The War on 'Free' Clicks: Think Nobody Clicks on Google Ads? Think Again!

By Larry Kim July 17, 2012 Posted In: Google Comments: 92

Do People Click on Google Ads?

If you use Google search (and who doesn’t), you may have noticed that sponsored results (Google pay-per-click, or PPC, ads) have been taking over more and more of the search engine results page.

Here at WordStream, we’ve noticed that too! So we decided to do some research into what impact all of these new, bigger, more prominent and engaging ad formats are having on the average Google searcher. The results are astonishing:

Clicks on paid search listings beat out organic clicks by nearly a 2:1 margin for keywords with high commercial intent in the US. In other words, 64.6% of people click on Google Ads when they are looking to buy an item online!

Click here to skip ahead:

Now, to be clear here, organic searches still get more clicks overall than paid search – but not all keyword searches are created equal. Keyword searches with high commercial intent – meaning, keywords where a searcher is looking to buy a product or service (for example: “buy stainless steel dishwasher”) – are worth far more to businesses than your basic informational keyword searches (for example: “who is Thomas Edison”). Our research found that for valuable, high commercial intent keywords, paid search advertising listings gave the “free” organic search listings a resounding beat-down. Naturally, we’ve illustrated the results in an infographic. Click the image to see the full-size infographic:

Google Ads and the War on Free Clicks.
© 2012 WordStream, a Provider of AdWords and PPC Management Software.

What’s Driving the Organic Search Listing Smack-Down?

Much to the delight of internet marketers, new, bigger, more engaging and more targeted sponsored ad formats – which allow businesses to target prospective clients in more precise and relevant ways – are behind the increases in CTR for high commercial intent keyword searches. These new keyword advertising formats include:

  • Product Listing Ads: In May of 2012, Google transitioned the previously free Google Product Search into a "Purely Commercial Model." Product listing ads include large images and are automatically triggered if someone searches for a product that is in your Merchant Center account.
  • Click to Call Ads: This powerful mobile ad format lets customers call a business phone number with the click of a button.
  • Bottom of Page Ads: Catch their attention before they click to page 2 or refine their search.
  • Mega Site Links: This huge ad format offers up to 10 additional places to click, greatly increasing your chances of presenting a relevant link.
  • Social Ad Extensions: Show who has +1'd your site, which lends credibility and potential name recognition.
  • Remarketing: Allows companies to track site visitors with a cookie and chase them around the Web, displaying relevant banner ads until they click and convert.
  • Map/Location Ad Extensions: Display your address and phone number to local searchers, enticing them to visit you faster. Advertise only to customers in the vicinity.
  • Chat Ads: Prompt viewers to open a chat window with a sales guy – get those leads while they're hot!
  • Email Ads: Prompt users to provide an email address right from the search result page.
  • Etc.

Couple these and other exciting new ad innovations with the fact that approximately half of searchers still can’t differentiate between paid and organic search listings, and you can quickly see what’s happening here. Advertising on Google will become a means to survival on keywords with high commercial intent, and the best advertisers will reap the benefits.

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A War on Two Fronts

While these innovative new paid search advertisement options are rapidly growing in size and power, Google is simultaneously waging all-out war on SEO web spam. Over the past few months we’ve seen significant updates that make it harder to rank in organic search, including:

  • Panda Update (Feb 2011) - Google cracks down on "thin content" and ad-heavy sites. Up to 12% of search results are impacted.
  • Google Analytics Update (Oct 2011) - Google stops providing reliable access to organic search query data. Advertisers basically need to use AdWords to get full access to search query data. (Click here for more tips on dealing with the "not provided" fiasco.)
  • Matt Cutts Threatens to Penalize SEO's (March 2012) - At SXSW, Matt Cutts issues a warning to sites doing “over optimization,” declaring: "we want to make that playing field a little bit more level."
  • The Shot Heard Around the SEO World (April 2012) - Google warns an estimated 1 million websites about unnatural links and orders webmasters to cease and desist these manipulative activities.
  • Penguin Update (May 2012) - AKA the "Over Optimization Penalty" or "OOPS." Google devalues sites employing keyword stuffing and spammy link tactics.

The net result is that organic search has become significantly harder and more costly to execute, nearly impossible to measure, and yields increasingly unpredictable ROI.

SEO vs. PPC: Who’s Winning this War?

It’s too early to declare a victory for either side. The one thing that is clear from our research is that the board is set and the pieces are in motion.  What do you think of the shifting battlegrounds here? Let me know what you think in the comment fields below.


A special thank you to my colleagues, Miranda Miller (Search Engine Watch), Aaron Wall (SEO Book), Tom Demers (Measured SEM), AJ Kohn (Blind Five Year Old), and Elisa Gabbert (WordStream), all of whom provided incredibly valuable input and commentary into the design and data of this research study.

