This morning seoClarity reported some very straight forward and interesting statistics on click-through rates (CTR) as they apply to both desktop and mobile devices. With the study of nearly 400 Google Webmaster Tools accounts running for three months this past summer (to avoid seasonal fluctuations) and diving into over 2 billion impressions with more than 2.6 million clicks it’s safe to say we can take these results to the bank. With mobile soon to account for over 50% of all website traffic sources the question is, will the results below allow you as a business to take revenue to the bank as well?
What You Need to Know About the Click Through Rate Differences Between Desktop and Mobile Devices
1. Desktop Click-Through Rates Follow the Expected Pattern
First, I want to state that click-through rates vary by industry. When it comes to a product/service it depends upon how important a purchase decision is. Click-through rates in general are usually reported to be very high for the #1 position on Google Search, accounting for approximately 25-32% of all clicks according to this recent SEO MOZ study. This likely reigns true for your “average” product/service search, such as “best catering company in San Diego“. However, we as consumers don’t just blindly trust the first result when a purchase decision is of great importance to our lives, such as “real estate agent in San Diego“. We’re more likely to comb through the first few results with greater care, before clicking. The seoClarity study has detailed a desktop CTR of 19.3% for position one, 11.4% for position two, and 7.7% for position three. This tells me that their client base is likely comprised of sellers or product/services that hold much weight in consumer lives. Nonetheless, the pattern between the top three positions remains about where we expect it to be in regards to the drop-off from the number one position down to two and three. Your takeaway as a business also remains about the same, when it comes to optimizing your site for desktop search, you want to do all that you can to score an above-the-fold position for select keywords.
2. Mobile Device Click-Through Rates Demand a Number ONE Position in Search Rank
The study gets very interesting when it comes to mobile CTRs. The drop-off for desktop was gradual as results waterfall down from position one to two to three and beyond. Mobile however is reported to have a CTR of 27.7% for the first position, followed by 9.2% for position two, and only 3.9% for position three. The drop-off for mobile is HUGE. When it comes to optimizing your website for mobile organic search it is far more important to score a top spot. As you prepare for the year ahead, you will want to be wiser when selecting your keywords if you have already found that you receive a large portion of your traffic from mobile search. If the CTR is so much higher for the number one position then your goal should be to select a longtail keyword that will get you there. You may need to abandon your chase for a highly searched and highly competitive keyword that will be difficult to achieve #1 status for without a significant SEO budget.
3. Mobile Click-Through Rates Get Wacky in the Middle of Search Rank
With a 3.9% CTR for position three you would expect the study to evidence position four, five, and six CTRs to respectively fall below that value. However we see that position four has a CTR of 6.7%, position five at 4.8% and six returning to meet the third spot at 3.9%. What’s going on? I tested a few smartphone searches to uncover an answer. I searched “tiki mugs for sale” and a few other keywords strings that I knew would draw images and video results into the mobile search results. I found that Google delivered visual image and video results after the third position in many circumstances. This may help explain a CTR for the fourth and fifth position above that of the third. Searchers may scroll and have their viewing interrupted by image/video results, and then click the results immediately below out of human nature, as if the search experience was “refreshed”. Is there any takeaway for you here? Well, aside from trying to score a position within image/video search results by complementing your SEO content with images and video, you need not abandon all hope if you are not able to take that spot at number one, as long as you are on page one.
The implications for your online business are clear. Moving forward you will need to select keyword targets that you have a realistic chance at ranking very well for, given your SEO budget/capabilities. As soon as you have those targets lined-up you will need to have your site optimized accordingly, all within a responsive design framework.