

In case I don’t get around to making a folow-up post before my hols Ken asked the following over on another blog linking to this post:

Some more questions regarding the “sponsored links” verses “web results” data. Though I do see value in the data, it creates a lot more questions that I hope can be answered.
We are told that the #1 position gets 43% of the clicks. Since the sponsored links come up on top of an AOL search, isn’t that actually the #1 position? That would mean that the #1 spot on Web results is actually the #4 position. I understand that the data is only on the web results. Was their an analysis done on the sponsored links? If so, was their one done on both combined? Did AOL release this data or does Google handle the data on the sponsored search?

Did the top 3 sponsored links get more clicks then the top 3 web results?
Does the average AOL searcher even know the difference between a Sponsored link and web results?

As someone who has many PPC accounts for myself and some of my customers, any further information would be helpful. I have a lot more questions that I could ask about this.

To which I replied:

The dataset contains only organic listings – no sponsered listings. So when someone clicks on the #1 result this means the #1 organic listing.

No data was released about the sponsered listings or the clickthrough rates for same, but if memory serves me correctly I seem to recall some research into organic vs. sponsered and the majority of those surveyed showed a far higher ‘trust’ in the organic listings. Don’t quote me!

The point you make about some searchers not knowing the difference between the sponsered and organic listings is very valid. However, it is not in the interests of the major SE’s to try to ‘blend’ in the PPC’s with the organic listings as this would dillute the quality of their main product – those same organic listings. Of course, that’s not to say that this hasn’t been happening over the past few years…

[…] Quanto vale essere primi in una serp? Ciao a tutti, questa analisi è stata fatta con i dati di Aol: Link e Link Vengono riportate le percentuali dei click dalla prima alla ventesima posizione. Vi sembra un’analisi affidabile? In teoria dovrebbe essere così anche per gli altri motori o no? Esistono dei dati simili su Google e Yahoo? (Ringrazio RockyMountains vbmenu_register("postmenu_181975", true); per questa segnalazione) Saluti Ale __________________ Vendita imbarcazioni da diporto usate Imbarcazioni a motore Imbarcazioni a vela […]

“A #3 placement in the SERPs results in a 8.44% clickthrough rate, almost 30% less than the #2 and over 80% less than the top position on the first results page.”

Its True so we need a top page rank always for 100% clickthrough rate

I know I am a late comer to this info, but there is a question that is bugging me for an answer. The Click-through numbers are half the information that we truly need from this data. There is one more piece of info we need to appropriately interpret this information, and that missing piece is how many actual searches do these numbers represent.

We all know from our own experiences that people frequently click on more than one search result.

Therefore, if we know the exact number of real searches, then we can deduce how many people clicked more than one link in the search results.

Your chart shows that number one position got 8.2 million CTRs and some change. If there were only 8.2 million real searches, then #1 gets 100% CTR’s. With 8.2 million results, then #2’s 2.3 million results is equal to 28.5% of the overall searches.

If searches were closer to 20 million searches, then #1 is only pulling clicks from 42% of searchers, and everyone else is either ignoring or going to the other search results.

Also, by knowing the number of actual searches, we can also adequately determine how many results the average user Clicks on.

In my mind, this kind of data would be far more useful. In its current state, the information is leading us astray.

Hi Bill

This is a little old to memory. I know that the dataset contained some flags that could be interpreted to show whether someone clicked back to the SERP. [dotdesign] It would take a bit of crunching to figure out the actual number of searches performed.

At this time I cant dig deeper for you. Sorry.
Rgds
Richard

Thanks Richard for at least popping in and saying hi. When that dataset first came out, I knew it would take tons of time to interpret the structure and crunch the numbers.

[…] Die Daten (AOL-data.tgz) sind zwar schon seit Ewigkeiten “versehentlich” veröffentlicht worden und dann ist die ganze Angelegenheit in Vergessenheit geraten. Ich habe mir die Datei auch schon bei Veröffentlichung runtergeladen und habe mir ca. 30 Keywords rausgesucht, war dann aber zu faul um weiter zu machen.. seit dem liegt das ganze auf Eis. Hier hat sich jemand die Mühe gemacht, haufenweise Daten zu analysieren. Ob das nun so akkurat ist kann ich nicht sagen, aber nachvollziehbar ist es auf jeden fall (habs leider erst heute entdeckt..): Interestingly, the #1 position recieves 42.3% of all clickthroughs. The #2 position only accounts for 11.92% of all clickthroughs – almost 72% less clickthroughs than the top position in the SERPs. Attaining the #1 position for your keywords/phrases results in nearly 4 times more traffic than that of your nearest rival – now that’s a serious difference in both traffic and potential revenue. Weiterlesen… […]

