When it comes to paid search, you expect the results to behave much like organic: the top ranking gets the most clicks. It turns out though, that it doesn’t always work out the way you would expect it to. We have some interesting new data from the marketing agency Accuracast that shows the fruits of a year long study into the labyrinth that is search engine marketing.
Let’s take a look at what they found.
After reviewing data for 12 months and roughly 2 MILLION clicks, it turns out that the top position in paid search results is not always the winner. According to the data, the number 1 paid position gets about 7 percent of all clicks, the most of the top paid positions for normal Google results, but when they spread the study to include all of the Google advertising channels, they found a dramatic shift. For Non-Google search engines, the best results were usually in position 5. For search result banners, the winner was in position 3.
“The data is surprising,” said Farhad Divecha, Accuracast managing director. “When we first noticed the unusual spikes in CTR at position 5 on search partner data and position 3 for the content network, our first reaction was to check the integrity of the data – could it be an outlier, a handful of clicks or a particularly successful campaign that was skewing the numbers? – however, we found that this wasn’t an outlier, it was seen over tens of thousands of clicks and across multiple campaigns and accounts in various industries.”
What’s the reason for the discrepancy? It turns out, people still prefer non-paid ads, it’s just that non-Google search engines aren’t always so clear. On AOL and Ask.com for instance, result 5 looks like an organic result, even though it’s often paid. This means people are trying to skip the ads and failing.
For Google though, position 1 is still the best. And seeing as how Google has the majority of the market share, we encourage you to keep trying to be numero uno. Of course, what we really recommend is using SEO instead of SEM, but we’ll concede that SEM does have it’s place.