We Analyzed 5 Million Google Search Results. Here's What We Learned About Organic CTR

We analyzed 5 million Google Search ResultsHere's What We Learned About
Organic Click Through Rate

We Analyzed 5 Million Google Search Results. Here’s What We Learned About Organic Click Through Rate
Brian Dean

by Brian Dean · Updated Aug. 27, 2019

We analyzed 5 million Google search results to better understand organic click through rate.

First, we analyzed CTR data across 874,929 pages and 5,079,491 search queries.

Then, we looked at how factors like title tag length, sentiment and meta descriptions affect organic CTR.

Thanks to data provided from ClickFlow, we were able to get CTR data from several different Google Search Console accounts.

So without further ado, let’s see the results.

Here is a Summary of Our Key Findings:

1. The #1 result in Google’s organic search results has an average CTR of 31.7%.

2. The #1 organic result is 10x more likely to receive a click compared to a page in #10 spot.

3. Organic CTR for positions 7-10 is virtually the same. Therefore moving up a few spots on the bottom of the first page may not result in more organic traffic.

4. On average, moving up 1 spot in the search results will increase CTR by 30.8%. However, this depends on where you’re moving from and to. Moving from position #3 to position #2 will usually result in a significant CTR boost. However, moving from #10 #9 doesn’t make a statistically significant difference.

5. Title tags that contain a question have a 14.1% higher CTR vs. pages that don’t have a question in their title.

6. Title tags between 15 to 40 characters have the highest CTR. According to our data, pages with a title tag length between 15 and 40 characters have an 8.6% higher CTR compared to those that are outside of that range.

7. URLs that contain a keyword have a 45% higher click through rate compared to URLs that don’t contain a keyword.

8. Adding “Power Words” to your title tag may decrease your CTR. We found that titles with Power Words had a 13.9% lower CTR compared to titles that didn’t contain Power Words.

9. Emotional titles may improve your CTR. We found that titles with positive or negative sentiment improved CTR by approximately 7%.

10. Writing meta descriptions for your pages may result in a higher CTR. Pages with a meta description get 5.8% more clicks than those without a description.

I have detailed data and information of our analysis below.

The #1 Result In Google Gets 31.7% of All Clicks

The initial goal of our study was to establish CTR benchmarks.

Using our full data set of ~5 million results, we found that the #1 result has the highest CTR (by far).

The first result in Google has the highest organic CTR

We also saw a sharp CTR dropoff starting on the 2nd page of the results.

Few Google searchers visit the 2nd page and beyond

In fact, only 0.78% of Google searchers clicked on something from the second page.

This CTR trend is consistent with other CTR industry studies, like this one from Advanced Web Ranking.

Advanced Web Ranking – CTR study

Because CTR starting on the 2nd page is extremely low, we wanted to zero-in on the first page results. So we re-ran this analysis with data that excluded results from page 2 and beyond. We also eliminated queries that may skew the results with an abnormally high CTR (for example, branded queries).

And after we analyzed only the first page results with this data subset, we found that the #1 result in Google has a CTR of 31.7%.

The first result in Google has a CTR of 31.7%

Here is the full CTR breakdown for Google’s first page organic results:

Google organic CTR breakdown by position

As you can see, the #1 result in Google has a 10x higher CTR compared to the #10 result.

For anyone that’s worked in the SEO field for any length of time, this finding shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s well known that ranking #1 is significantly more valuable than any other position.

That’s because, according to a recent Moz survey, many Google users instinctively click on the first result in Google. This likely explains why the #2 result, which is just a few mere pixels below the #1 spot, has such a large CTR dropoff.

Organic CTR drops off significantly after position #1

Key Takeaway: The #1 result in Google gets 31.7% of all clicks.

Organic CTR Spikes At Position #5… And Again At Position #3

As I outlined, the #1 result in Google has (by far) the highest CTR.

However, there are still clicks to be had outside of the top position.

Specifically, while CTR is relatively flat between positions #6-#10, there’s a significant CTR spike starting with position #5.

Organic CTR spikes at position #5

This suggests two things:

  1. Most users don’t scroll past the 5th result.
  2. Moving up from position #6 to #5 may result in a significant CTR boost.

We see another sharp CTR increase starting with position #3.

