For the first time this year, the CTR values can be considered quite steady at a global level.
Branded or unbranded queries, 1 or more than 4-word keywords, you name it, there were no significant spikes in CTR when comparing Q3 to Q2 values.
However, there’s definitely more than meets the eye when drilling down to the industry level and when segmenting the data from the search intent perspective.
Google is constantly testing new ways of distributing featured snippets and organic results, which determine users to click on a different listing. This shift in users’ behavior when searching translates into inevitable changes in each listing’s clickthrough rate.
Btw, we’re covering the subject of how SERP features affect your CTR in Google organic search at SMX Next, online November 15-16. So, make sure you grab your free pass to deepen your knowledge about this topic.
And now let’s focus on the outcome, by looking at how the CTR values shaped in the third quarter of the year compared to the previous one.
We calculated the CTR averages for each position for Q3 2022 (July-September interval) and compared them against the ones retrieved for Q2 2022 (April-June). 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.
After the previous quarter’s drop in CTR, the clickthrough rate for commercial queries (containing words such as buy, price, etc.) got on the rising slope this time. Here, the websites ranked first experienced a 1.97 pp increase in CTR on desktop searches.
As for informational queries (containing words such as what, when, where, how, etc.), the websites ranked first gained 1.38 pp in CTR on desktop queries.
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 that experienced an increase in search demand
For the second quarter in a row, the highest decrease in clickthrough rate for a single position was recorded in the Law, Government, & Politics market. Here, the websites ranked first on desktop recorded a 3.47 pp drop in CTR.
On mobile, the loss affected the websites ranked first also, which witnessed a 2.37 pp decline in clickthrough rate. At the same time, the overall industry’s impressions increased by +2.96%.
With no real change for desktop queries, the websites ranked first in the News industry witnessed a 1.11 pp growth in clickthrough rates on mobile. Surprisingly, the fluctuations were higher at the bottom of the SERPs, with the websites ranked between the 17th and 20th positions losing a combined 6.74 pp in CTR. On the other hand, the search demand grew slightly for this industry, by +7.51%.
Here’s a graphical representation of the changes in the two industries mentioned above:
B. Industries where the search demand dropped
After two consecutive quarters with declining CTR values on mobile devices, the Careers industry got on the rising slope this time. Here, the websites ranked first on mobile devices experienced a 1.41 pp increase in CTR, while the total number of impressions decreased by -12.63% in Q3 compared to Q2.
The last time the Personal Finance industry made it into the quarterly CTR report, it was associated with the highest decrease in clickthrough rate of that period. Tables turn and the industry managed to record an increase of 1.07 pp in CTR for the websites ranked first on desktop. In reverse, the market’s search demand registered an overall -8.71% drop.
As for the Real Estate category, the search demand decreased on a small scale (-2.93%) and the CTR values fluctuated only on mobile devices. More precisely, websites ranked second in mobile SERPs registered a 0.93 pp drop in clickthrough rate.
Despite the drop in search demand (-17.84%), the websites ranked first in the Family & Parenting industry recorded a 2.08 pp increase in CTR on queries made from desktop devices.
While the search demand dropped in the Hobbies & Interests market (-44.16%), websites ranked first on desktop devices registered almost an entire percentage point growth in CTR (0.90 pp to be more precise).
A similar trend occurred in the Food & Drink category, where the CTR values for the websites ranked first registered an increase of 0.93 pp on desktop and 0.88 pp on mobile devices. Nevertheless, the total number of impressions for this industry went in the opposite direction, recording a -5.52% drop.
With no major changes since Q4 2021, the websites ranked first in the Shopping industry recorded a growth of 0.96 pp in CTR on desktop queries. On the other hand, the search demand for this industry registered losses when compared to the previous quarter (-9.39% to be more precise).
And now let’s jump to the industry with the highest increase in clickthrough rate for a single position: the Business one. Here, the CTR for websites ranked first on queries made from desktop devices grew, on average, by 1.91 pp, while on mobile, the changes reached a remarkable 2.24 pp growth. However, the industry’s overall impressions dropped by -3.15% in Q3 compared to Q2.
The highest decrease in impressions (-50.36%) recorded by our search demand tool was for the Travel industry. As for the CTR values, after two dormant quarters, they experienced changes once again. Surprisingly, websites ranked first weren’t influenced by the changes, while those ranked in the second position in desktop SERPs registered a 2.90 pp drop in CTR.
The Science industry continued its CTR decline, which began in the previous quarter, for the websites ranked in the first two positions on mobile devices, and even more, the drop extended to desktop devices, as well, during Q3. Therefore, websites ranking in these first two positions on mobile got a combined decrease in clickthrough rate of 5.26 pp (2.26 pp for those ranked first, and 2.99 pp for those ranked in the second position), while on desktop, the combined drop equaled 5.00 pp (1.83 pp for those ranked first, and 3.17 pp for those ranked in the second position). The industry’s overall impressions decreased a bit, by -1.13%.
It’s been a year already since the Education market last recorded fluctuations in clickthrough rate and it was about time for it to make it into this quarter’s report. Here, the websites ranked first on desktop registered a 1.85 pp decrease in clickthrough rate, while the industry’s overall impressions dropped by -11.42%.
The first four positions in the Pets market experienced a combined 4.46 pp decrease in CTR on desktop and no less than a 9.88 pp drop on mobile devices. Coupled with a decline of -14.47% in search demand, it’s highly probable that the websites ranked in those four positions noticed some loss in organic traffic.
Sports is the last one to make it into this quarter’s group of industries where clickthrough rate variations were recorded, and the search demand declined. The number of impressions decreased by -12.30%, while the CTR for websites ranked first on desktop queries increased by 1.39 pp.
Here’s a visual recap of the changes mentioned above:
That’s it for…the third quarter
In what might have seemed a quiet quarter from the clickthrough rate perspective, we found out that there still were winning and losing industries, in the end. The websites ranked first on desktop for commercial and informational queries were also affected by the CTR changes, so make sure to reassess this metric regularly to discover if the traffic changes are tied to it.
See you with the analysis of the last 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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