Position #10 Will Surprise You
A lot of SEO effort goes towards attaining the #1 position on Google.
And rightly so. Our study has shown that the #1 organic position on Google commands almost 33% of the traffic for a given query. And recent studies have re-affirmed this data.
But, that also raises the question: What happens after the user clicks on the organic result?
What is the value of an organic Google click on your website based on the position that it came from?
If you are running ads on your site or e-commerce conversions, what sort of post-click activity can you expect based on the organic position?
For example, a user clicking on the 5th result on Google would be different from the one clicking on the 1st?
Thanks to data provided from Chitika’s study, we were able to get some critical insights into post-click activity once the user clicks on the organic result.
So without further ado, let’s see the results.
Here Is A Summary Of Our Key Findings:
- The post-click value of the #1 result in Google’s organic search results is almost half that of the #10 position.
- The highest post-click value was from the 10th position and not the #1 position.
- In fact, the #1 position had the lowest CTR value among the first 100 positions.
- The post-click value for #4-9 is virtually the same.
- For high-volume search terms or phrases, in particular, the 10th position is a great place to be.
- Ranking as high as possible for low-volume search terms will help attract the largest audience and revenue impact.
Before we proceed, let us look at the methodology here:
This study was done using data from the Chitika network in 2013.
In June 2013, Chitika Insights published a study examining the value of each Google result position. Analysis of the study data revealed that the first position on an average Google search engine result page (SERP) garnered about 33% of Google search traffic.
To study how post-click CTR varies depending on the Google result clicked, Chitika Insights examined tens of millions of online ad impressions. The user was referred to the page via a Google search in all these impressions. The user visited a Chitika-hosted site from a Google search page.
Chitika extracted the position that the webpage was on from the referring Google URL within the last search results page. Do note that this was before the Panda release, after which Google started blocking the search query and position from the website.
From this, Chitika Insights measured what percentage of Google traffic comes from each search results page position. The data set was drawn from a date range of August 1st to August 7th, 2013. Given that Chitika served tens of millions of search impressions at that time, this would undoubtedly represent a statistically significant sample (probably of the range of a few million searches)
Let’s dig in deeper now:
For the technically inclined, here are the raw results. In this study, we use the post-click CTR on ads as the metric for the click value.
Looking at the raw numbers:
Now let us dig deeper into the key findings:
The Post-Click Value Of #1 Is 1/2 That Of #10
The initial goal of our study was to see what happens once users click off Google.
Since we ran one of the largest ad networks, the best data we had available was the CTR on the ads. This metric served as a good proxy for post-click behavior.
We noticed that visitors who got to a site via clicking on the first position in a Google SERP exhibit dramatically low ad click-through rates (CTR) on the following website.
What is clear from the data set is that although the first position of a Google search result drives the most search traffic, an average visitor coming from that link is the least likely to convert into a post-click transaction.
This key finding seems to make intuitive sense since most #1 clickers have usually found what they are looking for in their search.
The #1 position also has a lot of spontaneous users. These are users who instinctively click on the #1 result without thinking.
Key Takeaway: The #1 result in Google is worth HALF post-click as the #10.
The Highest Post-Click Value Is #10
Along the same lines, when a user scrolls down and clicks on a link at position 10, it is more likely that they have not found what they were looking for, increasing the probability of that person conducting a post-click transaction – whether it’s clicking on an ad, or buying something.
This finding also seems to make intuitive sense since someone clicking on #10 has consciously given up on nine other candidates above.
There is possibly another reason: FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Most users are hesitant to go onto the next page. They would instead modify their query then go to the next page. So the #10 position is a last resort for the user.
Key Takeaway: The #10 result in Google has the HIGHEST conversion value.
The #1 Position Had The Lowest Value Among The First 100 Positions
The #1 position had the lowest value even going past the first page.
We looked at the top 100 positions, and the #1 position had the worst CTR on our ads when plotted by organic position.
Intuitively, the user is less likely to find what he is searching for beyond the first page. This behavior decreases the chance of a post-click transaction, whether clicking on an ad or conversion.
Key Takeaway: Value beyond the 1st page is mostly flat.
The Post-Click Value For #4-9 Is Virtually The Same.
The middle of the pack between position #4 and #9 seems to have plateaued.
The middle positions seem to be primarily flat when looking at the chart.
What this means is: You won’s get too much of a post-click bump in value within these positions. Please note: the pre-click traffic will indeed be significant, but the post-click behavior is not bound to be too different.
Key Takeaway: If you are receiving traffic from #4 to #9, the value is bound to be mostly similar.
For High Volume Searches, #10 Is A Great Place To Be
If you compete in a high-volume search market, any traffic you get from the 10th position is a great value addition.
On a popular search term, 2.4% of potential visitors still represent a sizable audience, and by being the number 10 result, the site will likely see higher post-click transactions.
Even though this position would have the lowest traffic on the SERP page, its post-click value would be the highest.
Almost DOUBLE that of the #1 position.
In other words, if you get 10 conversions from being #1 on Google (because #1 position receives 33% of the traffic), you might get 2 conversions from being #10 on the page — even though the traffic might be 1/10th that of the #1 position.
To think of it another way: You would think that getting 1/10th the traffic would mean getting 1/10th the conversions. But on the contrary, you will get 2/10th (double) the conversions from being #10.
Key Takeaway: #10 is the most valuable post-click for high-volume search.
For Low Volume Searches, #1 Is The Place To Be
For lower volume or specialized search terms, ranking as high as possible will help attract the largest audience since the proverbial “pie” of users on those terms is already relatively small, along with the potential revenue impact.
In other words: When volume is low, you want to optimize for traffic and not too much on conversion.
Key Takeaway: Concentrate on organic position and traffic for low-volume searches rather than conversions.
To summarize, here are the quick take-away:
Now let’s look at some other observations:
- It is crucial to keep in mind that these data do not necessarily mean a site should tailor all of its SEO efforts to focus on attaining the 10th ranking for a given term. If a site’s daily traffic is already high, say hundreds of thousands to millions of visitors per day, looking to maximize CTR through Google placement may be a worthwhile idea. If a site’s daily traffic is low, the priority should be to increase site visitors before going after that smaller number of higher-value users.
- With these caveats and the traffic breakdown by Google SERP ranking in mind, these statistics point to that for high-volume search terms or phrases, in particular, the 10th position is a great place to be.
- On a popular search term, 2.4% of potential visitors still represent a sizable audience, and by being the number 10 result, the site will likely see higher ad revenues.
- However, ranking as high as possible for lower volume or specialized search terms will help attract the largest audience since the proverbial “pie” of users on those terms is already relatively small, along with the potential revenue impact of higher visitor CTRs.
Summary And Conclusion
Again, I’d like to thank the Data team at Chitika for making this study possible.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we collected and analyzed the data for this study, here is the methodology that Chitika used for all its studies.
And in case you are curious, our new company, Poll the People, will be doing lot more studies like this. Here is how we see “Usability A/B Testing” for ads help with optimizing Google Ads. It might even be applicable for SEO (like optimizing titles, descriptions, slugs) – but more on that later.
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