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Paid search only accounts for 6% of total clicks from search engines versus natural search at 94% of clicks, according to research from GroupM UK carried out with Nielsen

Also, women are slightly more prone to clicking on paid search results than males, and, as age increases, so does the likelihood of clicking on paid search results.

The research, based on 28m people in the UK, making a total of 1.4bn search queries during June 2011, is the first in the UK to reveal click through rate (CTR) by natural search position for both brand and non-brand search terms and how these CTRs change by vertical.

This infographic, produced by MEC in partnership with Neo Mammalian Studios, summarises the research:

Evaluating the UK Search Marketing Landscape

What are your thoughts about this research?

Are you surprised by any of these insights? Please post any comments or questions you'd like to ask.

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If you'd like to use this image on your own site, please feel free to use the following embed code:

<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/10586-evaluating-the-uk-search-marketing-landscape-infographic"><img src="http://www.mecmanchester.co.uk/images/evaluating-the-uk-search-marketing-landscape.jpg" alt="Evaluating the UK search marketing landscape infographic" title="Evaluating the UK search marketing landscape infographic"  /></a><br/><a href="https://econsultancy.com">Econsultancy.com – Become a smarter digital marketer</a>

David Towers

Published 23 August, 2012 by David Towers

David Towers is Director Search and Digital Projects, EMEA at MEC and a contributor to Econsultancy.

6 more posts from this author

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Nick Stamoulis

It's interesting to see that more people are willing to dig further into the SERPs with non-branded searches before clicking. Searchers are smart and they know what the first result isn't always the best for them. Ranking in the top is still valuable, but there is still hope for everyone not in the top 3.

about 4 years ago

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Neil Johnstone, Online Marketing Manager at Park Retail Ltd

It would be interesting to see the volume of brand and non brand searches within the categories to make any sense of this daft headline.......

For example if a large proportion of the "Airline" data were big brand searches "British Airways" "American Airlines" etc, then yes natural results with the expanded site links would get more traffic.....how enlightening.....

about 4 years ago

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Henri

Well, if you are talking about navigational and informational queries, CTR should be close to 100% since most of the time there are no ads on the SERPs.
How can people click on ads that don't exist then?

about 4 years ago

David Towers

David Towers, ‎Digital Partner & Head of Search, EMEA at GroupM

@NickStamoulis Yes it's great to have visibility on how brand and non-brand CTRs differ. Not a huge surprise that branded searches have a much higher CTR, but good to get confirmed and useful having a number on it!

@NeilJohnstone Overall this research looked in to 1.4 billion search queries in the UK over the month of June so it should be pretty robust. Good news though, GroupM UK is re-running the research again in 2012, so will be publishing how habits have changed in 2012. Worthwhile looking out for that if you're a little skeptical!

@Henri Yes you're right, a lot of searches are navigational and this is likely reason why the #1 - #3 CTRs are so high in the airline, automotive and broadcast industries.

about 4 years ago

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Alec Bertram

Is there more substance or data available, or just this infographic?

about 4 years ago

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Claire

As an SEO in the home & garden industry, I love this data! I wonder if the pattern would be similar among U.S. surfers.

about 4 years ago

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Duane McLennan

The overall numbers are similar to what we have seen in the past, even though there are factions claiming the death of the orgainc serps all over the place.

I did think that the spread in age difference would be larger due to better education of how the serps work among the younger crowd. Thankfully, the older crowd seems to be getting better educated every day.

about 4 years ago

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Ted Ives

I'm glad this study appears to cover "abandoned" searches (i.e. the opposite of "successful" ones.

On Google it looks like it's saying it's 9% - which is about half what I believe it to be, based on previous studies I've seen...

...also the percentage of Paid clicks versus Organic clicks seems much lower than previous estimates would indicate.

I ran through all the issues I had with past studies here previously, glad to see this one appears to be addressing much of them:

http://www.coconutheadphones.com/estimating-organic-search-opportunity-part-2-of-2/

David, how or where does one get a copy of the details of the study, i.e. the methodology etc - I hope it wasn't based on asking users questions, in which case it would be completely unreliable - only measuring acutal behavior is a valid approach for this kind of thing. Thanks! - Ted

about 4 years ago

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Chris Wanger

In the search queries that where under the microspcope, were there sponsored results in ALL the SERPs?

