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Are those pay-per-click (PPC) ads on search engine results pages (SERPs) effective? Does the average Google searcher even click on them?

Seems so...

In fact, for some types of keywords, PPC ads apparently have higher click-through rates than organic search results, according to a recent study by WordStream.

To help share its findings, the search engine marketing firm created a colorful infographic, "The War on Free Clicks," reproduced below.

Highlights from WordStream's research:

  • Sponsored results account for 64.6% of clicks for keyword searches that imply high commercial intent.
  • Total click-through rates for Google ads on high-commercial-intent queries are up to 600 times higher than the click-through rate for ads on a typical Facebook page. 
  • If advertisers buy ads for keywords for which they already rank well organically, 89% of traffic generated by the search ads is new traffic outside of organic reach.
  • 45.5% of people couldn't identify paid ads on SERPs if those results weren't listed in a column down the right side of the page, according to one survey.

WordStream's survey was limited to advertisers in the US, for Google Search only. WordStream notes, "In our survey, we define high commercial intent keywords specifically as keyword searches on Google that have significant advertiser competition and trigger a Google Shopping or Google Product Listing ad."

WordStream used recent average click-through rate data collected through WordStream's AdWords Performance Grader across over one thousand AdWord accounts in the last 60 days.

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