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

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 searh 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 an absolute 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.

419 Comments

  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. 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. I love everything you publish, but in your “17 Insanely Actionable SEO Tips For 2019” from January, your #1 recommendation was to use “Title Tag Powerups” (“Power Words” like Awesome and Amazing). I did this on several of my main product pages, but based on the study results presented in this article, I guess I should remove them.

          2. Thanks Steve. Like anything in SEO and marketing, I recommend testing things to see how they work for your industry and website. I personally found that Power Words can help, but the data shows that this isn’t the case across the board.

  2. 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. 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. 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.

    1. 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.

  3. 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. 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. 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.

          1. Come on… of course Search Console provides filters (dimensions) that allow analyzing or even exporting search data (clicks, impressions, CTR, av. pos.) just for mobile devices (smartphones to be accurate).

            SERP’s on mobile and desktop differ a lot so it’s a good idea to research this topic again. Conclusions may be suprising 😉

          2. The GSC shows you “Desktop”, “Mobile”, “Tablet”. Considering the wide range of screen sizes within each category, it’s hard to make any conclusions about the fold. That said, it would be interesting to break this down into devices. Seeing the difference between CTR on dekstop and mobile would be super interesting.

          3. It’s impossible to segment data by the screen’s size but still – smartphone vs. desktop SERP’s research would be nice 😉

    1. 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.

    2. 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

  4. 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. 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.

  5. 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. 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?

  6. 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. 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”.

  7. 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.

    Greetings
    Kris

  8. 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. 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).

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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. 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. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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. 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!

    1. 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.

  14. 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. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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. 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.

    2. 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. 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.

  17. 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. 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.

    1. 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.

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

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

  18. 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. 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.

  19. 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. 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.

  20. 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. 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. 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!

  21. 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!!

  22. 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.

  23. 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. 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.

    1. 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.

  24. 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. 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.

    1. 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.

  25. 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!

  26. 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. 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.

  27. 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

  28. Thank you Brian. I have been using emotional words in titles when am creating content for my clients. I will emphasize on using question headings. Thanks again. Keep up the good work and God bless you.

  29. This is a great article. Very insightful with a great level of detail. The power words vs emotional words is a bit nuanced. Certainly something to experiment with.

    I know this is about CTR but I wonder how/if power and emotional words effect rankings or if it is mostly keywords that effect it (I assume the later.)

    Love this article. One of the best of the year.

    1. Hi Steve, thank you. It is a nuance for sure. It looks like there’s a point where a title is compelling without looking like clickbait. To answer your question: I don’t think Google pays much attention to terms that aren’t related to the keyword. So if you use a Power Word, that may impact CTR, but I don’t think it’s something Google has built into their algo.

      1. Thanks. So I reread the article a second time. I have another comment/question. The article says Google doesn’t use meta-tag “description” data for ranking. But the link provided in the article goes to a Google blog post about meta-tag “keywords” not affecting ranking.

        Did you mean “keyword” meta-tag, or is “description” meta-tag really not a ranking factor? Thanks.

        1. Hi Steve, neither are used by Google. From that Google article: “we still don’t use the description meta tag in our ranking”.

  30. Great 👍🏾 article!
    Thank you for sharing the finds of your research. For sure it will help me to create a better titles and improve my organic CTR.

  31. Hey Brian, once again a great post from you. Just let me know can I use question as title for service pages of the website and will it help to improve the rankings?

    1. Good question there. I’d say in most cases I wouldn’t use a question for service pages. It’s something you can test, but it may not make sense for pages like that.

  32. One more thing, I usually use LSI keywords in titles, just because these are those keywords used in search query and suggested from Google itself but still not getting higher ranking. Please throw some light.!

  33. Hello Brian,
    Great info now no confusion for title tag and meta description, thanks for this article keep it up.
    can you please also elaborate about first starting paragraph. like how to start ? as well as how much word should include in first paragraph ?

    1. Thanks Aaron. That’s a big different as Magnet Words aren’t emotionally charged. Either way, like anything, it’s something to test out.

  34. Excellent information,

    My first takeaway will be:

    – question in title, if the context make senses
    – titles with 15-40 characteres
    – and emotional titles but without power words

    thanks for this article, Brian.

  35. Hey Brian,

    Amazing blog post there is no words for it, I want a suggestion, we are showing breadcrumbs in search results instead of URL.

    Should I disable breadcrumbs for search engines?

    There is an option in yoast (You already know)

    According to your research I should disable it

    Thanks

    1. Thank you. I’d still use breadcrumbs as they’re SEO-friendly overall. But I’d make sure the last part of the URL contains the keyword you want to rank for. Hope that makes sense.

  36. Thanks so much for sharing your findings Brian. Found new info I didn’t know about and you confirmed some suspicions around using emotional words for Titles. Love your work!

    1. You’re welcome, Louisa. I felt the same way: this in many ways was a confirmation of what I’d seen in the wild. But it’s nice to have some data to back things up.

  37. Hey Brian, awesome guide.

    A few things I think are super cool:

    1. The traffic bumps at different positions such as from 6 to 5. Not much to say about that other than to emphasize the importance of ranking high on page, not just page 1.
    2. Power words HURTING CTR. In hindsight, this makes a ton of sense but it’s pretty contrarian. I think that people have been so inundated with clickbait that we’re getting kind of sick of it.
    3. Publishing your own studies does help you gain backlinks. I know this because I’ll be adding several backlinks to this article from Niche Pursuits 😉

    Thanks again Brian!

