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The Paid Search Share Slide

By - May 14, 2009

According to HitWise, all is not well in the land of paid search:

Paid Clicks Declining.png

Hitwise data indicate that the share of search traffic coming from paid listings is decreasing at the expense of organic traffic. In the four weeks to May 9, 2009, 7.25% of search engine traffic to All Categories of websites was from paid clicks. This compares to 9.84% in the same four week period in 2008 – representing a 26% decline in the share of paid clicks. This trend is apparent across 16 of the 17 Hitwise parent categories (i.e. Automotive, Food and Beverage, Health and Medical, etc). The only category that didn’t see a decline in paid traffic was Education, which received 1.45% of search visits from paid clicks compared to 1.39% last year.

….Referrals from search engines continue to climb but the proportion of clicks going to sponsored or paid listings is decreasing. This is no doubt a result of cutbacks in marketing spend due to the recession.

Here is where Google’s 2004 IPO claim to not manage the company for quarterly earnings will be tested.


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4 thoughts on “The Paid Search Share Slide

  1. AMM1984 says:

    This data is far too vague to be taken seriously.

    1.) Paid listings decreasing at the expense of organic traffic?

    Not necessarily, in tough times its nice to have the double presence but it isnt always necessary. Especially if you can get the click for free through organic. This is bad news to google, not me. God forbid they start making less money like the rest of us out there.

    Retail & travel are obviously down… its a recession. I could have told you that without this information. Id like to see the spikes in foreclosure and bankruptcy.

    Id disagree that this is a result of smaller marketing budgets. Id argue that there are several factors at play.

    1.) Education is up because of people looking to secure their jobs or find one since they are becoming so sparse.

    2.) Not all advertisers are cutting budgets. For many companies now is the time to remain visible or die.

    3.) The total number of referrals can be down but frankly, I only care about referrals directly related to my inventory of products, content, website ect.

  2. It would be interesting to report on this number in relation to the overall number of searches. While paid might decline in relation to organic, that does not mean it’s a decline in actual paid traffic. Organic might just be growing faster overall. For example, with the growth of mobile, there are less paid search ads on mobile devices, hence less clickthroughs.

    What this growth does reflect is an added urgency on the part of companies to establish an organic search strategy, and to measure, monitor, report on, and value relevant organic traffic.

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  4. gian fulgoni says:

    Readers might be interested in comScore’s related blog post:
    http://blog.comscore.com/2009/05/longer_search_queries_driving.html