What Google’s Webmaster Tools Tells Us About CTR In European Markets

Last time, I was talking about the analysis of click through rates by position based on data from Google’s Webmaster Tools and I promised we’d look at a wider range of countries.

The chart below shows you exactly that data extracted from a wide range of webmaster data to give some relatively consistent averages. The data covers many tens of thousands of clicks. At first sight, you can see a fairly regular pattern (something we found across most European nations) and since the results are presented in largely similar ways by Google wherever you are, there’s a certain inevitability to that.

But, look again…

European Click Through Rates From Webmaster Tools And What They Tell Us:  Soucre: Webcertain Research

European Click Through Rates From Webmaster Tools And What They Tell Us: Source: Webcertain Research

Firstly, the differences are fairly wide between the highest click through country and the lowest in each position and mostly are not overlapping. I should add that Spain is not on this list because it had a very different pattern to the chart above and so we’re investigating and double checking its data before proceeding.

What is very clear from the data is that first position for marketers targeting Germany matters considerably more than it does for other countries — and that difference is not small. The average German click through rate in position one is currently running at just a fraction below 40% on average.

The next nearest country to Germany is France which nonetheless has a click through rate for first postion some 8% lower than Germany — and between the lowest and highest rate there is a different of 19%.

Very Wide Variation In Click Through Rate In First Position

These differences are greatest on first position as the chart below (which shows the same data for just the first four positions) and fall away in terms of a difference by the end of the first page of the SERPS.

In fact, there is a very strong correlation between countries for the last three positions (check the chart above for this) with the closest correlation between all countries in eigth positions.

However, the differences are more interesting than the similarities and we can safely conclude that it is more important to achieve first place in Germany than in other markets. Of course, we also have to add that these figures are averages and the situation will vary from website to website.

Which Are The Most Important Positions?

We can also use this data to determine which are the most important postions to hold by country which produces some fascinating insights:

  1. Most important position in all cases (no big surprise there) is first.
  2. Second most important in Italy, Germany, France, and the Netherlands is 2nd place, but it is 7th place in the UK and 8th place in Canada, Sweden and Belgium.
  3. Third most important position is actually 2nd place in Canada, the UK, Sweden and Belgium, but 3rd place is third in Italy, Germany, and France. However, in the Netherlands 6th place comes third.

What you can certainly say is that 8th place in the rankings has an above expected importance in terms of traffic generation and click throughs.

Another factor emerging from this research is the volume of queries which generate a good rank position but no click through. Now, of course, it’s true that on each set of results pages there are many opportunities to click and the maximum average click through rate of just the organice results must be 10% or less for all ten positions?

European Click Through Rates Positions 1-4 From Webmaster Tools Data

European Click Through Rates Positions 1-4 From Webmaster Tools Data

But this is a competition right? So we don’t want to be accepting the average as the norm, we want to be better than that! Which is why the chart below is interesting because it shows that in fact in some countries, there are a great many missed opportunities in rank positions 2 and 3. We found this to be especially the case in France and Germany.

To explain the data below, this considers only queries which have been searched for at Google at least 30 times in a month and where the click through rate less than 10% right down to zero.

European Missed Clicks Broken Out.  Source:Webcertain Research

European Missed Clicks Broken Out. Source:Webcertain Research

The chart below gives some numbers to this but please bear in mind these are averages and vary substantially from site to site. However, the pattern is pretty consistent across all sites and shows that there are many opportunities to improve performance with existing rankings by persuading searchers to click on our result.

Average European Missed Clicks By Rank Position.  Source: Webcertain Research

Average European Missed Clicks By Rank Position. Source: Webcertain Research

In other words, it’s time to include reviewing the presentation of our websites within Google’s results pages within our daily international SEO work routines! The opportunity is simply mind blowing!

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

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: Outside US | Google: Webmaster Central | Multinational Search | Search Engines: Outside USA | Search Marketing: Multinational


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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  • http://twitter.com/vseostudio Federico Sasso

    Interesting data, thank you for the contribution.

    What I think is missing in the article is making some hypothesis to explain the differences in CTR from country to country:

    Different SERP layouts? More verbose language invading real estate space? Greater popularity of Google places registration? …

    This of course taking for granted apples to apples are compared:

    - non competitive / non commercial key-phrases do not trigger ads and local listings, are those evenly distributed among monitored sites?

    - is by any chance the data set mostly composed by German web sites? Or is the sample of sites evenly distributed across monitored countries?

    (I trust you did it right, but the article doesn’t say it explicitly).

    Great work. Looking forward for more insights.

  • http://twitter.com/kernmedia Dan Kern

    Wouldn’t it be more beneficial to instead focus on creating more compelling content (thus dribing more traffic from other keywords and attracting more links) than all this nitty gritty position info?

  • http://twitter.com/andyatkinskruge andyatkinskruge

    Dan – I think you may have missed the point. Firstly, if you know it’s very different where people click in different countries you may put more emphasis on achieving high positions ie 1st in Germany but on the first page in other markets.

    As far as phrases which already rank in 2nd and 3rd positions – what are are doing trying to add content and achieve more ranking positions if the users don’t click when they see your result.

    Federico – the data sets were pretty even across all markets but we did get an odd result for Spain which we’ve excluded whilst we check it out. However, bearing in mind that these were averages – the more data there is the more reliable the result – so a larger data set in Germany wouldn’t have skewed the result.

    Interesting point about the’why’. I was hoping that’s what we’d see in the comments – contributions from people suggesting why this is.

    I actually think its partly cultural an that’s part of the explanation as to why Germans click higher results than other nations – but yes I’m sure Google placing universal content in particular positions drives the result too.

  • http://twitter.com/inbound_nl Annemieke van Herk

    Hi Andy, thanks for the post – incredibly useful since there is so little information in this area specific to European countries (I’m Dutch). But I have to say: I wasn’t aware that Canada is part of Europe now… ;-)


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