Search Engine Traffic Declines While Engagement Remains Steady [Study]

Digital marketers rely heavily on organic traffic from search engines to drive users to their Web properties.

But a new Shareaholic analysis of search engine data from December 2013 to May 2014 has found a steady decline in the number of visitors coming from search engines over six months.

Also, while Google is by far the search market leader, based on average visit duration, pages per visit, and bounce rate, Google is sending less engaged visitors than distant rivals Ask, Bing, and Yahoo.

The goal of Shareaholic’s study was to determine the percentage of overall site traffic generated by search engines as well as the overall engagement by search engine. Here’s a look at the results.

Study Shows Declines Across the Board

For the purposes of their report, Shareaholic researched information on Google, Yahoo, Bing,, and AOL. Below is a snippet of the figures, which Shareaholic has represented as “share of visits,” which is the percentage of overall traffic (from all sources) that the websites received.

Shareaholic Organic Search Engine Traffic

What should you keep in mind when reviewing the data?

  • Search accounted for approximately one-third of overall traffic.
  • Google accounted for 31 percent of the organic search engine traffic.
  • Yahoo, Bing,, and AOL were each responsible for less than 1 percent of visits in May 2014.
  • Google provided 17 times the number of visits of the other search engines, combined.

The chart below shows the steady decline of the number of visitors coming from search engines over the six-month study. Because Google has such a hold on the market share, it appears that the decline from other search engines is almost nonexistent.

Organic Search Engine Traffic Dec 2013 to May 2014

How Much Is a Search Engine Visit Worth?

We all know that an engaged consumer is worth so much more than one that is ill informed or just “poking around.” Shareaholic analyzed the average visit duration, pages per visit, and bounce rate to determine which search engine sends the most engaged consumers to websites. Interestingly, Google didn’t even rank in the top three.

Search Engine Post-Click Engagement

So while Google is delivering the most visits they are of lesser quality than the traffic that, Bing, and Yahoo drive.

Why Are We Seeing a Decline?

Shareaholic suggested that marketers are utilizing other means to drive traffic to their websites including social media, which has seen an increase in share. Google’s constant algorithmic changes are forcing marketers to rely on other non-search sources of traffic to attract customers.

What are the top three tactics you utilize to drive traffic, and have you noticed a significant increase or decrease in their value?

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