I know this is an old post but still very interesting stuff. That is a seriously vast difference between postion #1 & #2. Having little knowledge of AOL (being from New Zealand) is AOL the sort of search engine that a ISP automatically sets as the homepage when new users signup, therefore has a less knowledgeable userbase (like people that think AOL is the internet?)
Cheers

Hi Ken,
I am new to your site. Great site. It was nice to see some real data re: SEO instead of all the hype out there. I’ve been working (and learning) on getting my site highly ranked by Google. With a lot of trial and error I made it to page 1 bouncing between position 3 and position 6 for my main targeted keyword (alabama home mortgage). The frustrating thing is click throughs. In the last 2 weeks, I have had none. I’ve been playing with my meta tag description to try and help but so far no effect. This term was the #1 alabama mortgage searched term in Sept. but dropped to #3 for Oct. at about 800/mo for Overture. Would that not approximate 8,000 searches for Google so where am I going wrong for CTR? I never read anything about this, just for getting to page 1.
Thanks,
Ron

Hi Ron

Omniture data is rubbish – try one of the free tools from either Wordtracker on Keyword Discovery. I don’t have the URLs to hand, but I’m sure their easy to find via Google.

The other option is to run some Adwords on your terms for a week or two – that should give you very exact data on the number of searches actually being executed.

Rgds
Richard

Aidan

Your points are valid – users of AOL are primarily in the US and could be considered to be less net savvy perhaps.

But the overall dataset was sufficiently large that the figures represent a decent snapshot.

Rgds
Richard

Hi Richard,
Extremely interesting data. In fact – this was quite an eye opener for me. I KNEW search page 1 was where the action is. I KNEW that clickthroughs decline as your rank lower. Still – seeing actual numbers is very useful.

Consider the following situation, which I’m sure is common to all of us:
Your keyword research shows the following results:
* KW A gets a lot of searches, but is very competitive. You estimate that with reasonable SEO work, you will reach position X.
* KW B gets far less traffic, but is also less competitive. You estimate that with the same amount of SEO you will reach position Y (higher than X).
Which KW should you target?

Until reading your post, I mainly used gut feelings for my decision. No more! Now all i have to do is multiply A with position X’s percentage, do the same for B and Y, and see which is better.

Of course this is not very accurate, as percentages vary between search words, are a function of your competition (does #1 have a killer site nobody wants to leave, or is it ho-hum and people leave quickly for #2) and on your own SERP description. Still – This is far better than just using gut feelings, and besides – the guesstimate of the position you will reach is much less exact.
A quick check showed me a few places where I should have targeted more (or less) competitive Keywords.

Thanks again.
Brad

Found this off Wikipedia, a very interesting and throughout analysis. This depends heavily on the search engines’ choice in result presentation. Only to emphasize the importance of organic SEO.

I love this report, but am looking for something that indicates average total of number of results clicked on the first page. We know users are shopping, but how many results are they checking on average?

If anybody knows of such a study, I would appreciate posting a link to it.

Interesting results, my real world experience is that the click through rate will vary a lot depending on the search term and the text google displays in the results. If you want to get an idea of how much traffic you would get for a number 1 spot the 42% is fair assumption to make.

Some of my pages get on list 6 in google first pages and it still give me good amount of traffic. I wonder if i can get into first rank that I think quite difficult. I’m sure it can boost traffic a lot!

I agree with Jon Tiffany. The results at the top are there probably because their respective pages have been optimized. The titles and descriptions attract attention and make the visitor more likely to click through. Sure, it’s good to be king, but only it you’re relevant with it comes to SERPs.

Wow! That’s really interesting… I know that there is a difference, but I didn’t realise that there was that much of a difference!

I really need to get to work on optimizing a bit more to be honest! It’s strange, because I would usually scroll through the first page of results to find the site I want, as opposed to clicking on the first one straight away.

Thanks a lot 🙂

I know the importance of getting backlinks, but am having difficulty getting them.

I know I have several backlinks but when I search for info on my site in google, some of them don’t show up?

Backlinking is all very confusing

Hiya Guillaume

Maybe you missed the details of the dataset this was derived from? It includes 500k searches, so is an aggregate measure of click through. Not for a single keyword, branded or otherwise.

I hope this helps.
Rgds and thanks for commenting
Richard

Interesting to know the drastic fall of clicks that occurs even in the top positions. But I think it is not necessary to be in the first position to receive more clicks. I agree that you must at least be on the first page, but if you have an attractive and convincing title and description, you may receive even more clicks than the first place.

