Google’s SERP anatomy is in continuous change, which inevitably leads to changes in the clickthrough rate values. ‘Visual Stories’ result type was a hot topic when we put together the previous quarter’s CTR analysis, recently it seems that Google’s continuing to squeeze organic results out, and who knows what will happen next?
Not to mention the way searchers are interacting with these new search engine result pages. For example, recent studies show that about 40% of young people (Gen Z) use TikTok or Instagram as search engines, instead of Google for some discovery purposes. It should come as no surprise that zoomers (that’s how Generation Z is colloquially known) might behave differently when searching on Google.
So let’s best focus on effects, on how user behavior shaped the CTR values in the second quarter of the year when compared to the previous one.
We calculated the CTR averages for each position for Q2 2022 (April-June interval) and compared them against the ones retrieved for Q1 2022 (January-March). All significant changes were included in this analysis and expressed as percentage points (pp).
The data set is international and comprises all the available markets such as the US, UK, etc.
Since clicks and impressions go hand in hand when projecting estimated traffic, we also correlated these CTR changes with search demand data at an industry level.
At a global level, the changes affected only the mobile queries, where the websites ranked first registered a 1.45 pp decrease in CTR.
Branded vs. Unbranded
The declining trend in CTR for the websites ranked first on mobile queries was reflected in both the branded and unbranded queries.
More precisely, for those searches containing specific brand or business names, websites ranked in the first position experienced a 1.27 pp decline in CTR.
As for the unbranded queries, the drop in CTR equaled 1.56 pp for the websites ranked first for the searches made from mobile devices.
Websites ranked in the first two positions for informational queries recorded a combined 2.57 pp loss in CTR on mobile (1.53 pp for those ranked first and 1.04 for those ranked second). On desktop, nevertheless, the changes went in the opposite direction, affecting the websites ranked first only, which witnessed almost 1.26 pp growth in clickthrough rate.
Drops in clickthrough rate values were recorded for commercial queries (those containing words such as price, pay, buy, etc.) as well, with websites ranked first, losing 1.27 pp on desktop queries.
As for location queries (containing words such as near, from, nearby, directions, maps, etc.), the websites ranked first lost on average 1.65 pp in CTR on desktop searches.
Regardless of the number of words a keyword has, our CTR tool recorded drops on almost all fronts on mobile queries as follows:
for 1-word queries, the change wasn’t quite visible for those websites ranked first, while for those in the second position, the loss equaled 1.09 pp
for queries containing more than 2 words, the most significant changes occurred for the websites ranked first. More precisely, for 2-word searches, the loss equaled 1.37 pp, for 3-word queries, the registered loss accounted for 1.42 pp, and for searches containing four or more keywords, the decline was 1.67 pp.
Now let’s jump to the industries section, where, just like in the previous quarterly studies, we’ll correlate the changes in CTR to the ones in search demand to better estimate the potential traffic fluctuations.
This CTR report will contain two separate sections, based on the search demand’s evolution.
A. Industries where the search demand increased
With no major changes since Q4 2021, the websites ranked first in the Technology & Computing industry recorded a drop of 1.07 pp in CTR on mobile queries. On the other hand, the search demand for this industry recorded growth when compared to the previous quarter (+20.66% to be more precise).
Being the industry to record the highest increase in CTR in the previous quarter, Family & Parenting got on the falling slope this time.
On desktop, the websites affected were the ones ranked first, which witnessed a 1.34 pp loss. The decline was even steeper on mobile, with the websites ranked in the first five positions experiencing a combined 9.94 pp decrease in CTR (3.28 pp for those ranked in the first position, 2.26 pp for those ranked second, 1.56 pp for those ranked third, 1.66 pp for those ranked fourth, and 1.18 pp for the ones in the fifth spot).
At the same time, the industry’s overall search demand went in the opposite direction, increasing by +11.75%.
And now let’s jump to the industry with the highest decrease in clickthrough rate for a single position: the Law, Government, & Politics one. Here, the CTR for websites ranked first on queries made from desktop devices dropped, on average, by 3.33 pp.
On the other hand, on mobile, the decline affected the first 4 positions, which recorded a combined 6.66 pp drop. However, the industry’s overall impressions increased by +5.39% in Q2 compared to Q1.
With no major changes since Q3 2021, the websites ranked first on queries made from desktop devices in the Business industry, grew, on average, by 1.04 pp. Combined with a +4.76% increase in search demand, it’s highly probable that these websites recorded an increased amount of organic traffic.
A similar trend occurred in the Hobbies & Interests industry, where just like in the Business market, after two dormant quarters, the clickthrough rate values experienced changes once again. Here, the websites ranked in the first two positions recorded drops in CTR on both desktop (3.24 pp combined) and mobile queries (3.72 pp combined). On a more positive note, this market registered the highest growth in search demand of the quarter: no less than +21.26%.