    1. Hey Brady, thanks man! To your points:

      1. I found that interesting too. My theory is that the #5 and #3 spots correspond with where “the fold” ends for different screen sizes. But that’s just a guess.

      2. Exactly. In 2019 people are SUPER weary of clickbait.

      3. Nice!

  38. Thanks, Brian. Looked for an article that had some power words in the title and removed them. The CTR is 4% at the moment. I’ll let you know what the result is in a month or so.

  39. The most surprising was definitely the Power Words decrease. I have personally always been hesitant to click on overly “power word” results because of the fear it is misleading. Social media clickbait seems to be having a real influence on CTR in SERPS.

    Trust is huge factor in search and it seems that being over the top with headlines will break that trust with the user.

    1. Hi Craig, I couldn’t have said it better myself. It does look like the anti-clickbait behavior that people have on social is starting to seep into Google.

  40. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for sharing such a great article.

    I have read earlier about power words in one of your post.

    You mentioned that “power words will increase search engine rankings” in that post.

    But in today’s post you mentioned that power words will decrease CTR.

    What’s your opinion about power words. Should I use power words in my post title or not?

    1. Hi Abuzar, someone else mentioned that as well. I don’t think I ever said something that definitive. Power Words have worked for me and the sites I’ve worked with, but I recommend testing them out.

  41. How do you analyze “written meta descriptions”? For example, Google tends to create its own meta description for you even if you have one written on your website.

    Does having a meta description help even if Google doesn’t use it?

    1. Hey Anthony, we looked to see if the page’s HTML had a meta description there. As you said, otherwise (and sometimes even if the page does have a description), Google will create their own. Google’s usually isn’t as enticing as a hand-written version, hence the lower CTR.

  42. Thanks for the helpful article.

    Can anyone recommend the best way find out which specific pages on your website are currently ranking on the first page of Google? I’m currently using MOZ. Anyone know if there’s a way to see all ranking pages?

    Thanks!

  43. I think the #1 takeway of this study is the negative impact that “power” words have on title tags and, eventually, on CTRs.

    And i guess it makes sense. Those titles are basically clic baits which can be seen as publicity.

    People are running from publicity, that is one of the reasons why they are on Google.

    I think we just need to focus on answering the questions of our audience and do it in the most natural way possible.

    Congratulations for this study, Brian. I am part of a SEO agency, pencilspeech, in Venezuela and all your posts and studys have been very helpful.

    I can easily say that you are one of our role models. ¡Keep the great work!

    1. Well said, Tomas. I agree: people want trustworthy info in Google. And a title like: “This Post Is Incredibly Amazing” is going to scare people off.

    1. Hi Tine, I’d definitely test it. Free isn’t super emotional or clickbaity so my gut says that it would still be effective.

  44. Thanks for the research! I have a question about questions. (Pun intended!)

    When you reviewed the question titles, did you consider something like this as a question? “How to Make a Cake” Or was it only considered a question if it needed to end with a question mark? “How Do You Make a Cake?”

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Sherry, good question (see what I did there 🙂 ). We actually counted both as questions for the sake of this analysis. So any titles with a How, Why, What, Who, or a Question Mark (?) were considered question titles.

  45. Great tidbits here that we can pass to our own customers re: title lengths and power words that impact CTR, because they always ask about the very basics. Also reminds me that I need to update several of my own old blogs that need some serious work. Fantastic work as always, thanks!

  46. Love all the stats Brian. Was interesting to see that “power words” led to a drop in CTR, but loved your breakdown and explanation of what works on Facebook won’t necessarily work on Google search. Well done sir.

    1. Thanks Nick. That jumped out to me too. It does make sense considering that people on Google want reliable, trustworthy info. According to this study at least, a subdued title tag with a hint of emotion can do the trick.

  47. Awesome study! I had that same feeling with “Power Words” just because I tend to avoid them when I see them used (seems click bait-y to me). Good to have the research to back a lot of this up. Some of these I wasn’t surprised about, others I was. Thanks for doing this Brian!

    1. Hey Todd, I was actually in the opposite camp, LOL. That surprised me. But it makes sense that people don’t to click on clickbait in Google’s results.

  48. Amazing article. I think that everybody knew that the CTR is different according to you position but the differences are astonishing.
    A while ago I was really worried about a 3% ctr in 9-10 position but I quickly learned that it’s actually normal 🙂

      1. I read all your blog posts. Every month i can’t wait for a new one. I don’t know exactly, but it’s something different 🙂 English is not my native language, so I can’t explain.

  49. Hey Dean, your posts are always full of great suggestions and improvements for SEO experts.
    How much time took to collect and process all the data?

    Thanks a lot.
    Mattia

    1. Hi Mattia, thanks to patterning with ClickFlow, collecting the data was relatively easy. Analyzing it took about 2 weeks.

  50. Nice and structured research. I suppose it is a tough one to uncorrelate all the findings in each study.
    Seems like URL keywords is extremely important. I have never understood how navigation structure will affect this for example when the keyword is in the navigation
    /healthtest/women/high-quality
    /healthtest/women/high-quality-healthtest-woman

    1. Thanks Roger. It depends on how big the navigation is. If it’s multiple categories, for example, then Google may only show breadcrumbs.

