Archive for September, 2011

What’s the Percent Distribution of Search Result Clicks

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

It’s been a while since Cornell University’s original study was done on the distribution of clicks by search engine users viewing search results (SERPs). In fact it’s been many years - over 5 years! In that time Google has changed, the Internet has changed, the way we use the Internet has changed and most importantly the results page in Google has drastically changed. So the question really becomes… Does Cornell University’s study still provide us with accurate incite into the number of clicks each ranking site would receive in the SERPs?

SERPs Precent Clicks

I doubt we would have the same results today if this study was redone. For one we now have map listing in the search results. These typically take up a large chunk of the results and in many cases fall before the first “real” organic results. Therefore taking a healthy percent of those users’ clicks. Although I think that depends a lot on the keyword. For example a search for “pizza places” might get a lot of clicks on the map results but a search for “contact lens store” might not as users might be looking to buy contacts from a website rather than a physical storefront.

Next we have to look at things like Universal Search, where we’re seeing news, blog posts, twitter tweets, images, shopping and more in search results. Additional things like videos, thumbnails, star ratings, Sitelinks, and even Google’s new Google Plus all play a factor in where user clicks are going.

The other side of this is that each search engine user is not seeing the same results. Meaning if I do a search in Atlanta, GA I might see a different set of search results compared to someone searching in Pittsburgh, PA. Therefore making it harder to determine a standard percent that SEOs and other online marketers can follow.

Even with all that I do think we can find some sort of reasonable percentages but would have to include percents for all the variables that could be in search results, like if there is map listings in the results then the first real organic result gets 40% of the clicks but without those map listings it gets 50%. So we would have to first compile a list of variables for search result pages.

Here is a quick shot at making that list:

  1. Local Place Listing present (Google Map listings)
  2. Twitter tweet feed present
  3. Ads above the SERPS
  4. New feed present
  5. Variations for location based search
  6. etc…

I believe a good study for is in order here and would provide a lot of valuable incite for both SEOs and site owners.