Search Position vs. Click Throughs

In my travels I stumbled on an interesting chart which reveals the general click through rate to a site based on their specific position in the search engine results. We all know that a site in position 1 is going to see higher traffic than a site in position two – but how much? There have been a few reports done up on this subject, some from EyeTracker, and other various sources however today I discovered one put out by the folks at which is based on AOL’s own data.

Now , before we go launching over to their stats it’s important to remember the famous quote popularized by Samuel Clemens (you might know him better as Mark Twain). “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

No matter how accurate statistics are they can be misread or misused. This information relates to AOL users and while one can render some assumptions about overall user traffic we have to remember that the site layout, placement of the PPC ads, etc. on the AOL site are different than those on the other major engines and thus, the traffic patterns are going to be different.

The chart they created based on the Click Through statistics:

As you can clearly see, the traffic drops off significantly after position one HOWEVER, I believe we noted that one has to take all the factors into account.

Not coincidentally, when we take into account the pages that appear when we change our resolution to 800×600 we’ll note that it’s only the paid ads and the first organic listing that are “above the fold”.

Let’s compare the graph above with the EyeTracker studies done on Google results that we discussed back on April 18th. It showed the following:

We can see that the top three sites (when they appear above the fold) will all receive eyeballs which means that all of them have the opportunity to get the click.

On the other side of the coin, 36% of searchers assume that a site that appears higher in the rankings is a leader in their field and thus people ranked higher are likely to get more clicks simply based on this perception.

So, now that you’re likely thoroughly confused but perhaps better informed regarding what these statistics mean (or perhaps, don’t mean) you can use them to help you understand a bit more about your site traffic when you analyze the traffic and relate it to your search engine positions.

As a further note of confusion, these stats vary by field. For example, in the SEO industry the need to be ranked higher on the page is MUCH higher. Many of you will have gotten to this blog by typing in “seo blog” or “seo news”. It’s likely that you’re looking for SEO advice from people who can rank themselves highly and so you’re less likely than normal to travel further done the page and highly unlikely to go to page two (statistically speaking though I can already see you prepping to hit the “Back” button and go check out page 2 of the results. 😉

The Search Results vs Click Through chart above was found on the site at (it’s only fair to give them a link and proper credit I’d say). You’ll also find another interesting chart (same data, different perspective) and some other notes about it that you may find interesting.

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