No.1 in google = 26% CTR

A long time ago data was released that many of us take as read, this appears to be dated and wrong. It was believed that if you ranked no.1 in a search engine which was AOL (many extrapolated that as any search engine) you would get a 42% CTR so therefore 42% of any potential search traffic, times change and sponsored ads at the top of Google and many other factors will have had an effect on the potential CTR.

Results may differ by search & genre but for a few I rank no.1 in I wanted to see what the ctr actually was:
While Ranking No.1 through October for a couple of keywords on a site I decided to look closer.

Google ‘exact’ Search tool stats :
Keyword = 246,000

Actual traffic according to Google analytics I received:
Keyword  = 64,035 visitors

At odds against the ‘old’ AOL CTR data set this works out at an actual CTR for position No.1 as:
Keyword  = CTR 26%

Around 26% seems low so it may be just me and this could be something I need to improve on, SO if you rank no1 for your main keyword(s), please check them against the exact search traffic in the keyword tool and see what CTR you feel you are getting and report back, are you getting anywhere near 42% CTR for your no.1 position? I’d be interested to hear. Please make sure it’s a large dataset, ie a decent search volume and not for something like your own business/domain name.

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.


  1. I’d be just as interested in any CTR info on 2nd 3rd and 4th position.

  2. You’re also working on the assumption that the google data is correct for that phrase. I have some phrases that are well out, others are accurate.

    Also, do you have sitelinks for that phrase? I’m guessing not.

  3. Dont you think the title of your website also matters along with the description, if it isnt catchy or informative based on the nichem there are chances the visitors would move on to 2nd search result.

    Example : If someone searches for Samsung 22″ LCD Review, he gets lot of results with #1 being listing page with the title - Buy Samsung 22″ LCD for 500$ , followed by the second listing of with the title of “Samsung 22″ LCD Hands on Review” , its obvious that the most visitors would move on to the second search result even though is on #1 placement.

    I do understand that this does effect much but still it does effect and you need to take care of the description atleast if you are ranking on #1 place.

    Amit Bhawani’s last blog post..Samsung Giorgio Armani P520 Mobile Phone Review

  4. ThinkEyetracking has an interesting heatmap of people’s eye movements looking at Google SERPs, and some related stats -

    Cheers, Jon

    Jon’s last blog post..Salon Websites - Google Search Engine Optimization Guide

  5. Scott,

    You can’t rely on Google Keyword Data. I have done some tests couple of weeks ago and these data are way of. The best is to compare Google Trends data with a phrase you already know the traffic through PPC bidding, or just create a new PPC campaign for that keyword for a day to determine the CTR. Other option is to use GOogle Traffic Estimator which is more accurate then Keyword Tool but still will not give you exact traffic data.

    • If it’s consistently high/out then it would still be relevant, ie 26%ctr on the inflated figures if they are that, they must have some basis but I agree they can’t be overly relied upon.

  6. I did a post 3 months ago on this subject.

    Trying to figure out a ball park figure (or a normal range) for this share.

    My own statistics gave me shares from 22% to 39% and readers have reported in their findings which did not exactly help to clarify the picture: They found shares from 3% to 40% in their investigations.

    Many commented on the bias in those numbers from things such as niche differences and impacts of the copy written in the title and desciption of the results.

    Anyways here is the article in Danish:

    And if you dare, here it is in English via Google Translate:


  7. For a term with 90,500 Average search volume a month, My CTR hovers around 15% mark.

    26% is a great figure. 42 i think is a bit unlikely.

    However my main problem is that I Get around 4-5000 visitors (according to statcounter) out of the 90k.

    p.s. Mine is a mini site. Yours?

  8. Just did a quick look on one of my sites which ranks at number 1 for a keywords and the traffic ctr is around 23%.

    With it being a product keyword Google does show ‘shopping’ results above the first link so this may have an impact on the ctr.

    Darren’s last blog post..BetNOW Mobile Betting - Bet on your mobile - Upto £50 in free bets

  9. Unfortunately I can’t contribute with much data but I think there are a lot of factors in this game. Some terms might have high search counts but little advertisement, some are great at using interesting title (which would increase CTR) and there are probably also a lot of other factors to consider.

