How much is a top ranking position worth – PPC and SEO

We all know that a high position is better than a low position – both for PPC ads and in the organic search ranking. But how much better is a 1st ranking compared to an above the fold ranking?

Let me show you some of the results of the correlation between positions and click-through-rates (CTR).

It can be very difficult to compare the statistic for a ranking position and for an ad position. I have found some different studies to show you the correlation between position and CTR. The studies are from Optify, Slingshot, Enquiro, First Rate and AccuraCast.

Organic Position and CTR

Let me show you 3 different studies from 2007, 2011 and 2012. In the latest study from Optify – you can see that the 1st rank position gets 36 percent of the clicks. While the 2nd ranking gets only 13 percent and 3rd rank gets 10 percent.



This means that you should never stop optimizing your website. It’s no longer enough to be on the first page if you really want to boost your traffic.

The average CTR rate between being on the 2nd page compare to the 1st page is a factor 6. So fight for your 1st page ranking position. The first page gets 8.90 percent in CTR while the 2nd page only gets 1.50 percent in average CTR. But check this out – if you are above the fold you will over double as high CTR (19.50 percent) than just being on the first page (average of 8.9 percent).

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PPC Positions and CTR

When you are doing Google Adwords or other PPC ads your position also matters a lot.


The imagine shows 2 different studies – one from 2010 and one for 2009. The 2010 study from First Rate really tells you to stay in the top 2 – if you want to boost your CTR.

So you will have to choose your target keywords carefully, so you can make it to a top 2. Remember also that the CTR has an impact on the Quality Score – and therefore also on the click price for your ads on Google.

Head Term or Long Tail Term and CTR

In the study from Optify – they have defined Head Term as “… Keywords with over 1,000 monthly searches (Google US)” and Long Tail Terms as “… Keywords with less than 100 monthly searches (Google US)”.


The graph shows that a Head Terms get higher CTR for the position one than a Long Tail Term. But it also shows that if you are optimizing for a Head Term you will not see your benefits until you are getting into the top 5 positions.

If – on the other hand – you are optimizing for a Long Tail Term you will see some great CTR on every position on page one. The average CTR (on page one) for a Head Term is 4.6 percent CTR while an average CTR for the Long Tail Term is 9 percent.

So the impact for you if you are optimizing for a long tail term is to get your page to page one in the search engine. Don’t worry too much about getting to the top 2. And – all other things equal – it should be easier for you to get work with a Long Tail Term and therefor more valuable for you.
So what is your strategy – Head Term or Long Tail Term?

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