The first quarter of the year brings steadiness for the CTR values at a global level. Even when splitting the data by branded and unbranded queries, no changes higher than one percentage point were recorded.
Nevertheless, there is a lot more to discover when examining the industry-level data and segmenting it based on search intent and query length. Google continually experiments with different ways of displaying featured snippets and organic results, which can influence users to click on a different search result. Such changes in user behavior inevitably affect the clickthrough rate of each listing.
Let's now analyze the impact of user behavior on click-through rate figures in Q1 2023, in contrast to Q4 2022.
We calculated the CTR averages for each position for Q1 2023 (January-March interval) and compared them against the ones retrieved for Q4 2022 (October-December). 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.
Websites ranked first for informational queries (containing words such as what, when, where, how, etc.) recorded a 2.86 pp loss in CTR on desktop, while on mobile, the drop was even higher, equalling 3.53 pp.
As for commercial queries (those containing words such as price, pay, buy, etc.), the clickthrough rate changes went in the opposite direction. Here, the websites ranked in the first three positions on mobile recorded a combined 4.76 pp increase in CTR (1.74 pp for those ranked first, 1.82 pp for those ranked second, and 1.19 pp for those ranked in the third position).
On desktop, the growth affected the websites ranked first only, which witnessed a 1.02 pp boost in clickthrough rate.
Growth in clickthrough rate values was recorded for location queries as well, with websites ranked first gaining 1.61 pp on mobile queries.
Significant changes were recorded on desktop searches for 1-word queries only, with the websites ranked first witnessing a 1.27 pp loss in CTR.
As you may already be familiar with, we will link the variations in CTR with changes in search demand. Our objective is to identify the reasons behind the potential fluctuations in traffic for each industry when the rankings remain steady.
The CTR report will be divided into two distinct sections based on the evolution of search demand.
A. Industries that experienced an increase in search demand
After the previous quarter’s growth in CTR, the Real Estate industry got on the falling slope this time. Here, the websites ranked first experienced a 1.01 pp decrease in CTR on desktop searches and a 2.57 pp decline on mobile. On a more positive note, this market registered a +33.21% growth in search demand.
With people spending more time at home during the cold season, their desire to make the house cozier became more prominent. This led the search demand for the Home & Garden industry to record a spectacular increase of +85.77%. One can assume this growth also meant a spike in traffic, especially for the websites ranked first on desktop, which also got a boost of 1.48 pp in clickthrough rate.
A similar trend occurred in the Health & Fitness, with growth in CTR only for the websites ranked first on desktop (1.23 pp), while the industry’s search demand increased by +19.05%.
With no major changes since Q2 2022, the websites ranked first in the Automotive industry recorded a 1.08 pp increase in CTR on desktop. At the same time, the impressions for this industry recorded an increment of +16.28%.
It’s time to turn our attention to the industry with the highest increase in clickthrough rate for a single position: Law, Government, & Politics. While the websites ranked in the first position weren’t quite affected by the changes, those ranked second experienced an impressive 2.60 pp boost in CTR on desktop devices and a 1.20 pp boost on mobile. Simultaneously, the industry’s overall search demand recorded a consistent increase of +35.57%.
In the Arts & Entertainment industry, the websites ranked first recorded a 1.18 pp drop in CTR on mobile queries and an even more steep decline (2.56 pp) on desktop. However, the total number of impressions grew slightly, by +7.32%.
After a quiet quarter (the latest changes date back to Q3 2022) there was quite some activity at the top of the SERPs in the Personal Finance industry with changes in CTR as follows:
for the website ranked first, the increase in CTR was 2.00 pp on desktop and 1.03 pp on mobile
the websites ranked second lost, on average, 1.13 pp in CTR on desktop only
the websites ranked in the third position on mobile recorded a 2.20 pp drop in clickthrough rate
Concurrently, the number of impressions for this industry grew steeply, by a massive +303.76%.
The clickthrough rate and search demand values went in opposite directions for the Food & Drink industry: while the CTR for the websites ranked first on mobile dropped by 1.40 pp, the impressions grew by +44.04%.
