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53% of Organic Search Clicks Go to First Link [Study]

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How important is it to be on top? In search marketing, the difference between a first and second place listing can be huge, according to new research from Compete.com.

Their recent analysis of "tens of millions" of consumer-generated search engine results pages from the last quarter of 2011 highlights a few interesting insights for marketers. As shown in the illustration above, 85 percent of all listings shown are organic, with 15 percent paid search listings. Overall, 55 percent of search engine results pages have ads.

When it comes to clicks on those organic listings, 53 percent go to the top result. The second sees 15 percent of the action, the third 9 percent, the fourth 6 percent, dwindling all the way down to 4 percent to round out the top 5.

“Since the vast majority of listings on a SERP [search engine results page] are organic, and the majority of clicks are on the first listing, it’s imperative that brands strategy including constantly monitoring results due to the ongoing evolution of search engine algorithms,” Compete analysts advise.

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Paid listings perform far better at the top, as well. Not necessarily the top of the ad block, but the top of the page as a whole.

Compete’s research shows that 61 percent of paid search ads are displayed in the right sidebar. Yet these ads get just 13 percent of the clicks. Sure, you want to be on top in the right ad block; the top listing on the right gets 4 percent of all paid search clicks, while the second gets just 3 percent.

However, the third listing in the top ad block gets more than double this, at 9 percent. The first listing at the top of the page gets an overwhelming 59 percent of all paid search clicks. Clearly, wherever it makes sense and is attainable, the top of the page is the place for advertisers to be.

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A few other interesting tidbits stand out in the report:

  • 24 percent of ads on a SERP are at the top and account for 85 percent of the clicks.
  • 15 percent of ads appear at the bottom of the page, which gets just 2 percent of clicks.
  • At the bottom of the page, rank doesn’t seem to matter. The first and second position ads account for 1 percent each of all paid search clicks.

Compete also offered by way of advice for marketers, “There is a strategic battle going on in SERPs and every decision has a dramatic impact on results. Most, if not all, search marketing efforts need to prove a ROI as there is a very definite spend, whether it is SEO or SEM.”

Download the full whitepaper, Seeing Between the Lines of the Search and the Click, from the Kantar Media Compete website.


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