Paid Search Down, Organic Up?

Hitwise released data which seems to indicate that the recession has taken its toll on search marketing, as the share of search traffic coming from paid listings is decreasing at the expense of organic traffic. Others don't blame the recession at all. Either way, it's a dramatic change.


  • In the four weeks to May 9, 2009, 7.25% of search engine traffic to All Categories of websites was from paid clicks. This compares to 9.84% in the same four-week period in 2008 - representing a 26% decline in the share of paid clicks.
  • The share of paid clicks to Insurance websites was down 22% for the year, Retail 500 down 20% and Travel Agencies down 25%. The steady and consistent decline across categories indicates that this is not an isolated or seasonal variance.
  • 35.75% of clicks on searches for "orbitz" were on paid listings in the four weeks to May 9, 2009. This compares to 46.56% in the same four-week period in 2008. This represents a 23% decrease year over year.

Will the decline in paid search numbers overall result in a lower average cost per click for your industry? Is the reduction simply a shift to more refined management of paid search terms? Will this ultimately provide Web marketers with more exposure for their organic listings? Share your comments below.