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Marketing in Real Time - The Changing Face of SERPs : Organic Click Through Rate

dimanche 8 mai 2011

As part of a series of research projects we are conducting on the Optify database and given recent changes to
Google and Bing’s search engine results pages (SERPs), we designated an ambitious goal for ourselves - come up
with a new Click-Through-Rate (CTR) curve. Previous CTR curves include the all-famous, 2006 AOL CTR curve,
as well as other more recent attempts to provide updated curves. For our research, we used a small sample set of
our database, constructed from organic keyword visits (Google US) from a variety of B2B and B2C websites for the
month of December 2010.

The three main questions we intended to answer were :

1. Given the recent changes to SERPs, what is the new CTR curve for organic results ?

2. Is there a correlation between organic click through rate and CPC value for the same keyword ?

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

When we completed this research, we arrived at the following answers and conclusions :

1. Ranking is important only as a mean to predict CTR. While you should always aspire to rank higher, real value comes from business results, not rank.

2. There is a negative correlation between CTR on organic results and CPC value of sponsored results ; as CPC
value goes up, you can expect to get less clicks on the organic results.

3. Search volume affects CTR. Long tail terms (under 100 monthly searches) yield higher overall CTR on the
first Search Engine Result Page (SERP), while head terms (over 1000 monthly searches) yield higher CTR
on the first results but lower average CTR on the first SERP.

The results described in this white paper, emphasize the importance of ranking on the first page of Google.
Furthermore, they show how ranking first on page one can yield accelerating benefits equivalent to tripling the
number of organic visits from second position to first. Since rank and search volume are not business results
but mere KPIs for most businesses, we decided to focus our analysis on visits from organic search. Even though it
is not a business performance metric either, we presumed it was the best KPI measurement of the bunch because
of its common usage across all types of businesses. The results of our analysis clearly show that in order to truly
measure your success, rank and search volume are not enough. Since the CTR for a number one position isn’t
the same for long tail as it is for head terms, or for “expensive” CPC terms as it is for “cheap” CPC terms, the only way to truly measure your success (our primary takeaway from our analysis) is business results. Whether those are
pageviews, visitors, leads, customers or even sales, we figured that visits are easily transferable to those metrics.

This whitepaper describes the research and results we found and includes a recommendation section to help you
understand how you can use this data.

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