22 Actionable Facts About Consumer Search Behavior
Fishkin and Jones are uniquely qualified to shed light on clickstream-based search data from Jumpshot’s multi-million user panel. Fishkin has been in the search marketing field since 2002. He’s the founder of Moz, has co-authored two books on SEO, and regularly dazzles search marketers with Whiteboard Friday. As for Jones, he works with search data every day as a search scientist at Moz and has been working with clickstream-derived keyword data since it first became available.
Recently, Jumpshot shared clickstream-based search data from the U.S. for the full month of October 2016 with Fishkin and Jones. Here’s what the collaboration revealed:
1. Between 40–60 billion searches happened on Google.com in the U.S. in one month
This estimate could be a bit low. As a ballpark estimate, it means that between 1.3–2 billion searches happen on Google.com in the U.S. each day. And, between 54–84 million searches happen on Google.com in the U.S. each hour. And, between 900,000–1.4 million searches happen on Google.com in the U.S. each minute. And, between 15,000–24,000 searches happen on Google.com in the U.S. each second. That’s a lot of searches.
2. The average Google Search session is just under 1 minute
This is a measure of the average time it takes a user from the initial query to the loading of the search results page and the selection of any results, plus any back button clicks to those SERPs and selection of new results.
3. Only 15 percent of U.S. web users performed at least one or more searches per day
It’s more common for web users to perform at least one or more searches per month or per week. Jumpshot data shows that 68 percent of U.S. web users performed one or more searches per month while 45 percent performed one or more searches per week.
4. 60 percent of search queries resulted in one or more clicks on Google’s results
The other 40 percent of search queries got no clicks at all. This indicates that Google is providing answers to users directly on the search results page. This saves users time and likely plays a role in keeping users coming back.
Combine the fact that approximately 60 percent of queries result in one or more clicks with the fact that 15,000–24,000 searches happen on Google.com in the U.S. each second and we can estimate that at least 9,000–14,400 clicks happen on Google.com in the U.S. each second. These are the clicks that everyone in SEO and SEM are looking to win.
5. Only 2.6 percent of Google Search queries result in a click on a paid AdWords ad
This one fact makes the case for SEO. If paid search ads only drive 2.6 percent of clicks, then marketers have to compete for organic clicks.
6. 0.9 percent of Google Search queries result in a click on Google Maps
Consumers click from a Google search results page to a Google Map about 1/3 as much as they click on a paid AdWords ad.
7. 0.5 percent of Google Search queries result in a click on a Knowledge Panel
Knowledge Panels display information in a sidebar on Google’s desktop search results pages. Although Knowledge Panels take up a lot of real estate, they don’t attract a lot of clicks. So, don’t worry about competing with Knowledge Panels for clicks.
8. Images earn 3 percent of all search clicks
Anyone who has ever wrapped an image with an <a href=””> tag knows that images get clicks. This proves that the consumer’s propensity to click on images applies on search results pages, too.
9. Tweets earn .23 percent of all search clicks
Tweets show in approximately 7 percent of search results pages, according to MozCast. From there, tweets attract .23 percent of all search clicks, which is not bad for something that takes a few seconds to publish.
10. YouTube videos earn 1.8 percent of all search clicks
YouTube videos show in approximately 6.3 percent of search results pages, according to MozCast. From there, they’re able to attract 1.8 percent of all search clicks. This is a very high rate of engagement, especially compared to the performance of tweets, because YouTube videos show on fewer results pages but attract over 7x more clicks than tweets.
11. Personalized Gmail or Google Mail results earn .16 percent of all search clicks
On average, searchers click on personalized Gmail or Google Mail results a little less frequently than they click on tweets.
12. Google Shopping results earn .55 percent of all search clicks
Google Shopping results show in approximately 9 percent of search results pages, according to MozCast. From there, they’re able to attract .55 percent of all search clicks. This level of engagement is higher than that of tweets but lower than that of YouTube videos.
13. Google properties earned 8.4 percent of all search clicks
Google directs more clicks to its own properties than to all paid ads combined. However, Fishkin says, “There’s vastly more opportunity in the crowded-with-Google’s-own-properties results today than there was in the cleaner-but-lower-demand SERPs of 5 years ago.”
14. Most U.S. searches happen on Google.com and on Google Images
This data about where searches happen is best illustrated with the following chart. Notice how Google.com and Google Images represent over 86 percent of U.S. searches.
15. The top 1 million search queries account for 25 percent of all searches
The long tail of search is very long. It takes the most popular 1 million search queries to make up 25 percent of all searches. It takes expanding out 10x to the top 10 million search queries in order to get to 45 percent of all searches. Then, it takes expanding out another 100x to the top 1 billion search queries in order to get to 90 percent of all searches. The remaining 10 percent of all searches take place on terms that don’t even make it into the top 1 billion most popular queries.
16. Most queries contain 1 to 5 words
On desktop, 84 percent of search queries contain 1 to 5 words. On mobile, this jumps just 2 percentage points to 86 percent.
17. 8 percent of queries are phrased as questions
Jumpshot’s clickstream data captures the actual queries that searchers type. This makes it possible to analyze these queries in aggregate. For example, 8 percent of queries begin with “Who,” “What,” “Where,” “When,” “Why,” “How,” “Am” (e.g. Am I registered to vote?) and “Is” (e.g. Is it going to rain tomorrow?).
18. Click through rates on SERPs are lower on mobile devices than desktop devices
Look at the delta in CTRs between the two pie charts below. The CTR on paid ads is 2 percent on mobile devices and 2.8 percent on desktop devices. The CTR on organic results is 40.9 percent on mobile devices and 62.2 percent on desktop devices. Regardless of device, getting in the organic results is a marketers best chance for earning a click.
19. 18 percent of searches lead to a change in search query
Searchers have embraced the proverb, “If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try, try again.”
20. 21 percent of searches lead to more than one click
Winning a click does not mean winning the full attention of the searcher. For instance, the searcher may have your result and two others open in different tabs of their browser. Or, they might visit your site only to bounce right back to the search results page to choose a different site.
21. 8 percent of queries follow the pattern of search > click > back to search > click a different result
Search marketers have the best shot at retaining the attention of searchers by producing the very best landing page for each query that they want to rank for. This reduces the rate at which people bounce back to the SERP after a click.
22. 12.6 percent of all Google clicks go to the top 100 search-traffic-receiving domains
The distribution of clicks from Google Search proves that SEO is not a “winner-take-all” market. 87.4 percent of clicks go to sites in what Fishkin calls “the chunky middle and long tail of the search-traffic curve.”
Dive deeper into the state of searcher behavior on Moz.com
Now you’ve got 22 actionable facts about consumer search behavior. And that’s just a summary of Fishkin and Jones’ analysis of Jumpshot’s clickstream-based search data. You can read Fishkin’s in-depth take on this data here.
Bottom line: You don’t have to be in the dark with respect to consumer search behavior. It’s right there in Jumpshot’s clickstream data. Any marketer can work with Jumpshot to access search feeds and analyze search data. Get in touch with us anytime.