Search User Behaviour in India : CTR Vs. Position

[Guest article contributed by Sushant Jaipuria, marketing strategist at]

Ever thought about why, by default, you click on the website which ranks numero uno (1) on SERPs?

Are you sure that is exactly what you are looking for? How often do you go to the website, hit the back button and come back to the search result to look at more websites? How often do you change the query you put in to filter the ranking websites for a more appropriate set?

Industry reports say that the Click Through Rates (CTR) on Google have shown the importance of the top 3 positions with position 1 getting the highest CTRs and then sharply dropping for position2 & 3.

We dug deeper into this to understand how the Indian consumer behaves on Google and found something which is different from the Global landscape.

CTRs in India are topical. Consumers here are more likely to compare and contrast offerings of different websites in order to get the best deal in the market. This leads to higher CTRs for lower positions as the Indian consumers open multiple websites in order to compare them.

1. Websites with differentiated products / services:

These are websites / companies which sell product / services which (low to high ticket items) are differentiated. For example: Ecommerce websites for lifestyle products, baby shopping, apparels, education etc. The customer needs to do some amount of reading to reason out which product / service is the best deal that can be found.

The CTRs per position are extremely high and erratic in this segment. We see this happening in domains which require research by the customer.

Marketing Strategy to Adopt: As the CTRs are fairly evenly distributed across the positions most companies falling in this bracket should target the 1st page and attempt to rank up anywhere on the 1st page. This will allow the companies to get a significant chunk of traffic. Although the premise of higher the better still holds good.

BabyShopping : CTR-vs-Pos
BabyShopping : CTR-vs-Pos

The average Indian customer is unsure of buying in this market. He / She is also concerned about the quality of the products that is offered by the websites. As a result they 1st open the top 3 results: evaluate them and depending on the decision move onto the rest. The CTRs drop from 40%-50% to 5%-10% by position 10 on the SERP.

2. Websites with commodities / less differentiation

These are websites / companies which sell product / services which can be classified into commodities and have very less or no differentiation. The main use far outweighs the customer’s need for any differentiation.

The CTRs per position are less erratic than the previous segment and follow the general trend seen in developed countries.

Marketing Strategy to Adopt: Companies which in this type should try and rank up in the 1st 5 positions to get a significant chunk of the traffic. The top 3 ranks will command the highest CTRs but the 4th and 5th positions will get a significant chunk of the pie as well.

E.g. 2: Bus Ticketing Service

Top head keywords: Online Bus Booking | Bus Ticket | Bus tickets online


Here we can see that the 1st 3 positions command the highest CTRs which drops significantly from the 5th position onwards reaching 2%-4% by the 10th position on SERPs.

Here the customer knows what he / she wants and does not feel the need to research too much into the offering. The main differentiator in this market is the price and the customer will at most browse 2 to 3 websites to check the price and make a decision. This is the primary reason why the drop in CTRs is significant from the 5th position onwards rather than earlier.

E.g. 4: Mobile Recharge

Top head keywords: Online Recharge | Mobile Recharge | Online Mobile Recharge


This segments acts normally with the 1st positions commanding the highest CTRs and a significant drop from the 1st to the 2nd position and then to the 3rd position. Position 4 onwards we see smaller and decreasing CTRs which drop to 1% by the 7th position.

Marketing Strategy to Adopt: In this market the target customers are indifferent to the service they use as there is hardly any differentiation in these services. So Ranking up in the 1st position becomes important.

We think the difference in CTR patterns comes mainly because of 1 of the following:

1)       Consumers are comparing and contrasting various websites and offers

2)      Search users in India are new and are not yet comfortable with searches and are unaware of modifying queries for better and more specific searches.

3)      A  combination of both.

What do you think? 

[Reproduced fron Hivemind’s blog]

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