Short answer? Both. Our greatest success has come when combining both methods. Organic rankings provide us with a long game approach, and Paid Ads provide us with valuable data. The beautiful thing is that once Paid Ads are optimized to have a net positive ROI the sky is the limit.
Organic is overwhelmingly better in the long term, let’s take a look at some data and see how the world actually interacts with organic vs paid results.
Search engine users overwhelmingly click on organic results on Google and Bing by a margin of 94 percent to 6 percent. That’s according to new research based on a sample of 28 million UK citizens and 1.4 billion searches conducted in June 2011.
Search engine users overwhelmingly click on organic results on Google and Bing by a margin of 94 percent to 6 percent. That’s according to new research from GroupM UK and Nielsen, published today by eConsultancy, based on a sample of 1.4 billion searches conducted by 28 million UK citizens in June 2011.
On the organic side, the research also broke down brand vs. non-brand click-through rates, as well as click-throughs by vertical. On the paid side, the research revealed some demographic data about who is most likely to click on PPC results. Finally, it determined whether Google or Bing delivered more successful searches.
Organic Search Results & Click-Through Rates
Others have previously tried to gauge organic click-through rates (CTRs) for the top 10 results on Google and Bing, resulting in varied percentages, but with a recurring and obvious theme: the higher you rank, the more people click on your website; the lower you rank, the less clicks and traffic your site gets. Thus, ranking high on Page 1 is of ultimate value to every website.
Unlike previous studies, however, the GroupM UK and Nielsen study broke down the search queries into branded and non-branded. Overall, users clicked on one of the top three results 68 percent of the time:
- Result 1: 48 percent
- Result 2: 12 percent
- Result 3: 8 percent
- Remainder: 32 percent
On branded searches, the top search result overwhelmingly received the most clicks (which makes sense, considering the search is likely navigational in nature):
- Result 1: 80 percent
- Result 2: 6 percent
- Result 3: 4 percent
- Remainder: 10 percent
This also may give you some insight as to why Google is now showing 7 results, rather than 10, on branded searches. No doubt, Google is seeing the same sort of data on their end, and realizes that 90 percent of users are going to one of the top 3 spots, so in most cases the average user won’t even notice Google has eliminated three search results at the bottom of Page 1.
On non-branded searches, however, the data indicates that searchers are more willing to go beyond the top 3 results (and this data is quite similar to Optify’s findings on average CTR from last year):
- Result 1: 35 percent
- Result 2: 15 percent
- Result 3: 11 percent
- Remainder: 39 percent
This data seems like good news for site that don’t have the luxury of ranking in one of the top three spots. There’s definitely traffic and money in that 39 percent of searches (positions 4-10) to be had if you can get your site to Page 1.
Natural CTRs by vertical were also examined. The highest CTRs on the top three results were on searches for airlines, broadcast media, and auto manufacturers; current events/news, home and garden, and computers and consumer electronics had the lowest CTRs for the first three positions.
Paid Search Results & Click-Through Rates
Who are those 6 percent clicking on PPC ads? Women (53 pecent of them) are more likely to click on paid search ads than men, who click on ads 47 percent of the time.
Age also is a factor. Younger searches are less likely to click on paid ads – 35 percent of ads are clicked on by searchers age 34 or younger. But as age increases, so does the number of people clicking on those ads, as 65 percent of ad clicks come from searchers age 35 and older.