There’s been a lot of talk lately about Google hogging search traffic with zero-click searches. According to SearchEngineJournal.com, 34.4 percent of desktop searches and 62.5 percent of mobile searches are zero-click searches. But before you fall on your knees and curse Google for stealing all of your website’s traffic, check out this new study from BrightEdge. It revealed that paid search and organic traffic are responsible for 68 percent of “all trackable website traffic.” That’s significantly higher than the traffic delivered through social media and display advertising. In fact, organic search use is more popular than all other channels – and has grown in the past few years.
First, a little about the study: BrightEdge Research generated this data in May 2019, developing it from “thousands of domains and tens of billions of sessions.” The analysis did not include direct traffic. Because BrightEdge has been studying web traffic for five years now, it’s easy to compare this year’s results with more long-term trends.
The Persistent Power of Organic Search
In the five years that BrightEdge has been studying web traffic, organic search has grown modestly. It provided 51 percent of site traffic in 2014 and reached 53 percent of site traffic this year, in 2019, remaining “the dominant source of trackable web traffic and the largest digital channel.” Paid search accounts for 15 percent of web traffic, organic social accounts for just 5 percent, and “other” makes up the remaining 27 percent. Together, organic search and paid search dominate web traffic. As we mentioned above, they account for 68 percent of all trackable website traffic, coming out far above other channels, including display and social media.
Although many people are pleased to see organic search still doing so well, it’s certainly surprising when you consider all of the changes happening to Google search results and consumer trends:
- The rise of mobile search
- Adjustments to SERP layouts
- The local 3-pack (trimmed down from the local 7-pack)
- The popularity of knowledge graphs, videos, and quick answers
Despite all these forces seemingly fighting against it, organic search continues to deliver the most traffic to websites by a large margin. How does BrightEdge account for the continued success of organic search? Over the years, their researchers believe, Google has improved its algorithm to provide users with more accurate and relevant search results, which has increased consumers’ trust of Google. Because of this, consumers are relying on Google even more than before, using it “at a rate that exceeds the growth of display and organic social.”
Concerns of fraud have plagued display advertising, giving organic another leg up. And while social media is popular generally, it doesn’t produce web traffic results like other channels. In fact, in the study, only about 5 percent of traffic came from social media, and that number has remained stagnant since 2014. Additionally, according to the study, social media accounts for less than 1 percent of revenue. Yikes! Speaking of revenue . . .
Organic search is also the largest channel when it comes to revenue results, at a more modest 44.6 percent. BrightEdge speculates that this may be due to the fact that people use organic search when they’re initially searching for something but then switch to another channel once they better understand the solutions and providers available. Organic search is especially beneficial for business-to-business (B2B) companies, however, accounting for two times more revenue than other channels, at 53 percent. When combined, organic and paid search produce more than 75 percent of B2B traffic.
Takeaways for Marketers
While this report isn’t jaw-dropping and mostly serves to underline the importance of organic and paid search, it does make a splash in regard to social media. Considering the time many people spend on social media these days, it’s surprising but enlightening to learn that social media doesn’t produce much bang for your buck in regard to traffic volume and sales. Of course that doesn’t mean social media is useless – far from it! It’s an excellent tool for increasing brand awareness, networking, sharing news, communicating with current customers, impressing potential customers, and more.
Going forward, in light of this study, we recommend that you keep the following tips in mind when crafting your digital marketing plan:
- Focus on creating valuable, relevant, and high-quality content to attract new visitors to your website.
- Optimize your content to ensure that it is discoverable, measurable, and profitable.
- Study SERP layouts, and choose your target keywords carefully.
- Use first-class, real-time data to keep up with your competition and market changes.
- Don’t invest primarily in social media, as it’s unlikely to deliver significant revenue in most cases.
If you’re hoping to build a beautiful, effective website that ranks highly on Google, contact 417 Marketing for help. Our team of knowledgeable, creative, and passionate professionals specializes in SEO, web design and maintenance, and Google AdWords, and we have successfully completed over 700 websites since our inception in 2010. Click here to contact us and learn more about what we can do for your company.