Organic vs. Paid Search: (66 Astonishing) Statistics for 2019
Let’s just come out and say it: this is not the first “search statistics” article ever written.
But a quick glance through the top results doesn’t give you what you need.
You’ll see posts covering organic search statistics, resources covering paid search statistics, or a walk-through for how to succeed with an organic search strategy.
But none of these articles give you an understanding of both organic and paid search with up-to-date numbers and the actionable ways you can use those statistics to inform your business strategy.
This article will do just that.
We’ll cover it all, with the following sections.
Organic Search Statistics
- 67,000 searches are performed on Google every second of every day.
- 93% of digital, online experiences start with a search engine.
- 46% of all Google searches are local.
- 95% of all searchers click on one of the links in the first SERP.
- Search traffic converts 10x better than social media traffic (on desktop).
- The first position on SERP collects around 30% of the clicks. Second gets 15%; third gets 10%. By the time you get to the ninth and tenth positions, click-through-rates have fallen to about 2%.
- Long-tail searches (with four or more words), have a better chance of giving your business clicks – even if you’re not in the top positions. Long-tail results in the sixth position, for instance, get 7% of the total clicks, more than twice as effective as the average SERP.
- 50% of search queries are at least four words.
- Google owns 96% of all mobile searches, and 93% of all desktop searches.
- Yahoo, as the second largest search engine, controls 1.42% of mobile searches and 2.83% of desktop searches.
- SEO is the single biggest factor in lead generation, according to 57% of B2B marketers.
- 82% of marketers report the effectiveness of SEO is increasing, and 42% report effectiveness is increasing significantly.
- Updating and republishing old blog posts with new content and images can increase organic traffic by as much as 111%.
- It’s estimated that by 2020, half of all online searches will be voice searches.
- In 2018 25% of households in the US owned a smart speaker. With 78% year-on-year growth, that number hit 120 million in 2019 (41% of Americans).
- After listening to music, search is the #2 and #3-most frequent use-case for smart speakers in a typical week.
- Google’s answer box is triggered by 25% of all searches.
- The top ranking site is, on average, 17% faster than sites which rank in the #10 spot.
- The top ranking pages have 8.7% lower bounce rates than sites which rank in the #10 spot.
- The top ranking pages have almost 6x more links than sites which rank in the #10 spot.
- The top ranking page contains, on average, 1,890 words.
- The highest-impacting SEO factor remains link signals (29%), with on-page signals a close second (24%).
Mobile Organic Search:
- 2018 was the first year where the majority of searches came through a mobile device.
- 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles.
- In 2019, 59% of all searches came through mobile.
- 2020 is expected to see 211 million Americans using mobile search.
- Mobile’s influenced retail sales to the tune of an estimated $1.4 trillion USD (and that was back in 2016).
- Even short connection delays (500ms) result in 26% higher “peak frustration” and up to an 8% decrease in engagement.
- 46% of consumers say their biggest frustration from browsing the internet on mobile comes from having to wait for pages to load.
Organic Search Case Study
Normally we’d choose a lesser-known business case study to show how businesses just like yours can achieve organic search results.
But the fact of the matter is that Brian Dean’s case study covering on-page site optimization offers actionable takeaways for any business, and it’s a powerful example of how organic search engine optimization can drive serious traffic.
He’d written a post (an SEO checklist), but it had failed to perform. To improve it, he focused on two main changes:
- Address User Intent:
Brian was writing a checklist post, but hadn’t formatted his content to match and title.
After all, if he was focused on people who wanted a checklist, why was his post called [Case Study]?
Google is extremely savvy when it comes to matching user intent to relevant content, so giving your prospective readers exactly what they’re looking for is key.
He also changed the content to be more inclusive, because people searching for a checklist are unlikely to be super advanced SEO experts.
- Optimize for User Experience:
- He added a table of contents (to help readers navigate his monster post).
- He added video (which has shown to increase time-on-page by 6x)
- He shortened his short introduction, as he knew long introductions increase bounce rates
- He increased the number of examples and added subheaders (to better organize the content on the page).
These two strategies helped Backlinko increase the traffic of that post by 652%:
For a complete guide to SEO, check out our “SEO Checklist.” For a guide to ecommerce SEO, check out “E-Commerce SEO Best Practices.”
Paid search statistics
- Google dominates search ads, generating $32.4 billion in ad revenue in 2018. Their top competitors (Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yelp) combined for $4.8 billion.
- Technically, YouTube (owned by Google) is the second-largest search engine, with more than a billion unique monthly searchers.
- Advertising accounts for about 97% of Google’s total revenue.
- The average click-through-rate in Google search ads is 3.17% (compared to only .46% for display ads).
- The average CPC paid by Google search advertisers for keywords that included their own brand name rose 30% in 2019.
- Paid search ads are in the top three most influential generators of website conversions.
- 46% of people can’t identify which results are organic and which are paid ads on the SERP.
- When asked, 62% of marketers and advertisers said they planned to increase their search advertising budgets in 2019.
- Smell businesses generate $3 in revenue for every $1.60 spent on search ads.
- Just one brand awareness campaign, when done correctly through paid Google ads, can boost the metric up by 80%.
- 72% of paid search advertisers plan to increase their PPC budgets in the coming year.
Paid Search Statistics By Industry
- The average click-through-rate is 3.17%.
- The highest CTR is found in the dating industry, at 6.05%.