The highest increase in impressions (+331.20%) recorded by our search demand tool was for the Education industry. As for the CTR values, the changes affected the desktop queries exclusively. The websites ranked first on desktop recorded a 1.18 pp drop, while those ranked in the second position registered a 1.56 pp drop in CTR.
As for the Society category, websites ranked first recorded a 1.29 pp drop in CTR on mobile, while the industry’s search demand increased by +51.24%.
And now let’s jump to the industry with the highest decrease in clickthrough rate for a single position: the Pets one. Here, the CTR for websites ranked first on queries made from mobile devices dropped, on average, by 3.89 pp.
On the other hand, the decline affected the websites ranked in the second position on mobile, as well, which recorded a 2.12 pp drop in CTR. However, the industry’s overall impressions increased by +50.25% in Q1 2023 compared to Q4 2022.
The websites ranked in the first two positions in the Science industry recorded a combined 4.87 pp loss in CTR on desktop (1.61 p for those ranked first, and 3.26 pp for those ranked second). On the other hand, the search demand grew for this industry, by +35.57%.
Last but not least, let’s have a look at the Careers market, which recorded a drop in CTR on mobile devices only. For these queries, the websites ranked first witnessed a 1.02 pp drop, while this industry’s overall search demand increased by +3.01%.
Here’s a visual recap of the changes mentioned above:
B. Industries where the search demand dropped
In the Family & Parenting industry, surprisingly, the websites ranked first weren’t quite influenced by the changes. However, those ranked in the second position registered a 1.17 pp drop in CTR on desktop and a 1.27 pp decline on mobile, while for those ranked in the third position the loss affected the mobile queries only (1.07 pp). Here, the search demand decreased by -26.60%.
Without events such as Black Friday and the holiday season, similar to the previous quarter, a decrease in search demand in the Shopping industry was anticipated, and that expectation was met as our search demand tool observed a decline of -40.16% in impressions. In terms of clickthrough rate, the websites ranked first on mobile experienced a decrease of 1.92 percentage points.
The websites ranked in the first two positions in the News industry experienced a combined 3.72 pp loss in CTR on desktop (2.58 pp for those ranked first, and 1.15 pp for those ranked second). The declining trend was reflected on mobile, as well, where the website ranked in the first two positions witnessed a combined 3.24 pp loss in CTR (2.01 pp for those ranked first, and 1.22 pp for those ranked in the second position).
Coupled with a drop of -8.92% in search demand, it’s highly probable that the websites ranked in those two positions noticed a slight loss in organic traffic.
The Travel category experienced a similar pattern, at least on mobile queries, with the websites ranked in the first two positions recording a combined decrease of 3.91 pp in CTR values (2.62 pp for those ranked first, and 1.29 pp for those ranked in the second position). As for the desktop queries, the CTR values went in opposite directions for the websites ranked in the first two positions, with the websites ranked first losing 2.80 pp, while those ranked second gaining 1.75 pp.
At the same time, people’s interest in traveling dropped in this first quarter of the year compared to Q4 2022 (-2.04%).
After an entire dormant year, the clickthrough rate values in the Style & Fashion industry experienced changes once again. Here, the websites ranked first on desktop recorded a drop of 1.04 pp in CTR, while the industry’s global number of impressions decreased by -20.25%.
One last market where the search demand dropped slightly (by -0.76%) is Business. As for the CTR values, the websites ranked first on mobile devices registered an increase of 1.14 pp.
Here’s a graphical representation of the changes in the six industries mentioned above:
That’s it for…the first quarter
The first quarter of 2023 saw some significant changes in clickthrough rates across various industries, for commercial, informational, and location queries, as well as for 1-word queries. This evolution might translate into ups and downs in website traffic, which makes it makes it crucial to continuously evaluate the CTR metrics.
By benchmarking your website against industry standards, you can gain valuable insights into areas where you can enhance your click rates. Moreover, since the anatomy of results pages varies for each keyword, you can conduct an in-depth analysis and measure your organic CTR for SERP features.
See you with the analysis of the second quarter of the year compiled against Q1. 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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