Great article!
I´ve already subscribed the feeds.

Hi Richard,

Very informative post. Thanks a lot for sharing!

I understand that these findings represent a snapshot of your AOL data and assume that although other people may get slightly different results that the basic principle will remain the same, namely that if you are not in the top position in the organic search results you are losing out on a lot of traffic.

Trust you won’t mind if I share your results with my blog readers and link back to this post.

All the best,
Francois du Toit

Hi Richard.

Hmm my comment disappeared. I try again.

Very nice post.

Our research about CTR in organic search show some difference.
First of all it dependence how many word have the user used. Ex. if he use 3 or 4 words the CTR are must higher. Also the competition have influence for the result. Where the competition is very high the expected CTR a must lower.

Have you any thoughts about that.

Henrik
IIH Nordic

Hi Henrik

The stats came from a very large dataset, and are aggregated data so you can view them as ‘in general’. I’m sure if you segment the data there will be different results, and it’s interesting that you mention your particular findings. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

Rgds
Richard

This is an EXCELLENT article. It really shows you that focusing all your attention on getting to that top spot in a few keywords is more worthy then getting decent placement on many different ones.

Thanks for this informative post!

Wow, there are actually people that clicks beyond the 2nd page. The #41 gets 0.07% lol. I always assumed that people will go at most the first two pages…

Richard, found this article via Google search for SERP click through rate. The data might be old but I can’t see why it might not still be accurate (expcept for those paid searches now on top of the organic). Excellent stuff and much appreciated.

This is some really useful data, actually suprised as much as 11.92% check out the 2nd page. This is the kind of data that probably won’t change much even though it is now a little dated. Thanks for the post!

@Kim – I’m sure things have changed, but the data is still useful as an indicator of where clicks occur. But Google have been increasingly reducing the real estate given over to organic results, so many sites are likely seeing less organic traffic than a few years ago.

What would be more interesting is to see how many clicks are predicted by Google for a search query based on Google Adwords Keyword Tool and how many one is actually getting if his web site ranks in the #1 position the for the same keyword. In my personal experience there is a a big difference between the predicted number and the actual one. This is also why most online marketeers user also other keyword research tools to evaluate the estimated search volume.

Hi Richard – how have you been?

I’m wondering if you are aware of any studies in process or that have preliminary data on how the Google Local Business Listings at the top of the page are affecting this skew? My hunch is that some will scroll down to the “real” organic listings and bypass them altogether and that others will click away beginning at the top.

Any discussions / data that you can share on this?

Thanks,

Becky

There is a massive grey area between the Google estimated search volumes and the actual clicks to a website. The grey area are (Actual Searches to Actual Traffic), (Split of Actual total traffic between Organic and paid) and then (Percentage of Organic total traffic that goes o the first page and there after).

Typically most people mistake searches for traffic, allocated 80% to search and then a further 90% to page one of which a best guess calculation would say at least 40% goes to position 1 which is not quite correct.

We have done a lot of work in this area and have worked back using data from over 50 clients to determine the roughly search to click ratio for top positions. This might be disappointing to many but we have found that No 1 position gets roughly 8-15% of the total searches on exact match; unless of course the keyword is extremely niche then you might get up to 30% tops.

Hi Becky

I’ve not read/seen any research LBL impact on CTR. Given the level of iteration on the design of local business listings I’ve seen over time I imagine these stats would change a lot also. Sorry I cant help more 🙁

Hi Anant

From your mention of “exact match” I wonder if you’re talking about Adwords? This research is old now, but covered 35m search results which I would think is a slightly better sample than 50 client sites. The stats only contained clicks on organic results, so you should read this as the position clicked on. I’ve no idea how you can correlate position to click ratios as the only people who know this are the search engines (rankings are fluid and vary by multiple factors).

As I mentioned, I’m guess =ing you’re talking about PPC which is not the subject matter if the stats here. Thanks for commenting though.

Rgds
Richard

Hi can anybody confirm the above data is true for 2010. I find this post very positive and always show our client’s when looking at the ammount of traffic based on the position. Can the blog owner please update the information please. Im going to link to this page from my blog as i feel its a top post and the owner has done some great work here and should update the post.

Top work

MD Monkeyfishmarketing

Thank you! I have been looking for this data for quite some time! Everything else I have seen has had small sample sizes–love the huge sample here.

