Increasing faith in paid clicks as Google organic CTRs decline

01.02.2019

Mobile organic clicks have declined roughly 10% in the last two years

New analysis from CEO and founder of SEOmoz (also my go-to authority on all things Google) Rand Fishkin shows the ever-increasing decline of Click Through Rates (CTRs) on Google organic search results. These declines are a result of people opting to click on ads instead.

Answer boxes and ads dominate mobile search results

Fishkin mentions the decline is due to Google wanting to hold onto visitors for longer, giving them everything they need from the Google SERPs (search engine results pages). With the inclusion of Google-structured snippets and answers, Google has essentially become a one stop shop utilising the content from their SERP websites for their own use. Over the last two years these ‘no-click’ searches – as they’re referred to – along with paid clicks have grown modestly, whilst the opposite can be said for organic CTRs on both desktop and mobile devices.

The most obvious reason for the drop in organic CTRs on mobile devices is the smaller screen size and less real estate available. For many search queries there are three or four paid Google ads, which may be followed by a local pack section followed by organic links which people on most devices will have to scroll to see.

Things to note

It’s important to note that these CTR declines on organic results will not be the case for every SERP. These declines apply to shopping and intent search queries, where ads are on nearly every search result. That said, intent search queries are where purchase decisions are made!

The struggle is real and it’s no secret to us SEOs why we no longer enjoy a large share of clicks for our best ranking keywords, particularly those intent search queries we deal with.

These are the causes:

      • Google structured snippets, answers and carousels
      • Paid ads increasingly displaying on more SERPs
      • Larger ads with more real estate given to each ad – we’re often seeing four PPC ads for a typical non-brand search.
      • Google Shopping ads which now show up on more results – Google Shopping has grown nearly 60% in the last year.
      • Subtle ad labelling, making it less obvious that an ad is in fact an ad. Over the years this has changed quite a bit from yellow coloured ad labels to green, to only a thin green outline which is the same colour as the URL.
      • Expanded size of ads on mobile devices – almost no intent based query will show anything other than ads on the front screen of a mobile device.

The good news

Don’t panic, organic search clicks are still happening and organic users will never go away, there is still traffic and customers to be gained by being on top of the organic search results in Google. This accompanies the growth in the number of overall searches each year.

The bad news

It will cost you… eventually. If SEO growth slows then paid search growth speeds up and you will have to play ball with Google Ads to capture your share of traffic. It will however cost your competitors too!

What to do about it?

Paid clicks have more than doubled in the last two years and we can expect paid ads to continue to dominate the SERPs on both desktop and mobile devices. This will certainly mean greater appreciation and participation in paid Google Ads. I’d bet my bottom dollar on this trend continuing from our experience in this ever-changing industry and the increasing revenue Google makes from these ads.

A strong search marketing strategy has always involved combining organic and paid search. Websites optimised for all search channels will already be well positioned to capture search traffic regardless of ad changes to the SERPs.

It’s not a matter of if, but when businesses will need to incorporate Google Ads into their marketing strategy to remain competitive online. As an official Google Partner, please contact us to answer any of your questions regarding Google Ads.