There is a lot of talk today about the lack of growth in paid search clicks as it relates to Google. ComScore has a report out that everyone is commenting on: BusinessWeek, Silicon Alley Insider, Wall Street Journal, and CNet to name a few.
There are many theories, including some that say the housing crisis is finally having an impact online, while others suggest shoppers are clicking less due to concerns about the economy. Assuming the data is true, which some are questioning, can it simply be that users are getting smarter and realizing they do not need to click on a paid link to get to a marketer’s website?
Let’s say a user types Toyota or Toyota.com in a search engine and clicks on the paid link to get to Toyota’s website. Was that worth a $1 to the marketer when the next few natural links are for Toyota and do not require payment? There is a statistic somewhere that highlights how many paid clicks actually come from users clicking on the name of the company and it is shocking. In certain campaigns we have managed, branded keywords drove as much as 60-70% of the marketer’s paid search volume.
If you own a business and your phone number and company name are naturally listed in the Yellow Pages, should your business pay the Yellow Pages for every single phone call? I’m not opposed to a business paying for every phone call coming from an advertisement if that is how it is priced, but the free stuff should be free.
Google has many great prospects, but if users click more on natural than paid links, which they will probably do, this decline will continue.