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The position of your ad on the first page of Google search results is key to performance, with the average Click Through Rate (CTR) for ads in position 1 standing at 7.11% and those in position 9 receiving a much lower average CTR of just 0.55%.

Google Search clickthrough rate on Desktop

The graph above highlights the importance of occupying position 1, showing a huge drop in CTR for ads in position 2, and a gradual decline in CTR through ad positions.

Google draws a lot of attention to ads in position 1, as can be seen in the image below. Ads get star ratings, can include text boxes with buttons, site links and place listings, expanding the overall screen real estate occupied by these ads and drawing attention away from ads in lower positions.

Extensions embellish top ranked ads on Google

Average click through rates for Google AdWords ads for each position from 1 (top of first page) to 9 are listed in the table below:

Position Click Through Rate
1 7.11%
2 3.01%
3 2.19%
4 2.15%
5 1.61%
6 1.04%
7 0.89%
8 0.75%
9 0.55%


Comparing click through rates for each position over the past twelve months with results for a similar study conducted 4 years ago, in October 2009, we find that while the CTR for ads in position 1 has decreased slightly, the drop-off from position 1 to position 2 is much more stark, and the decline thereafter is also steeper.

CTR For Search Partner Network

Search Partners clickthrough rates on Desktop

The most surprising statistic here is clearly visible in the graph above. The click through rate on the Search Partners Network is highest at position 5! There are a number of theories as to why this might be the case, but it would be very interesting to hear your thoughts: Why is the CTR for search partner ads highest at position 5?

Overall, though, the influence of position on click through rates is far less significant on Google’s search partners. CTR for position 1 on the search network is only marginally higher than that for ads in positions 2-9, as the above graph demonstrates.

A simple explanation of this could be the relatively modest amount of information accompanying the exact same ad for the same keyword query on the Search Partner sites, as seen in the image below.

Ask Jeeves' topmost ad is very plain

CTR For Display Network

Interestingly, position 1 is not the most influential on the Google Display Network and this can be seen in the graph below. Position 3 actually offers a better CTR. Why do you think this might be? Let us know in the comments below.

Display Network clickthrough rate for Desktops

Data for this study was drawn from the analysis of over two million clicks, collected during a year-long period from advertisers across a wide variety of industries.