Organic CTR spikes at position #3

This may be due to the fact that, for results without ads or SERP features, the #3 result often appears above the fold.

The number three result is often above the fold

In fact, we found that the top 3 Google search results get 75.1% of all clicks.

The top 3 Google search results get 75.1% of all clicks

Key Takeaway: Our data suggests that “ranking on the first page” may not be a worthy SEO goal. Instead, it’s all about ranking in the top spot (or at least in the top 3). The top 3 organic results get 75% of the clicks.

Moving Up One Position Increases CTR By 30.8%

We discovered, all things being equal, moving up a single position in Google increases relative CTR by 30.8%.

Moving up one position increases CTR by 30.8%

However, this CTR boost isn’t evenly distributed. Not even close.

The CTR impact of moving up in the SERPs varied widely depending on position.

Increase in expected CTR from moving up one position in Google

For example, moving from position #9 to #8 will result in 5% more clicks. Not a huge difference.

However, moving up from #6 to the #5 spot will result in 53.2% more clicks.

Key Takeaway: Moving up one position in Google will increase your relative CTR by an average of 30.8%. However, this increase varies greatly depending on position. We found that the greatest CTR increase came from moving from #6 to #5, which resulted in a relative CTR boost of 53.2%.

Most Websites Get 8.1 Clicks Per Query

We also looked at, for all the queries reported in the Google Search Console, how many resulted in clicks.

First, we discovered that most of the queries that a site ranks for in Google get very few impressions.

Most GSC queries get few (if any) impressions

This suggests that most of the keywords that a site ranks for are long tails with low search volume. Or that the site isn’t ranking highly for these terms. Or both.

And likely due to a low number of impressions, most queries result in a small number of clicks (8.1 per query).

The average 'Click per query' is 8.1

Key Takeaway: “Ranking for X keywords” may not be a valuable SEO metric. That’s because most pages rank for keywords with little search volume. Instead, most impressions and clicks tend to come from a relatively small number of queries.

Question Titles Have an Above-Average CTR

We compared the average organic CTR between titles that contained and didn’t contain a question.

(We defined a question as a title that used the terms “How, Why, What, Who” or a title with a question mark).

We found that titles with questions had a 14.1% higher click through rate compared to titles without a question.

Question titles have a 14.1% higher organic CTR .vs. Non-question titles

Here’s the full CTR breakdown across the top 10 results.

Organic CTR of question titles .vs. Non-question titles

This finding is consistent with headline CTR studies, like this one published in the journal Social Influence.

Social influence headline CTR study

Questions may improve CTR because, when someone is searching for something in Google, they’re essentially looking for an answer to a question.

(They are called “queries” after all).

And using a question title may confirm to the reader that your result contains the answer to their exact question.

Using a question in your title may improve your CTR

For example, I used a question title on this page optimized around the term “nofollow link”.

Question title used on Nofollow Link post

According to my GSC data, that page has a CTR of 29.2%.

Google Search Console – CTR data for Nofollow Link post

Most people searching for a broad term like “nofollow link” want to know what a nofollow link actually is. And my question title shows that my result will give the searcher the answer they’re looking for.

Key Takeaway: Question-based title tags have a 14.1% higher CTR compared to non-question titles.

Title Tags Between 15 to 40 Characters Have The Best CTR

What’s the ideal title tag length? Should you keep your titles short and sweet? Or use long titles that contain lots of info about your content?

According to our data, you want to aim somewhere in the middle.

Specifically, we found that titles between 15 to 40 characters have the highest organic CTR.

Title tags between 15 to 40 characters have the highest CTR

While there may be an SEO benefit of long title tags (longer titles=more keywords), this may be partially offset by a lower organic CTR.

In fact, Etsy tested numerous title tag variations as part of a large-scale SEO experiment. And they discovered that “It appeared in our results that shorter title tags performed better than longer ones.”

Etsy title tag variation test results showed shorter title tags are better

The author of that post hypothesized that shorter titles may perform better in Google due to query matching. However, according to our analysis, CTR may also play a role in why short and medium titles work best.

Key Takeaway: Title tags between 15 and 40 characters have the best organic CTR. Titles inside of this range have an 8.6% better average click-through-rate compared to those that fall outside of this range.

