A new report out by Hitwise points to a substantial drop in Paid Search Traffic’s share of traffic.
In the four weeks to May 9, 2009, 7.25% of search engine traffic to All Categories of websites was from paid clicks. This compares to 9.84% in the same four week period in 2008 – representing a 26% decline in the share of paid clicks.
Now before you go and pause your PPC campaigns – let’s take stock of the news.
Search traffic is still on the rise overall according to the announcement, it’s just that paid search’s share has dropped. Why might this be?
Heather Hopkins from Hitwise says “This is no doubt a result of cutbacks in marketing spend due to the recession.”
I’m sure that marketing budgets are tightening up with cost management pressures, but maybe the drop in paid search’s share is more a reflection of changing search behavior.
It’s been a well documented fact that organic listings carry more credibility and trust with searchers than their paid listing counterparts – so perhaps this provides more insight into the trend.
Tough times force searchers/buyers to become more diligent in researching purchases, which sees them reverting to sources they trust more.
From a marketer’s point of view – this highlights the importance of SEO in your strategy. With the proliferation of PPC advertising over the past few years (fast results, rapid targeting, pay for performance etc), SEO was often pushed to the back burner.
This changing search behaviour means that you now (more than ever) need a well planned mix of both SEO and PPC. Whilst Paid Search is losing some of its share to Organic – it’s still driving sizable traffic referrals – and can’t be ignored.