Back to 2006, AOL accidentally leaked its search data
which was containing twenty million search keywords for over 650,000 users over 3-month period. Some SEO professionals analysed this data and revealed that about 42.13% of AOL users will click into the page at 1st position on AOL.
42%, as a figure, has been referred countless times on famous SEO sites such as SEOmoz
and SEO Book
. This is the only accurate data that can be found on the internet, its scale is massive and it contains both popular and unpopular search queries, people seem to be having no choice but to believe it. However please use your gut feeling, do you honestly think more than half of the search users will skip the search result at 1st position? Think about your own search behavior and compare 42% to your own click through rate data in Google Webmaster Tool.We are not trying to rank 1st position on AOL, we are working our butts off to rank 1st on Google
According to hitwise, Google had 71.72% of the US
search market share and 91.59% of the UK
search market share in the last 4 weeks. What about AOL search? Only 1.2% in the US.
Below is the comparison between Google design layout and AOL search design layout.
Google makes it pretty clear, three sponsored links on the top have a background color of pink (used to be golden) so that people will intuitively know the search results below “pink box” are natural results. In addition, the “pink box” is not always displaying on a search results page, therefore search engine users will have no reason to bypass your page if it is at 1st ranking position.
By contrast AOL has maximum of six sponsored links above the top positioned natural search result. Also it is very difficult to differentiate between these sponsored links and natural search results, because their backgrounds have the same white color and there is only a black line to separate them.
Search behaviors can be quite different on Google and AOL search after all, so you should test it on your own project to get the answer.
Use Google Webmaster Tool to see the click through rate of your keywords at different ranking positions
Before we continue, there are two problems you need to be aware of:
– The data provided by Google Webmaster Tool can be inaccurate, sometimes it can be far from accurate.
– The click through rate of different search queries can be very different, this is mainly due to different search behaviors. E.g. if I want to buy car insurance, then I will type in “car insurance” and click into several search results to compare the price. If I want to read reviews of the movie “Inception” on IMDB, I simply search “inception review imdb”. IMDB inception page will be on the top and it will be the destination.Examples of some keywords’ click through rate
One of our SEO specialists has a personal blog about his favorite game “Starcraft 2
”, he managed to rank several keywords on top positions which brought a large number of visits and we saw some very interesting data of click-through-rates.
“Starcraft 2 hotkeys
” is one of the keywords that bring highest searches.
The above graph is captured from Google Webmaster Tool for the last 30 days. We filtered the data to only show web searches for “starcraft 2 hotkeys” in the US. As you can see, this keyword had an average position of 1.4, it maintained its 1st ranking position for most of the time and click through rate was 82%. Even when it ranked at 2nd position, it had a reasonable click through rate of 54% which was still higher than 42%.
Here is the number of visits this keyword brought to our SEO guy’s Starcraft 2 blog, just in case if the clicks data in Google Webmaster Tool is inaccurate. However, we cannot determine the accuracy of impressions unless we had a PPC campaign running 24/7 for last 30 days with unlimited budget.
Data of another keyword “Starcraft 2 keyboard shortcuts
This keyword has very similar percentages of click-through-rate to “starcraft 2 hotkeys”. While it was at 1st ranking position, it had 84% click-through-rate.
Data from Google Analytics once again proved that data of clicks in Google Webmaster Tool was pretty accurate.
It’s time now to determine the click through rate for your own keywords and understand your audience’s search behavior. Don’t be limited on any magic number such as 42%, test everything is the key to understand your website better.