    But when that is said I think that 26% sounds fair.

    Mikael’s last blog post..Interne links kan skade din ranking i Google

  10. Surely your CTR is high if people who are typing those keywords are actually looking for your site? If there’s a mismatch between expectations and your site, the CTR will be low. My point is, the actual CTR is highly specific to your site and the keywords you use.

    Dan @’s last blog post..Book Review - Business Stripped Bare by Richard Branson

  11. After a quick look at one of ours using the same criteria we seem to get a 17.25% CTR in first place.

    Not quite as high as your 26%, but the term I looked at has a lot of paid search ads (three sponsored) and is outranking major brands so that might have some dampening effect on general CTR.

  12. Congratulations Scott, I have tried Amazon in the past and not had a great deal of success but I think this is due to the products I was selling. The PC market is ready made for amazon I think.

  13. You’ve missed something very important when comparing to the AOL results.

    The AOL results add up to 100%.

    By that, I mean, it only tracks clicks on the SERP results.

    There are 3 other things you are not taking into account.

    1) The stats from Google’s “exact” match are not hugely accurate. They are ballpark only. For instance - it has a preset list of numbers which it uses for those stats.

    2) On Google, lots of users click on the AdWords, not on the SERPs.

    3) Some users click on NO results and redo their search instead.

    I’ve been through this myself. The only way to know for certain as someone said above is to run an AdWords campaign with 100% solid coverage for say a week and then Google will tell you the number of impressions. This is much more accurate. I’ve done it, but it’s expensive!

  14. Unfortunately I dont have any first position results with enough traffic to give a meaningfull result. However, I get 10% for a position 9 term and 8% for a position 3 term - I guess that says that results can vary! I would expect to get more than 26% for a number one position.

  15. Probably worth noting that the AdWords search volume estimates also includes Google search partners, such as AOL.

    Although unlikely to make a big difference.

  16. Right! Good information for keywords search! Let me try for keyword of high CTR. Thanks.

  17. Finally I’m able to contribute. I get a 26.3% CTR and it’s in a niche far from IM.

    Mikael’s last blog post..Husker du at kommentere på din egen blog?

  18. I’m with Amit, Anders and Justin on this one. The CTR has to be highly influenced by the page title as well as the summary description that Google uses on the search results page. If it matches the expectations of the searcher they’ll be highly likely to click. If not….

    An interesting thing I just noticed in doing some comparisons in this area is the content that Google chooses to use for a sumamry. I saw one situation where the 1st H3 content was used instead of the first H1 content (possibly because the H1 content was a link?)

  19. Here are some of my stats. All are based on Number 1 positions. Figures are from Google Keyword Tool Approx Avg Search Volume set to “Exact” match with my Googel Analytics Unique Visitors.

    40,500 searches gets 2,000 visitors
    8,000 searches gets 1,000 visitors
    6,600 searches gets 2,000 visitors

  20. I have to agree about the description tagging, Cornell university did a study using eye tracking equipment to monitor peoples search behavior and found that on average people spent 7 seconds from search display to click through and of that 7 seconds 43% of it was spent reading description tags. needless to say you don’t always have to be number 1 sometimes 2,3 or even 4 can steal thunder (and sales) from the number 1 result if the description tag is compelling enough to click to.

  21. Interesting points raised by Amit about the title and description value too since many may or may not simply move on to the 2nd result.

  22. I think the CTR is completely dependent on the term in question and will have massivley differing results.

    • Well, that can be true. But it’s also hugely dependent on your ‘ad’ copy. By ad I mean your title and your meta description, because they are what will ultimately convince the searcher to click.

  23. also the google keyword tool is for ADWORDS not just the number of people searching in the search engine it includes websites that have Asense on them…. so searches within those sites or just pages that are relevant, visitor numbers are counted.

    Therefore I think its almost impossible to work out the exact click through rate as google only know what that is!

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