Study Shows SEO Considerably Outperforms PPC For Clicks

Not sure if SEO is the right marketing tool for you? A recent study by global media agency GroupM in conjunction with market research giant Nielsen found that pay-per-click (PPC) search accounts for just 6% of total search clicks, versus SEO-driven natural search at a whopping 94%.

The report also confirms Google’s position as the top dog of search in terms of both its search volume and search accuracy, with the UK search market reporting more than four times as many Google searches as Bing searches, and a Google search success rate of 91%. Bing’s success rate was a more hit-and-miss 76%.

Based on 28 million people making 1.4 billion search queries over July 2011 in the UK search market, it was also the first study in the country to examine click through rate (CTR) for both branded and non-brand search terms, and how this metric is influenced by natural search position and vertical.

Study Shows SEO Considerably Outperforms PPC For Clicks

Among other discoveries, the study found:

Branded vs. non branded clicks

For branded terms, most searchers are far more likely to click on the top three results in the SERPs. For non-brand terms, they are more likely to look beyond the first three.

Industry matters

If you’re selling flights, getting to the top of search results is more important than for any other vertical, with the first result attracting 78% of clicks, followed by just 11% for the next result and 4% choosing the third.  A similar distribution applied to the next two industries in the graph: broadcast media and finance/insurance, both of which attracted a 64% CTR on the first result. At the other end of the curve, software manufacturers saw 44% of users clicking on the top result, followed by 20% clicking the second, and 8% the third.

Gender and age bias

Women are slightly more likely to click paid search results than men, at 53% compared with 47% for males. PPC clicks also increase steadily with age, with just 11% of 18-24 year olds clicking paid results, rising to 21% for those in the 35-54 age bracket and 23% of searchers aged 55 or more.

To give you an idea of the scale of the study, the data analysed added up to 3.98 billion words (for an average of 2.84 words per search), the equivalent of 1.6 English language Wikipedias.

The study’s primary takeaway was that organic search visibility is critical to any online marketing campaign, and that while paid search can have some early impact, a good organic search result is much more important in the long run.

SEO Works offers an approach to SEO that combines expert application of tried-and-true rank building techniques with strategic targeting of “money” keywords that help ensure maximum return on your marketing dollar. Contact us if you would like to find out more about our services, and how your SEO can get the boost it needs.

This entry was posted in Latest News & Tips. Bookmark the permalink.

san francisco

101 California Street
Suite 2710
San Francisco, CA 94111

P: +1 (415) 670-9799

Local time:

new york

375 Park Avenue
Suite 2607
New York City, NY 10152

P: +1 (646) 583-0455

Local time:


101 Avenue des Champs Élysées
Level 5
75008 Paris

P: +33 (0)9 77 21 52 11

Local time:


36/1 Macquarie Place
Sydney NSW 2000

P: +61 (0)2 9954 6100

Local time:


27/101 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

P: +61 (0)3 9020 7055

Local time:


36/71 Eagle Street
Brisbane QLD 4000

P: +61 (0)7 3733 1422

Local time: