Google SERPs CTR, new study on the click curve

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We know that now: not all SERPs are the same and different Google rankings have a different weights, which explains the importance of the website’s optimization work. Despite the many changes in this activity, the transformations in the way results are presented and the increase in searches without clicks, the SEO still offers considerable traffic opportunities and is usually the best channel to reach them.

The study on the CTR of Google SERPs in 2020

One of the keys to the success of SEO work is to understand which type of SERP has a high performance and which multimedia content and SEO techniques you need to use to be able to appear in that segment. 

Not all SERPs provide the same amount of traffic per 100 queries: in some cases, the results carry 89 clicks per 100 queries, while others provide only 15 clicks per query. The new Milestone Research CTR report breaks down all major types of SERP and shows the click curve, analyzing branded and non-branded queries and results for desktop and mobile devices.

Results of the analysis

The company has analyzed over 4.5 million queries to find that users click on multimedia results 58 percent of the time, compared to a 41 percent CTR for non-rich results.

Perhaps it is not surprising to read that users are more likely to click on rich results than normal organic results, but what highlights the report is how much the CTR can vary depending on the type of multimedia result – in some cases, in fact, CTR can go up to 87 percent.

“The click curve has a significant influence on the traffic that each site can get from organic search,” reads the introduction, and “provides guidance on how to prioritize between rich media categories”. In particular, 58 clicks per 100 requests means “tens of billions of visitors that search engines share with brands and are the reason why it is still worth focusing on SEO”.

Key points of the study on Google SERPs

In summary, Milestone’s survey reports that the average CTR of all results – multimedia and standard – on the first page of Google is 49.5 percent; this means that about half of all searches will lead to a click on an organic result.

The remaining 50.5 percent consists of click-free searches, paid ad clicks and voice searches.

As mentioned, rich results have an above-average CTR of 58 percent, while non-multimedia results fall below the average, to 41 percent.

Multimedia results with branded keywords tend to have a slightly better CTR of 60 percent.

To understand and be able to exploit the SERPs

The click curve for combined branded and non-branded queries for all layout types shows a standard distribution. As we said, the aggregate CTR is 58 per cent, a sharp drop from the 95 per cent recorded in 2011 due to the various factors that have occurred in this decade, but this still means that the majority of traffic remains organic.

Grafico del CTR medio delle SERP di Google

Furthermore, no-click mobile searches still have value for local businesses, because they provide address, phone number, opening times and review ratings and – according to other studies – most of these searches lead to transactions within 24 hours.

The AMP case: the highest and lowest CTR

Very curious – and worthy of a specific study – is the case of the AMP results, which mark at the same time the highest and lowest CTR level in SERP.

To be precise, Non-rich AMP results have a very high CTR – about 92 percent – while Article AMP in carousels are only clicked 15 times every 100 queries. Non-rich AMP performance starts with a higher CTR in the SERP, and those pages perform better on-site thanks to fast loading times and page increments per session.

This means that it is much more advantageous to get an AMP item placement among standard results than to be present in a carousel, such as that of the featured news.

This heterogeneous result in the AMP approach does not overshadow the enormous value that the framework can offer to user experience and marketing performance (outside of AMP articles), and this will become even more true in 2021, When the Core Web Vitals will play a more important role in the ranking, remember from Milestone.

FAQ are effective to create engagement

Multimedia results with FAQs, aggregating with and without brand, have an average CTR of 87 percent – the highest of any type of rich results analyzed – because they leverage entity-based, semantic or conversational SEO trends, and being the right answer increases your search visibility.

Users looking for information in high-level information queries often click on multiple results while building the answer.

The level of CTR rises to 91 percent for non-branded FAQ queries alone, which are therefore more likely to be true top-of-the-funnel, drive informative research and represent an excellent opportunity for brands.

Good data on preview videos

The video thumbnails are shown in more than a quarter of the search results, according to the study, and the CTR for multimedia video results, for branded and non-branded queries, is 62 percent, making them one of the most performing types of rich results.

Unlike Faqs, videos get more clicks in Google Search when keyword branded is present in the query (65 percent versus 50 percent for brand keyless results).

Milestone Research also notes that in over half of the cases the videos in Google’s miniature carousel come from YouTube, which is therefore the recommended platform on which to upload videos.

Conclusions: to optimize and diversify content to increase performances

The study of Milestone allows us to have useful information to optimize the pages and try to increase the performance. An effective strategy – which implements structured data and manages to gain multimedia results – has the potential to double performance in organic search results.

In particular, these are the main recommendations highlighted:

    • To maximize their exposure opportunities, brands need to create original and diverse content for multiple media types and formatting: text, images, videos, FAQs, HowTos and QAs have different languages and bring different traffic.
    • Rich results are very advantageous for brands.
    • The schema markup helps define the elements or entities of the site and facilitates the indexing of search engines in their knowledge bases.
    • AMP makes content faster and more stable and provides a better mobile user experience.
    • Aim for 10 and 10. Customer Experience and Core Web Vitals must be measured and optimized with a target of 90 points or higher: this means that the page loading speed level must be in the top 10 percent of the industry segment, while the content layout shift should be in the 10 percent lower.

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