      1. Actually this is a coincidence, (the comment that Tejas has posted), because I was just wondering about how rich snippets like those big yellow review stars next to some search results impact CTR. I’m starting to see those creeping up a lot lately and pretty sure they must have some significant impact being how strongly they stand out…would be curious to know just how much?

  51. Hi Brian,
    really great research on a classical topic!
    My question: Could you find any hints, that for SERP Resultat #11 to #13 there may be actually a slightly increase in the CTR? (hypothesis: this may be due to the position on top of page 2 for search results?) I have already seen this on some self-calculated CTRs and my first impression was, it has been a mistake.
    But, could it be logical to rather have keywords let drop to position #11 or #12 instead of pushing them to #6?
    Thanks, kind regards from Munich, Germany.

    1. Hi Ralf, great question there. I have seen that happen in certain situations. But at least with this data set, CTR drops off a lot on page 2.

        1. Hey Brian
          Just saw your explanation about the “117.77” discrepancy… Doesn’t gel am sorry… Total clicks for that first page should EITHER be 100% or (total clicks on first page / total clicks in whole).
          Weighted average, which is perfectly OK, has nothing to do here!
          You are talking oranges and apples…
          Because, with your explanation, and unless you can disclose the full maths behind this graph / weighting averages / what was weighted / how / etc… it just make the whole numbers totally wrong / not credible!
          What – for example – if ONLY the 1st position or the 2nd or the 3r or … were weighted? Which one them is actually weighted higher? down? etc…
          Can you please get back to your math geniuses and ask them either to fix this (how can they talk about 31 PER CENT of all clicks with a straight face, WHEN IT IS ACTUALLY 31 PER ONE HUNDRED SEVENTEEN POINT 77 PERCENT!!!) OR to explain the logic in more details…
          Cos right now, these results DO NOT GEL! 🙁
          Txs,
          G.

  52. Hi Dean, I found this post of great value – thanks. The % comparisons (e.g. #1 vs #n) was excellent because it translates so easily in to return on effort.

    Most sites have a goal after a click ( e.g. register, purchase etc). Have you done any research on the %goal for a click from 2nd+ pages? I am guessing the goal rate could be higher?

    1. Thanks Col. Good question there. We didn’t look into how different positions affect conversions but that would be interesting. I’d guess that conversions might be slightly higher, but I’ll still take #1 every time 🙂

  53. Some great stuff here supported by data (the way Google loves it). Regarding the ‘power words’, Google Webmaster Guidelines also supports your research, by stating: “Exaggerated or shocking titles can entice users to click on pages in search results. If pages do not live up to the exaggerated or shocking title or images, the experience leaves users feeling surprised and confused”. (p. 31 section 6.2). I assume most of the power words gives the users a spam feeling and also clickbait as you mentioned.

  54. Another great article Brian. Funny enough you had touched on gimmicky ‘power words’ in a previous video and it makes sense.
    You speak alot about bounce rates and if the post doesn’t appear amazing or great readers will leave.

    On another point…
    I’ve read alot on getting pages indexed quickly and am looking forward to hearing your methods.

    1. Hi Katie, thank you! I’m glad you liked it. We actually used both here. For the next version of the study we will probably run a separate analysis on CTR for desktop and mobile.

  55. Thank you so much for the info! My biggest problem is that Google doesn’t use my meta descriptions. It always pulls info from the page. Is there al way to stop that?

    1. You’re welcome, Hollee. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do about that except write really solid meta descriptions. Even then, Google still replaces ir with their own snippet sometimes.

  56. Great research Brain. A lot of new stuff to learn. I think stats are always good while making decisions but they shouldn’t bog you down. I have ranked my posts higher by beating the ones ranking above me via quality titles and content.

  57. Great insights! Thanks to you and Eric!

    Is this possible to translate article to Vietnamese and get back to your post with reference?

    I have left email in the comments box if you wish to reach me back.

  58. Hi Brian!

    Your article make me so interested.

    But, any problem happen in my country. Many Indonesian Bloggers are “wrong” using the article title on SERP to increase CTR.

    Example :

    http://prntscr.com/oyf1zz

    Example, Bixbux and Berakal website using “√” in front of the article title that’s “manually created” using SEO plugin.

    This is happen with “massively” in Indonesia. In my opinion, this is could damage SERP and make competition in SERP “dirty”.

    What do you think? Give me an explanation and deeper analysis about this problem, and I hope Google also discussed about it. Thanks!

    1. Hi Diaz, that’s interesting. They must have found that the checkmark works. There’s nothing in Google’s guidelines against using them (as far as I know). So I say it’s not a big problem.

    1. Thanks Priscilla. My take is that Power Words still have their place in copywriting. But people might be getting kind of sick of anything that looks like clickbait.

  59. Thanks, Brian for this post -very clear and concise as is typical of your posts. I read it with a pen and notebook in hand..now I have tons of actions to take…Not complaining at all. Thanks once again for the very insightful post.

  60. Awesome read in CTR we have always noticed it with our clients result but this study has given and extra add on to those we are following thanks for your share 😃

  61. Hi Brian, great post as usual. However, I remember you suggesting to use power words in meta title and meta description before.

    Which makes me wonder were you suggesting it as a theory last time? Like you thought that would help with Ctr but it was not tested the way you have tested it now?

    1. Hi Andy, I actually addressed this in another comment. Short version: they’ve always worked best for my and my clients. But obviously not something that works across the board.

