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Does it still make sense to invest a lot of time and attention in SEO (search engine optimization)? Rich snippets , featured snippets , people also ask , images, local business results, charts, sitelinks, advertisements… and so many more features for the SERP (search results page). How many clicks does a number 1 position actually get you? Our research allows us to answer the above questions.

Using 36,948 keywords from 29 different Google Search Console accounts, we looked at the CTR, also known as the click-through rate, per position on the first page of Google. Based on this data, we give you tips on how you can use this data for SEO . This way you can take advantage of opportunities in your situation. We also give you a step-by-step plan on how to collect your own data!

How is the research structured?

With the Google Search Console API we made a printout of 29 accounts. The collected data comes from the fourth quarter of 2022. A total of 36,948 search terms were included. A distinction is made between mobile and desktop. We included a total of 10,201 search terms on desktop and 26,747 search terms on mobile. We have not taken into account search terms with less than 50 impressions and/or less than 5 clicks. As well as all branded search terms, these have been manually filtered out. If someone already knows your company, this has a major impact on the CTR.

Big challenge

Obtaining enough data is the most important thing to be able to actually make a statement. Since we’re splitting mobile and desktop and filtering out branded terms, it must be a seriously big account. In addition, it is also not wise to take a term longer than a quarter. The changes in the SERP follow each other in rapid succession, which has a direct impact on the CTR. Think of changes in the paid ads, position changes, SERP features or changes to meta titles or descriptions.

Because of all these factors, this research should be seen as an indication, despite the fact that we have also broken down the curve per sector. Normally this gives a fairly relevant picture of what you can expect from your company, but the average CTR per website and keyword remain dependent on many factors.

What immediately stands out?

  • The number 1 position gives a higher CTR on desktop than on mobile.
  • Mobile has a higher CTR at position 2 and 3. From position 4 it is all similar.
  • On desktop there is a very big difference in CTR between number 1 and number 2. Out of 100 searches, a number 1 position yields 15 more visitors than a number 2 position

The figures per device and industry

To give your company an indication of what to expect, we have also labeled Google Search Console accounts. This gives us insights per device, but also per industry.

The average CTR per device

The graph below shows the average CTR per device. It is striking here that on desktop the CTR is higher at position one, but after that mobile is the winner almost everywhere.

CTR curve for desktop and mobile of top 10 positions in Google.

The CTR of desktop

On desktop, the average CTR at position one is 28.84%. It is striking that the difference with the number 2 position is considerable, namely 14.68%. Logically, the difference lower in the SERP is getting smaller and smaller.

Desktop CTR curve of top 10 positions in Google.

If we look at this per industry, news websites stand out considerably. Here, the CTR on position one is 43.59%. This is significantly higher than in any other industry in our study. What could be a logical explanation for this is that news is something current, which is why you rarely come across advertisements in the search results.

PositionCTR (%)EcommerceleadTravelNews

The CTR of mobile

On mobile, the average CTR on position one is 27.26%, which is 1% lower than on desktop. What is striking here is that the number 2 and 3 positions on mobile do have a higher average CTR.

Mobile CTR curve of top 10 positions in Google.

If we look at each industry, this is not much different from desktop. The biggest difference is in the news industry, where a number 1 position on mobile results in an average CTR of 33.21%. This is significantly lower than on desktop.

PositionCTR (%)EcommerceleadTravelNews

Look at opportunities in your situation

As an SEO you are constantly optimizing your positions on your focus keywords. What if you open Google Search Console and you see that you are in position 8 on an important search term for you?

Based on the data above, you can calculate that 10,000 searches on desktop will yield 296 clicks. Then, based on the competition for the keyword, you can determine, for example, that your goal will be a 5th position. Then you can eventually make a forecast that with the same 10,000 searches on desktop you can expect 652 clicks. That is a percentage growth of 120.27%.

What if you grow a position in the SERP? In the table below you can calculate the percentage growth compared to a position change.

PositionDesktop (%)Mobile (%)
10 > 912.412.73
9 > 8-4.7813.96
7 > 621.195.52
6 > 529.0633.64
5 > 421.8116.70
4 > 323.8344.85
3 > 243.8645.39
2 > 1103.7462.99

What if you want to calculate the exact CTR per position in your situation?

This entire article is based on collected data from 29 accounts. As mentioned more often in the article, this may differ from your situation. Do you want to make a forecast based on your data? You can do so by following the steps below:

  1. Export all data with the Google Search Console API. This can be done, for example, with a Python script or Search Analytics for Sheets.
    • Set the keyword, page, device, clicks, impressions, CTR, and position columns when exporting.
  2. Open the collected data in Excel and filter the branded search terms from the data.
  3. Add an extra column and use the ROUND function in Excel to round the average position.
  4. Use the AVERAGESIF function to calculate the average CTR of a position.
    • In our study, the following conditions were used: position 1, more than 50 impressions, more than 5 clicks and mobile device.

A top position is still worth it

If you have a number 1 position on a certain search term, you will receive an average of 28 visitors to your website with 100 searches. The numbers show that it still pays to invest a lot of time and attention in optimizing your positions. Even with a number 2 or number 3 position, the traffic is still very interesting at high search volumes.

Of course there will be many outliers and there are many variables, which can lead to large differences. Still, it gives a good indication if you want to manage expectations or develop scenarios. Optimize based on the percentage growth per position change to increase your organic visibility for your website.