Keyword-Rich URLs Are Correlated With a Significantly Higher CTR

We wanted to see if keyword-rich URLs positively impacted CTR.

For example, take someone searching for “weekend trips”. Would a URL like travel.com/weekend-trips have a higher CTR than travel.com/travel-page?

To accomplish this analysis, we looked at each of the search queries, compared them with the URLs, and provided a similarity index that ranged from 0% to 100%.

Our method for seeing if keyword-rich URLs positively impacted CTR

A value of 0% means that the two words are not similar at all, while a value of 100% means a perfect match. We ignored all punctuation marks and symbols. We also treated certain words as the same (book vs books, cake vs cakes, etc.).

Indeed, we found a strong correlation between keyword-rich URLs and organic CTR (p-value = 0.01)

Keyword-rich URLs correlate with a higher organic CTR

Although having a perfect query-keyword match resulted in the highest CTR, our data shows that a URL that partially matches a query can also result in a significant CTR boost.

Google’s Search Engine Optimization guide reminds webmasters that your page’s URL shows up in the SERPs. And they recommend that you use “URLs with words that are relevant to your site’s content…”.

Google recommends using URLs with words relevant to site's content

And a 2012 paper published by Microsoft found that “trusted domains” had a higher CTR in search engines compared to domains that people weren’t familiar with.

Trusted domains have a higher CTR

The theory behind this is that search engine users use a page’s URL to figure out the best match for their query.

Key Takeaway: We found a 45% increase in CTR for pages with a perfect query match (the entire search query is in the URL) vs. a non-match (no search query term matches the URL).

“Power Words” May Negatively Impact Click Through Rate

“Power Words” are specific words and phrases designed to help your headlines stand out, and in theory, get more clicks.

For example, Power Words and terms like:

  • Secret
  • Powerful
  • Ultimate
  • Perfect
  • Best
  • Insane
  • Amazing

Our data found that Power Words actually decreased CTR by 13.9%.

Power words in title tags were correlated with lower CTR

My theory on this is that, while Power Words are great for grabbing attention on noisy platforms (like Facebook), they may look like clickbait in Google’s search results.

For example, look at the top 3 results for the keyword “how to write headlines”.

"How to write headlines" top three results

For a keyword like this you’d expect over-the-top titles like “How to Write Insanely Amazing Headlines”.

However, the top 3 results all use title tags that are pretty subdued.

"How to write headlines" top three results have subdued title tags

Key Takeaway: While Power Words may work on social media, they can hurt your organic click through rate. In fact, titles with Power Words have a 13.9% worse CTR compared to titles without any Power Words.

Emotional Titles Can Increase Organic Click Through Rate

Our data suggests that emotional titles (titles with a positive or negative sentiment) have a higher CTR compared to emotionally-neutral titles.

Emotional titles have a higher organic click through rate

Specifically, we found that emotional titles have a 7.3% higher absolute CTR compared to non-emotional titles.

We also discovered that negative and positive titles tend to work equally well. Controlling for other variables (like ranking position), titles with a positive sentiment have a 7.4% higher CTR, while titles with a negative sentiment have a 7.2% higher CTR.

For this analysis we analyzed each word in the title for “text polarity”. And each title was assigned a sentiment score based on the title’s estimated negative or positive sentiment.

For example, a title like this was considered neutral.

Neutral title example

And this title was scored as having a positive sentiment.

Positive sentiment title example

Several industry studies, including this one from BuzzSumo, have found a correlation between emotional headlines and engagement.

BuzzSumo study found correlation between emotional headlines and engagement

However, I wasn’t able to find any industry study that specifically looked at the relationship between emotional title tags and Google organic CTR.

And at least according to our data, emotional titles can result in a higher click through rate in the organic results.

What’s interesting is that, while we found that Power Words hurt CTR, emotional titles help CTR.

This may be due to the fact that sentiment is a more nuanced metric than the presence or absence of a single Power Word. In other words, it’s possible to write an emotionally-charged title without using a Power Word. And titles that deftly push emotional buttons without looking like clickbait can stand out and get more clicks in the SERPs.

Key Takeaway: Titles with negative or positive sentiment have a higher organic click through rate vs. neutral titles.

Pages With a Meta Description Have a Higher Average CTR vs. Pages Without a Description

Even though descriptions don’t directly impact SEO, Google still recommends writing a unique meta description for every page on your site.