    1. Thanks! I wouldn’t necessarily shorten your titles based on CTR alone. For example, longer titles contain more terms, which means you can rank for more keywords. It’s something to test for sure though.

  62. Dean, Thanks for sharing the stats. I’m surprised to see “Power Words” results in Negative CTR. Again as addressed above, in Social Media I have noticed “Power Words” resulted in more engagement and CTR of my posts. And here I have learned emotional titles could help the search result to get a higher CTR. I have a query here, could you tell me why is that alone, position change from 10 -> 9 resulting in negative CTR(-3.8)?

    1. You’re welcome, Robert. to answer your question: I’m not 100% why the #10 result gets more clicks than #9. My guess is that the #10 result is the last result so it stands out a bit more.

  63. Hey Brian,
    This stats are amazing. I am using power words in my title, but in this article, I found it’s not that much helpful. So my question is, should I changed them or not?
    Thanks

  64. I totally admire your response to “Thanks Steve. Like anything in SEO and marketing, I recommend testing things to see how they work for your industry and website. I personally found that Power Words can help, but the data shows that this isn’t the case across the board.”

    Yes SEO and Internet Marketing are evolving and keeps on changing with time and updates. And SEO is totally based on experiments and testing. And I am also surprised with the fact that Power Keywords decreases your CTR.

    And I think the CTR for organic results over mobile devices would even have a lower CTR, that’s because Google has increased the number of Ads over mobile devices (Gallery Ads, Discovery Feed Ads). I think you may also need to conduct a study over mobile devices CTR specifically, as there are a lot more distractions there.

    But this one is a great study to read Brian!

    1. Thank you. I agree: looking at mobile CTR vs. deskstop CTR would be super interesting. Maybe for a future version of this study!

  65. Wow!
    Great Summary of CTR in Google. On web you can see much info about SEO and best practices, but here I can finally see how the title affects CTR and much more. Thanks for all the knowledge and research

    1. Good question there. It really comes down to copywriting. Writing titles that grab people’s attention without resorting to clickbait.

  66. Hey Brian,

    Fantastic !!! post really tuning my SEO skill.

    Got more stuff about Google CTR now. And I am gonna optimize all existing pages and posts.

    Looking for more.

    Cheers

  67. Thank you, Brand, for this awesome post. Once more tons of info combined with great infographics. Great work.
    I have built 4 websites from scratch, and I see it’s a real hustle trying to rank at the top. The competition is fierce.
    Regards.

    1. Hey Alexis, you’re not kidding: ranking #1 is no joke. The SEO and content space is more competitive than ever.

  68. Hey Brian,

    Backlinko is my favorite SEO and marketing blog. But Backlinko gives us useful compywriting insights too.

    Thanks for sharing another helpful article.

  69. I don’t have enough to say but Brian Dean is a genius. I’m always excited to read his new update post through my email. Every time I create a blog (funny thing) I keep going back to his guides. Soon Brian Dean become a legend! Thanks, Sir Brian! Big help to my new website frontrowblog.com my other blog now at top 0 because of you!

    Cheers,
    Vince
    One of your biggest fan!

  70. Loved your case studies as usual. It was a great learning curve on the CTR.

    Now it’s important to be in the top 3 to get better results, even if a link is on 1st page, and below the fold. It seems to be pointless.

    Rich snippets would be an added advantage to drive more traffic, thanks to the tools out there, which make such SEO job easier.

    Moreover, nothing could be better, if one could rank on the 0th position to the Click-through rate even better.

    Thanks, Brian

    1. Thanks Richard. Yes, I do test and optimize title tags. The basic process is: roll out the new title, wait 2-4 weeks, see if organic traffic has improved/gotten worse.

  71. I really appreciate the research.

    Studies like these are the best way SEOs can learn more and adjust to better rank websites.

  72. Hi Brian,

    Thank you for providing us with such great information for free. It helps a lot with our SEO work. What I wanted to ask you is, are all these tips for any industry domain? I have my own food delivery websites. Can I / Should I use these in the mentioned domains?

    1. Hi Suraj, I’m reluctant to make recommendations based on these findings. But this is great stuff to test for your site and see how it works out.

  73. Hello Brian

    I have one question that what is the difference of powerful title and emotional title?
    Is powerful means force people to take action? Do Emotional means entice people?

    Thanks

    1. Good question, Leonard. Power Words are a discrete set of words that copywriters use (like “Amazing” and “Crazy”). Emotional titles are titles that have some emotional sentiment but don’t necessarily use those terms. Hope that makes sense.

    1. Hi Max, we didn’t specifically look at Featured Snippets here as the GSC doesn’t report on them specifically.

  74. A fantastic study once again that’s in-depth and extremely helpful.

    Hopefully SEO’s take this with a pinch of salt and not decide to shorten every meta title and put them as questions….

    I can see it now: “Who are the best [service] in [area]?”

    1. Hey Michael, thank you. I’ve actually seen a few people do exactly that. In my opinion, industry studies like this are valuable in that they give you ideas for things to test.

  75. Awesome insight Brian, as usual. One thing I have found across many sites is that an average rank of 11-12 in Google has a higher CTR than rank 9-10. So top of page 2 generates more CTR than bottom of page 1. My hypothesis is that people who go to page 2 are more invested in their search and the perception of top vs. bottom of page (top is good result, bottom not so much) is stronger than rank for most people. Is this something you found in the study as well?

