A new study of the composition of the UK’s search market has found that organic search clicks account for 94% of all interactions on SERPs, with just 6% being paid clicks.

The research was conducted jointly by GroupM UK and Nielsen, and uses results gleaned from 28 million search engine users during June of last year, equating to around 1.4 billion total search queries.

When it comes to the proportion of UK users who clickthrough on paid-for listings, 53% were found to be female, compared to a smaller proportion of males at 47%.

In terms of age it was found that older users are more likely to click on paid links than the younger generation. 23% of PPC clicks were attributed to over 55s, while just 16% of those under 25 chose to click through on paid results after reviewing the results of a search.

In fact, the figures demonstrate a gradual increase in the propensity to clickthrough to paid search results as age increases.

This is a very interesting statistic: perhaps for more specialised older people’s shops who thought the Internet wasn’t the right place for them to try to sell products.

Precisely what causes this effect is not discussed in the report since analysis of this kind has yet to be carried out – I’d posit that younger people are cynical of Google ads, older people just see them at the top of the results, check relevance, and click without thinking there’s a difference between paid ad results and organic ones.

That’s just my opinion. It’ll certainly be an area of study for future initiatives.

PPC marketers will doubtlessly find this information interesting, together with the unsurprising confirmation that Google remains the most prominent search engine in the UK by quite a significant margin.

During the period of the study, Google accounted for the lion’s share of search queries and was also far more likely to come up with results deemed to be satisfactory than its main rival, Bing. Out of over 27 million searches Google recorded a 91% success rate, in contrast with Bing’s 76%.

The UK’s search industry is continuing to mature, and while this study has confirmed there are a substantial number of users who click on paid search results, the vast majority of the market is made up of those who choose organically ranked sites first and foremost.

Before SEOs start patting themselves on the back too heartily, or blow raspberries at their PPC colleagues, though, it’s worth remembering that getting the best visibility for all audiences (through both paid and organic rankings) provides the best potential for conversions.

Overall, the biggest surprise of all of this, is that this is the first study of its kind to have been conducted in the UK, covering both brand and non-brand search terms and looking at CTR in relation to vertical variance.

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About the author:

Alistair Harris is ClickThrough’s head of content. A double-award-winning senior journalist, Ali holds both the NCTJ and NCE qualifications and has more than ten years of experience in traditional press and PR. He has worked in digital marketing and SEO for the past three years and is passionate, enthusiastic and committed to quality.