- The lowest CTR is found in the technology industry, at 2.09%.
- The average cost-per-click is $2.69.
- The highest CPC is found in the legal industry, at $6.75.
- The lowest CPC is found in the e-commerce industry, at $1.16.
- The average conversion rate is 3.75%.
- The highest conversion rates are found in the dating industry, at 9.64%.
- The lowest conversion rates are found in the advocacy industry, at 1.96.
- The average CPA is $48.96.
- The highest CPA comes from the technology industry, at $133.52.
- The lowest CPA comes from the auto industry, at $33.52.
- When it comes to paid mobile search click sharing, Bing and Yahoo aren’t as far behind Google as in (every) other area. 33% of all paid mobile search clicks come through Bing or Yahoo.
- Approximately 36% of mobile searches revolve around local search terms.
- Mobile devices account for the majority of paid-search clicks (53%).
- Mobile phone shoppers convert less than half as frequently as traditional shoppers. Tablet shoppers, in fact, convert more frequently than mobile phone users.
Organic vs Paid Search Statistics
Arguments for Organic Search:
- 70-80% of all searchers ignore paid ads and focus only on organic results.
- Organic search leads lose at a rate of 14.6%, compared to only 1.7% for outbound marketing leads.
- Approximately 39% of total e-commerce traffic (worldwide) comes from search – 35% of it organic and only 4% of it through paid search ads.
- Ad blocker usage increased from 142 million to 615 million between 2018 and 2019.
Arguments for Paid Search:
- Paid search results gain 150% as many conversions from clicks as organic search results.
- Even with a healthy SEO budget, it’s extremely rare to see organic traffic increases within the first three months of optimization.
- 65% of all clicks made by “users who intend to buy” go to search ads.
- Paid traffic is 50% more likely to buy from you than organic traffic (as they have a higher intent).
- When you pause your ads, don’t expect an influx of organic traffic. Up to 89% of all paid traffic does not get replaced by organic when the ads are paused.
- The top three ad spots take 40% of total clicks on the page for “high-value commercial intent” searches.
Organic vs. Paid Search Case Study
It can be extremely difficult to find good paid search case studies, as most of them are built by PPC agencies who want to guard their strategies carefully, or by Google themselves.
And their case studies come from Fiat, Intel, and the Washington Wizards.
None of whom are particularly relevant to you and your small business.
So we dug a little deeper. We (along with less than .5% of other searchers) headed to the fourth page of Google’s search results.
We found GrowDigital.
GrowDigital is (as you might expect) a PPC agency, but they’re reporting is legitimate and valuable.
Their campaign revolved around whether or not your business should bid on your own brand name.
This question is at the heart of the organic vs paid search conversation.
Here are their findings:
- Bidding on your brand name increases the total real estate you control on the SERP.
For example, if you Google “Unbounce,” their paid search ad (plus their organic result) means they control everything above the fold:
This leaves no room for any “Unbounce Competitor” or “Unbounce vs. [Competitor]” pages to rank above the fold.
- Bidding on your brand name is extremely cheap (as your quality score is going to be through the roof).
Your competitors may also be bidding on your brand name (usually with a “Why [Your Brand] Isn’t as Good as [Their Brand]”-type page.
But your search ad will appear above theirs, and you’ll get a cheaper PPC than them, simply because of the quality score.
GrowDigital tested removing brand search ads for a client over a two-week period: one week without brand ads, and one week with them:
“During the one-week period before shutting it down, the campaign achieved $1,268 daily revenue while organic searches with the brand name included resulted in a magnificent result of $241 daily.
During week 2, after shutting the brand campaigns down in Google Adwords, organic results improved to a stellar daily revenue of $757. This suggests that paid ads indeed cannibalized the results of organic results.
But once we looked at the whole picture, we realized the ugly truth: this huge improvement still could not fully replace the paid channel’s performance.
Simply put, […] Without brand ads in Adwords, a loss of $750 daily [meant] 50% less revenue [for the client.]”
This is the value of search ads even if you’re already ranking organically.
Organic & Paid Search Relevant Tools
- Ahrefs, SEMRush, or Moz: These tools all offer a powerful insight into what keywords you should target, both with SEO strategies and paid strategies.
- SpyFu: SpyFu gives you insight into the strategies of your competitors, both for PPC and SEO.
- Google Trends & Keyword Planner: These free tools are essential for every organic search optimizer as well as every PPC expert. They give you insight into the competition, cost, and likelihood your brand will be able to rank (paid or organic) for each search term you’re going after.
- Unbounce, Instapage, or Wishpond: If you run paid search ads, you need to send the people who click to a landing page (otherwise you’ll be wasting your ad budget). These three landing page providers make it easy.
- Optimizely, VWO, or Google Optimize: Whether you’re optimizing your website for organic traffic or paid, a good A/B testing tool is crucial.
- Woopra or Mixpanel: Without analytics, every marketing and advertising strategy is a stab in the dark. These two tools are the industry leaders when it comes to buyer path tracking – an essential part of determining your organic or paid search strategy’s success and ROI.
Hopefully these 66 organic and paid search statistics have given you a better understanding of the sheer power of search.
We hope, as well, that you now realize that neither organic nor paid search is inherently superior.
Your business should be trying and testing both (with organic search optimization, you’ll have to test for at least six months, by the way).
Try them both, and see what works for you and your business.
And if you have any questions along the way, don’t hesitate to ask the experts.