Searching on Google is a natural, almost automatic, reflex for almost everyone.
Many people start every web session with a Google search. And while Google is a formidable marketing and moneymaking machine, with an 89.7% share of all US searches, they’ve been less than forthcoming with many of the metrics and dimensions of search behavior which could make us better, smarter marketers.
Fortunately, MOZ Blog teamed up with clickstream data vendor, Jumpshot, to estimate what goes on in Google’s walled garden. Jumpshot uses software to measure and record page views and web sessions directly from browsers. So by aggregating and anonymizing actual clicks from 2 million plus US users, minus iOS users, we get a fair, probably understated, estimate of the volume, intent, and results of how consumers search.
Here are six questions with some new and possibly surprising data derived from the Moz and Jumpshot calculations.
How many searches are there? Roughly 60 billion searches a month, or 2 billion each day, and 2 trillion per year in the United States. Fifteen percent of active US web users conduct at least one search each day. Searchers average 3.4 searches per day.
How do people search? People type in distinct terms (e.g., Schwinn 10-Speed Road Bicycles) or generic terms (e.g,. road bikes) so results vary. Sixty-six percent of distinct searches yield a click on a result link. Thirty-four percent don’t. So while results are voluminous, they are not precise or valuable enough to satisfy one in three searchers.
The average search takes under a minute and uses three key words. Just 8% of all searches are phrased as questions. Another 8% pogo stick; they click on a single result and then return to the search engine results page (SERPs). One in five searches (21%) leads to a click on more than one result. Eighteen percent of searchers don’t find what they’re after and then change the search terms.
How well does SEM work? For distinct searches, just 3.4% lead to a click on a paid search ad. For all searches, the number drops to 2.6%. Google is selling an estimated $121 million dollars in Adwords per day, which draw just 3% of the clicks. Brands should focus on cost-effective SEO, which drives 20 times more clicks than paid search.
Does Google favor its own properties? Yes, kind of. If you look at the search universe, Google itself has a 59.3% share. Google Images has a 26.7% share and YouTube claims a 3% share. So corporately Google gets about 9 out of every 10 searches. Eleven percent of distinct searches drive clicks to Google properties and this number drops to 8.4% for all searches. So Google is a behemoth with a thumb on the scale, but they’re smart enough to leave plenty of opportunity for paying customers.
How common are search terms? The top one million keywords account for just 25% of all searches. This grows to 45% for the Top 10 million terms. Searching is creative and idiosyncratic, which challenges brands to express their value propositions in ways that many people can search for them. The challenges for Google is to continuously improve its algorithms to deliver more precise results.
Is mobile search different? Mobile search drives fewer organic and paid clicks than desktop and significantly more searches that do not result in a click. Desktop searches yield 62% clicks versus just 40.9% for mobile. The channels are almost even for paid search where desktop produces 2.8% clicks and mobile drives 2%. For 57.1% of searches on mobile the result was no clicks versus 35% no clicks on desktop. The disparities could reflect differences in how or when searches are conducted and/or differences in the behavioral patterns and sense of urgency for each channel. At the moment, mobile search is less engaging than on desktops.
These calculated search dimensions point to plenty of headroom for brands to optimize search strategies, reemphasize natural search and get inside the heads of searchers to better leverage widespread search muscle memory. Search is frequently the first inflection point linking brands and consumers. Getting search right really matters.
Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.