How the UK searches for, well, stuff

Okay, we’re only a tiny blip on the world’s surface but, very much like the the Team GBR medal table for the Olympics, in proportion to importance per head, the UK is probably bigger than Russia on a global scale. Although you couldn’t quite draw the exact same comparison to Internet searches, the UK not having the biggest customer base, the people who do the searching here matter to the scientists behind internet research.

For the first time a study has been able to be put together (for June 2011) exactly who is searching for what and where in the UK and, more importantly to Internet or Affiliate Marketers, the propensity of said UK audience likely to click on sponsored or paid (PPC) ads.

I won’t say too much as the infographic supplied by search engine people blog does a far more eloquent job of describing the whole shooting match and caboodle than I ever could:

So, in essence, there are markets where getting in the top three SERPs is critical – even to the extent in the top three, if you’re not number one, your competition has a huge edge. Conversely, there are other sectors where position in the search engine page results is not so important – the 16 verticals displayed show the niches in descending order of number one position on page one percentage click through rate. You’ll see down the bottom of the scale, niches where almost a third of click-throughs are performed by surfers outside the top three places – interesting.

And the UK surfer is not that hot on clicking on sponsored ads, either. If you were the sole marketer paying for ads in a niche, you would attract only six percent of the search term. Bear in mind that you will hardly ever be the only marketer paying for a sponsored position and that 6% dilutes yet further.

If you are to make a success of PPC advertising, the 6% is made up of 53% women/47% men. The study by Nielsen also reveals that the older UK citizen you are, the more likely you are to click a sponsored ad. I guess if you’re selling support hose or menopausal aids, you’re heading for the idyllic target market. Looking to sell sills for a souped-up VW Golf? PPC is probably not the way to go.

And finally, this comes as no surprise, only the extent that is perhaps quite shocking: Google is the most often used search provider in the UK. Not by a little bit, either; it trounced Bing, with surfers using Google more than four times more than its closest rival. The mighty G also performed better, returning greater than nine out of ten successful results compared to Bing’s seven and a half out of ten.

Here’s a question, then. We’ve all seen Microsoft advertise on TV, IE9 with Alex Clare in the background singing “Too Close” (far too cool a track for a Microsoft ad, may I opine?) and last year we had Bing advertising in its own rite. But has anyone ever seen a Google Ad other than online? So howTF has it got so big? That’s my question. Answers on a postcard (or in the comments box), per-lease.


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