I just stumbled across a great piece over at our friends at MOZ on their new findings around organic vs paid clicks.

Brian Wood from the Wayfair SEO team has seen a distinctive shift over the past two years from organic click-throughs to paid clicks. This equates to a 25% drop on desktop and even worse, a 55% drop on mobile.

It is worth noting that the drops correspond to ad-heavy non-local SERPs (in this case e-commerce).

According to Brian:

Looking at 2015 vs 2017 data for all keywords ranking organically on the first page, we’ve seen a dramatic change in CTR. Below we’ve normalized our actual CTR on a 1–10 scale, representing a total drop of 25% of click share on desktop and 55% on mobile.

This becomes a lot clearer when comparing results from desktop vs mobile.


So what could be causing the shift in CTR?

Brian hypothesizes (and I would have to agree) that there is a combination of issues causing the drop. In particular:

  • Ads being served on more search queries
  • The shift in Google in 2016 which resulted in more ads per query
  • Extended ads, which give more space to each ad
  • Ads looking less and less like ads. The subtler ad labeling make it less obvious that an ad is an ad
  • and more

This all makes for very good results for Google as businesses have to invest more and more into paid search. However, for us as digital marketers, it means we need to seriously think outside the box. How do we weigh up our SEO vs SEM strategies? How do we cut through the clutter to buck the trend?

If you want more info on this, I highly recommend you read the full article over at MOZ.

I am also keen to hear what you think of the findings. Do they weigh up with what you are seeing? How do non-ad-heavy industries fair in this environment?