Does CTR really affect SERP rankings?
A few years ago Moz’s Rand Fishkin ran a CTR case study which moved his site from #7 to #1 in less than 3 hours by sending clicks to his Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
These were real people, making real clicks. This was the first proof that click-through rate (CTR) was a factor that could heavily move the SERPs. Since then there have been many additional reports on SERP CTR.
As Seen on:
Google Said in a Google Patent:
“[…] user reactions to particular search results or search result lists may be gauged, so that results on which users often click will receive a higher ranking.”
Rand Fishkin Said:
“So Google might be thinking if there’s a result that’s significantly over-performing its rankings ordinary position performance, so if for example we say, let’s look at the third result. Here’s “How to make perfect sushi rice.”
This is from makemysushi.com. Let’s imagine that the normal in this set of search results that, on average, the position three result gets about 11%, but Google is seeing that these guys makemysushi.com is getting a 25% click-through rate, much higher than their normal 11%.
Well, Google might kind of scratch their head and go, “You know what? It seems like whatever the snippet is here or the title, the domain, the meta description, whatever is showing here, is really interesting folks. So perhaps we should rank them higher than they rank today.”
Maybe that the click-through rate is a signal to Google of, “Gosh, people are deeply interested in this. It’s more interesting than the average result of that position.
Let’s move them up.” This is something I’ve tested, that IMEC Labs have tested and seen results. At least when it’s done with real searchers and enough of them to have an impact, you can kind of observe this. There was a post on my blog last year, and we did a series of several experiments, several of which have showed results time and time again. That’s a pretty interesting one that click-through rate can be done like that.”