Organic vs. Paid Search Results

Jan 24, 2012

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Research on Organic and Paid Search Results

Organic Results Over Paid Ads

For most people, when they search for information on a search engine, they won’t even look at the paid ads surrounding the page. On the other hand, when searching for products or services, those ads start to come into view a little more. So, what does the research show when it comes to organic vs. paid search results?

According to the Journal of the American Society for Information and Technology (ASIS&T), searchers are viewing organic (nonsponsered) links first more than 82% of the time. Users have a lack of trust when it comes to paid search results.

When do Sponsored Links Convert?

Now when it comes to general e-commerce queries, it is likely that users will equally view either organic or sponsored links. Bernard J. Jansen of the ASIS&T conducted an experiment with Internet users. His PDF, An Examination of Searchers Perceptions of Nonsponsored and Sponsored Links During Ecommerce Web Searching, states that “If the e-commerce query is location specific, the searcher will be less likely to view a sponsored link.” Jansen also states that “The participants viewed more sponsored links for brand-specific queried than for general or location queries….If the e-commerce query is brand specific, the searcher will be more likely to view a sponsored link.”

Organic vs. Paid Search Results

When it comes to searching for a particular brand, paid ads and sponsored links stand out more.

Tim Ware at HyperArts in his blog post “Organic v. Paid Results – Different Searches = Different Biases” wrote about his research regarding this topic:

“The bottom line is that businesses should not rely solely on one or the other, organic or paid. Focusing solely on paid search engine advertising, rather than organic SEO, essentially removes more than 50% of potential customres/clients. Although, this differential between organic and paid results does vary depending on the type of search, there appears to be a consistent bias for organic results and against paid results.”


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