Google recommends writing a unique meta description for every page

In fact, they even suggest that well-written descriptions can improve the number of clicks you get from Google search.

Google suggests well-written descriptions can improve clicks from SERPs

Which is why we decided to compare organic CTR between pages with and without a meta description. We found that pages with meta descriptions had a 5.8% better CTR compared to pages without a description.

Pages with a meta description have a higher average CTR .vs. Pages without a description

This finding shouldn’t surprise anyone with experience in SEO. Even though Google doesn’t always use the meta descriptions you write for them, your meta description can appear fairly often in the SERPs.

Without a meta description to fall back on, Google has to pull snippets from your page to fill in that space in your snippet.

Google pulls content from page to fill in "missing" meta descriptions

And the text that Google pulls from your page is almost always going to be less enticing than a well-written description.

Key Takeaway: Writing unique meta descriptions for each page can increase your site’s organic CTR. We found that pages with a meta description had a 5.8% higher CTR compared to pages without a description.

Summary and Conclusion

Again, I’d like to thank Eric Siu from ClickFlow for helping make this study possible.

If you’re interested in learning more about how we collected and analyzed the data for this study, here is a PDF of our methods.

And now I’d like to hear from you:

What’s your #1 takeaway from this research?

Or maybe you have a question.

Either way, go ahead and leave a comment below.


  1. Excellent Brian. Straight-forward advice on including a question in the title tag that has a big impact.

    Question keywords are also really easy to go after as well and are often easy wins when first starting a new site.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Ben, thank you. Glad you liked it.

      I’m with you on question keywords. Thanks to voice search, question keywords are becoming even more common.

      1. Amazing research Brian. Shared it on Facebook. I am surprised that power words actually decreased ctr. I’m sure this post will help many seos.

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Thanks for sharing, Ken. That surprised me too.

  2. Yue Liu Avatar Yue Liusays:

    Thanks for the insightful analysis. While this study focused on the CTR of search results, I am really curious about those zero-click searches as I think this number is getting larger because of the increasing use of featured snippets. Will you be analyzing this in the future maybe? I am curious about how it affects the CTR, traffic and conversion of search results.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Yue, you’re welcome. Zero-clicks searches are definitely a thing. But in terms of actionable things that SEOs can do to counteract them, I don’t see a whole lot.
      I personally focus on boosting my CTR for searches that do get clicks.

      1. If I may piggy back on Yue’s comment above. IF I search a term and get what I am looking for in the top 5 snippets then why would I, as a searcher, click any of the results. I’ve already gotten what I was searching for. Like Yue, I would like to know if Google is ranking those with snippets with detail in them higher – AKA If I can provide a zero click result will I rank higher? It does seem that based on trends that people are liking the zero click results. In fact Google has all but implemented this in many of the search results. When you search Season 2 Mindhunter it provides, right at the top, the episodes in clickable blocks in a grid/list format.

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Exactly, Rich. No-click searches are a legit concern for anyone in the SEO world. No doubt about it. Google may give a ranking bump to results that help cause a zero-click search. Hard to say without looking into it, but there might be something to that.

  3. Pretty good. Nothing surprising.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      I wasn’t surprised at what bumped up CTR. But I WAS surprised at how much. For example, I knew that keyword-rich URLs can help CTR. But 45% higher CTR? That did surprise me.

      1. This was definitely surprising! Along with the power keywords, but I think this is dependent on the page type.

  4. Finally, up-to-date data that shows what average CTRs are based on position!

    As you said, the massive difference in CTRs between #1 and #2, etc. isn’t necessarily a huge surprise (though it’s great to have recent data to point to now).

    But the CTR boost for using a question in the title tag is incredible. Based on the chart, the 14.1% increase in absolute terms appears to be a ~65% increase in relative terms. Wow.

    The importance of *avoiding* Power Words is another great nugget.

    Excellent study and data all the way around, Brian.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Kyle, thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s funny you say that because that’s what I literally wrote to the person that commented right before you: the fact that the #1 result gets more clicks than #2 isn’t surprising. What makes this study interesting is the level that the different factors had on CTR.

      Plus, it was interesting to see that there’s a CTR bump at position #5 and again at position #3. You’d think that CTR would be more linear than that.

