SERP Click Through Data: Defining The Importance of Google Search Rankings

by Scott Bishop on February 1, 2011

We all know that SEO (search engine optimization), or better understood as where my website shows up on Google, is important.  But most businesses and marketers really don’t understand just what “important” means.  Yes ranking higher in Google is valuable, but what is the real difference that  page rank actually means for your business.

Targeted traffic matters, so what exactly just are the click through rates for each google page rank?

Having an understanding of what SERP (search engine page rank) click through averages are will help you to craft a better digital marketing strategy.  Having an understanding of your click through averages will help you to evaluate whether or not it’s worth the money and effort to try and take your page two ranking of a specific key word to a low page 1.

Having an understanding of click through rates will help you to determine how much content you need in order to receive the traffic required to hit your goals.

How much higher is the click through percentage of page rank possibilities on Google?

The problem with trying to understand this information is there just isn’t a whole lot of data available at large.  However, there is some.  And based on my own conversion percentages of page ranks of my various sites and client’s sites, this data is pretty accurate and you can consider it reasonable.

There are 3 data sets & studies to help understand traffic distribution by SERP position

Cornell University Eye Tracking Experiment – In 2004, Cornell University conducted an eye tracking experiment to understand how search engine users interact with the results of their inquiries using eye-tracking. The study consisted of 26 participants using 397 queries.  Based on their findings, the study concluded that sites with a number one Google ranking receive on average, 56% of all search traffic.

AOL’s 2006 Data Leak – In 2006, AOL accidentally leaked over 30 million search queries from over 600,000 AOL search users.  This is by far the most widely used data to offer insights regarding Google page rank click through percentages.  Based on the leaked data, the sites that came up under the #1 position on AOL search received an average of 42% of all search traffic.  Lower than in the eye tracking study, but still the extreme amount of overall clicks.

Unfortunately when dealing with technology and the web, data from 2004 and 2006 might as well be from 1900.  So having any sort of more relevant data is helpful.

Most Recent Google Ranking Click Through Rate Info StudyBrandSoftech, a casino marketing and gambling software solutions provider, provided a study in which they tracked over 63 gambling sites, which received 5,357,519 clicks from 29,327 different key phrases typed into Google.

The position, click, date and time of ranking were registered into a database to allow for a statistician to graph the websites movement in the ranking.

Here Are Their Results.

Page 1 Position Click Through Results

1.     38.19%

2.     21.73%

3.     11.94%

4.     6.42%

5.     5.35%

6.     4.51%

7.     3.77%

8.     2.89%

9.     1.61%

10.     2.59%


Page 2 Position Click Through Results

11.     .66%

12.     .66%

13.     .52%

14.     .48%

15.     .47%

16.     .39%

17.     .36%

18.     .34%

19.     .32%

20.     .30%


Page 3 Position Click Through Results

31.     .12%


Page 4 Position Click Through Results

41.     .07%



Theses numbers are closer to the AOL data than the eye tracking study and based on the sheer amount of data tracked are more credible.  Basically the conclusion is that you either need to hold one of the top three spots or have a large amount of content in order to receive any amount of traffic.  Anything after the top three spots on Google and you’re click through rates become very low.  Unless your keywords are monstrous in volume, anything after the first page will bring in minuscule amounts of traffic from search.

So flatly put…get your content production up and get your SEO game tight.

    Scott S. Bishop is editor for Real Time Marketer and is the Director of Social for an integrated marketing firm.  He is an avid blogger and active across the net.  He is @thescottbishop on Twitter

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