Search engine marketing statistics: The latest search usage and adoption data to inform your strategies and tactics
Statistics help us turn data into information, allowing us to make informed and rational decisions and that's exactly the purpose of this article. We're huge fans of search engine marketing both search engine optimization or paid search marketing. But with behaviour changing so quickly, it's vital to keep on top of search engine marketing statistics to inform your strategy.
This summary of search engine marketing statistics is aimed at helping you make better-informed decisions about the running of your search marketing and making the business case by modelling the returns from search engine marketing if you're using a search gap analysis to put a quantitative estimate to the returns. We'll start by reviewing how many people search, then look at the top search engines and finish with the growing popularity of voice search.
How many searches are made each day?
The importance of search in influencing product purchase is suggested by this data from Global Web Index via Datareportal. This shows that
"81% of people search online for a product or service"
74% have purchased online via any device and 67% use mobile shopping apps.
Who has the biggest search engine market share worldwide?
Google continues to dominate search engine use, starting 2020 with an average net market share of 70.38% on desktop according to NetMarket Share. However, this figure is actually slightly below where it stood at the start of 2019 (75.46%) as Bing’s net share has seen a slight increase.
Even with the small dip to start the year, Google is still the market leader, which needs to be taken into account for your digital strategy. This isn’t to say that you should discount other search engines though, especially as Bing and Baidu have more than a 10% market share each.
It’s a slightly different story on mobile, however, as Google currently holds 93.87% of the market share. This is likely due to Google’s continued focus on the importance of mobile UX factors for SEO.
Desktop vs mobile vs tablet searches
Up until mid-2019, mobile and desktop searches were mostly neck and neck, with mobile just edging into the lead every few months. However, June 2019 saw mobile account for 50.71% of searches, with desktop dropping down to 45.53%.
Since this point, the gap between mobile and desktop searches has remained, with mobile becoming the top option for searchers. This shows that as more people remained connected 24/7 due to the high mobile phone penetration across the globe, desktop searches are likely to continue to decline.
In terms of the share of searches handled by tablets, these have seen a decline since the start of 2019.
As we can see, there have been changes in behaviour at key points this year - notably April 2020 which saw a huge number of technological, economic and social changes as Coronavirus was declared a national pandemic. Regarding audience device type, it seems to have been accompanied by an increase in mobile search. Read more about the changes in mobile phone usage during the pandemic.
The impact of mobile search on SEO
What does this change in search habits mean for SERPs? At the moment, only 13% of websites are able to retain the same position for a particular search across all devices. So, you may be ranking well on desktop but not even appear on the first page of results on mobile. In fact, 30% of pages that show on the first page of desktop search results do not appear in the top 10 results on mobile.
According to SEMRush, 71.76% of domains change rankings by one place on mobile compared to desktop, 52.16% change by three places and 29.16% change by 10 places. Although moving down one place may not seem like too big a deal, mobile searchers have different habits to those on desktop and so not being in the top three results could have a serious effect on your mobile traffic.
This is why sites in 2020 need to ensure that they are as mobile-optimized as possible and that they keep an eye on mobile rankings rather than simply keeping tracking of desktop rankings. Use these search engine marketing statistics to inform your optimization priorities.
How much trackable web traffic comes from organic vs paid search?
In 2020, the combination of organic (40%) and paid search (28%) is still as powerful as ever, with 68% of all trackable website traffic coming from a combination of the two tactics. This means that they are both more beneficial for websites than other traffics.
Naturally, marketers will want to know where this direct traffic is coming from. This phenomenon is not new, and was summed up in a traffic analytics blog by Dave Chaffey.
"Direct in theory is the people who have typed in the URL directly to their browser, but in reality, it means anyone who arrives at the site from a source that cannot be tracked. The source of this traffic is generally links that have been sent to friends/colleagues and then copied and pasted into web browsers. Traffic of this kind is generally referred to as ‘dark social’. A general rule of thumb is that for every three people reaching your site via social, a further 7 will be arriving from ‘dark social’, which will appear as direct."
Organic search’s dominance is fairly impressive considering the changes that have been made to the layout of search engine results pages (SERPs), which have pushed organic results further down the page, giving more dominant positions to paid results. However, users seem to put more trust in the results that rank highly organically.
How many clicks do organic search results generate?
While we already know that the place to be in the search results is on the first page, it looks as though where you really want to be is within results one to three. As shown below, the first three organic positions for non-branded search earn more than 50% of the total click-throughs. For branded search, the numbers are even higher.
This is not surprising, as branded search demonstrates that the user is lower down the funnel. Plus, generally, non-branded terms will have more competition with paid ads, which show up first on the SERP, explaining the lower organic CTR for non-branded.
This chart from Advanced Web Ranking July 2020 demonstrates the steep decline in click-throughs for keywords in 1st position down to 20th.
How many Google searches result in a click?
Ranking highly on the first page or organic results doesn’t guarantee a click, though. Zero-click searches on Google have seen a steady increase over the last three years. In September 2019 it was reported that 34.85% of desktop searches and 65.10% of mobile searches end without a click.
Unfortunately, Jumpspot has ceased operations, so this is the most up to date chart available right now. If you know of another source producing this data please get in touch!
As SERP features increase, this trend is set to continue. SEO marketers must evaluate their keywords to decide when to optimize for rankings (ie structured data for the answer box) and when to focus on driving clicks. This decision tree by SparkToro is a good place to start.
Search engine marketing statistics for voice search popularity
The increased use of smartphones and smartspeakers has greatly increased the potential for voice searches and means we now have to think about the relevance of SEO for voice.
This is now a common behaviour as the latest data from Global Web Index via Datareportal shows, with an average of 45% using voice commands or voice search (unfortunately the research does not isolate voice search only).
Voice searching behaviour is higher in younger age groups, but only declines markedly in the 55+ age group.