Survey Methodology

Our survey was limited to advertisers in the US, for Google Search only. In our survey, we define high commercial intent keywords specifically as keyword searches on Google that have significant advertiser competition and trigger a Google Shopping or Google Product Listing ad.

We used recent average click-through rate data collected through our AdWords Performance Grader across over one thousand AdWords accounts in the last 60 days. We also looked at the Google Analytics/Webmaster Tools and AdWords account data of WordStream’s managed accounts to analyze organic click-through rate data and trends.

Because people often click on multiple ads and/or organic search listings from a single search result page (which makes the click-through rates of all of the paid and organic listings add up to more than 100%), we normalized the CTR data to reflect the % share of traffic generated for each paid and organic search listing present on a typical search engine results page.

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If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment.


Tuesday July 17, 2012

David Szetela (not verified) Said:

Important data and great article, Larry - thanks! I think SEO will remain a crucial tactic, but it's clear PPC should never be viewed as "optional."

Tuesday July 17, 2012

Elisa Gabbert Said:

Well said!

Tuesday July 17, 2012

Jonathan (not verified) Said:

Great infographic, well laid out and very instructional! Loved this piece.

Tuesday July 17, 2012

Elisa Gabbert Said:


Wednesday February 26, 2014

Adam @ SEO in Calgary (not verified) Said:

Thanks for putting together such an awesome infographic. As a search engine user I don’t even pay attention to the sponsored results, but I see I am not in the norm.

Thursday January 16, 2014

Joseph (not verified) Said:

Great infographic and blog article. Google is and always has been "about the money". Bias towards advertiser ads
is just the beginning.

Monday December 30, 2013

Dallas (Sydney Australia SEO) (not verified) Said:

First of all, thanks for the great post and info graphics. I have never personally been a real big fan of Google Adwords, but I think now more then ever, its important to run a campaign, test what keywords are getting traffic, but more importantly, converting to a lead, sale or new client and focus ongoing SEO efforts on those keywords. Focus on good SEO, not spam and continue with a strong Adwords campaign.

Cheers - Dallas

Friday December 27, 2013

Las Vegas Web Design Companies (not verified) Said:

Holy Cow! Really nice infograph and article. Thanks!

Sunday December 15, 2013

Dan Carter (not verified) Said:

Excellent article.
Thanks for sharing.

Saturday December 14, 2013

Dan Carter (not verified) Said:

Great infographic, well laid out and very instructional! Loved this piece.

Tuesday December 10, 2013

Anthony (not verified) Said:

I read somewhere that Google ads pushed from Adwords or only worth a few cents. Does anybody know how to block them? 

Friday December 06, 2013

Spook Seo (not verified) Said:

Hello Larry,

This is a very informative post. I’ve been doing a lot of test regarding Google ads PPC and SEOs. There are so many changes so it’s challenging to find which is really better. Google will do anything to stop spamming and make sure everything is in favour in its own market. Anyway, this article is really useful. Thanks so much!  

Tuesday November 19, 2013

fishboy (not verified) Said:

OK, so what's up with the new "AD" icon next to pay per click ads? I DON'T LIKE IT!!! AND MY CLICK THROUGH RATE HAS GONE DOWN SINCE THIS STARTED.

Friday November 08, 2013

Bobs SEO (not verified) Said:

Great infographic and that tells it all. Google is and always has been "about the money". Bias towards advertiser ads
is just the beginning.

Friday November 01, 2013

Dan Carter (not verified) Said:

I agree totally with the infographic and it is more and more clerar by the day that google is trying to push its commercial model. The organic rankings are more or less just a formality now and i am sure in future if google goes this way the quality of search results is going to decline. 

Wednesday October 23, 2013

Michael V (not verified) Said:

This is why I always like getting free Adwords coupons from hosting providers. They really work.

Saturday September 28, 2013

Tim Corrin (not verified) Said:

Hey Larry, you wrote an excellent article related to the advertisement. Sometimes ads can't help if the website is not informative and useful for the viewers. Make viewers to come back by keeping website update then daily visitor rate will increase and there will be more chances to have PPC. SEO helps alot to standout the website in search engine.  

Thursday September 05, 2013

NotSuprised (not verified) Said:

Not suprising !... I guess nobody realises that Google not only controls exposure of paid ads, but also controls exposure of free placements.  My site has been im operation for almost 16 years. Every day..yes .... every day I get between 1998 and 2004  visits to my site from free entries. Its impossible that by some randon factor that the number of people looking for my product each day is 2000... So only conclusion is that Google regulates this. So why are paid clicks going up ..because Google limits how many free clicks you get .The other bit of information that you shoudl cosider is that how many folks actually purchase when arriving via a paid click vs a free click. My studies indicate that free clicks sell products and paid clicks do not.  I stopped paying for clicks and my business did not go down .... So go figure.

