Google CTR Stats – Changes Report for Q3 2023

Nov 27, 2023

5

min read

Google is constantly exploring new ways to simplify the search experience. In a recent update, they've streamlined their search results by removing features like HowTo and FAQ rich results

These ongoing innovations lead to significant changes in user behavior, which, in turn, have a profound impact on the clickthrough rates of individual listings. 

So, let's dive right in and examine the outcomes – how the CTR values evolved in the third quarter of this year compared to the previous one.

Methodology

We calculated the CTR averages for each position for Q3 2023 (July-August interval) and compared them against the ones retrieved for Q2 2023 (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.

All searches

At a global level, the change affected only the websites ranked first on desktop queries, which registered a 1.20 pp increase in CTR.

Branded vs. Unbranded

The growth trend in CTR for the websites ranked first on desktop queries was reflected in unbranded queries, too, while for the branded queries the changes weren’t quite significant.

More precisely, for those searches that don’t contain specific brand or business names, websites ranked in the first position on desktop experienced a 1.33 pp boost in CTR.

Search intent

Websites ranked in the first two positions for commercial queries (those containing words such as price, pay, buy, etc.) recorded a combined 2.26 pp increase in CTR on desktop (1.17 pp for those ranked first and 1.09 pp for those ranked second). On mobile, the growth affected the websites ranked first only, which witnessed a 2.44 pp boost in clickthrough rate.

Significant changes were also recorded for the websites ranked first for informational queries on both desktop and mobile. More precisely, the websites ranked first experienced a 1.86 pp increase in CTR on desktop and a 2.26 pp growth on mobile.

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Growth in clickthrough rate values was recorded for location queries (those containing words such as near, nearby, from, directions, route, maps, etc.) as well, with websites ranked first gaining 2.13 pp on desktop queries.

Keyword length

Whether the keyword contains one, two, or three words, our CTR tool recorded growth on all fronts on desktop queries as follows:

  • for 1-word queries, the websites ranked in the first two positions recorded a combined 2.45 pp increase in CTR (1.35 pp for those ranked first and 1.10 pp for those ranked second)

  • for 2-word queries, the websites ranked first registered a 1.45 pp boost

  • for queries containing 3 words, the growth in CTR for the websites ranked first equaled 1.34 pp

Industries

This is the stage where we will incorporate search demand data into our research and determine the underlying causes of possible traffic variations within each industry when the rankings remain consistent.

For clarity, I will split the CTR analysis into two sections, categorized by the evolution of search demand (either positive or negative).

A. Industries that experienced an increase in search demand

The websites ranked in the first two positions in the Automotive industry experienced a combined 2.92 pp increase in CTR on desktop (1.42 pp for those ranked first, and 1.50 pp for those ranked second). Coupled with a growth of +5.32% in search demand, it’s highly probable that the websites ranked in those two positions noticed a spike in organic traffic.

Being the industry to record the highest decrease in clickthrough rate in the previous quarter, Personal Finance experienced growth this time. Here, on mobile, the websites ranked first witnessed a 1.57 pp boost, while the industry’s overall search demand grew by +21.24%.

As for the Careers category, the search demand increased on a small scale (+0.43%) and the CTR values fluctuated only for the websites ranked first. More precisely, on desktop the growth in clickthrough rate was 1.29 pp, while on mobile it equaled 2.19 pp.

With no major changes since Q1 2023, the websites ranked first in the Shopping industry recorded a 1.53 pp increase in CTR on desktop. At the same time, the total number of impressions grew remarkably, by +26.65%.

A similar trend occurred in the Home & Garden industry, where just like in the Shopping market, after a dormant quarter, the clickthrough rate values experienced changes once again. Here, the websites ranked first recorded an increase of 2.08 pp in CTR on desktop, while on mobile the growth equaled 1.33 pp. Concurrently, the industry’s global number of impressions increased by +7.45%.

The highest increase in impressions (+38.36%) recorded by our search demand tool was for the Arts & Entertainment industry. As for the CTR values, the changes affected the websites ranked first exclusively, which recorded a 1.28 pp growth on desktop and a 1.04 pp boost on mobile.

In the Science industry, the websites ranked first on desktop registered a 1.46 pp increase in clickthrough rate. As for the mobile queries, the CTR changes went in opposite directions and affected the websites ranked third, which recorded a 1.24 drop. Here, the search demand increased by +10.31%.

