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You often hear company owners saying “I want to rank top” for their target keywords. Although this may be an unrealistic hope, they’re right to say this since they realize that claiming top position in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) drives up organic search listings like nothing else. In fact, 2020 research from Sistrix reveals that the average click rate for first position in Google is currently 28.5%.
We’ve all noticed the changing layouts seamlessly integrating into our search journeys. But what does this mean for our organic reach in 2020? It seems that, for search engine marketers, ‘search volume alone isn’t the decisive figure’ anymore.
In fact, snippets and panels in ‘position zero’ take up valuable real estate on the SERP, often at the cost of reducing organic click-throughs beneath. In the chart below, by Sistrix, we can see that when a SERP includes a featured snippet, the CTR for position one drops by an average of 5.3%.
If you are currently defending a top ranked organic keyword, or would like to increase your reach, why not check to see if there is a featured snippet in the SERP?
While you’re at it, why not find out how to win SERP features for your site too?
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That’s not to say that purely organic results aren’t still your bread and butter. In fact, even in the midst of all these user-friendly innovations, it is still the case that ‘the more you work into the long-tail, the greater the proportion of purely organic SERPs‘. Any SEO worth their salt will tell you it’s long-tail keyword territory where you can make the biggest incremental gains – we shall be looking into the numbers that still back up this theory in 2020 later in the blog.
So, for your reference (and reassurance), here is the handy table which Sixtrix has produced demonstrating the CTR for a purely organic SERP in blue against the average (across many different formats of SERP).
Depending on your resources, there may be keywords where realistically you aren’t competing for the top spot and it’s good to acknowledge that – particularly for more the more generic terms where competition can get quite fierce (more on long-tail tactics in the research below!).
In this case, studying average clickthrough rates by SERP position is useful since you can estimate uplift in visits with improved visibility rankings. Using the query data from Google Search Console, or if you’re very lucky Search Console Insights, will enable you to perform a gap analysis for which keywords to improve in SEO. This exercise will help you prioritize a mammoth task and can also be handy to justify time and resources dedicated to keyword uplift.
The best open source for this data today is the Advanced Web Ranking organic CTR research which we share here, so you can check out the different CTR analysis it gives. This data is from July 2020. We will look at 3 examples of how CTR varies by position depending on different searcher intent.
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It’s well known that clickthrough rates for branded or navigational keywords are higher – the blue curve shows this well. Here branded CTRs are selected by AWR when part of the string in the domain name appears in the search indicating a brand name.
This first chart depicts organic CTRs for branded vs non-branded keywords on all devices, globally.
The red non-branded curve shows a steady decline in organic CTRs down the SERP. Generally, non-branded terms will have more competition with paid ads, which show up first on the SERP, which explains the lower organic CTR for non-branded.
The chart clearly shows the value of being in the top 3 keywords for non-branded terms, with organic CTRs from over 30% in first position to 12% in third position. In the lower positions of 10 onwards, CTR has fallen to a paltry sub 2%.
For branded searches, the SERP CTRs are typically slightly higher. Interestingly, here, other aspects of digital experience come into play. For example, this chart is a drill-down of the data above, but only for users on a tablet.
With all things being equal, this data from July suggests a high CTR on the 5th ranked keyword for branded terms, placing it as the second-best position for CTR on the SERP. Marketers who have a search term that is monopolized by a particular device may want to check for device-specific trends.
Generic searches for products are typically 1 or 2 words. Long-tail terms are 4 or more. This chart shows a similar pattern of decline to above, but, after the top spot, a higher level of CTR for more keywords.
In highly coveted SERP positions 2-5, the (4 word) long-tail SEO technique outranks generic (1 word) search by 2 to 4%. Typically this will because long-tail searches occur further down the sales funnel, plus at this stage, there is less competition (organic and paid) as searches get more niche. It shows the benefit of an approach targeting long-tail keywords.
We see a similar decline here, but with slight variations according to intent type. For example, comparing commercial and informational intent, we can see a higher CTR on the first position for commercial intent.
Notably, consumers researching the who/what/where/when/how of your product are more likely to visit on the second, third and fourth link on the page than those with commercial intent – by as much as 1.5% (which, for a popular search term, can literally transform your results).
Here the different search intent types are defined by these keywords in the search query :
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