A Massive CTR Study Reveals Useful Insights

A massive research study of billions of searches reveals surprising insights into CTR behavior, providing actionable marketing data.

The largest CTR study ever published by seoClarity included 750 billion impressions and over 30 billion clicks. The extensive research yields a plethora of insights into Google search CTR behavior that can be used to improve online marketing strategies today.

The data analysis, which is broken down by device, industry, country, and seasonality, reveals unexpected details that would otherwise go unnoticed.

CTR for the Top 10 Positions

On desktop, the top 5 search results positions averaged 17.16 percent clicks, while on mobile, it was less, at 15.54 percent.

The data revealed, based on an average of 17 billion keywords, that desktop searchers were more likely than mobile searchers to click on the top five search results.

There is a difference between the two, but it is not a huge one.

Users on mobile, on the other hand, were more likely to scroll down and click on the bottom of the search results, positions six through ten.

There is a significant difference between the two.

The summed averages are:

  • Desktop CTR Position 1:   8.17%
  • Mobile CTR Position 1:     6.74%

The regression pattern for the top ten search positions, i.e. how much the CTR decreases between positions 1 through 10, is consistent across desktop and mobile.

However, the top three-click patterns on mobile and desktop are very different.

According to seoClarity:

“Although the pattern of regression is the same on both devices, it shows that (across a large dataset) ranking in the lower positions on page 1 is actually better for your organic traffic on mobile than it is on desktop.

Presumably, the familiarity of scrolling on mobile devices plays a part in organic CTRs.”

CTR Per Country (All Devices)

seoClarity examined CTR differences between countries with the most data and discovered startling differences.

CTRs differ markedly across countries, with people searching in the United States less likely to click on the number one position than those searching in the United Kingdom, Canada, India, or Japan.

The percentages shown below are the averages of the top twenty positions.

Top 5 CTR for Google Search Position 1 by Country

  1. India 14.88%
  2. Japan 13.94%
  3. Canada 11.30%
  4. UK 10.48%
  5. US 9.13%

Ranking first is important in any country, but it is especially so in India and Japan.

seoClarity discovered an intriguing CTR pattern for lower-ranking pages:

“Another interesting observation is the CTR in positions 17 through 20. In all 5 countries analyzed, those positions demonstrated a higher average CTR than positions 11 to 16.

We posit that this is reflective of browsing and scrolling behaviors.”

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Seasonality and CTR

When viewed over 12 months, the CTR does not vary significantly; it is fairly consistent.

The highest CTR is 2.29 percent in July, and the lowest is 2.12 percent in May. That’s a difference of 0.17.

Although that may not appear to be much of a difference, there is an extraordinary difference that should be noted, as well as a fascinating insight that goes along with it.

December, when one would expect the CTR to increase, has the second-lowest CTR in the SERPs, with May having the lowest CTR. The highest CTR is in July.

Here’s how the CTR looks like a graph:

seoClarity observes:

“December and Christmas traffic, including the January sales, are very much ‘average’ months when compared to the rest of the year.

This may be because users are migrating more towards the ‘shopping’ listings rather than clicking through the organic listings or increased competition among pay-per-click listings.”

I agree with seoClarity that the increase in CTR during the summer could be attributed to vacationers researching things to do and places to visit while on vacation and clicking through to websites more than usual as a result.

When broken down by device, mobile consistently has a higher overall CTR than desktop, and both have the same seasonal highs and lows.

Seasonal CTR Patterns on Desktop and Mobile Devices

Industry-specific CTR

The industry in which a query falls makes a significant difference in CTR, as does whether the majority of those clicks come from mobile or desktop devices. While having a quality site experience is important regardless of device, knowing which device will have a higher clickthrough rate gives a marketer important insight into their sales and targeting.

CTR in Apparel and Fashion Sectors

On a desktop, the number of clicks related to fashion search queries is higher. While there will undoubtedly be differences when age groups are considered, fashion queries on desktops have a significantly higher CTR than mobile devices.

CTR in the Beauty and Personal Care Industries

Mobile has a higher search volume (331m) than desktop (118m).

However, there is a significant difference in CTR between desktop and mobile, as well as a significant difference in clicks to position one.

Sites in position one of Google’s search results receive 6.65 percent of all clicks on desktop, while mobile sites in position one receive 4.74 percent of all clicks.

As previously stated, these are not a straight percentage measurement of clicks (e.g., position one receives XX percent of clicks), but rather an average of all clicks.

CTR in the Commercial and Industrial Sectors

The results for the business and industrial sectors are a bit surprising, as more searches for business content were conducted on mobile devices than on desktop computers.

According to seoClarity:

“Somewhat surprisingly, most searches in the business and industrial sectors come from mobile devices (1b impressions), which is 54% higher than the volume on desktop (649m).”

Furthermore, when compared to desktop, the CTR for mobile is less concentrated on position one, implying that the CTR is more spread out across the SERPs in mobile than on desktop, where clicks tended to cluster in the top ranks.

Position 1 of Google SERPs

  • Mobile: 6.66%
  • Desktop: 8.60%

Position 2 of Google SERPs

  • Mobile: 3.79%
  • Desktop: 4.44%

Position 3 of Google SERPs

  • Mobile: 2.41%
  • Desktop: 2.55%

When compared to desktop users, mobile users clicked on sites listed in positions 5 through 10 (except for position 6).

Electronics for the Home

A similar CTR trend to that seen in business and industry can be seen in the consumer electronics sector. Mobile devices have more searches but fewer clicks concentrated in the top three positions than desktop devices.

The Top 3 CTR Dominates Desktop Devices More Than Mobile Devices The trend toward a concentration of clicks in the top 3 for desktop devices versus mobile devices is evident in almost every niche, except for the Finance sector, where desktop and mobile device CTR in the top 3 are essentially tied.

Sectors Where Top 3 Dominates Desktop SERPs

  • Apparel and Fashion
  • Beauty and Personal Care
  • Business and Industrial
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Health
  • Home and Garden
  • Jobs and Education
  • Sports and Fitness
  • Vehicles & Automotive

Sectors Where Top 3 Dominates Mobile SERPs

  • Real Estate
  • Retail & eCommerce
  • Travel & Tourism

Why are top SERPs becoming less popular in mobile?

seoClarity hypothesized that because mobile users are accustomed to scrolling, they tend to scroll past the top three to five search results more frequently than desktop users.

It’s also possible that mobile devices have more situational contexts, as well as more search intents than desktop devices.

Personalization of mobile devices may play a role in why mobile device users scroll past the top three to five search results.

seoClarity Research is now available

Read the full 53-page report on seoClarity for additional insights that can improve and enhance your marketing strategies, as this article only touches on a few of the insights uncovered in this massive study.

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