CTR, or click-through-rate, is one of the most studied and reported numbers in the SEO industry. The CTR refers to what percentages of clicks are garnered by a specific ranking position in the SERP. Obviously, the higher the click-through-rate the more valuable that position is. Most studies indicate that the first position gets the lion’s share of clicks, including this recent study released by SlingshotSEO. However, what makes SlingShotSEO’s findings interesting is not the percentage of clicks the first, second and third spots get, but how those percentages have dramatically dropped over the last 5 years.
Take a look at this graph:
The four different studies conducted since 2006 show a dramatic decline in click-through-rates across the board.
So what does this mean for your SEO?
The average Internet user is getting smarter and smarter every day. They know that just because a particular site is ranked first, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s the exact site with the exact information that they are looking for. Users are more and more willing to comb through the first few pages of search results, looking for the site that best meets their needs. They may click on the first ranked link, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stop digging through the search results, opening other links is separate tabs.
Ranking well isn’t enough to guarantee SEO success. You have to give searchers a real reason to not only click on your site, but also stick around long enough to convert. That’s why you have to balance on-site and off-site optimization. It doesn’t matter how well you rank if you are attracting the wrong traffic that bounces as soon as they land. While ranking well is important, it shouldn’t be the only thing you focus on building with your SEO. Your great click-through-rate isn’t worth anything if your site doesn’t convert!
It also means that there is a lot more to click on in the search results than just web pages. Type “pizza dough” into your search engine of choice, what do you find in the search results? While your exact results may be different than mine, Google gives me videos on how to make pizza dough, recipe sites, images, even a recent news article talking about a local bakery. That’s a lot of stuff for a searcher to sort through! The first result is a site for a popular cookbook, but I might decide to click on the YouTube video that shows me how to properly knead pizza dough.
The more advanced the search results get, the more important it is to take a blended approach with your SEO. Videos, blog posts, local listings and more can all rank in the SERPs. You want to build your brand through multiple platforms so your company’s overall online presence grows.