2017 Organic CTR and Ranking Correlation

organic ctr and ranking correlations
Organic rankings are one of those things everybody is trying to improve to get more traffic, but most people don’t really know what kind of results they should be chasing. Calculating your organic CTR lets you gauge how valuable search ranking positions can be by estimating the organic traffic of a position, and by having an idea of this traffic you can better measure your success. Put simply, understanding organic CTR lets you answer questions like: Is the new ad campaign performing well? Does changing meta descriptions improve click-through rate? Is it worth trying to push to 1st position in search? We’ll take a further look at organic CTR and what it looks like, along with how you can use it to help you.


Organic CTR and Ranking


While you may associate your click-through rate with PPC advertising, it’s also incredibly useful when it comes to organic search. To start with the basics, organic click-through rate is simply a number that describes “the percentage of users that clicked on each position, given that a user clicks on a top 20 organic ranking of a search result,” according to Moz. In other words, it’s a rate that describes the relative success of each organic search result, determined by the link’s clicks divided by its impressions, or the number of times that link is viewed on the SERP.

Your click-through rate is just a number until you have an idea of what to make of it. A “good” organic CTR can be subjective and vary widely until you have other data to compare it with. According to a recent study on organic CTR, an average of 71.33% of searches result in a page one organic click, with over half of all viewers clicking on the top 3 results. Once you know the approximate CTR for each position in the SERP for your particular keyword, you can use that to calculate the traffic potential that a certain ranking is getting. Depending on how high a keyword ranks and how much traffic a website receives through organic search, it’s relatively simple to calculate the potential of a site’s ranking, and how well your CTR is ranking comparatively.

Just like anything in digital marketing, there is no “one size fits all” approach.  You have to really look at the intent behind the search.  Someone searching for a big brand like “Nike” is way more likely to click on the coveted big brands listing in the #1 position than others below (granted Nike properties all flood page 1).  But you have to look at a few behavior factors broken down here as Mobile, Branded vs Un-Branded & Search Intent.  Here is what that looks like:



mobile ctr

Branded vs. Unbranded

branded vs unbranded ctr

Search Intent

search intent ctr


Using CTR to Estimate Organic Traffic

Once you take all these things into account, by using a simple formula you can easily estimate the overall success of a rank or website. While this isn’t a perfect measure, it’s an excellent way to look at how your organic CTR measures up compared to the rest of your competition. The formula is quite simple:


Search Volume * CTR = Traffic


Let’s look at an example for an unbranded keyword with a search volume of around 10,000 searches per month. In this scenario, your page ranks first in the search engine results page with no ads above you. Your formula, for a CTR of 31.4, would be as follows:


10,000 x 31.4 / 100 = 3140 (visits per month)


You can apply this formula to any keyword to estimate the amount of organic search traffic it’s receiving. However, one important thing to keep in mind is that every keyword is different and CTR can act differently depending on the searcher’s intent. For example, looking back at the results from the study mentioned earlier, branded keywords tend to have a significantly higher CTR than non-branded keywords, with over half of all searches including a certain brand lead to the first result in search. Long-tail keywords similarly showed a higher CTR’s on the first page.




CTR isn’t always a direct measure of success in organic search, but it can give you some great tools to work with. While it can provide a way to help evaluate your site growth over time or the changes in organic search for that keyword, it can also give you a way to simultaneously size-up your competition. As much as CTR can tell you about what is working for your own site or descriptions, estimating your opponents’ can give you an idea of what is working for them over time and how you can benefit from that.

While averages show that a majority of all impressions land on the first page, the dispersion of those clicks can vary. While some keywords may favor the top position over all others by a large degree, others may not. Having an idea of how much traffic you could gain from achieving a search ranking can allow you to decide where to best spend your time and money on your marketing campaign.


Request a Consultation