Friday August 23, 2013

Anonymous (not verified) Said:

When users click on a Product Listing Ad in Google Shopping they have begun to take the user to another window (pop up window) showing your paid ad but NOT taking user to your site. When they do this, they show your ad that you paid to have the user click on and show other items that may interest the user and provide an option for user to add item to their shortlist. Google then is able to keep the user inside of Google Shopping on YOUR DIME and cross sell to the user other item ads paid for by other stores thereby reducing the change of the user coming to your site to see the item and your cross sell items. This method is also not trackable, in other words, you can not see a reporting on the activity on your site resulting from this paid click as you paid and they were not sent to your site.. just a popup encouraging them to continue shopping without leaving Google Shopping.

This is all fine and good but merchants should not be charged unless the user enters your site, this change is slow and not announced by Google.

Also Google has been taking images provided by merchants and removing all white space thereby reducing the quality of the image...

Seems we are all just financing Googles money machine.

Sunday August 11, 2013

John Smith (not verified) Said:

I would not give google a red cent, they are spying on each and every internet user and selling your data to the NSA, even if you don't actually go to google dot com, they have code embedded in mozilla to track users, including geo location code. They are BAD NEWS, stop using them.

No I am not a tin foil hat wearer, but I do care very much about my personal privacy.

Thursday July 25, 2013

TheSeoPortal (not verified) Said:

In long term i believe SEO is going to be the winner as PPC Result in most cases not meet the client requirement and they are not quality website and slowly slowly web visitor will realize this and they stop clicking on PPC Ads for Sure. 

Thursday September 06, 2012

Incentivi Fotovoltaico (not verified) Said:

This is a fantastic Infographic!


Thursday June 13, 2013

Pavan Ravikanth (not verified) Said:

Hello Every One,


Before presenting my doubt, this is greate infographic i have seen ever. it is really great. Credits for involved People...


Coming to my doubt, I have been an internet user since 6 Years and i might have cliked once or twice for every 100 times using Google.

I wonder Why People Search for Ads on a Web Search Engine which displays Just 3 ads(Really a very lesschoice of Vendors or service providers for a person who really want to search for some product or service) over top of all results by specifying that they are Sponserd links  ... indecision

Wednesday June 12, 2013

Richard (not verified) Said:

Well done on another great insight Wordstream, keep it coming! With such rapidly changing products and services in todays day and age, PPC seems the way to go.

Tuesday June 11, 2013

Ritika Bajaj (not verified) Said:

Thats really important and interesting comparison , I have observed one more thing that as  the number  of visitors increases , your CPC also increases and CTR also increases, unable to find relation bertwween CTR and number of visitors . Can any one please explain ...?

Friday May 03, 2013

SEO Richmond Hill (not verified) Said:

This is a never-ending saga in relation to Google search and sponsored results (pay-per-click, or PPC, ads) occupying search engine results page.  It really has gotten to the point of creating sponsored ads to drive traffic may actually work.

Thursday April 18, 2013

Ryan Watson (not verified) Said:

You must have gone through a huge research, really great stuff.

Tuesday April 02, 2013

Ken Lempit (not verified) Said:

Would be great if you could revisit this research and infographic for 1Q13.  Thanks,

Thursday March 21, 2013

Jamie (not verified) Said:

This is some really great information on PPC vs. Organic traffic. I have always been an advocate of both but I have just recently started my journey into the wild world of Adwords. I have started off with a low budget. I have heard so many success stories that I just had to start to keep up with the competition. I love the picture it's really creative!

Monday March 18, 2013

TheSeoPortal (not verified) Said:

Both these advertising model have their own pros and cons. Its on us how we take them as in long term i think it is good to choose SEO Program while when you want to get faster result it is better to choose PPC Campaign. 

Saturday September 22, 2012

Mike Childs (not verified) Said:

How is click through shaping up internationally?  I dont see the same percentages in Canada based on actual data or anecdotal. 

Tuesday October 09, 2012

Evelyn (not verified) Said:

Your graphic poster is excellent ~ kudos to your graphic artist,  if you ever need any other assistance drop me a request!  Keep up the nice work, Evelyn

Wednesday July 25, 2012

Jordan McClements (not verified) Said:

Very good stuff.

But I don't fully agree with your examples.

i.e. I would have said someone looking for "Stainless steel dishwasher" was "almost ready to buy"

and someone looking for "Kenmore dishwasher" was "ready to buy" not the other way round.

I would also put "" into the "almost ready to buy" category (and ...'reviews' do not seem to activate product listing ads here in the UK from the searches I have done so far).

Wednesday July 25, 2012

Christy (not verified) Said:

I got agreed with your post, exactly the same happens, i have hardly seen some clicking on the google ad's mostly they click on the organic resutl.

I had really enjoyed reading your blog thanks for sharing it.


