It’s not uncommon for the clickthrough rate on search adverts to be as low as 1%, even for adverts up the top of the page. That doesn’t matter in terms of cost, because the other 99% of views still represent a branding opportunity, and they come for free. But what are people clicking on?
As you might expect, it’s the top ‘natural’ search result. Estimates for the clickthrough rate on this are as high as 50%. A huge number of Google searches are for basic reference, not buying, and the first natural search result (e.g. a Wikipedia page) is the only thing the user wants. That’s also why the advert clickthrough rate is often so low.
However, I’m always surprised the average for the first natural search result isn’t higher than 50%, but it shows how much else is available. Those results which Google chooses to dominate the page by including ‘sitelinks’ underneath them can get an 80% clickthrough rate.
The clickthrough rate tails off alarmingly, and is typically down below 10% for the third ‘natural’ search result. By the bottom search result, we can be down to just 1 or 2%. This sounds very low, but remember that a typical Google results page doesn’t just have the 10 natural search result links on it to choose from – there can easily be 60 or 70 links in total. Your results have to work really hard, and the page title which is displayed needs to be written with all the care you’d put into an advert. Having it automatically generated by your content management system is simply not good enough.