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This week, Optify announced the results of a recent study of customer keywords’ click-through rates on search engine results pages (SERPs). The report, Changing Face of SERPs: Organic Click Through Rate, sought to create a new click-through-rate (CTR) curve so as to better understand if there is a correlation between organic click-through-rate and cost-per-click (CPC) value for the same keyword.

Rankings, Results

As we know, most marketers invest in both organic and paid search strategies to rank higher on search engines. Yet, no one really knows for sure, if knowing your rank is enough. According to Optify, marketers also need to understand which rank derives the best business results. By analyzing more than 250 customers' websites and keyword data, here’s what they found.

What is the new CTR curve for organic results?

After examining the organic keyword visits (Google US) gathered from Optify’s software for a variety of B2B and B2C websites for the month of December 2010, it was clear that:

The ranking on the first page is far more valuable than ranking anywhere else.

  • Sites that ranked number one averaged a 37% click-through rate,
  • Sites in the top three ranking received 60% of clicks

Organic Click Thru Rate by Search Position.png

What does this mean for your marketing efforts? It means that your SEO efforts should be focused on moving keywords to the first page, but not necessarily to the first position.

Is there a correlation between organic CTR and CPC value for the same keyword?

Optify compared “expensive” CPC terms, over $1.50 CPC on AdWords, to “cheap” CPC terms, under $0.25 CPC on AdWords, in an effort to test the effects of the CPC value of a keyword on its CTR.

It discovered that cheap CPC terms see over 30% CTR on position one while expensive CPC terms see less than 20% CTR on position one. Such a negative correlation between CTR on organic results and CPC value of sponsored results indicates that as CPC value goes up, marketers can expect fewer clicks on organic results. In other words, given two keywords with the same search volume -- one being a cheap keyword, and one being an expensive keyword -- your potential organic traffic is nearly three times greater on a lower CPC term.
 

Organic CTR by CPC  .png

Cheap CPC terms are likely to yield over double the CTR on the first page than expensive CPC terms.

What is the effect of search volume on click-through rates?

By comparing head terms (keywords with over 1,000 monthly searches via Google US) to long-tail terms (keywords with less than 100 monthly searches via Google US), Optify learned that, while head terms yielded higher CTR for position one, long-tail terms show better overall CTR on page one.

What this tells us is that, if you’re optimizing for head terms, you won’t see huge benefits until you get to the top few positions. And if you are optimizing for a long-tail term, you can expect to see decent CTR almost anywhere on the first page.

CTR Head v Long Tail.png

How Does This Affect Your Marketing Strategy?

As search marketing becomes more competitive, simply measuring page rank isn’t enough. Optify’s results suggest that we need to track other things as well -- not just where sites rank, but the CTR of keywords and whether to target them with paid or organic search strategies.

Of course, some things will never change -- being on the first page of search results matters. Yet, instead of focusing on being number one, invest in getting more terms to page one. Staying on top of SEO best practices and updates will help, too. Reports like Optify’s will help your marketing team better understand what they need to measure and analyze so they can effectively measure your company’s success online.