Friday September 21, 2012

WiredIn SEO (not verified) Said:

The statistics shown in this study are not surprising, and are actually something that most SEO companies have known for years.  Clickthrough rates on organic listings vs PPC listings split about 51% to 49% leaning towards organic, but Google is attempting to slowly change that split by pushing the highest organic listings further down the page through integration of "above the organic" PPC as well as local Places listings integration.  When compared against one another equally, the two mediums show equal clickthrough rates when the organic ranking of position 2 through 4 is achieved and compared to PPC position 2 or 3.  When an organic number 1 position is gained, the clickthrough rates skew far in favor of the organic listing over PPC, however when it is from a targeted local area (the strength of PPC) we find that the two will show equal clickthrough rates.  Basically, mediocre SEO results compare equally to a semi-aggressive PPC campaign, and top SEO results outperform the PPC for clickthroughs.
The issue is the study of conversions, which almost nobody out there is discussing becasue there is very little research on the matter.  Since only 5% of advertisers on PPC have actually invested the money into developing an organic SEO campaign that has produced top results, we can only find a very slim population to study and compare for conversion rates.  Very few agencies will be able to look at real statistics from their customers in this capacity, since so few will actually put forth the time, effort and money to achieve the rankings necessary to compare good SEO vs PPC.  Luckily, WiredIn SEO has had multiple clients participating in both forms of marketing for two or more years, so we have been able to track actual conversions produced by the mediums, and we have recently published our findings.
It turns out that in campaigns that run concurrently within a local area, one producing targeted PPC positions within a target geographic demo and one producing organic SEO based rankings in the top 2 positions for the same targeted keyphrases, we find the conversion rate for organic SEO as a general whole to be very low compared to the targeted PPC.  HOWEVER, when compared on the basis of volume of conversions, we find that the organic SEO efforts produced almost double the amount of conversions as PPC, due to the fact that as the organic click numbers grow form areas outside the local area, they also grow proportionally from within the local area, this producing more clicks.   The benefit of the organic SEO is the ancillary terms that Google also ranks the website for, the ones associated with the target phrase but not exactly matching it.  While these produce a lower conversion rate, there are so many more listings achieved that the statistics overwhelm PPC, which can only offer a fixed amount of clicks.  The only way for PPC to compete with good SEO is to increase the budget.
WiredIn SEO compared an organic SEO campaign that cost $1,000 monthly and a managed PPC campaign from ReachLocal which cost $1,500 monthly, and found that over a 2 year period, actual conversions from organic rankings nearly doubled PPC conversions.  You can see more about our study at our website or by Googling WiredInSEO.

Monday July 30, 2012

Carlin Stanton (not verified) Said:

Hey Corri,

Bad news.  Google's core purpose is not organic results.  Google's core purpose is to make money by providing what people are looking for.  With Adwords providing about 97 % of revenues,  Adwords is only going to become more effective.  Google will make sure of it - because they want to keep making money.

Tuesday July 31, 2012

Andy Kuiper (not verified) Said:

Something is most likley amiss here... but I'm not sure exactly what. 'Most' folks know the difference between PPC and Organic/Local and trust in PPC has be declining over the years... so this seems somewhat at odds :-)

Tuesday July 31, 2012

Sycara SEO (not verified) Said:

Larry, great data to send to clients who think that all they need to do is SEO.  It has always been impoortant to do both but now more so than ever.  I have also noticed a much higher RPM in Adsense for money keywords in the last few months.

Tuesday July 31, 2012

bob (not verified) Said:

it mean - webmasters! never use adwords, not give money to this internet monster who will make everything to tank your business if you not pay them for every click. G now SELLING top 1-3 organic positions to advertisers. It show price of their words (we never will sell places at organic search).

Why antimonopoly laws not working here???? May be because G provides/open private info on gov requests!?

Tuesday July 31, 2012

Asim (not verified) Said:

Iv seen a couple other prominent bloggers reach the exact same conclusions from their research. I was just reading a very similar post  with the same conclusions by Aaron Wall a couple days ago. Looks like google has taken it upon themselves to screw webmasters over. Use billions of sites in their index as fodder and not wanting to share.

Its only a matter of time before users begin to not want to use google anymore. Bing has already begun to display better search results. Its only a matter of time before the masses realize that. Plus, no matter how good, engaging and relevant google's ads are, at the end of the day, they are ads. Searchers want to see REAL results on the search engine listings too.



Tuesday July 31, 2012

Michael (not verified) Said:

I can say locally PPC doesn't touch high organic rankings, at least when it comes to bringing in the client. We have a plumber based in one of the top 10 markets in the US and he is ranked #1 under most keyword searches. We also did a PPC campaign for him as a test and what we found was the offer on the organic page is what kept being brought in or mentioned to him over the offer (a little better offer by the way) that was on the adword landing page. Both pages laid out the same, only true difference was the offer code and the organic code was 4x more effective than the PPC offer code.

So while your study shows one thing (of course you offer PPC software and services so it makes sense, I bet there are a lot of companies out there like ours who ran tests and saw the opposite results).