    1. That’s interesting, Jelle. We found that very, very few people go to the second page. I know from my own data the last time I looked certain pages ranking 11-12 had a better CTR than #9. But that was only for a small amount of pages. Maybe it’s like you said: for certain keywords people really dig through the results and wind up on page 2.

      1. It is very few people, so it’s not really something you can/should execute on, but I was surprised (and not) when I saw the results.

  76. Amazing work. Thank you for putting in the time for this research, it’s really interesting and I definitely have learned a lot from this post! I’ll be sure to keep a handle on those ‘power words’ 🙂

    1. Hi Lauren, you’re welcome. Yup, it looks like emotional titles have their place as long as the title doesn’t start to get into clickbait territory.

  77. Hey Brian, Thanks for this article.
    Really, it is a very helpful article for new SEO strategist.

    As you mentioned real-time data here, it will be helpful for me to discuss with my colleagues.

  78. Incredible post, Brian.
    I made insane after knowing the keyword-rich URL can increase CTR by 45%. This stats force me to focus on creating a URL with the rich keyword.
    Thanks for sharing with us.

  79. Hi Brian, thanks for this great study, although there is something i don’t get about first search results performing better when they’re above the fold

    On desktop, with Chrome, i don’t get ANY natural search result above the fold : they’re either paid links (ie nothing to do with SEO), or local search results on a map

    Then, in which conditions do you see any natural search results above the fold ?

    1. Hi Laurent, there are still lots of keywords without ads or a local pack. If you search for “how to” keywords for “free” stuff you’ll find them.

  80. Thank you for the great article, Brian! A lot of great insights!
    I am curious that if a site has a sitelinks search box feature in the SERP (such as YouTube), and a person entered a query in its search box, and then clicked on 1 of the returned links. In this case, would the YouTube page with the search box still consider has earned 1 click?

    1. Hi Emily, good question there. I’m honestly not 100% sure if that counts. I actually don’t think so because the GSC has a separate report for that but I’m not 100% sure.

  81. That’s a great article, thanks. However, what’s about SERP features? Did not you consider blended results? e.x. featured snippet eats almost 9% of CTR (according to Moz research), site links extend overall ctr and so on. When Google is overwhelmed by SERP features I think they are worth to take into account.

    1. You’re welcome. Unfortunately, the GSC doesn’t give a lot of details on SERP Features. So we couldn’t do a lot of analysis there.

  82. Fantastic research as always! I’ll be honest, my mind is a bit blown by two of the stats regarding the title tags:

    1. Go shorter as opposed to longer
    2. Use questions

    Been in the SEO game for a long time, I know the days of just repeating top targeted keywords in the title tags are long gone. But didn’t predict that the lack of over optimization and use of questions would actually have more benefit than traditional title tag optimization.

    Definitely going to try and tweak a few title tags based on the insights provided. Very curious and excited to gauge the results for myself.

    Thanks Brian, you crushed it as always!!

  83. Hi Brian,

    Detailed insights on Google search results. I like one thing which you mentioned in this post is that if you are on 5 postion then you have maximum chance to get click on your website instead of you are on 10 position.

    Here, I’ve seen some typo mistake. I guess “which is just a few mere pixels below the #1 spot, has such a large CTR dropoff.” Its more instead of mere. Am I right Brian?

  84. Really nice Brian, very interesting to see the results.
    Question though, regarding the questions in the title, you defined a question as a title that used the terms “How, Why, What, Who” or a title with a question mark.

    Is there any reason that titles with “when” weren’t considered as part of this? For example –
    When is the best time to post on social media

  85. Hi Brian,

    In your “Google Organic CTR breakdown by position” at the top of the post (the 5th image), the numbers add up to well over 100%. In fact, if you add up 1-6, you already get 104.44%. What happened there?

  86. Amazing study—AS ALWAYS—Brian!! When I see you’ve hit publish on a new article I just can depend on it being a total mindblower, haha. 🤯

    I’m also loving your creative game lately. Would love to get your designer’s deets if you’re using someone that you’d care to share. I’ve got some big plans for posts like this in the PPC area. :->

    Much love!

    1. Hi Rachel, great question there. My guess would be that they do because it’s the same person behind the click. Definitely wroth testing!

  87. Good Work Brian,

    I already read one article and watch some of the videos in which you have mentioned about CTR Growth. And seriously after the implementation, I can see the right up move in my CTR Chart.

    And now just after 2 months of the change, I analyse that My Organic growth has gone up by 40%.

    I am sure this would also work like a charm for all of us SEOs.

  88. As always, great content. I totally agree on the “power words” one because I have noticed that Google does not like title with “Best” .
    Sometimes, Brian’s emails end up in my Spam box, which is why I have to check my Spam box once in a while.

  89. Hi Brian, I want to say just a single word for this content, Wow!!!. Effect of emotional words on CTR is amazing research. I had a question that usage of the brand name in meta title will affect CTR.

  90. Hi, Brian Dean that was excellent research.

    After reading your article I just have changed some of my SEO Title’s length to 50 characters max!

    Hope you bring similar studies in the future.

    I have one confusion, can you clear it?

    Do tag and SEO title (which we generate from SEO plugin) be different? Does it affect SEO?