I have sites ranked 1st position organically and in the sponosored listings and I don't see 9X as many clicks for organic over paid.

about 4 years ago

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Neil Walker

Hi David;

Be really interested, in seeing more of this data, I've done extensive research on CTR looking at impressions against actual website clicks for search, mobile etc. Can you explain more about Nielsen data, as Chris said what % of queries produced ads? - Other than that I like the insights.

about 4 years ago

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Sean Weigold Ferguson

This data is a bit misleading because it includes queries for which no paid search ads were displayed (a significant portion). I may be wrong about that, but there's not very much transparency regarding the methodology, so I can't say for sure. If we excluded all queries for which there were no paid search ads, I expect that the percentage of clicks going to paid search would be much higher.

about 4 years ago

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Ellie Gacy

Hey David. What do think what CTR does a website gets for ranking in top 3 for generic keywords related to PPC. We did research on cars reviews website and CTR we got for ranking in top 3 was around 45% for generic phrases.

almost 4 years ago

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Antony

Great Infographic David, it will be interesting to see what differences recent changes in Google make to these statistics - such as the reduced 7 results on Google search for some branded terms.

The increase in PPC use for higher age groups is also intriguing, is this a result of each generation being more tech savvy or simply a sign of search patterns for different age groups I wonder. If the former then we should see a decline in ppc usage in the future.

almost 4 years ago

David Towers

David Towers, ‎Digital Partner & Head of Search, EMEA at GroupM

@AlecBertram You can find out more about a bit more about the research here: http://www.mindshare.co.uk/news/articles/mindshare-launch-new-seo-research.aspx Might be worthwhile asking Richard Rowley if he will provide you with more of the data.

@Claire Glad you liked the research. This is just UK data, but it would be good to learn how this differs to the US market.

@DuaneMcLennan Yes I think the majority of the data in here is similar to what we've seen before. The one about the older people are, the more they click on PPC is interesting and I think is largely explained by education.

@TedIves The insights around abandoned searches are interesting yes. We had it down at 9% unsuccessful for Google, interesting that Bing is 24% unsuccessful... If you'd like to find out more on this, please pick up with Richard Rowley who led the research at Mindshare UK.

@ChrisWanger Sponsored results were not in all the SERPs! This is why organic search takes 94% of the overall market. So just to be very clear, this study looked at search terms across the whole of the UK and was not limited to results which had both paid and organic results.

@NeilWalker Hi Neil! I don't have the data as to what % of queries produced sponsored results. Would be good to know if the result surprises you across all the UK that 94% of clicks goes to organic? Personally, it didn't really surprise me massively. If we looked at a sector by sector analysis, I'm sure on finance, the % of clicks going to PPC would more be around 20% or 30%, but because this is across all terms, all industries, news, images etc. it's not that surprising the amount of traffic going through the organic results is so high. If you'd like to know more about the research do drop Richard Rowley a line.

@SeanWeigoldFerguson I think the headline that econsultancy decided to run this infographic under could be construed as a little misleading. The fact is that this is clicks across the UK search space, and does include results which didn't have PPC results, hence the reason that the PPC traffic cumulatively in this study only took 6% of clicks.

@EllieGacy This study found that in the UK the top 3 ranking organic sites in the automotive sector took 85% of the clicks.

@Antony It will definitely be interesting to see how these results change. We have another set of research currently being done and we will be publishing the results online in the coming months!

almost 4 years ago

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Gavin Hudson, Key Accounts Manager at Search

Very nice, good stuff. You've made a mistake in the analysis though - "Also, women are slightly more prone to clicking on paid search results than males, and, as age increases, so does the likelihood of clicking on paid search results."

Nope, just that 53% of paid clicks were from women. Unless (and it's possible that this is in the data and it's just badly represented) that it's pure co-incidence that the 53% (female) + 47% (male) adds up to 100%. Indeed if there were twice as many female searches as male, their click through rate could be half that of men! The same goes for the age data.

TL;DR - Propensity to click on paid search ads isn't the same as what volume of each cohort clicked on the ads.

Also the CTR's aren't CTR's - they're where people clicked when they did do a click, so they're more share of voice.

I'm rather sceptical that this "looked into 1.4bn search queries", unless the monitoring software was on, what, 28m computers? More likely that Neilsen's panel data when extrapolated to the UK population gives this result. Also, it could explain the high representation of women and retirees - they're much more likely to be represented on market research panels, in my experience.

Anyway, it's interesting to get some data, it makes a nice demographic, but I think there are a few flaws in the conclusions. Thanks again for the work, and sharing - it's certainly a good talking point and I'm sure everyone will be quoting the numbers you've produced in presentations!

almost 4 years ago

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davinder

I found these results very interesting, in particular toe dominance of organic over paid. Although i do accept that the equation would shift once non-ppc searches are removed. Be good to know how this compares with previous studies

almost 4 years ago

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Optilead

@ Ted Ives 'I'm glad this study appears to cover "abandoned" searches (i.e. the opposite of "successful" ones.' - Me too, best to get the facts hey!

