I have been pouring over some various figures whilst putting together CTR / cost / earning calculations for ad runs I'm about to start, however I've been missing some, of what I think are, key base figures for what to expect from AdWord position placement.

For example, this whitepaper from Slingshot SEO is fantastic, however it seems to really only give results on the normal SERP 1-10 figures in the primary SERP content area.

So, for example, in this study we see that about 52.34% of traffic goes to the first 10 results. But, of the "global monthly searches" from AdWords, where do the other 47.66% of clicks go?

Along these lines, the 3 questions in my mind are:

  1. What percentage of google visitors abandon search results?
  2. What percentage of clicks go towards > 10 search results?
  3. What percentage of clicks go to AdWords?
    • Of these, is there more breakdown of which AdWord slots are most valuable (based on percentage)? (This helps determine how high one should go in the CPC bid level.)
  • Please see Stephen's answer on this topic. He most accurately describes this phenomenon. Aug 18, 2021 at 18:50

2 Answers 2


Here is a graph that shows what percentage of clicks go to links in each position of the search results:


The graph shows that the rest of the users click on some other result further down. When you hear that 50% or more of users click on the first result, that is only out of the users that click on some result as opposed to not clicking on anything or clicking on something else such as an ad. Here is data about other actions:


While 50% of organic clicks may go to the first result, only 40% of users click on the organic results at all. That means that the top organic result only get about 20% of searchers clicking on it. About half of searchers don't click on anything. They either get the information they need directly from the search results, find that nothing in the search results meets their needs.


I saw your question and originally was prompted to respond because the percentages I am familiar with are very different...kind of an urban myth but I thought 'Page 1' Google saw 90% of the traffic, and somewhere I read that AdWords gets 50% or more of traffic (grumble, grumble). However, a quick search turned up this article from Jan 2012 that discusses the article you reference and a couple others and looks at the issue in a broader perspective (different search engines, different queries, etc.).

That said, more precise definitions notwithstanding, it is either going to pages beyond page 1 or to pay-per-click ads from the search engines.

  • 1
    Further down the Google MSRP comes a March 2012 post from Google on their AdWords blog, that discusses this very topic.
    – adam-asdf
    Aug 18, 2012 at 6:44
  • Very interesting find, particularly on that last link. I am struggling to contextually place their findings into my own calculations. For example, what does the use of "incremental" mean exactly? I read that it means "visits to the advertiser’s site from the ad clicks are not replaced by organic clicks when the search ads are paused," however that explanation does not add much in the way of real meaning to the above question. It simply seems to mean that AdWords helps add clicks to organic placement; but how/where do you figure out entirely inorganic AdWords insertion?
    – ylluminate
    Aug 18, 2012 at 16:09
  • I did find this simplification it seems of their study and it has the following statement: "On average, 66% of ad clicks occurred without an associated organic result on the first page." Of course this leads me back to the beginning: even though this behavior happens, how can we extrapolate out the figures of the other 48% of clicks?
    – ylluminate
    Aug 18, 2012 at 16:13
  • I had the same problem, but didn't actually feel like trying to sort out exactly what 'incremental' meant. I will note that some "keywords" are more likely to convert. Like the term 'web design' is more likely to be someone trying to learn about doing it themselves and something like 'ecommerce web designers city state' is probably someone ready to hire (buy). There's good hints to this on the AdWords "Traffic Estimator" where you can see how competitive different terms are.
    – adam-asdf
    Aug 19, 2012 at 22:06

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