After two consecutive quarters with declining CTR values, the Education industry got on the rising slope this time. Here, the websites ranked first on desktop experienced a 2.40 pp increase in CTR, while on mobile the growth equaled 1.04 pp. Gladly, people’s interest in education grew, being translated into a +16.62% increase in impressions. 

Meanwhile, the Pets industry registered a negative record, witnessing CTR losses on different positions and devices for the seventh consecutive quarter. Here, the websites ranked first lost, on average 1.43 pp on desktop and 1.53 pp on mobile, while the industry’s overall number of impressions grew by +27.47%.

One last market where the search demand grew (by +17.83%) is Hobbies & Interests. At the same time, the CTR values went in the same direction, at least for the websites ranked first on desktop, which registered a 1.01 pp boost.

Here’s a graphical representation of the changes in the ten industries mentioned above:

B. Industries where the search demand dropped

The Real Estate industry continued on an ascending trend since the previous quarter when it was proclaimed the market with the highest clickthrough rate growth. In contrast with a -4.41% decrease in search demand, the CTR for the websites ranked in the first two positions on desktop experienced a combined 3.23 pp growth in CTR (1.76 pp for those ranked first, and 1.47 pp for those ranked second), while on mobile, the changes affected the websites ranked first only, which witnessed a 3.25 pp increase in CTR. 

As for the Health & Fitness category, websites ranked first recorded a 1.83 pp boost in CTR on desktop, while the industry’s search demand decreased by -5%.

It’s time to turn our attention to the fourth quarter’s highest decline in clickthrough rate: the Law, Government, & Politics market. Here, the websites ranked first recorded a 2.89 pp loss in CTR on desktop.

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On the other hand, the decline affected the websites ranked in the first two positions on mobile, which recorded a combined 3.68 pp drop in CTR, while the industry’s overall search demand decreased by -14.32%.

After a quiet quarter (the latest changes date back to Q1 2023) there was some activity at the top of the SERPs but only on desktop devices this time in the Business industry. Therefore, websites ranking first on desktop got an average increase in clickthrough rate of 2.41 pp. At the same time, the impressions for this industry recorded a slight drop of -3.16%.

A similar trend occurred in the Food & Drink industry, where just like in the Business market, after a dormant quarter, the clickthrough rate values experienced changes once again. Here, the websites ranked in the first two positions recorded a combined 2.63 pp growth (1.55 pp for those ranked first and 1.07 pp for those ranked second) on queries made from desktop devices. In contrast to the increase in CTR achieved this quarter, this industry’s search demand decreased by -12.85%.

Although its search demand registered a -19.83% loss, the Sports industry made it again into the quarterly CTR report thanks to its growth in clickthrough rate values. Here, the CTR for websites ranked first on desktop devices increased by 2.56 pp, while for the very same position on mobile, the growth equaled 1.62 pp.

And now let’s jump to the industry with the highest increase in clickthrough rate for a single position: Travel. Here, the CTR for websites ranked first on queries made from desktop devices grew, on average, by a remarkable 4.13 pp, while on mobile, the changes reached a 3.28 pp growth. However, the industry’s overall impressions dropped by -5.44% in Q3 compared to Q2.

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Despite recording the highest decrease in search demand of the quarter (-20.73%), there’s still a glimmer of hope for the websites in the News industry. Or, at least for the websites ranked in the second position on desktop searches, which recorded a 1.38 pp increase in clickthrough rate.

Last but not least, let’s have a look at the Society category, which recorded an increase in CTR on desktop devices only. For these queries, the websites ranked first witnessed a 1.88 pp growth, while this industry’s overall search demand decreased by -18.94%.

Here’s a visual recap of the changes mentioned above:

That’s it for…the third quarter

Google’s intent to simplify SERPs led to a generalized ascending trend in clickthrough rates across almost all search types and industries. Only three industries (Law, Government, & Politics, Science, and Pets) can be considered unlucky during this quarter.

However, the removal of HowTo and FAQ rich result types didn’t roll out completely until the second half of Q3, so it will be pretty interesting to see if the positive trend in CTR will continue.

So make sure to check the analysis of the fourth quarter of the year compiled against this one. 

Until then, stay safe and healthy!

Article by

Dan Popa

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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