With that being said I believe everywhere you can be to generate a client is where you need to be. Some returns are better than others, but if your making at least 3x your investment you should be everywhere your company can afford to be. I think some people forget the priciples of marketing never change, just the platform :)

Thanks for the article.

Tuesday July 31, 2012

Risa (not verified) Said:

After penguin, my company's sites (about 30 - 50 sites) were affected, we can't stand traffic loss,

we only could use more and more adwords to keep traffic, but adwords is not our best choose.

Cost too much, get too less, we need improve our SEO techniques instead of using the Google ADWORDS.

Monday July 23, 2012

Alan Smith (not verified) Said:

I have to agree with the above comments about this study's flawed methodology. What, for example, is the ratio of "High Commercial Intent Keywords" to overall searches? How might the other types of searches - presumably overwhelming in number - fit into a sales cycle, i.e. as part of research or even serendipity? It also seems rather naive to take Google's baseline measure to produce rsults most beneficial to... oh right, Google. Perhaps my response is colored by the twice-weekly phone calls I get from Google tryong to sing me up for Adwords I don't need (organic works just fine me). 

Bottom line: a. the internet is polluted, and b. Google's hands are as dirty as the rest of them...


Thursday September 04, 2014

Dove Global Media (not verified) Said:

Yes, we at DGM agree that ads receive clicks.

We also disagree that they are more effective then organic clicks.

Although your budget may produce more clicks, the conversion rate of lead generation is in the organic searches.

Consumers trust organic displayed results over PPC Advertisements -- in addition to marketers clicking ads and using Google as their #1 research tool.

Perhaps a factual article on my above statements would lead to an even more exposed and productive article!

Warm regards,

- Jordan Dove

Tuesday September 02, 2014

Terry Haas (not verified) Said:

This is really a good article and it's been helpful in communicating to customers the value and difference in PPC vs. SEO.

Any chance of a 2014 update on the statistics contained here?



Monday May 05, 2014

Naman Verma (not verified) Said:


Thanks for good informations. for marketing adwords more expensive. 



Thursday March 27, 2014

Bikram (not verified) Said:

I know that nobody ever thinks of this, because they're always too busy bowing down before Google -- but is there a chance Google will ever be busted by the Feds for anti-competitive reasons? Google's the 800 pound gorilla, and we all know they act the role. They're also (apparently) the Internet police and think it's their duty to run the Internet the way the U.S. runs the world.

Thursday August 02, 2012

Magnet Mailers (not verified) Said:

Nice article, Larry!  But none of this should be news to those of us who market on the web.  

We all track our clicks / conversions on a daily or weekly basis, and can see the results with Adwords, and without it.

Should we be surprised that a search engine chooses to maximize revenue, while trying not to 'turn off ' its users? Probably not.

Sure, the ads for High Commercial Intent keywords get lots of clicks.  Google users may believe those links are more relevant -- more likely to provide a useful commercial experience.

When you want to buy a dishwasher, you go to the mall, not the library.

Your article should be a wake up call for those who've built their web marketing strategy on SEO koolaid.




Thursday August 02, 2012

Who Cares (not verified) Said:

Good for marketers? Is that a joke? Please. Doesn't anyone realize that clicks become more and more expensive and push everyone out but the larger corps with bigger budgets? Wake up. Where's the infographic for rising cost of PPC ads?

Monday August 06, 2012

Jaimyn (not verified) Said:

Awesome infographic with great content. I love seeing exact percentages on these types of case studies. I agree with nearly everything that the graph states. PPC is becoming increasingly important as SEOs need to become more like brand managers due to all these funky algo changes. Companies with a strong brand presence both online and offline will be the ones winning the internet marketing game.

Wednesday August 01, 2012

Robert (not verified) Said:

The search market is screaming for someone to take on Google properly. I don't always want to search for the companies that have the biggest advertising bucks to spend.

Hopefully Yahoo! will get it's search act together or some new startup will get enough traction to allow true competition in the search marketplace.

Wednesday January 09, 2013

Alisa (Think Big Online Marketing) (not verified) Said:

Excellent article.
Thanks for sharing.

Wednesday August 01, 2012

tanıl (not verified) Said:

Thank you for sharing 

Sunday July 22, 2012

Agentur Schade (not verified) Said:

This ist quite a lot of information within the graphic! But it absolutely hits the fact that Google is trying to sell more and more PPC Ads in the SERPs.

Wednesday August 01, 2012

Corporate Retirement Gifts (not verified) Said:

Very good write up, but lots of information packed in. I agree that it depends on the keywords. I find that my sites receive more organic clicks than PPC.

Wednesday August 01, 2012

Bill Taylor (not verified) Said:

Great article Larry and the Team, I also found the infographic very well done and it conveyed the points well.

For sure SEO is not going away anytime soon and it is important also to do PPC in conjuction with it - always has been to some extent.

