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Recently I have noticed decrease in traffic on my website. I checked with Google Webmaster Tools and noticed that many of my pages that are ranked #1 on Webmaster Tools receive 1 or even 0% CTR.

When page is ranked lower, 2nd or 3-6 place, they receive normal CTR for that keyword.

Here's example screenshot:

enter image description here

Can someone tell me what's happening here?

  • 1
    Are you doing any Adwords ads for that keyword? Possibly your ad is showing up right above your organic result and people are just clicking the first one? – nathangiesbrecht Apr 22 '14 at 14:54
  • don't have adwords or anything similar... just wordpress site... and this is happening for all pages on my site. When page is #1 ranked, it get lot's of impressions but no clicks. – onedevteam.com Apr 22 '14 at 15:44
  • Have you compared the # of total clicks with Google Analytics data? How long has this been happening for? I'm leaning towards thinking it's an issue with Google's data, because this is just plain backwards. – nathangiesbrecht Apr 22 '14 at 19:27
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    I'd recommend looking at the queries (+location/search-type) and manually seeing what those results look like. – John Mueller Apr 23 '14 at 12:12
  • Just to add to Johns comment. Your position in results can vary based on many things like the location of the searcher and on the search type (web, image, mobile...). Maybe you are getting #1 position in image or mobile results that tend not to get clicks or it's for very local people who are not seeing the #1 spot because of the more visible local places listings afterwards. Have you looked at the search result to see how you look? – Tony McCreath Apr 23 '14 at 15:29
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There is not enough information to form an answer here. I am going to make some assumptions based upon my experience. Some of this may be obvious stuff, so bear with me, it deserves repeating.

Google selects web pages to display in the SERPs that closely match the users query. Search trends are constantly changing and can change from hourly to daily. Sometimes, a new popular search results in web pages, that while appear to match the users search query, does not address the question the user has. That is because new questions arise everyday. 15% of Google's daily queries are searches never performed before. That says a lot! Each search is essentially a question and each SERP impression a potential answer. It is up to the user to decide if the SERP impression appears to answer their question. Google tries it's best to match the results correctly and uses successes (good CTR) and failures (bad CTR) to adjust how it tries to answer the question in the future.

I see shifts in Google Webmaster Tools where impressions for certain pages and search terms shift to the top but the normal click-through rate does not change or changes little. That is, if a page normally performs at a certain level but then suddenly shifts to the top of the SERPs, the page performance may not change. This is actually normal. Sometimes, however, a page can suddenly rise to the top of the SERPs and the click-through rate sky-rockets. It seems to be one or the other.

Here is what is going on. Google is trying to answer the users search (question) with an impression of your page (possible answer), but your page and impression does not seem to answer the question. And your page may not. Or it may. This is where the ever-evolving work of SEO comes in. I am constantly checking for pages that have increased impressions and lower click-through rates and I try and research what the user may have wanted. If it is appropriate, I adjust the page to better answer their question and make it appear in the SERPs as though it is the best possible page for the query. I learn a lot that way. Otherwise, I adjust the page as not to mislead Google which is easy to do accidentally.

To answer your question about a traffic drop. Sometimes that is the way it goes. It is like fishing. Sometimes the fish are there and sometimes the are biting, sometimes they are not. Because search trends shift and can shift rather radically very quickly, I have seen deserts in search results as much as I have seen Shangri la. The goal is to answer as many user questions (searches) as you can. But you have to accept that not all questions do you have an answer for. Take this opportunity to broaden your content within scope and search for new ways to answer your audiences questions and perhaps expand your audience a bit.

  • BTW- I am hoping that you take my answer as somewhat humorous. It was intended to be. – closetnoc Apr 22 '14 at 17:03
  • Problem is that my site is actually giving content users search for... For example, image above is for page 'mysite.com/how-to-make-cake', containing actual instructions "how to make cake", and keywords for results on the pic are "how to make cake".... (disclaimer: page above is not related to cakes in any way) – onedevteam.com Apr 22 '14 at 19:20
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    @closetnoc This clearly isn't an answer to the question posed. You're just rehashing a bunch of basic information that everybody knows, and you don't even attempt to explain what might be causing his problem. You even state in your first sentence that you can't provide an answer. So why do you fill in the answer box? – nathangiesbrecht Apr 22 '14 at 19:22
  • @nathangiesbrecht with respect. I did not say I could not give an answer, but that I could not give a specific answer due to lack of detail. Yes it is hashed over stuff to you and me. But not for everyone. What is important to know is that sometimes a page will come to the top of the SERPs and the CTR will not necessarily change or change much . It is a fools game to assume it will every time. In fact, most of the time it will only shift a bit. I have pages with thousands of impressions and just a handful of clicks while others are 1:1 every time. It just happens. It's time to tune the page. – closetnoc Apr 22 '14 at 20:05
  • Are you saying you can verify that people have come to your specific page through search and it is not showing up in Google's Webmaster Tools? I have always put some faith in Google's search metrics, but I know that other metrics from Google has been seriously flawed in the past. – closetnoc Apr 22 '14 at 20:10

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