What Google’s Webmaster Tools Tell Us About International Click Through Rates

Last week, I was taking delegates on an international SEO course through their paces on using the data Google so generously provides in their webmaster tools. I’m a little puzzled that more people don’t dip into the data, analyse it and then take actions on their campaigns.

So, high time for me to share some non-client specific webmaster data which also throws light on some universal facts related to international search. I’m talking about click through rates. I’m a great believer in the importance of looking at how a client’s sites are displayed in the search engine results pages and to take steps to encourage users to click through to their sites.

Click Throughs Have Positive & Negative Effects

I also believe that click through data is an important signal for Google’s ranking algorithms and can therefore have both positive and negative effects on a website’s success or failure. This being the case, as SEOs we should pay attention to how we present in the SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages)!

An important point to note is that there is some variation showing in our data between countries, a point which we’ll address in more detail in a later article.

Average UK Click Through Rates By Google Position 1-10 Source:Webcertain Research

Average UK Click Through Rates By Google Position 1-10 Source:Webcertain Research

The chart above shows the average click through rate in the UK by rank position in Google — using data provided by Google’s webmaster tools only. It should be noted that there is some discussion over how accurate the data is which Google’s provides via its tools; however, it is the only place where it is possible to obtain data on how many people clicked on a result to travel to the site.

This data can be analysed by the following factors:

  • Rank position
  • Individual or groups of keywords
  • Kewyords containing certain terms
  • Brand terms
  • Volumes of searches (“Impressions” in Webmaster Tools)
  • Maximum and minimum click through rates

Click Through Rates Vary By Country

I hope that by now you are beginning to think there might be something for you to look at here? When I tell you that I have analysed a wide number of accounts in various different countries and that what that exercise reveals is a huge untapped potential to improve website performance, perhaps you’ll begin to take this seriously.

More seriously still is when some organisations do this analysis, what they will find in some cases is that they already rank for thousands of terms they perhaps weren’t aware of and, worse, several thousands of those will have very low or even non-existent click through rates.

UK Maximum And Minimum Click Through Rates By Position. Source:Webcertain Research

UK Maximum And Minimum Click Through Rates By Position. Source:Webcertain Research

What the data above shows us is that maximum potential click through rates in the higher positions in the results pages are not often achieved. This really is quite a shocking revelation.

Consider how much investment goes into achieving a website with good rankings and visibility. And yet, even if we achieve first position for our target keywords, for some reason or other the searchers are opting not to click on our result?

The chart below brings this into even sharper relief and illustrates one of the key findings of this research; in general terms the higher the potential click through is for a particular rank position, the greater the range between the lowest and highest.

Range In UK Click Through Rates By Position. Source:Webcertain Research

Range In UK Click Through Rates By Position. Source:Webcertain Research

So what should a marketer do — here’s my thoughts:

  1. Get the data analysed — you need to know this
  2. Check out first place rankings for low click throughs
  3. Review the SERPS snippets to ensure best presentation of your business
  4. Examine the reasons why ranking phrases obtain no clicks at all

The above approach is really just the beginning. When you learn how many phrases you are ranking for which generate little or no traffic despite being displayed in front of thousands of using, you may find you whole focus on SEO taking a different tack!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Multinational Search


About The Author: is a linguist who has been specializing in international search since 1997 and is the CEO of WebCertain, the multilingual search agency and Editor-in-Chief of the blog Multilingual-Search.com. You can follow him on Twitter here @andyatkinskruge.

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  • Andy Sheridan

    Great advice to improve CTR and catch more of those longer tail clicks

  • http://www.ydeveloper.com/e-smart-ecommerce-suite.html eCommerce

    Better click through means to have minimum bounce rate from organic visits.This is only possible if the page ranked on Google have positive review – as this could be set up by using rich snippets code. Make sure to follow Google guidelines before using this.

  • http://twitter.com/CRichterP C.RichterPedersen

    This is clearly one very important approach and Webmaster Tools data has to be considered to be important. Especially when one has high CTR on certain terms, which weren’t the obvious search terms in the first place.

  • http://twitter.com/andyatkinskruge andyatkinskruge

    HI Everyone – it’s also a great way to discover terms you rank for – but don’t win the traffic and have a very low or non-exsitent click through. This could bring significant opportunities.


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