I think Google have turned to being one of the most corrupt companies on the planet. They will do almost anything they can get away with to make money and don't care who they hurt to do it.

They are constanltly misleading people as to their real reason for doing things. In the process they are deceiving the searchers who use their SERPs and take advantage of their ignorance.

I certainly believe that Google will not be around too much longer as more people are seeing through them and their manipulation of the masses. Of course it also shows how their shareholders can also be manipulated to let them get away with doing anything for money - same as the banks.

Keep up the good work.



Friday July 20, 2012

Lemuel (not verified) Said:

Exactly the information I was looking for. Loved the infographic except maybe for the part about "over optimization". I don't really believe anybody has confirmed this already. I know I can't confirm it in all of my properties that's for sure.

What's certain though is that the low lying fruits of SEO don't have value as much as they did before the recent animal attacks unleashed by Google.

I mean if there really was an "OOPS", then SEOs would be more than happy to welcome the era of reverse SEO now wouldn't we? I'm more than certain that Google's notables have been explicity that the recent updates have been all about algo changes than an OOPS.

Still, great info here and I'm going to use the infographic on a blog post someday with credits of course. Keep up the great work!

Wednesday August 01, 2012

Furore (not verified) Said:

I think this is a very nice infographic. I still think the best combination for a campaign is SEO with a good Adwords campaign. The one makes the other stronger.


Grtz from Holland.

Thursday July 19, 2012

Matt (not verified) Said:

Seems they're becoming more and more of the place to go if you'd like to search through a bunch of ads, like an efficient yellow pages.

No biggie, Bing is relatively uncluttered and Duck Duck Go has some nice features.   I find myself using bookmarking websites more, having my own list of news feeds, sort of limit the need to go through such mess quite so much.  And it's probably only going to get worse, will have to make up for the Motorola drag on earnings somewhere, considering search is their golden goose, I'd expect organic results to take a few more hits.  But, you'd think this is a failed model eventually, organic and good SEO are much stronger foundations, would seem to have more lasting strength but who knows.


Friday October 05, 2012

Mikey (not verified) Said:

Awesome. I'm in PPC myself at the moment, and this is something I've tried to convey to advertisers without factual/statistical data - especially box 5 in the Sponsored Listing Ads image.

I'm certainly going to use these figures as a basis for my conversations going forward (even though I'm based in Australia). I don't think our online market is as evolved as it is in the U.S. For example, rather than 64.5% of commercial intent searches, I would imagine we are still sitting in the 40-50% space.

There's also another point I press also. For example, someone is searching at home at 8.30pm at night for "stainless steel dishwasher" and finds what they want on the landing page behind the sponsored link. They don't call the joint, because they know that they will be closed and no one will answer, so they think "I'll call tomorrow". When they jump back on their computer the next day to find out the number, they're not going to type "stainless steel dishwasher" again, but instead type the business name.

Searchers have a very high propensity to click on the organic listing when searching a business name. That click is then classified as "organic traffic", although it came directly from PPC.

Great write-up. Thanking you.



Wednesday August 01, 2012

Donald (not verified) Said:

Clicks, Schmicks! Google must have paid you for this info-graphic. The thing is not the clicks the thing that is important in the niche you selected. "Links with High Commercial Value". My experience is people do click on Google paid links and free links both, and probably at about the same rate, but the paid links have negative returns on investment due to Googles monopoly on the ad sales business. Every search engine has a relationship with google, and without competition paid ads will produce poor results. Back when things got started with Overture, which was bought by Yahoo and then Yahoo signed a deal with the Devil since they signed a deal with Google instead of continuing the suit and running Google out of businsess for stealing the patented technology Overture had invented, yeah they got millions for it, but lost Billions!  Advertisers should boycot paid ads until there is true competition. There used to be and it cost 25 cents to get a click, and then one in 300 clicks resulting in a sale meant Advertisers could actually make money. Now when clicks cost multiple dollars, ROI is out the window. I got a call from Google adwords saying my click through rate was too low and that is what I asked the sales rep, and she had no reply. She did not care at all about the fact my purpose is to make money for me, not Google and that their model is broken as a profit generating model. So your thesis is accurate, both free and paid links get clicks, but at what price? The assumption that a click is valuable in and of itself is not accurate. Some states Attorney General needs to look at the revenue sharing deals that every major company has with Google and break them up like AT &T was years ago. Does anyone know of a single major search company that has paid clicks that are not some how tied into the Google  revenue stream? Major being the key word. Because the "little guys" have even worse ROI than the monster G! Nice infographic, but not the right angle to pursue. 

Wednesday November 14, 2012

Anurag (not verified) Said:

Nice information but i want to block spammy url from my adsense so i can generate more

Wednesday August 01, 2012

Debarup Mukherjee (not verified) Said:

So, what will be the senario after 2 or 3 years for SEO industry or Internet Marketing agency or Digital Marketing Agency?