      1. Brian – question on this comment. Was screen size factored into these results? For example if I search a term on my laptop I see more results “above the fold” then on my phone. So if I am search on mobile (where more and more searches and being done) then the top 3 or so would certainly be at the top of the list, so to speak.

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Hey Rich, good question there. Our data set was pulled from Search Console. They don’t provide that level of granular data. But you’re right: “the fold” differs a lot depending on device and screen size. But it looks like “the fold” for most people is the #3 spot and the #5 spot. That’s where we saw a sudden drop in CTR.

  5. Eric Siu Avatar Eric Siusays:

    Was awesome collaborating with you on this 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks again for working with me on this study. We couldn’t have done it without you! Like you, I found the findings super interesting.

    1. Hi Eric,

      I want to test ClickFlow which involved connecting my Google Analytics to your tool but I see that Google hasn’t verified the App yet. Are you looking to get this certification?

      Hi Brian,

      Insightful study. Thanks for all your hard work. If only I could get onto the 1st page for more relevant high value keywords hey!

      1. Thank you so much for this article. My website was ranking position #2, 3 but with very low CTR. At the beginning of this month I made some changes and increased it by 0.8%. So this is really timely for me. Really grateful for the good hard work you are doing as well as being so generous to share the knowledge. Thank you

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Oh nice! Hopefully this helps you bump up your CTR on that page even more.

  6. As always, wonderful content. Each finding is a key takeaway for me. Feeling lucking to be in your email list.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:


  7. Awesome article!

    Here’s my TLDR top 5:

    1. All Titles need questions.
    2. Optimal Title Length is 15 to 40 characters.
    3. Keyword-Rich URLs get a higher CTR.
    4. “Power Words” May Negatively Impact Click Through Rate, however, from the looks of it “How / ways / simple / easy” still work.
    5. Emotional language increases CTR especially positive sentiment.

    Bonus: Pages With a Meta Description Have a Higher Average CTR vs. Pages Without a Description – never cut corners with SEO!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Aaron. Good stuff. My only feedback is that I wouldn’t say all titles need to be questions. We found a correlation there but questions don’t make sense in some cases.

  8. Good job Brian. Thanks for the insight. In fact I was just thinking about making some tweaks to my website to increase CTR. You just make it an important next step for me now man. Thanks

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Awesome! Happy to help 👍👍👍

      1. Love your work. One of the dudes that share interesting stats. Thanks for that. You’ve been my go-to resources. I know you to be someone who always likes to keep the community informed, I appreciate that and everybody does also. This research and those you’ve done in the past, how did you conduct it I mean the behind the scene. Can I have an interview with you so you can explain in detail or go behind the scene to actually have a feel of how it’s done?

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          I really appreciate that. Unfortunately, I’m not available for any interviews right now.

  9. Brandon Avatar Brandonsays:

    Great study Brian.

    I noticed title tags did better with 15-40 characters. I am assuming that is total length, including the site title which some folks put at the end of their title tags for the SERPs.

    I notice you do not add your site title with your title tags… Any reason aside from the new finding?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Brandon, thank you. We analyzed all of the characters in the tag –including a site title/brand name. I personally don’t add them because Google usually adds them for me. You can see an example if you Google “SEO tools”.

  10. Great research as usual! Got to know many things which I was used to doing. This will help me to avoid those things.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Hemal

  11. Hey.
    I Just love your post! Easy to read and straight to the point.

    I guess including a question in the blog title increases CTR alot.
    Also, I have a couple of websites and i do not get satisfied till I rank all primary keywords in top 6.


    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Kris. Exactly. According to our data, it’s all about the top 5 and top 3.

  12. Great read, Brian.

    The meta description stat is what really sticks out to me. Most SEOs will say it doesn’t actually factor into rankings so it’s not as important.

    However, from this stat we can see it has a large indirect impact by getting people to click through and interact with your content!

    Anyways, thanks for posting.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Arash, thank you! Absolutely: the meta description doesn’t directly impact rankings. But as you said, our data shows that they can have a huge impact on organic CTR (and therefore, rankings).