    1. You’re welcome. It depends a lot on the plugin and setup. But in most cases the H1 and title tags are the same.

  91. This one is doubt clear post about CTR. I have friends who have different opinions about CTR and always stay with their opinion the funny thing they don’t have data to proof that.

    I am going to share this post with them, it might wake them up from their dreams.

    Thanks Brian for sharing.

  92. Thanks Brain Dean, Very powerful info to share & apply this tips to get traffic for website [ positions changes in SERP].

    I am taking key takeaway is that ” Graph of CTR changes as per changes in position of website in SERPs.

    Thank you…I have landed by ” Your simple reminder Email ” [ I always prefer this one]

  93. Great article Brian! Love how well everything is written and detailed. Thanks for all the amazing content. I’m going to start putting some of these to the test especially adding questions to title tags.

  94. Brian, great insight, thanks for sharing this.
    When it comes to “Power Words”, I have the feeling this also has to do with shift in B2B (buying) behaviour – now expecting same experience as long-known to B2C (because in our private lives, we all fall into the B2C category, don’t we…); and as such much more sensitive to those ‘over-promotional’ buzzwords. It might also have to do with the “fake news stories” and the sensitivity of people to look twice before relying on one single result of their search.
    Further, though I don’t have data for this, I also have the feeling that if the search results shows the same company, but higher ranked with their paid/sponsored link and lower ranked with their organic search result, people more and more have the tendency to click on the organic result despite it being lower ranked (maybe also because more and more people are aware the paid link is going to cost their “counterpart” something?). Is this something your data is able to proof?

    1. Hey Suzan, you’re welcome. Great insights there and I agree with you: people in B2B (which, as you said, are B2C when they’re not at work) also seem to be weary of buzzwords and clickbait.

      To your second question, we didn’t look into this. But from Adwords accounts that I’ve worked with that big on their brand name, you’re right: the organic result usually gets significantly more clicks than the ad.

  95. Thank you for this! It is contrary to some of the practices I’ve been following of late from my SEO plugins, so I’m glad you have solid research to back it up! I’ll be implementing these from now on. I always hated trying to figure out “power words” and agree they look too much like clickbait/spam.

    1. Hi Ryan, you’re welcome. SEO plugins have their place for sure. But some of them definitely have outdated recommendations.

  96. This is fascinating information. Several of the stats shocked me as they go against what many people teach and blog about online. Especially the “Power Words” actually decreasing the CTR. As always, I appreciate your research and insight.

  97. Hi Brian,

    Your study is very interesting, I am sharing this with my team! Thank you for spending the time to do this. Your findings are very actionable, I love it !

    I am curious about what you used to provide a similarity index between keywords and URLs?

    Thanks again, SEO studies should always be as rigorous as yours 🙂

    1. Hi Camille, thank you! I appreciate that. I’ll have to check with our data guys on this one, but I think we may have used an open source script.

  98. Very nice case study thank you.
    However the result may be slightly different , if we segment a query. For example when user searching for branded terms, the CTR for brand may be %70-%80 (number 1 results) for popular brands.
    It’s true that number 10 position is performing better than 9 , however is some mobile cases there is no more 10 results , it’s because page get overloaded with so many other Google tips.

  99. Hello Brian,
    The insights in the Articles are really good but still, I believe that it is quite difficult to create 15-40 characters titles for an e-commerce page, where you also need to put the long-phrase keyword in the title with a CTA and Brand name which is sometimes not possible in 15-40 characters. Am I right

    1. Very true. I recommend testing long and short titles to see what works best for you (in terms of CTR and overall organic traffic). But you’re right: ecommerce product pages usually are on the longer side to include terms like “Free Shipping”.

  100. Brian, I presented this to my SEO class tonight at the University of Houston, and the class really enjoyed it, however, one student noticed a contradiction. On one hand, the data says to avoid Power Words like “great” – in the meta-title, however, on the other hand you mention that sentiment is a positive feature within a meta-title, and the example (graphic) you bring to show positive sentiment is the blog post using the word “great”. So is “great” great, or not so great?

    1. Hi Danny, your student raises a good point. I briefly address the contradiction in the post, but the “great” example does make things confusing. I’m not sure why I included “great” as a Power Word example as it doesn’t have a strong positive sentiment. I’ll update the post to make this more clear.

  101. Hey Brian, I go through this CTR stats and I must say that you have done a good and in-depth research about CTR optimization. I will keep reading your blog and get some unique ideas that I, later on, implement and see positive impact.

  102. Hey Brian,
    Do you think the power words have been used so much in click bait titles that they got associated with false value content?

  103. Hey Brian,

    you did a great job here. Really usefull insights, appreciate the work!

    How come the sum of the CTR breakdown by position is 117,86%?

  104. Dear Brian, maybe this will be out of topic but, can you please tell me:
    * What do you think is the correlation between website DR (or DA) and rankings. Let’s consider that the content is good.
    Thank you in advance

  105. Hi Brian,
    I love your videos. I’m having issues getting past position 11 on a Search term/keyword. I’ve tried everything and talked to some SEO companies and am being told that structurely my website looks good, but I need more Backlinks. As I read about getting backlinks, I am getting scared of hiring some because their cost is so high I can’t afford it or if it’s a cheaper service, I am reading how some of the things they do can cause more harm then good. HELP! What’s a small business with little to no advertising budget to do?

  106. Quick question, the 31% is that including the adds Google puts at the top? So, is the paid first result considered to be the number 1 result or are you considering the first non-paid result the number 1?

