Google Search Web Traffic

Goals

To demonstrate the importance of organic search in the consumer journey by understanding the total amount of web traffic driven by search engines (and Google, in particular). The ideal response will include:
  • The percentage of total global web traffic driven by organic search and Google

Early Findings

Information Availability

  • There is a good amount of corroborating information directly referencing the question specific to the percent of global web traffic driven by organic search and additional statistics referencing Google search in particular, though most of this data is traced to original sources between 2018 and 2020.

Google Organic Search

  • Digital marketing agency, Higher Visibility, reports that 53% of all web traffic comes from organic search (paid search accounts for 27% of web traffic).
  • BrightEdge, an SEO platform that analyzes website traffic, found that organic search traffic increased to 53.3% of all website traffic in 2019, an increase from 51% in 2014.
  • In 2020, Statcounter, which analyzes data associated with online web traffic, also found that organic search drives "over 50% of most industries' web traffic," corroborating the previous organic search statistics referenced.
  • A slightly older study conducted by SparkToro, an audience intelligence analytics platform, found that 57.8% of total global searches were traced to Google in 2018 (down from 59.2% in 2016).
  • A smaller study conducted during the COVID pandemic in 2020 by content marketing platform Skyword found that brands "continue to see year-over-year organic search traffic growth."

Google Organic Search

  • Statcounter, using a data set of 10 billion page views and 2 million websites, found that Google search owns 92.2% of the total global search engine market share, which would place Google organic search share just under 50% of total web traffic (53.3% of total web traffic due to organic search x .922).
  • NetMarket places Google's desktop search market share slightly lower, at 70.3% in early 2020 (down from 75.4% in 2019). Google dominates mobile market share, however, at 94% of search traffic.
  • Mobile searches in 2019 accounted for just over 50% of total search, suggesting Google's share of organic search at that time was approximately 85% (75.4%+ 94%)/2.
  • Using 85% as a lower bound for Google's share of organic paid search (with 92.2% the upper bound), Google search is estimated to account for an estimated 45% (85% x 53.3%) to just under 50% of total web traffic as referenced above.
  • A Q1 2021 Merkle report found that organic search visits on Google increased 18% year-over-year, though this rate appeared to be slowing due to fewer desktop searches. This suggests that 50% or slightly above may be most relevant as a statistic highlighting Google search as a percentage of total web traffic, particularly given Google search importance on mobile.

Search Percentage By Industry

  • In 2020, Alexa analyzed web traffic for 450,000 domains to understand source traffic by industry. The company found that the importance of search ranged from 33.6% of web traffic for business-related searches to 54.9% of traffic for travel-related searches, 55.4% of traffic for home and garden-focused searches, 55.6% of traffic for automotive searches, and 59.6% of traffic for religion and spirituality-related searches.
  • Statcounter found that the industry niches more reliant on Google search include health and medical (87.9% of traffic coming from Google search), travel (72.6% coming from Google search), and personal finance (67.8%). Crypto (45.7%) and technology (47.9%) were somewhat less reliant on Google search.

Summary of Early Findings

  • In this initial hour of research, we focused on determining the information that was available in the public domain to address the key business questions. We were able to find a number of pieces of data and information that suggest organic search, and Google organic search, in particular, accounts for the majority of global web traffic (approximately 50% of global web traffic comes from organic Google searches).
  • We were also able to uncover studies that highlight the degree to which organic search (in total and Google specifically) varies by industry, with some industries more dependent on organic search than others.
  • While we were able to identify multiple sources that verified the traffic source statistics (based on independent research, analytics, and datasets), as well as Google share statistics that allowed us to refine the total organic search statistics, the most recent reliable data uncovered was from 2019 and 2020. However, given that several sources noted that trends in organic search (as a percentage of total traffic) appear to be moving upward at a fairly modest rate (particularly the BrightHouse study), this information is likely still very relevant as a current statistic to understand the importance of Google search as a percent of total global web traffic sources.
  • During our initial discovery, we uncovered additional related Google search statistics, trends, and expert commentary that may be of interest for further, more in-depth research. For example, "Google will essentially be ignoring your desktop site. Your mobile site will determine your rankings," according to SEO Director and Founder-Highly Searched, Inc., Shelly Fagin. Sample statistics include those highlighting the importance of Google searches, such as this statistic: Google Searches increased to 7.0 billion per day in 2020 from 5.5 billion in 2016.

Research proposal:

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