Study: Clicks On Google Ads Are Nearly Double Organic Clicks For Commercial Searches

Clicks on paid search listings on Google were nearly double the number of organic clicks — but only on keywords with “high commercial intent” in the US, according to a Wordstream analysis released today. Sponsored results, the research from the software company found, represented 64.6% of clicks on SERPs for commercial searches, while organic clicks only accounted for 35.4%.

Wordstream defined “high commercial intent” by Google’s own standards, including keyword searches that trigger a Google Shopping box or Google Product Listing ad. The company came to its conclusions by looking at data collected across approximately 1,000 AdWords accounts in the last 60 days, gathering additional data from several dozen accounts.

The company attributed the high click-through rate on paid ads on commercial searches to Google’s continual addition of new ad products. These include product listing ads, click-to-call, bottom of page ads, site links, social extensions and local extensions.

Additionally, Wordstream says getting clicks on organic listings for these commercial searches is getting more difficult, going so far as to call the search giant’s battle on web spam “Google’s War on ‘Free’ Clicks.” This, the researchers speculate, is due to factors such as the Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, as well as Google’s withholding of referrer data when users are logged into Google when they search.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords | Stats: General


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  • Thos003

    …If I had only bought stock, then I could find reason to rejoice.  

  • TeleplasmicDolphin96
  • Lichelle

    I see organic search results becoming less and less visible.  Not sure how far Google will take it, but it will be interesting to stay the least.  As a product-based website owner, I’ve certainly felt the impact of Google’s recent updates on my organic listings and I am seriously thinking about moving more of my focus to PPC. Google…you win!…as usual.

    Olivia’s Master

  • Matt Lloyd

    Not hard to believe considering the favours that paid search results receive. I see site links far more frequently on paid search over organic. In addition we’ve got the first three results have a vertical height that places organic results closer to below the fold.

  • Alan

    Google is now just the biggest shopping mall ever known to mankind. Bing might have an opportunity in all this. If the people at Bing can hold off on putting ads everywhere, users who aren’t shopping might start moving over.

  • Bryan Cavage

    This could be related to Google no longer offering FREE product feeds. So internet searchers will know be clicking on paid ads when using Google for Product Search and Comparison Shopping.

  • Laura Thieme

    We see something very similar – we have four years of research through Bizwatch, which compares organic vs paid traffic, leads/conversions and ecommerce transactions.  We’ve noted customers receiving 2-4x the traffic from paid search for the same keyword even if they are equally ranked in the top 3 listings (PPC and SEO). 

    Some think that PPC cannibalizes SEO traffic, but we’ve been able to prove that wrong through trend performance analysis, and by introducing a PPC keyword that was already ranked and receiving traffic from SEO.

    What should be added is that retailers while they need their SEO traffic, they really need to be ranked in the top 3 listings (in addition to their PPC listing).  Organic adds credibility, so while PPC may get 2-4x the traffic of SEO, it’s important to ensure you’re still visible.  For eye-tracking, it’s proven people will still scan down the page.  It’s just harder to track the SEO value of that traffic, because of what Google did a year ago with (not provided) and their logged in searchers.

    I think this year is going to be hardest on retailers, no matter the size.  All that Google Shopping organic sales-driven traffic just went away in a heartbeat.  I believe in ecommerce traffic being monetized, but to immediately go to PPC.  In addition, we’re seeing other concerns in Product Listing Ads that we should do a separate piece on, Pamela.  Maybe you and I can talk offline and then write a story on it.

  • Rosalind W. Garrett

    If the people at Bing can hold off on putting ads everywhere, users who aren’t shopping might start moving over.

  • Vendita Auto

    There is stil a balancing act to be played out. Goggle will not just take the money and go back to the top end economies of scale top brand flatlining by deep pockets. Three stalls pay to be at the entrance, after that it must be a market place or search engines will lose the all important reference frame & the illusion.


    SEO or SEM? Where should I invest? 

  • wrightimc

    This is interesting anecdotal evidence, but 1000 adwords accounts over 60 days is hardly a statistically significant sample. But I wonder how many times this study gets quoted over the next 60 days. Perhaps a joint study from all of the PPC management vendors would yield more insightful results.

  • wrightimc

    BTW – this comment is from Tony Wright – not WrightIMC. I hit the wrong profile – and the opinion is my own.

  • profservonline

    I actually started using Bing now from time to time and it isnt as bad as I thought

  • Corri

    The driving force of shareholder greed strikes again – while investors demand greater returns, as searchers they demand greater relevance. Short term gains will prove the downfall for long term sustainability.


    Why then the Pandas and Penguins? totally useless results if paid will always shadow real relevant results, no chance for content sites at all. Everything in google is taxing users, forget about internet tax, we have google.

    The most expensive way to shop: Google. merchants will not be putting the money out of their pockets. Then the ultra smart people at google decide to kill google shopping feeds which was usually used as sales income to pay for the ads, now, no leads or sales, no google ads, is like a dog chasing his tail, really dumb.

    Bing is the new star and yahoo will soon become another great choice. I just don’t see the FTC and DOJ checking into google privacy issues with so much sensitive data use ( and profit ) and then forcing merchants to share the customer personal and financial data or there is no Trusted Store Badge or in other words, even if you pay and invest so much time and money doing the other things we change daily, we will not show your links, unless you give us the customer data and financial info. FTC, DOJ where are you?? These guys can give a very nice amount of money in a bunch of fines.


    Excellent article Pam, thank you


     Well said Laura, thank you

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