With no real change for desktop queries, the first two websites ranked in the Shopping industry witnessed a combined 2.40 pp loss in clickthrough rates on mobile (1.35 pp for those ranked first and 1.05 for those ranked second). However, the total number of impressions slightly increased, by +9.93%.
The websites ranked in the first two positions in the Science industry recorded a combined 3.48 pp loss in CTR on mobile (1.88 pp for those ranked first, and 1.60 pp for those ranked in the second position). On desktop, the changes affected the websites ranked third only, which witnessed a 1.14 pp growth in clickthrough rate. The industry’s overall impressions increased a bit, by +2.10%.
As for the Society industry, the clickthrough rates for the websites ranked first on desktop registered a 1.75 pp decline, while on mobile, only the websites ranked in the second position were influenced by the changes, recording a 1.26 drop. Nevertheless, the industry’s overall search demand went in the opposite direction, increasing by +17.91%.
Last but not least, let’s have a look at the Sports market, which recorded a drop in CTR on mobile devices only. For these queries, the websites ranked first witnessed a 1.07 pp drop, while this industry’s overall search demand increased by +7.61%.
Here’s a visual round-up of the CTR evolution for the industries mentioned above:
B. Industries that experienced a drop in search demand
The first five positions in the Real Estate industry experienced a combined 9.77 pp decrease in CTR on mobile (3.21 pp for those ranked in the first position, 2.22 pp for those ranked second, 1.67 pp for those ranked third, 1.55 pp for and 1.11 pp for the ones in the fifth spot). Coupled with a decrease of -12.66% in search demand, it’s highly probable that the websites ranked in those five positions noticed some loss in organic traffic.
The decline that started during the previous quarter deepened in the Careers industry, affecting not only the websites ranked first on mobile queries but also those ranked between second and fourth positions. Strictly speaking, the websites ranked in the first four positions on mobile lost a combined 5.54 pp in CTR as follows: 1.66 pp for those ranked in the first position, 1.24 pp for those ranked second, 1.54 pp for those ranked third, and 1.10 pp for the ones in the fourth spot.
On the other hand, but on desktop this time, only the websites ranked first were affected, experiencing a 1.19 pp drop in CTR, while the industry’s global number of impressions decreased by -10.14%.
The Health & Fitness market recorded losses, especially on mobile devices: 1.94 pp for websites ranked first and 5.73 pp for the top four websites combined. On desktop, the change could be observed, especially for the websites ranked first as they lost, on average, 1.93 pp in CTR. As for the search demand, the industry’s overall number of impressions decreased by -4.92%.
The Food & Drink market was also affected at the top of the SERP, where the websites ranked first registered a 1.55 pp drop in CTR on desktop and 1.83 pp decline on mobile. Here, the search demand decreased by -20.45%.
It’s time to turn our attention to the highest growth for a single position in CTR: the Arts & Entertainment market. Websites ranked in the first position experienced a 1.96 pp boost in CTR on desktop devices.
On the other hand, still on desktop queries, those ranked second experienced a 1.03 pp drop, while those in the third spot registered a 1.24 pp decline. In contrast to the growth record achieved this quarter, this industry’s search demand decreased by -30.11%.
Desktop and mobile CTR values went in opposite directions this time around in the Education market, for the websites ranked first as follows: on desktop, the growth in clickthrough rate was 1.67 pp, while on mobile, the drop equaled 1.10 pp. Concurrently, the number of impressions for this industry declined steeply, by -24.51%.
The highest decrease in impressions (-36.18%) recorded by our search demand tool was for the Pets industry. As for the CTR values, interestingly, the websites’ positions influenced by the changes were quite atypical. Those ranked second in SERPs registered a 1.70 pp drop in CTR on desktop, while on mobile, the changes in CTR affected the websites ranked fourth, which witnessed a 1.13 pp drop.
One last market where the search demand dropped (by -6.42%) is Automotive. At the same time, the CTR values went in the same direction, at least for the websites ranked first, which registered a 1.32 pp drop on desktop and a 2.71 pp decrease on mobile queries.
Here’s a graphical representation of the changes in all eight industries mentioned above:
That’s it for…the second quarter
As you might have noticed, most of the changes occurred on mobile devices, and in most cases, they translated into drops in clickthrough rate. Quite contrary to the popular opinion that Google’s continuous scrolling on mobile searches would automatically bring more traffic to the websites, we noticed that in reality, it’s quite the opposite, which stresses the importance of assessing the CTR values regularly.
Only this way you can try and understand scenarios such as drops in traffic, although the rankings remained unchanged, and going further, you can even make some forecasts on how much traffic you can expect, based on the most recent CTR values evolution.
I’ll see you with the analysis of the third quarter of the year compiled against this one. Until then, stay safe and healthy!
Dan Popa is an Online Marketing Strategist at Caphyon. He is passionate about both Online and Offline Marketing and he's always looking for new ways of applying the basic principles of marketing in the fast-evolving SEO field. He's always in the mood to chat about new creative ideas for campaigns, so you can find him on Twitter.
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