Wednesday August 01, 2012

Sanford Scolex (not verified) Said:

I can't believe people in the comment section are actually eating this food.  I know how this article was written.  The author searched, "PPC vs Organic click rate" clicked on the first paid ad he saw, copied the stats then wrote this terrible article. Larry why not list the sources of this information? Because it would discredit the whole article.

 This infographic is a direct example of why Matt Cutts is going to start discrediting inforgraphics -  packed with misinformation...Thanks for ruining it for the rest of us.

Wednesday August 01, 2012

Mike (not verified) Said:

Biased article.  I was doing incredible with 30 phone calls a day on the organic side with over 300 clicks a day.  Panda and Penguin came forcing my hand to PPC and now nothing.  I spend $500.00 a day on 6 or 7 unqualified shit calls.  PPC will never match organic search; not in my industry at least.

Wednesday August 01, 2012

arcus (not verified) Said:

Great infographic. Decoding it took me 3 hours.

Wednesday August 01, 2012

Sara (not verified) Said:

Why is it that every time I read more of what Matt Cutts is doing next, I find it harder to know where I'm at again in the "zig-zag course" of sequential disenchantment? Will they ever make up their mind, so we can begin to learn the rules and just spend our time applying them?

Wednesday July 25, 2012

Applepie (not verified) Said:

Jordan I agree with you, the methodology and data are not very transparent and performance for PPC and SEO varies by industry, a data set like this that is not industry specific can be very misleading. A consumer purchase journey does not begin at the purchasing stage and the digital ecosystem is complex , a better way to show a sound infographic is to show mix matrix for SEO, PPC and Social.

Tuesday July 31, 2012

Sycara SEO (not verified) Said:

Yep those billions they are making are not coming from organic


Wednesday August 01, 2012

Elisa Gabbert Said:

The sources are listed. It's easier to see the sources if you look at the full-size infographic.

Thursday August 02, 2012

Who Cares (not verified) Said:

Well said

Thursday September 13, 2012

Anonymous (not verified) Said:

Well, our experience is exactly the opposite to yours. Typically the only local clients where Organic outperforms PPC
are those that have strong local brand recognition. They are easy to spot as you will find lots of searches on their
company name and those searches tend to click on the organic results.

Most of our local clients get at least 30% (and ranging upto 80% for new clients) of their traffic from PPC. This
includes clients that have top ranking organic listing and top ranking places listings.

There are many things that go into a successful PPC campaign ranging from the keywords you select, negative
keywords used, quality of the ads, quality of the Landing Pages, etc.  As an additional bonus for PPC we find that
the PPC traffic converts better than organic traffic.

Now, every niche and geographic area produces different results and I fullu concur that the best thing you can do
is to get a top PPC, a top organic. a top Places and any other top rankings you can.the more you can dominate
that first page the more leads you will get!

Sunday July 21, 2013

Anonymous (not verified) Said:

I know that nobody ever thinks of this, because they're always too busy bowing down before Google -- but is there a chance Google will ever be busted by the Feds for anti-competitive reasons? Google's the 800 pound gorilla, and we all know they act the role. They're also (apparently) the Internet police and think it's their duty to run the Internet the way the U.S. runs the world.

The Feds took down Big Telephone in the 80s because they were simply too big.

Right now, Google dictates the pace of everything with their extremely powerful search engine and massive online advertising system. They also

- Compete with their advertisers in pay-per-click
- Build websites

Almost like a casino house that competes will all its gamblers. Over the long term, who's most likely to really come out ahead?

We all know Google's trying to kill organic search, because they're just a big, greedy company with stockholders to feed. I'd be real curious to know if the Feds will ever step in to do something about  it. Only in bible stories does David normally beat Goliath.


Tuesday July 17, 2012

Prestiti Personali (not verified) Said:

This is a Cool Infographic!

Very Compliments!

Tuesday July 17, 2012

Online Marketing Toronto (not verified) Said:

Organic results get more clicks than the paid one. How many of us click those  advertisements? The answer comes only 3 or 4 out of 10. Organic results have won over paid ones.

Tuesday July 17, 2012

Elisa Gabbert Said:

How many of us click those  advertisements?

More than you think, according to our research! But it depends on the nature of the search query.

Thursday July 19, 2012

Steve (not verified) Said:

Elisa, that's the bottom line, imho, it depends on the keyword/key phrase.

When the user has completed their research and is ready to buy, PPC is relevant and utilized

Tuesday July 17, 2012

Marc Nashaat (not verified) Said:

Great data here although I don't see the link/image for the infographic anywhere. What you have mentioned here however reaffirms the idea that PPC and SEO compliment each other marvelously (awesome resource on that here: 

Tuesday July 17, 2012

Elisa Gabbert Said:

Are you not seeing the infographic in the middle of the post? Do you by any chance have Ad Blocker on your browser? Here's the link to the full infographic:


Tuesday July 17, 2012

rama (not verified) Said:

no offense, the infographic was not easy to read. It looks overloaded but appreciate the time u spent in collecting the data

Tuesday July 17, 2012

Elisa Gabbert Said:

Much easier to read if you click to enlarge, FYI.

