Google Ranking Positions and %CTR: Estimating Search Engine Visitors

Have you ever wondered how many visitors you’ll attract if you manage to bump your site up a few ranks on Google for particular keywords — and how that will affect your click-through rate? Now that Google Webmaster Tools offers more accurate data, you can get that answer, and see if the increase will be worth the work you’d need to put in.

The new Google Webmaster Tools feature important data that can be used for effective keyword analysis in search engine optimization. This is because the new tool reveals accurate data on Google search engine result positions (SERP) and the click through rate percentage (%CTR) for all keywords for which the website is ranking in Google.

The good thing is that these data can be used to characterize the relationships between Google search engine result positions and %CTR. The information that you can derive from this understanding can be used when doing keyword analysis.

One of the most important objectives in keyword analysis is to estimate the number of visitors coming from Google search engines if a particular keyword is ranked at a given position. Using the data available in Google Webmaster Tools, this objective can be attained and computed using accurate data.

Obtaining the Raw Search Query Data

In this study, the data will be taken from nine big websites with Google Webmaster Tools accounts. The data gathering process is as follows:

1. Log in to Google webmaster tools.

2. Under “Home” click the site, and then under “Dashboard,” expand “Your site on the web.”

3. Click “Search Queries.” You should see the search query data of the website’s keywords ranking in Google (screen shot shown previously).

4. Download the data as CSV by clicking “Download this table.”

5. Format the data, delete unimportant columns, and do not include the keywords with 0% CTR. Do not forget to round off the average ranking position until you arrive at this data.

6. The data shown in the above screen shot is only from one website. Do the same for all of the websites you have, and add it to the data table shown in the screen shot above.

The result is that you will have lot of data to be analyzed. A higher number of samples is beneficial for accurate analysis.

Correlation between Google Search Engine ranking position and %CTR

You can sort the data table in terms of ranking positions, starting from Position 1 to Position 10 below, and then plot the correlation between ranking positions and %CTR.

Results:

The screen shot above shows that the relationship between %CTR and Google ranking positions is a power curve. The %CTR dramatically rises as it starts to climb from position 5 to position 1.

The %CTR from position 6 to position 10 is comparable to each other. But at position 4, it starts to increase to more than 20% in CTR. And in position 3, it reaches 30%.

Surprisingly the %CTR of position 1 and position 2 is more than twice that of position 6 to position 10. This show how important the top ranking positions (typically positions one through three) are in getting high click through rates that translate to high organic traffic.

The data is taken from nine websites via 50+ ranking keywords on Google’s first page using Google Webmaster Tools. You can download the Excel worksheet used in the analysis at the end of this article.

The data in the previous section is not averaged. It would be useful to take the average %CTR per Google ranking position. Below is the resulting graph:

The graph reveals a lot of useful information. First, it confirms that the %CTR in organic search results for position 6 to position 10 is somewhat similar and comparable to each other.

This means that if you have a website with keywords ranking at position 10, an increase to position 8, 7 and 6 does not give you a significant increase in terms of traffic and click through. This is because, based on the provided data, the %CTR is similar around those positions.

Second, and even more surprising, is that the %CTR for position 10 is comparable to the average %CTR for keywords ranking in positions 11 to 20.

This means that for a fairly competitive keyword, or keywords with substantial impressions, you get roughly similar traffic if the keyword ranks on Google’s second page as compared to position 10.

By a plain estimate, the click-through rate for position 5 is roughly twice that of positions 6 to 10. So if you manage to climb onto Google’s first page, you will only get a substantial increase in your website traffic if you start to hit position 5.

This implies that somewhere between positions 6 to 10, you will not get a substantial increase in click through, and traffic will be fairly similar within these positions.

The most desirable positions for a keyword are positions 1 and 2. The %CTR for position 1 averages around 52%, which is fairly similar to position 2 (48.6%).

If the average CTR of positions 6 to 10 is 6%, then position 1 is estimated to deliver a CTR that is nine time higher. This says that if you have a website with a keyword ranking somewhere between position 6 and 10, and then it hits position 1, you can estimate that you’ll see nine times the traffic! For example:

Estimated visitors to the website from Google = %CTR x Keyword impressions = 2000 x 6% = 120 visitors per month at position 6 to position 10.

But at position 1: 120 visitors x 9 = 1080 visitors per month. That’s a huge increase in traffic.

Keyword Analysis Tool for Estimating Organic Search Traffic in Google

Using the information discussed previously, any analyst can predict with reasonable accuracy the estimated amount of visitors for a particular keyword in different search result positions.

The only given would be the impressions data. The good news is that the impressions reported in Google Webmaster Tools is the “comparable” to the “exact” match type data available in the Google Keyword tool: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

The % error averages around 25%:

To make calculations easy for you, you can download this Excel tool: http://www.php-developer.org/excel-spreadsheet-to-estimate-visitors-from-google-keyword-analysis-tool/, which you can modify to fit your own reports. The Excel sheet is protected and the password is codexm, in case you need to revise it.

Sample calculation:

  1. Download the tool and unzip the Excel file.
  2. Go to the Google keyword tool: https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal.
  3. Under “Find Keywords,” type your desired keyword. You can only analyze one keyword at a time, although the Excel spreadsheet can be modified to analyze more than one keyword.
  4. Expand “Advanced Options” and select “All countries” for “Locations and Languages.”
  5. Enter the captcha.
  6. Press search. The Google keyword tool will provide a result.
  7. Now under “Match Types,” uncheck the default “Broad” and check “Exact” only. This is very important for data accuracy.
  8. Under the “Global monthly searches” you’ll find the actual impression data that you will need to paste into the yellow shaded cells in the Excel tool.

For example, the keyword "PHP Developer" has around 6600 exact match searches per month in Google. Enter that value in the tool. Below will be the expected result:

The tool will automatically compute the estimated number of new visitors to your website. For example, if the website ranked in position 1 for that keyword, it could bring in 3432 new monthly visitors.

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