  107. Loved the detailed Analysis, Negative Impact of “Power Words” & Titles More than 40 Characters are a bit surprising for me, need to share it with our content team.

  108. Hi Dean, learn a lot here, and thx for your pretty good research~

    ps: there seems to be an image at the wrong place~

    just behind the para:

    “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.”

  109. Great analysis! This is much much valuable information! I am particularly fond of the “shorter titles” tip, as I always try to use two keywords in mine and I think it’s over-cluttering, so now I have statistic data proof to cut them off 🙂

  110. Hello Brian
    Am I the only one to – looking at your slide on % per SERP – “feel” that your taly-up doesn’t make ANY SENSE? 🙂
    Checking quickly after first “Doesn’t seem OK” feel, it is just plain wrong : total of all fields is … 117.77%!!!
    A bit worrying as the WHOLE post stems from this first step…
    And not filling me with a lot of confidence over the other results you are stating in that post…
    Could you kindly check them-up thoroughly and confirm that this is the ONLY error / update said slide?
    Many thanks (and many thanks for the hard work behind this post!)
    Best,
    G.

  111. Hi Brian, good and informative post. Obviously position 1 gets most of the clicks. But you left out the most important part. HOW to increase position on the first page? For example, we have many high competition keywords where we rank 6-9 on the first page. How do we make the jump to positions 1-5? I would like to see some actionable items for getting that done. Best regards, Dave

  112. Brian, Great article!

    Do you have any data on the CTR variation for position changes as a correlation to title tag length? For example if you improve from position 6 to 5 with a title tag in the 15 to 40 character length, what improvement in CTR can you expect to see (based on the data)? Compared to if you improve from position 6 to 5 with a title tag outside the 15 to 40 character range.

  113. That’s the key. I need to use Power Words on my web site content. (BEST)
    Sometimes it’s better to be on 10th position than on the 7th or 8th position. I always look at the first result and then go to the end 🙂

  114. Thank you Brian, I’m pretty glad to see this post not long after I created my new blog. At least it’s easier for me now to know what my priorities should look like.
    Thanks once again!

  115. Hey Brian!

    Awesome post, as usual.

    I have some questions (which are sort of unrelated to this post).

    My first: how do you decide if you are going to make a normal post or an ultimate guide? Is it based on the keyword you’re targeting?

    My second: when you were starting out Backlinko, did you start with targeting highly competitive keywords (and then building a massive number of backlinks for those pages)? Or did you go after many less-competitive long-tail keywords first?

    Thanks again for the awesome content.

    Kindest Regards,
    Peter

  116. What would be interesting to see is how Google ads play a role in a lower CTR for organic search results.

    Like you said in the article, people intuitively click on the first link that they see in the search results.

    What if the first 4 links are paid ads like its common for some search results, how many people are then still clicking on organic search results?

  117. Often people never just click on a search result and are gone forever but they’ll re-visit SE results to click on other results too in order to make better informed decisions.
    For example there is a Keyword with 10000 monthly search volume and I’m ranking at 2#, I’ll get 2471 clicks on average (at 24,71%) but often I am additionally getting clicks from people who visited #1 and also want to visit #2 or from #4 etc, also people who visited my site want to check out #1 and #5 etc.
    Is this already calculated in this formula or is there an additional formular existing for this situation to calculate maximum potential number of clicks for a given Keyword?

    1. Hi Anthony, Good question. That’s included in the GSC formula. It’s how many people click on your result regardless of what they clicked on before.

  118. This is great information – thanks for taking the time to put this all together and for sharing. It’s always great to see how large data samplings in this space inevitable follow parabolic curves. It really shows the crossover between SEO being both an art and a science. Looking forward to reading more articles.

  119. Hi Brian,
    do you think affirmation #6 is still true in 2019? Are there any large-scale tests newer than the 2016’s Etsy one? Many thanks.

  120. First things first: great article – amazing job as always.

    Just a couple thoughts regarding “Power Words”, Although I completely agree that as Google/Search evolves, so does users behavior and the once marketing clickbait of power words probably doesn’t work in search the same way as in social networks as you mention – I mean, data doesn’t lie.

    What puzzles me, is that as an SEO practitioner still looking at search volume data for reference, I keep witnessing a large volume of searches for long-tail keywords that use “Power Words”. This seems to be more common for specific the “power words” that are superlative adjectives. These somehow suggest “uniqueness”, and a bit of the user intent/attempt to pinpoint a single result. Not various options, but “the most”. These would be words such as “best”, “top” and alike. I will call them “Superlatives” here for the sake of the example. It’s easy to find high search volume for keywords such as “top things to do…”, “best places to”, “best restaurants”, etc.

    So in my POV, this “Power Words” list should be broken down to the superlatives VS clickbait adjectives such as some of your examples above (“amazing” etc).

    That said, maybe looking at these in the same pack as “power words” is misleading. I’d love to see this same CTR study for those “Superlative” words as well as to compare the above “Power Words” CTR figures VS a new “Power Words” list without “Superlatives”.

    My hunch is that for “Superlatives” CTR shouldn’t be as low – or even higher showing that these words do work. On the other hand, for the new “Power words” list without the later, your statement should be even more evident and the CTR even lower, proving that the SERPs is really not the most appropriate place to clickbait users as though a best practice before.

