Google: 80% of clicks are on natural listings

I’ve been hugely busy in the run-up to Christmas, and almost missed this very important admission by Google. Somehow, it seems to have attracted less comment in the blogosphere than it deserves. in PPC shot down by SEO experts reports:

Stuart Small, industry leader, business and industrial markets at Google, backed up the argument and said that with 85% of all B2B purchases starting in a search engine, paid search ads were vital to any business. He added that Google sees 80% of searchers clicking on organic results, with 20% clicking on search ads. (my italics)

That’s a pretty commercially sensitive piece of information, and one that anyone in SEO or who owns a Web site needs to take on board.

The inference is quite clearly that one should do as much Organically as possible, a piece of advice Paul and I have been trotting out regularly since we founded Web Positioning Centre.

9 thoughts on “Google: 80% of clicks are on natural listings

  1. My Google numbers say the opposite is true… Even when I have the top 2 organic spots… and one paid spot high on the list – The paid listing gets hit 60%-80% and the organic 20%-40%. This is true with a variety of my keyword combos… not just one. These are high value keywords ranging from $4-$7 per click.

    The 80/20 must be overall organic clicks to paid clicks and the announcement is probably one to serve Google’s needs.

    Now on Yahoo.. that statement is more the case. My organic results get hit much more than paid clicks.

    Must be why someone once said… there are Liars… Damn Liars and then there are statisticians – The numbers I question probably came from the latter.


  2. David Rosam


    That’s very interesting.

    We would tend to agree with Google on this one, but maybe the high value of your keywords is causing things to behave differently from the norm.

    I’m interested to understand why you think the 80 Organic/20 Paid division serves Google’s needs. The other way round, I can see.

  3. Lewis

    I didn’t get to hear that elsewhere. Thanks. Definitely a good case for doing the best to improve organic search which will mean there’s a need to test all the variables on the site, including even the domain name.

    I’ve been reading the blog of James Brausch where he talks about multivariate testing to get to the top of the search positions. He’s even got a software for testing the effectiveness of the domain name, called

    It would be useful to find out the nature of the larger portion of the 80% natural search clicks to know how much was product/service related.

  4. 20% paid results is massive! When you consider the number of searches and that there will likely be more clicks than searches if the results deliver the right links – I often open 2 or 3 results in tabs so I don’t have to keep going back to SERPS if I don’t get satisfaction. I don’t use adwords but I wonder if this suggest the only benefit of adwords is a 20% increase in click throughs unless I am paying google $5 a click!

    I think this information might be useful for companies who create adwords for what will inevitably be the top of the organic searches. Sometimes I feel guilty for never clicking adwords, but I make a exception if I don’t like the advertiser.

  5. David Rosam

    @Tom Coady

    But 80% is four times as massive!

  6. I would say the proportion probably varies depending on the keyword/intention of the searcher.

    If I think of my behaviour while searching, if I’m looking specifically for a product or service I’m much more likely to click on a paid link (they are often more relevant than the organic results, especially with the millions of price comparison sites in organic results), but generally if I’m looking for information I won’t even glance at the sponsored results.

    It would be great to get some stats broken down according to something like products/information searches, but I doubt it would be easy to get hold of that!

  7. David Rosam


    Of course it would vary between specific instances. And I very much doubt if the averaged figure is exactly 80%.

    Maybe I’m easily satisfied, but I think that the 80% figure is hugely valuable to all of us involved in the Web world. And I’m surprised that Google even let the top-line number slip.

    I’d say don’t hold your breath on getting anything more detailed from Google 🙂

  8. 20 Percent is extremley generous, the truth is most people see this adds as spam are reluctant to click on them. Our business used Adwords for 12 months, spent alot of money and generated zero calls.

  9. David

    I have come across one client for whom AdWords didn’t work. They had a very specialised and expensive range of products that didn’t fit with any audiences that could defined easily in AdWords.

    Otherwise, I have to say that you needed to invest in the services of a professional, who would have saved you more than the ‘lot of money’ you spent over a year. If you’re one of the rarities that AdWords is not suitable for, then the professional should be able to tell you that AdWords isn’t right for you within a couple of months.

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