  13. Brian, I want to say thank you for the excellent content you put out. I save it, share it, print it out, reference it. This is new article is the same. It’s hard to find real information; so much is a promise of info and then a 40 minute ad for paid services. I very much appreciate what you’re doing!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Rebecca, you’re welcome. Glad to hear that you’re getting so much value from the stuff I’m putting out.

  14. Mohammed Sufian Avatar Mohammed Sufiansays:

    No doubt all the points are very useful for me, +1 Share 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:


  15. Brian,

    The great Research study I will definitely follow the guidelines and implement. Brian I can always count on you to bring value and insight keep up the good work.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Brian. I appreciate that.

  16. Thanks, Brian (and Eric). This is very interesting research.

    The strong correlation between keywords in URLs and CTR was surprising. I wonder if this will disappear over time since Google has started to phase out exact URLs from the SERPs.

    One question — did you look at the CTR for list posts vs. non list posts?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Kris.

      Re: URls. I agree with you. For now, Google still shows exact URLs or the breadcrum-ish thing they’ve been testing. Even with that, they still
      do show a keyword in the URL. So I’d say it still has value for now. It may not need to be exact match in the future. But it does appear that searchers do consider the URL
      before they click.

      To answer your question: we didn’t look at list posts or specific content formats. But we may be able to in a future study. What did you have in mind there?

      1. It is completely anecdotal but I have always felt that list posts tend to get more clicks from search when they are ranking in the top positions.

        I never did any research or data analysis on it and it probably depends on the type of search query. But I thought it could be an interesting thing to look into with a dataset like yours.

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          That would be interesting to look at. If we re-run the analysis in the future I’ll definitely ask our data guys to look into that.

  17. Thanks Brian great info as usual and a big help when trying to craft your own (or clients) Not a playbook but insight and guidance on what helps and what does not

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Karl, you’re welcome. Glad you got some insights that you can put into practice.

  18. Thank you so much Brian. I will take time to incorporate some of these ideas in my craft shop site that I am currently building.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Asampete. Best of luck with the new site.

  19. Nice Insight. Will Share for sure. Thanks

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:


  20. Hey Brian, good stuff – as usual. What isn’t included in your study is the effect of using titles that take up the next step in the searchers mind:

    Example: person searches for prices of real estate in new york – the title includes something like “How are Real Estate Prices in NY going in 2020”.

    Which subtly start answering their actual question.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Steven, thank you. You’re right: there’s a lot more to CTR-optimization than what we covered here. We were limited to things that we can empirically measure. So techniques like taking the next step is something that’s tough to measure with data. That said, it’s a great tactic that I’ve definitely used!

  21. Another AWESOME post! Can’t wait to read & digest a ton of knowledge – thanks as always Brian!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Darshana. I hope you find some stuff you can use to optimize your titles (and descriptions).

  22. As always, loved your content Brian.
    I’ll be applying these tips to test the CTR of my sites. Thanks for wonderful insights.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Sounds good. Let me know how it goes.

  23. Godswill Chijioke Avatar Godswill Chijiokesays:

    Nice article Brian.

    One question though, do i still need to put my exact keyword phrase in the meta description?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Great question. We didn’t analyze that, but yes, I would recommend including your keyword in your description. Google bolds it in the SERPs, which can definitely help CTR.

  24. John Snippe Avatar John Snippesays:

    Thanks for this.

    Tho I wasn’t particularly surprised at most of the stuff, the scale of the difference was a serious eye-opener. Also: power-words vs emotive language was an interesting takeaway for me.

    Shared the post, btw.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi John, you’re welcome. Same here: nothing here floored me in terms of “wow, that had an effect?”. The scale and some of the nuances (like how CTR spikes at #5 and again at #3) that stood out to me.

  25. Brian – this is pure gold, my man! Very interesting stats here. Lots to digest. Possible tweaks to my blog incoming.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Bobby, thanks! Same here: I plan on making a few tweaks based on what we found too.

  26. Hey Brian .
    I Just love your post! Easy to read and straight to the point.

    I guess including a question in the blog title increases CTR alot. And what about those people who made clickbait post.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks. Yup, clickbait can work on social still. But it may not help your CTR in Google.

  27. Mike Avatar Mikesays:

    Very interesting read, however I’m not clear whether these findings factor in PPC ads showing in search results and how this would impact the CTR eg. organic position 1 with no PPC ads above it is going to have a higher CTR than organic position 1 with 3 paid ads above it.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Mike. We used Google Search Console data for this study. The upside is that the data comes from Google, so it’s super accurate. But the downside is that we don’t get PPC data.