Thanks for the post and infographic.

Rich @ Optilead

almost 4 years ago

Ally Manock

Ally Manock, Head of Digital Strategy, Planning & Insight at Brass Agency

@David - really interesting research, can't wait to see the 2012 results to see what, if any, the changes have been.

almost 4 years ago

David Towers

David Towers, ‎Digital Partner & Head of Search, EMEA at GroupM

@GavinHudson Thanks for your feedback Gavin. You're point on click share and CTR is valid. The research did however look into demographics across all search channels Google Web Search, Google Image Search, Google Map Search, Google Shopping Search, Google Video Search and Google News Search so we do feel we're able to show a correlation with age, gender and clicks, but this is open to interprtation. Anyway, glad you enjoyed the data. If you want to see the full piece, it would be worthwhile dropping Richard Rowley at Mindshare a note.

@davinder We've seen very different stats by vertical and by the intent that surrounds keywords.

@Optilead You're welcome Rich! It is useful to have a stat on abandoned!

@AllyManock Glad you enjoyed the research. We hope to publish the next batch of research in a couple of months or so...

almost 4 years ago

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Gareth Baker

Anyone else surprised that CTRs were lowest on the top 3 positions in the consumer electronics sector? Seems strange doesn't it?

almost 4 years ago

David Towers

David Towers, ‎Digital Partner & Head of Search, EMEA at GroupM

@GarethBaker Good question, one of the factors that could have influenced this is the likelihood that shopping results could have been included within these results so this could potentially have had an impact in terms of lowering the clicks on positions 1, 2 and 3.

almost 4 years ago

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Nikhil Deshpande

This is awesome stuff....I love Infographics.

Mammoth searches in UK....50 man years to say even all terms!

Is is that PPC is then not worth investing in :-) The contribution to CTR is extremely small.

It should had defined "which terms they defined/ categorized as branded" terms.

Its interesting that as age increases the tendency to click on PPC results increases.

I always believe in life that the best solutions are always a mix of many good solutions....No lone solution is the best solution.

Real ROI = PPC + All small & Big efforts on SEO (a.k.a Trust Building)

almost 4 years ago

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Eloi

Two things to take into consideration when saying PPC only accountsz for 6% :

- Google have removed the ability to big on long tail. This tremendously hinders PPC in this sort of analysis as we know most clicks are done there.

- .... But what about the commercial intent on those terms ? As a PPCer, i actively work hard to exclude some terms. Surely this should come into account. If you had to pay for each SEO click, you'd think twice about which term you'd be on.

- The commercial intent is key here, because clicks is not an end metric. If PPC is only generating 6% of total SEM clicks, but 60% of clicks on commercial-orientated queries (look at the cost of head terms ...), then it is a much different picture being painted

This article is a really good analysis as well :
http://www.wordstream.com/articles/google-ads

almost 4 years ago

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Brent Carnduff

Interesting data - thanks for sharing. Did the information differentiate between first page clicks and non-first page clicks, or only lump them all together as being out of the top 3 positions?

almost 4 years ago

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Fannin

Thanks very nice blog!

almost 4 years ago

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Andrew Goodman

Among the many types of non-commercial searches included in the sample, think of all the searches like physical addresses that display a map and (unpaid) organic listings.

I suspect many marketers will draw invalid conclusions from that eye-popping figure of "94% of search clicks being on organic listings."

To the business owner who sells pet food or insurance services, the statistic that matters is the available commercial-intent searches in their vertical... not the fact that thousands of people searched for the address of some office tower, or wanted to navigate to a Wikipedia entry on string theory, that day.

Unfortunately this type of statistic can be (mis)used to give the company owners hope that there is a vast universe of organic joy just waiting to be unlocked. To know the real story as it pertains to the advertising world, the data need to be much more specific.

Do this: try running searches on terms like "string theory". I think the search engines do a great job of hanging back and letting research-oriented users find relevant resources. That being said, it's not hard to find a YouTube video in the mix, usually. And where there is YouTube, there is monetization. :)

almost 4 years ago

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Markus Jalmerot

It's mostly branded searches (80 %) so I'm not surprised by the numbers for navigational search. Research for non-branded keywords would be more interesting. Perhaps you can try that next time?

almost 4 years ago

Helen Faber

Helen Faber, President & Lead Search Strategist at WebFuel

Interesting data David. Thanks for sharing. I would be interested seeing the research data for same study based on Canada.

almost 4 years ago

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Rene Wooller

I'd like to know where the raw data comes from, and if anyone can analyse it to verify the validity of the report. If there is no transparency or references, how can we trust reports like this?

almost 4 years ago

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Anna

Interesting results.
Where can I get data for 2012?

over 3 years ago

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