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.