    1. Hey Brian,

      Your findings regarding “Power words” looks strange.

      PW should encourage people to click.

      Anyway, I’m sure your study was scientifical.

      Thanks for this interesting topic

      1. Michael, his findings make sense in my own experience. If something feels too much like an ad a SERP, they won’t want to click it.

  28. Great content as always! Love how deep you went into it and did the experiments to get actual stats.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Jordan. 👍👍👍

  29. Great Research, Brian. I’m always amazed to see the hard work that is done by you and your team. I loved this CTR Stats. Loved from Heart

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks. And you nailed it: this type of study is 100% a team effort. Lots of hard work from lots of people go into a study like this.

  30. Andrii Avatar Andriisays:

    Yeh, Brian! Thank you! Really useful article!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Andrii. Glad you learned some new stuff.

  31. Martin Edic Avatar Martin Edicsays:

    Another great data-driven piece. There is another factor I wish you’d tested for: Date published. I’ve noticed that I tend to click on more recent results over older ones, but this is anecdotal. It also looks like Google tends to put more recent content above older content, in some cases. Any thoughts?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Martin. That would have been cool to look at actually. I also scan the results for more recent stuff (although it depends a little on the search). I’d like to look into that in a future study.

  32. Pauline May Avatar Pauline Maysays:

    Excellent content and information

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Pauline 👍👍👍

  33. Using power words in title tags have a negative effect? Interesting.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      I found that interesting too. We also found that highly-emotional titles get a higher CTR. So it’s a balance between catching people’s eye without going over the top.

  34. Brian, does the CTR statistics change when Google shows the “discover” box?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Filipe, we didn’t look into that (the Google Search Console shows Discover data but not in the “Search results” Performance Report).

  35. Great analysis!
    What’s the average CTR for Featured Snippets – any data on this?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Abdul. The GSC doesn’t specify CTR for Featured Snippets although that would be cool to look at.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome. These industry studies are definitely hard work. But like you, I think they’re cool and interesting.

  36. Thanks for sharing Brian, great to be able to put some numbers against the assumptions.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Simon. That’s what studies like this are all about!

  37. Swaleha Avatar Swalehasays:

    Thanks Brian. It was brilliant. I learnt so much in one single article.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:


      1. Brian, this is amazingly detailed research. I respect your deligence. My main take away is that of commitment to course

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Thanks Joseph

  38. Brian you always use power words in your video like “today I’m gonna show how exactly ranked my website to no.1 spot” . I was thinking how it is not working on Search Results 😃

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Good question. We defined “Power Words” as highly-emotional term used by marketers (like “Amazing”). So it’s OK to be compelling as long as it’s not clickbait.

  39. Killer post with real data as usual Brian, good work! I am really surprised by your findings about Power Words. I actually remember that year or two ago you personally recommended to use power words in the titles. Seems Google says no more power words now. I guess I will have to remove them from some of my titles. 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Otto. I remember that too. It could be that they work in certain niches and not others. But the data is clear: it’s not a given that Power Words will increase your CTR.

  40. Roslyn Hill Avatar Roslyn Hillsays:

    I am a 69 yr old ex teacher. I have understood about 75% of this article after reading it a couple of times. I have a wordpress blog, a face book page and group. I recently established my utube channel with 17 info videos (UTUBE ROZ HILL) and can see that it may help if I entitle them with a question or an emotive title.
    I do have a question though. My logo is a circle of coloured hearts so I often use the heart emoji in my script. So my question is would the use of emoji’s in my titiles and descriptions help my SEO ? or would it hinder it?
    I am fairly new to all this and a useless techno. I often got less than 3 shares on facebook. I was shocked as I recently posted an ad on fb and got 15 shares and 4000 likes. The only Idifference I could see was that I had posted children in my photos. I will look to see if I posed a question too!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Roslyn, I’m glad you found it helpful. Google doesn’t show emojis in the search results. They’ve tested it a few times but always revert back to just text. So I’d say it doesn’t really have an impact.

      1. Hi Brian,

        I can’t see it this is an older thread, but right now, we are applying emojis in title and meta description, which is showing up in Google.

