Search marketing trends: 53% of organic search clicks go to first link

15/10/2012

Getting to the top of Google is becoming increasingly important, with 53% of US searchers clicking on the top link of the natural search listings, according to new research. The study, from Kantar media’s Compete.com, also found that over 3 in 4 searchers (77%) click on the top 3 links in the natural listings.

The white paper, Seeing Between the Lines of the Search and the Click, looked at both SEO and paid search in the the US. Compete.com analysed "tens of millions" of consumer-generated search engine results pages from the last quarter of 2011.

Search result pages: Over half carry ads

The results indicate that 85 percent of all listings shown are organic, with 15 percent paid search listings. Overall, 55% of search engine results pages have ads, the study found.

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Natural results: Top 3 still going strong

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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Advertising space: Right hand results underperform

It is possible to buy links to different locations on the results pages: top, right and bottom. And if the majority of purchases (61%) is concentrated on the right, however, is that the top results are the best. 24% of links to focus 85% of clicks.

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Paid search: Ads at top outperform right-hand side

The distribution of clicks on paid advertising is proportional to their position, with figures close to natural results. 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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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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