Tuesday July 17, 2012

JesseCWalker (not verified) Said:

Boy did that Aaron Wall quote scare me.  Do you Wordstream folks think that SEO is going the way of the Dodo?  My experience with clients is that SEO is the highest ROI of any marketing channel.  

Tuesday July 17, 2012

Elisa Gabbert Said:

No, not really -- not anytime soon! But we do think it's getting increasingly complicated, especially for small businesses with limited resources. SEO and PPC should work in concert.

Wednesday August 01, 2012

Nick (not verified) Said:

Nice infographic, I do not completely agree with with the PPC stance against organic, but oh well. Very good point on the SEO 2008 and 2012 (from one SEO specialist to a whole team)

I would be keen to learn more on case studies on your SME clients who have successfully adopted PPC and have been doing it profitably for a serious amount of time (2 years+)

Often small businesses have small, limited budgets, and PPC campaign always has an extent of learning curve within it, and that does not come without a cost.

As it stands, for small businesses (in niche industries/local market, with limited resources), I believe organic results are the way to go.


Oh yes, and I'm still looking for that person who tells me that they are so much happier with paid advertisements on Google, and how they are so much better and more relevant than organic results. Oh well.



Tuesday July 17, 2012

plr article contents (not verified) Said:

Excellent article. I am a paid advertiser on google. I can say for sure that people click more on my paid listings than my organic listings.

Tuesday July 31, 2012

Michael (not verified) Said:

If your not ranked on top that would be the case :) Otherwise if you were one of the top 5 results you would notice while they may get clicked the same or even a little less your Organic is where the business is coming from. Just my thought from running my own tests.

Tuesday July 17, 2012

Tony Leung (not verified) Said:

Well I would have to agree with the author of this post, PPC is more succesful as of now, in the past my business have made profits after I hired a SEO team, but after the google updates my business have suffered, and now my team of SEOs recommend PPC, so I am running an adwords campaign to survive and make some profit, the ROI has decreased but I have no choice, I am starting to hate google!

Wednesday July 18, 2012

Will Quick (not verified) Said:

This is something I'd been nervous about for a while.  It is somewhat terrifying to see it in such plain black-and-white.


Great infographic.  I found it through btw.

Wednesday July 18, 2012

Anonymous (not verified) Said:

The infographic is too much cluttered with images. I just scanned it. ;(

Wednesday July 18, 2012

Corri (not verified) Said:

Fascinated that Google would erode it's core purpose which is organic search.

For a consumer the relevance is driven from organic search, not censorship surrounded by AdWords. Ask the TV broadcasters whether a high rating show is relevant to their ad spend.

As Google continue to obliterate organic results they also decrease their relevance and promote the alternate search engines and niche destination sites.

Though I understand the market forces driving Google into this behaviour unless they find balance the alternates will steal market share at a rate that will surprise all.



Thursday July 19, 2012

KS (not verified) Said:

This infographic, while it has some truths is mostly inaccurate w/ specific situations used to make generalities or is complelety false.

Terms such as "highly commercial intent searches" has no definition or implied SEO meaning, therefore is not a measurable concept.

Much of this data has no given source point (the percentages) and directly contradicts other well known and well researched reports. 

And percetages such as 8.9% on Sears Organic results unless you work for Sears and have access to their analytics or pixel data (which if you did I doubt you would be allowed to place here) then anything else is from an estimating software which is usually quite a bit off and has to be validated with real world testing.

NOTE: SEOs in 2008 did and still do all the same things listed as separate jobs in 2012. Just because you did not know that SEO has always been all these things does not mean we weren't doing it.


This infographic was made to make a point, not inform. Research is the unbiased revelation of information to support what the research shows us even when it contradicts our viewpoint. Thi sis NOT research. It is a flimsy excuse for research puffed up by cute graphics to support a PPC approach.


In addition your methodology is inherently flawed as we would say it is a snowball sample. Snowball samples are never used to state facts because the method is so flawed as to make it impossible to do anything more then note trends on which research can be done.

Thursday July 19, 2012

Larry Kim Said:

Hello. We're using Google's own definition for High Commercial Intent Keywords - Meaning, keyword searches that triggered the google product listing / google shopping ads. I think this is a pretty clear definition.

Additionally, as i mentioned in the survey methodology, our data normalized the click through rates to see what % of the clicks were going where. I'm guessing you're used to seeing much higher click through rates, due to the fact that people will often click on 2 or more different listings on the same search result page.  I just normalized the data to add up to 100% (instead of adding up to 200% or 300%).

I guess the flack only gets heavy like this when you're over the target!

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