Organic Search Conversion Rates Now Top 20%

MarketingSherpa recently released the results of their 2013 survey, zooming in on what different marketers had to say about organic conversion rates in their respective sectors. That is, of visitors who landed on their site through organic results, what percentage actually ended up buying (or buying into) the business?

The results are interesting: publishing, media, agencies, and consultancies fill out the top tier, a whopping 20%, with educational, training, and nonprofits just slightly behind at 18%.

Take note that the surveyed marketers classified “conversions” in a few different ways, from lead generation to direct sales. Here’s the breakdown of the sample’s semantics:

Form completion with multiple data fields — 49%

Online sale completed — 25%

Form completion with one data field — 10%

Other — 17%

This survey shows a big jump from MarketingSherpa’s 2012 data; in fact, average rates have doubled from 8% to 16%.

That means that in 2013, on average, nearly one in five customers converted after arriving via organic results on a site (in the specified top industries).  Why are they up significantly?

In part, it may be because marketers are placing more value on different kinds of transactions besides direct sales.  Gleaning information about visitors can have substantial value, helping marketers refine their strategies and foster longer term, more robust relationships with customers.

Another strong possibility is to Google’s credit; as the algorithm becomes more intuitive and precise, searchers need fewer clicks to get to their intended result. Bounce rates go down, and conversion rates go up.

Historically, we’ve seen organic search outperform other conduits like direct, social and PPC. We may see that the increasing efficiency of the algorithm means that organic conversion rates pull even further away from the pack.

Conversion rates will always vary between types of businesses (B2B, B2C, retail vs, agencies) Overall, though, we’re seeing that organic search converts best among the channels, and seems to be gaining momentum. What are you seeing in your own analytics?