Thanks again. Matt

I had a website that ranked #1 for a pretty competative term and when it fell to the #2 position, we noticed about a 28% drop in sales. I suspect it would have been greater, but our competitors pricing and guarantee was not as strong as ours. Another site dropped from #2 to #6 for a month or so (due to some onpage optimization accidentely being over written) and the traffic went down by about 72% and sales took a nose dive. I think the amount of the traffic drop will fluctuate depending on the industry. Brides are going to click on a LOT of sites when planning a wedding, but most people will only click on a couple of sites when buying something generic.

Hi Monkey Fish – AFAIK there has been nothing released since of much value in this space. The offer of a link is so kind – shame you don’t appear to have a blog?

@Matt – Hope it helps.

@Dave – good points, and thanks for joining the conversation. I agree that these stats should only be viewed as guides in aggregate. Actual figures will vary for all queries.

Thanks to all for comments.

My Google webmaster tools account is now showing this type of data when you dig down via keywords. For one of my tech websites.
1-position 36%-clickthrough
2 15%
3 11%
4 9%
5 7%
6 to 10 3%

Another factor could be the number of ads appearing above the SERP results. Sometimes there are three ads and sometimes less.
Thanks again for the article. Very useful.

Its interesting how you state #10 has a better click through rate #9. I’ve been focusing on trying to go up SERP results over the last couple of weeks – your comments provided added motivation to try and get to that #1 spot! Click Through = potential sales = valued custom 🙂

Thanks for the interesting read

Of course I knew that being on the 1st page made a huge difference in the amount of hits that would come to your website. What is really surprising is just how much of a difference it makes to be in the #1 position. This is the 1st time I have seen stats put together like this that show how much of a difference there is. 40% is obviously a large percentage.

@Dave – I think you’re right on target about the numbers fluctuating depending on the industry. I’ve also found it varies by the type of search.

I’ve been revisiting the AOL data and breaking it out by search demographics: navigational searches, informational searches, comparison shoppers, etc.

The search patterns and click through rates vary quite a bit between the different search categories. For example: For navigational searchers the drop-off in CTRs between #1 and #2 is 85%. For comparison shoppers it’s 32%. (Which is pretty close to the 28% number that you got.)

If anyone is interested, more detailed data is here:
http://dougneubauer.com/2010/10/click-through-rates-and-search-classification/

I forgot to add… Thanks Richard for providing this data, it’s become a classic.

One thing, a lot of people (myself included) have made the mistake of using your numbers as click-through-rates, even though you clearly indicate that it’s “% share of ClickThroughs”.

Not that it matters too much, the CTR values are slightly different:
#1 39.33, #2 11.08, #3 7.85, #4 5.61, #5 4.52, #6 3.71, #7 3.14, #8 2.77, #9 2.63, #10 2.76

When you start breaking the data down by classification, then “% share” and CTR can vary by quite a bit.

Source:
http://dougneubauer.com/2010/10/click-through-rates-the-aol-data-revisited/

Although this data is pretty old and ancient in terms of technology life cycles, it appears pretty accurate just from Google Webmaster data from my sites. I’d love to see an update but this data appears to be pretty far and few between. Thanks for the post.

For folks looking for some reasonably recent data, I’d suggest you check out a ppt that Rand Fishkin puts out on his SEOmoz site. I think the ppt is called “Search Engine Optimization: Understanding the Engines & Building Successful Sites” and on slide 9 he lists Click Through Rates. His data tends to be well researched.

Click through rates is a subject that I have not been able to fully understand. I have a real estate site for 4 years now and I think we just got to the 3rd page (#40) for main keyword. Most of our marketing is online and through Google and my company does real good, sometimes more than me and my partner can handle. If these figures are true then I just can’t imagine how busy we would get if we even got close to the first page.

This is extremely helpful data. There really isn’t much point being on the second page of Google then is there?! Also I think a good way to increase your CTR to your site if you are in the top 10 is to optimise your title and meta description content. Making it compelling and engaging can definitely improve how often it is clicked on, although its still no substitute for being number 1.

I love this report, but am looking for something that indicates average total of number of results clicked on the first page. We know users are shopping, but how many results are they checking on average?

If anybody knows of such a study, I would appreciate posting a link to it.

This is some older information, but I found it interesting. It still shows that ranking as high as possible in a search engine yields amazing results. I would be interested to see how the numbers have changed between now and then, in 2006 when this report was written. I can’t imagine it would have changed that much. The algorithms have changed, but the goal and its results remain the same in my opinon.

This is so interesting. There are so many rich features that take up real estate in Google’s SERPs now, but these numbers seem to have held relatively true over all of these years! Number one position certainly seems to be less valuable overall than it used to be, but I guess that is unsurprising as we move closer and closer to pay to play on everything.

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