        However, I found this reply, as I wanted to ask you, if you have any input as to whether this is a generally positive or negative strategy?

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Hi Henrik, that’s a new thread actually. I’ve seen Google use them now and again. Do you mind sharing the keywords that have results with emojis? To answer your question: if it increases CTR and traffic, I’d say it’s a good thing!

  41. The Top 3 search results gets 75% of the links. Wow – that’s insane, and also an eye-opener.
    It’s not just enough to rank on Page 1 – but we should do everything to rank higher.

    I am curious to know if numerals made a difference, or having the year (2019) made any difference in CTRs.

    Overall another great article Brian!!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Nissar. Absolutely. ranking on page 1 is nice. But it’s really all about the top 3.

  42. Hey Brain, Fantastic research here. You always deliver! May I have permission to share this with clients? Obviously giving you full credit and link to this page? Thanks again for your desire to educate us.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Jason, thanks! Sure: feel free to share this with your clients.

  43. Chris Avatar Chrissays:

    Did you notice changes of CT-Behaviour of users? I once subscribed to STW and there you praised Power Keywords as a major opportunity in ctr optimization. Having your results in mind, do you still have the same opinion on that?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Chris, Good question there. Like anything, Power Words are something to test out. In certain niches they seem to help, but as our data found, they can do more harm than good in some cases.

  44. Excellent article Brian, clear and to the point. Well done.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks David. My team and I put a ton of work into this project so I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed reading the post.

  45. Brain again a interesting research. Thanks for sharing this. For me Power words research is good one because earlier I thought they can help us to improve the CTR and conversions.

    What are your thoughts on improving the conversions with Power words, will it make any sense?

    Thanks again for your this insightful research.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Ashok, you’re welcome. Power Words are great to use inside of your copy. They’re a copywriting staple for a reason. But people are becoming more skeptical of clickbaity stuff so it’s a balance.

  46. Hi Brian. Great post supported by data. I wonder if the use of a question in a title tag has increased because of voice search? Thanks.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Hazel, good question there. I actually thought along those lines. Question keywords are definitely on the rise. But I’m not sure if that many site owners have adapted their title tags yet.

  47. Brilliant article Brian, as always. Thank you, I find your stuff really useful.

    I have it in my head that improving CTR can have a double benefit – firstly getting more clicks from the SERP position, but then google may rank the page higher because of it’s increased CTR and so you get another traffic boost there.

    Is that second point is right? Thanks!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Phil, you’re welcome. You’re 1000% correct there: CTR can help you get more traffic in the short-term. And if Google notices that more and more people are clicking on your result, you can get a rankings boost. More info on that here: https://backlinko.com/hub/seo/organic-ctr

  48. Brian Sabin Avatar Brian Sabinsays:

    Great analysis, Brian and Eric. Thank you for putting it together.

    First, this puts the nail in the coffin for “Ultimate Guide.” SO MANY sites use the “ultimate guide” schtick. I’d long suspected that was backfiring (because after all, how often do you see “the ultimate guide” in the top spot?). This guide makes clear that headline writing needs to be far more nuanced.

    Second, to me this seems like a great argument for sites/clients/etc. to have a long-term game plan that’s highly keyword-driven. The 45% CTR increase for keyword-containing URLs is massive. Publishers who plan ahead, target their terms, and then implement those best practices (like positioning the URL around the exact term you’re trying to win) will benefit a whole lot.

    IMO, this needs to be thought of upfront, rather than at the tail end of content creation. Nothing is worse than trying to shoehorn a piece of content into an ill-fitting term. But those who call their shots from the beginning are far more likely to hit their target.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Brian, you’re welcome! I hope that doesn’t also include “Definitive Guides” because we do publish lots of those. Ours are actually “definitive”, but that’s another story for another post 🙂

      To your second point, I couldn’t agree with you more. SEO has evolved a ton but it’s still about keywords. And it was interesting to see how much something as simple as using an exact keyword in a URL impacted CTR.

  49. This should be voted as MSc level research, seriously. Thanks a lot for this post it will be my future reference whenever I touch the keyboard and start typing a post. The best part is Emotional Titles Can Increase Organic Click Through Rate.

    100% agree

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Ahmed.

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