    Would be an interesting insight to assess as it redefines and adds some constraints to the 2019 searcher and the concept of CTA’s.

    What do you think? Does any of the above make sense?

    Pedro

  121. Hey Brian, great article as always! I was surprised by the questions having such an improved CTR rate as some in my industry on page 1 come across as boring titles but they are on page 1 so it makes sense now!

  122. Hi Brian
    Great and detailed article. A question about having the business name in the title. Do you think this has any impact on CTR? Is it worth adding in or not? Thanks Jodi

  123. Nice work here Brian.

    One area there doesn’t seem to be much research on is around how real world SERPs look and the impact that has on CTR. The research is great and I’m not downplaying that, but how often do we actually see a standard 10 pack with 10 blue links these days.

    It would be amazing to see a study of how the various SERPs features impact CTR. For example a site that ranks position 1 where there are no features versus the same but when there is a featured snippet, people also ask, knowledge card, local pack etc. as that will really skew the CTR data.

    Personally I think CTR models are great when we are look at opportunity trends, but we almost need to consider this on a query by query basis as intent will always be different and so the SERPs will always look different. Not that I would ever want to start doing this at a query level but I think the results would be extremely telling and quite compelling!

    Paul

    1. Hi Paul, thank you. And I really can’t disagree with what you’re saying. SERP Features are everywhere and have a huge impact on CTR. The upside of using GSC data is that it comes from Google. The major downside is that it does report as if 10 blue links are still the norm.

  124. Hey, Brian. Great read! I appreciate the data and insights. I’m curious if you can clear up one area of confusion for me. Is there not a difference between saying “The #1 result in Google’s organic search results has an average CTR of 31.7%” and “The #1 Result In Google Gets 31.7% of All Clicks”? In other words, doesn’t the former mean that of all the #1 results you examined, the average CTR was 31.7%? And the latter is something different, in that you’re saying that 31.7% of all clicks you examined went to the first result. Aren’t those two different? It appears as though you’re describing them as the same thing. If they were the same, wouldn’t the percentages in the chart below the line “Here is the full CTR breakdown for Google’s first page organic results:” add up to 100%? Sorry if I’m misreading. Thanks again.

    1. Thanks Michael. It depends a little on how you define each term. But the way we looked at things, they are the same thing. But you’re right: there are cases where CTR and % of clicks may be a little bit different.

  125. Dang Brian, this data is all gold! Most exciting one for me was “moving up 1 spot in the search results will increase CTR by 30.8%.” I also that it was interesting that Title Tags Between 15 to 40 Characters Have The Best CTR, as I am usually one to try and max out the Title Tags (without getting it cut off in SERPs). I do trust that data though, so I’m looking forward to testing out the shorter Meta Titles.

  126. Hi Brian Dean
    Awesome and detailed article. I have a question about meta description. what is the best length character of meta description? and how to improve ranking on voice search.

  127. Amazing case study Brian! And I wholeheartedly agree with your findings as I too have experienced some of these things myself, just not in very detail.

    Regarding your point about “The #1 Result In Google Gets 31.7% of All Clicks”. Do you mean just the non-ad results or the search results including ads? Because Google doesn’t really try to make a distinction between normal search results and ads these days(as they used to do some years ago). To make things worse, Google adds their own widgets like “People also ask” so for keywords that have 4-5 ads appearing on search results page, the first organic search result is essentially at the 5th or 6th position on the page or lets say almost below the fold. This is true for many highly coveted keywords. Do you think SEO for highly targeted keywords with lots of competition for ads is not very fruitful these days even if you rank on top 3? Would love to hear your position on this.

    1. Thanks Robin. That data comes from the GSC. So the 31.7% is the percentage of clicks on that result, which takes into accounts ads, people also ask boxes and other SERP features. There’s no doubt that CTR is on the decline (mostly due to the SERP features that you mentioned).

  128. A question in title is good, if you are writing the blog post. But not effective, if you placed a question in title for service pages?

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

    Oops! I used to think it would be around 13-17%.

    Lately, I’ve been playing around a lot with Ubersuggest, and it seems that domains with higher authority have much greater chances of ranking in the top 5 results, especially for the highly competitive keywords, regardless of the link profile.

    Poor newbies like me would have to put in a tremendous amount of effort to create some chances for ranking in the top 3.

    But that will be fun. Lol!

    Thanks for the amazing post, as usual, Brian 🙂

  130. Hi Brian, Thanks for putting in the effort on this case study, there is some amazing data. I am surprised that the drop off from 2-6 is relatively linear compared to the drop from 1-2. Also, after 6 it seems to really drop off a cliff. I am also surprised by your “power words” findings as I would have expected the opposite. You have given me some great data to work with.

  131. Hi Brian, i wann thank you for posting this informative article. It helped me a lot to improve me site. Great tipps especially for finding the correct keyword. Best regards, Stefan

  132. Thank you for your very knowledgable post. When I am assisting other business owners, I tell them it is not about length (if not over 55 hcaracters) but what is included in a page title. Try and include your keywords (close to the beginning) a call to action and a benefit. Titles must also include an emotional word (some call it a power word) as well.

  133. Great and very helpful research! Currently i am struggling with a new website that i launched a few month ago, the average position in all queries is about 60th and CTR is just 0.4%. I was worrying that this CTR is too low, but now after i have read this article i understand that for those 10+ (even 50+) positions a super-low CTR is quite normal.

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