Sure, you know all the buzzwords, but they won’t do you an ounce of good if you lack the contextualized knowledge to apply them effectively. When it comes to click-through rates in the search results, you can’t get so wrapped up in the potential for improved marketing results that you forget to do the analytic groundwork. Luckily, other people have already taken care of some of the number crunching for you.
Novel Data in 2014
As Philip Petrescu notes in the Moz Blog, CTR studies have a relatively long history in Internet terms. Since 2006’s release of no less than 20 million search results by AOL, multiple organizations have published detailed independent analyses of how factors like keywords, search engine preference, user location and the type of industry verticals in question influenced CTR.
Sadly, these intrepid researchers never got together and decided on some kind of standard before performing their studies; the data they produced varies enough to make any statistician wake up in a cold sweat. The recent study by Advanced Web Ranking was motivated largely by the need to more accurately quantify the factors that affect CTR.
Understanding the Methodology
The 2014 analysis began by using Google Webmaster Tools with default filter settings to obtain average search query data. To remove outliers, this study only accounted for keywords with a minimum of 50 monthly impressions, and mobile device data was analyzed separately from web browser results. The team also obtained exact, per-keyword query data while excluding those queries which accounted for less than 500 monthly impressions apiece.
After the initial query information was obtained, the analysts used custom characteristics, such as query size, search intent and brand mentions, to divide the info into categories. By employing contextual words and phrases to further categorize the different search intents into commercial, informational and location queries, the team hoped to come up with discrete data for each kind of behavior.
What Were the Results?
Now that you’ve sat through the boring technical details, you get to learn what the CTR study actually revealed. Many of these conclusions won’t come as a shock to anyone, but they still offer subtle insights into the vital workings of the CTR phenomenon.
The majority of the web searches analyzed resulted in an organic click on the first search results page, with the first five of these results accounting for nearly 70% of all clicks. The #1 page ranking got 31.24% of all clicks, which included desktop users and all search subcategories. Sure, this is a clear no-brainer, but the fact that around 23% of clicks came from instant answers (the results in the search bar from a query), second and third search pages or refined searches means that there’s still plenty of room for marketers to improve. Mobile users actually clicked fewer first-page results than their web counterparts, although the study didn’t confirm whether this had anything to do with the fact that finger scrolling takes less effort than moving an entire computer mouse does.
Similarly, branded, unbranded and intent-based search queries were all more likely to result in page-one clicks, although non-specific searches were generally less evenly distributed. The most interesting takeaway was that none of the graphs depicted exactly the same curves, even though they all followed the same generic trends. Most notably, the results showed similar variances between page rankings, implying that CTR behavior is predictable within specific categories.
Just analyzing these numbers at face value, it could be easy to make incorrect assumptions, especially if you interpret the graphs’ similarities to imply that CTR trends are always uniform. If anything, this data emphasizes the need to analyze your CTR strategies in the proper context.
We’d love to hear what you think about this study and see how we can apply its principles to your next project. To discover more about how Black Fin can help you build a better website that promotes your brand, get in touch for a free consultation by calling or filling out our contact form today.