We can spend a lot of time analysing and trying to manipulate what a Google results page looks like. But what do people actually click on? It’s not necessarily what you might think. You can find research that suggests 70% of people click on the first ‘natural’ search result, but that can mask a lot of possibilities. Sometimes that first ‘natural’ search result might be the top one on a page with no adverts, no videos and no clutter in general; sometimes it might be on a page with so much additional furniture that you have to scroll down to find it. So what you’re likely to get from a ‘top position’ is going to depend very much on the search itself.
For a brand name, I’ve seen over 90% click-through rate from a top position, but I’ve also seen 50% from a top position advert for the same brand name. It’s clear that many people skip straight over the ads (however much Google plays down that they’re adverts). Typically, for non-brand queries, the top AdWords advert will only get between 1% and 5% click-through rate, which I find surprisingly low. However, as we always need to remind ourselves, you only pay for clicks, so the other 95–99% might be lost opportunities, but they’re cost-free ones.
What about the lower search results positions though? It’s clear that the clickthrough rate tails off very quickly. If you look in Google Search Console at a search where your average position has been, say, about 6 (so in reality it’s probably been between 4 and 8), you might see a figure as low as 10%.
It’s even worse on the second and subsequent pages. Under 25% of searchers get this far, apparently, and clickthrough rates are often under 5% even at the top of page 2. So it really is worth identifying where your average position is around 12, because moving up just 4 or 5 places on to the first page could make a big difference, and it might take relatively little effort.