Just how important is being on the first page of a Google search result page? Just how valuable is owning the top spot?

Following recent updates Google has made to its algorithm, Optify, a marketing software vendor, decided to create a new CTR curve based on data it has collected on behalf of a subset of its B2B and B2C clients.

So what are the results?

Not surprisingly, "ranking at the top of the first page is more valuable than ever." The average CTR for the top three positions are 36.4%, 12.5% and 9.5% respectively.

All told, being above the fold on page one produces an average CTR of 19.5% and being on page one produces an average of 8.9%. The second page has value, but far less (a 1.5% CTR), although it is worth noting that the first position on page two produces a slightly higher click through rate than the last position on page one.

None of this data is really all that surprising. Instead, the most interesting data has to do with CTR's relationship with CPC figures and search volume.

Here, Optify found that there is an inverse correlation between CTR and CPC:

Cheap CPC terms will likely see over 30% CTR on position one while expensive CPC terms will see less than 20% CTR on position one...In other terms, given two keywords with the same search volume one being a cheap keyword, and one being an expensive keyword, your potential organic traffic is nearly three times greater on a lower CPC term.

As it relates to search volume, Optify looked at head terms (keywords that generate more than 1,000 monthly searches) and compared them to tail terms (keywords that generate less than 100 monthly searches).

It discovered that "if you’re optimizing for head terms, you will not see huge benefits until you get to the top few positions" whereas "If you are optimizing for a long tail term, you can see decent CTR almost anywhere on the first page and there is less incremental benefit of moving up in search results."

This data has numerous implications for companies engaged in SEO and paid search marketing. In my opinion, two of the most important are:

  • For the most competitive keywords (those which have high CPCs), optimization of paid search may deserve more investment than SEO, as Google is "doing a great job of acquiring clicks on ads over organic links" for these keywords.
  • 'Head' keywords are attractive, but if you're not anywhere near the top of the first page and it's not likely you can get there, it may be more productive to invest in reaching the first page for a portfolio of 'tail' keywords.
Patricio Robles

Published 10 May, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (7)

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David Shaw


I was .2 , .4 and .2 out on my ctr predictions I use on my SEO spreadsheet.

Glad that my data is getting backed up by reports like this.

about 7 years ago

Conrad Morris

Conrad Morris, Director at Match Me Now Limited

As Particio says, there is no doubt the most interesting data is how CTR varies accoording to the popularity of the search term. It looks like if someone is using a long tail search term they are more likely to look through the search results in some detail to find what they really want.

about 7 years ago


Tom Albrighton, Digital and SEO copywriter at ABC Copywriting

It's useful data, but it's so important to remember that every search is different. This point can be obscured by the use of averages in statistics.

The nature of links varies. For example, I closely monitor the search for 'copywriter', for which Wikipedia normally ranks #1. I'd be surprised if many attentive users looking for a copywriter actually click that link.

The content of links also varies. The most obvious point is the meta description, which offers a golden opportunity to engage the searcher and attract a click you might not otherwise have got. (Or, conversely, the chance to blow it before people even arrive at your site.)

Obviously, it's worth being #1 if you can. But if you can't, you still might be able to grab a bigger slice of the pie than the average CTRs imply - depending on what actually appears for each of your target terms.

about 7 years ago


Nick Stamoulis

"...first position on page two produces a slightly higher click through rate than the last position on page one."

I actually find that very interesting. Think about this, with Google incorporating universal search results (images, videos, ads, Google places, etc), the actual listings might not even start until after the fold. You could be in the top five results and still not be on the first page.

about 7 years ago



This is awesome data. Conrad: though I doubt people are "more likely to look" through results for the best one, I think it's that they're forced to scan the results because let's face it, most pages aren't optimized for longtail terms -- so the well-optimized page in the #8 slot gets the click.

about 7 years ago



Great correlations made to the data. I will have to do some testing on increasing the number of long tails I rank for vs the "head" terms. Its great to be above the fold for the "head" terms but ranking above the fold for hundreds of long tails with a few hundred searches each could be more rewarding.

about 7 years ago



Like you said, not much new - except for the insight into paid clicks vs organic for the competitive (expensive) terms. This is something I have seen from experience - a well-crafted ad will often out perform the top organic position for those head terms (I've got a few clients where they are in the top positions for both).

Makes sense really. A direct targeted ad based towards a specific search query 'should' be more effective, since you can control the copy shown - to some extent.

Of course I guess it really depends on what the 'head' terms are. Good post.

about 7 years ago

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