10 Search Engine Behavior Statistics
Leveraging popular search engines like Google to drive targeted traffic to their website.
In this article we’re going to break down 10 search behavior statistics that are extremely important for anybody who is marketing online and wants to leverage search engines to drive targeted traffic to their website.
This is really important because when you’re in a niche that you want to understand how people behave, knowing how they look for answers has a direct impact on your search strategy. And also, over the last few years, there’s been major shifts in how people use search engines, with Google moving to mobile first indexing, with the rise in mobile app search, and the rise in voice search, there’s a lot of different things changing.
Assuming that it’s been the same way over the last two, three, four, five, 10 years is a huge mistake. Now, while the fundamentals are still extremely important, we have to understand behavior because that’s the whole goal behind Hummingbird and semantic search; user intent. And so, some of these statistics I hope will help you understand broadly how people are searching. And then you’ll need to go a little bit deeper into your specific niche to understand exactly how the people you’re targeting are deviating from the mean or the norms.
#1. 49% of All Google Searches Result in No Click.
The first one is, 49% of all searches now result in no click. As we know, Google has expanded rich features, they’ve expanded a different call outs inside of the SERP results. This has caused less people to click on links in the search engines.
They’re going there, they’re seeing the information they need, and they continue on. Now this is a pretty substantial change since 2016, about 12% increase. And as you can see, this does impact search and this makes ranking for those SERP features extremely important.
#2. Organic Search Clicks Outnumber Paid Nearly 12 to 1.
The second statistic we’re looking at is that organic search outnumbers paid nearly 12 to one. Click-through-rates may be down overall on organic, but still, they get more clicks than the paids do.
They have dropped substantially in the last couple of years as Google has placed more emphasis on driving paid traffic because that’s what they get paid for, but at the same time, organic is still trusted. Users still click the organics 12 to 1, compared to the ad results.
#3. Results with Featured Snippets Get Slightly Higher CTR Than Those Without Them.
Number three is the results with featured snippets get slightly higher click through rate than those without them. Now, this was debated quite a bit earlier this year in 2021, when Google made the shift of how it’s going to display links with featured snippets.
What concerned a lot of people is that, do feature snippets get the kind of traffic that a position one would get? The exact numbers were 39.6% click-through-rate for results with featured snippets, as opposed to 37% with the results without them.
They did notice that positions one and two were lower click-through-rates than the average, but the remaining positions 3 through 10 are getting much higher.
So when there is a featured snippet, there is an uplift in the organic click-through-rate.
#4. YouTube Received More Than 6% of Desktop Search Clicks
Number four, YouTube receives more than 6% of desktop search traffic. YouTube is an extremely powerful platform in search. Yes, it is owned by Google. It’s also its own search engine. But over on desktop search, when people are looking for content, especially content that is recommending a video, YouTube massively over performs it’s raw visibility. And it gets about 6% of desktop search traffic, which is pretty powerful, especially if you are leveraging video.
YouTube is a great platform to be on. Google does have a bias towards YouTube, which makes sense. They own the platform. So this is an area you can invest in, and also look to see if your audience is searching for video results. Because if they are, you can create targeted content, and that can also rank in search.
#5. Google Owns the Top 3 Search Engines in the US
Number five. Google owns the top three search engines in the US. As you can see, this is done by Moz and Jumpshot, Rand Fishkin did this. This was done in 2016 but it’s still pretty relevant data today. The numbers may be slightly different, but the order is still there. Google.com, Google Images, and then YouTube, those are the top three search engines right now in the US. If you’re targeting people in the US, you need to make sure that 1) your site is visible on Google, 2) that you’re optimizing your images, and 3) that you’re investing in YouTube if you haven’t done so already. All those combined, you can see, are dominating how people search in the US.
#6. Nearly 25% of all search volume happens outside the top 100 million keywords
Nearly 25% of search volume actually happens outside the top 1 million keywords. So you’ve got top keywords, very important keywords, maybe broad keywords that are highly competitive.
But long-tail is still extremely effective, and there’s a ton of search to be gained using a long-tailed approach. Long-tail tends to be more targeted, it tends to be more focused on user intent, and 25% of all search volume, which is billions and billions and billions, happens outside the top 1 million keywords.
So when you’re looking at your strategy, yes, you can target broad terms, it’s not a problem, but what you want to do is focus more niche, focus on the problems that your specific customer is searching. There’s new keywords being searched every single day. So this is an important thing for us to understand, that long-tailed is still very much alive.
#7. Roughly 8% of Google search queries are questions.
Roughly 8% of Google search queries are questions. Now for me, I would have thought this was going to be higher honestly. But terms like who, what, where, when, why, how, when they did the research on this, they found that about 8%, slightly below 8%, of all search queries are phrased as questions.
I think this comes out of us being taught how to search a long time ago, for many of us. I think this might change. I think we’ll see this increase over the next couple of years, especially with voice search and just new generations using search engines. But I think we still do a lot of searches by keywords or long-tail phrases.
And then, I definitely do believe that as we move, we’re going to see this rise over the next couple of years.
#8. 18% of Searches Lead to a Change in the Search Query
18% of searches lead to a change in the search query. What they’re saying here is when somebody searches something but they don’t see the results they shift and change what they are searching for.
This is an interesting behavior, because this shows that not all the time, actually 2 out of 10 times, a lot of the time, people are changing after they’ve seen the results because they didn’t show what they were expecting.
Rand also points out in his study that this is probably why Google has made related searches, and people also asked so much more apart of search in the last few years, because they’ve seen this behavior where people would go and they type in a keyword, they don’t like what they see, so they change it. And that’s a large amount of people. 18%, you’re thinking of all the people using Google, they’re going to want to make sure that those people are getting their answers as quickly as possible.
#9. 21% of Searches Lead to More than One Click on Google’s Results
Number nine is an interesting one. We’ve got 21% of searches lead to more than one click in the results. This is more than one out of five searches on the internet, people are either opening up multiple tabs and comparing them and trying to find the right answer, or they’re clicking back and clicking on another link.
This is important to know, that just because you’re owning a position or somebody is higher than you doesn’t mean they’re always going to get more click throughs, especially if your content is better.
As Google hopefully sees that your content is better, you’ll move up. But it’s also interesting to know that people are going to be looking, they’re searching, they’re trying to understand. I think this would probably take place a lot more at that top level, where people are just trying to educate themselves or investigate a problem.
But at the same time, it’s something that we need to be aware of, because people aren’t just clicking the first link, getting their answer, and moving on. People are looking through and they’re trying to decide which piece of content really meets their needs.
#10. Google Search Sends 10x more traffic than next leading referrer
And the last one is that Google sends 10 times more traffic than the next leading referrer. We know about the rise in social, we know about the rise in all these other different forms of marketing and people pushing ads.
But the reality is, Google owns 94% of the US search market, and they send 10x as much traffic as the next leading referrer on the web, which is Facebook. SEO is still very much alive, and while Google does own a number of these websites and these traffic referrers that they’re sending to you, that’d be Images or YouTube, the reality is there’s still a lot of traffic for us, website owners, business owners, to garner from the web.
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