44 Crucial SEO Statistics to Help Grow Your Organic Traffic in 2021
We’ve put together this comprehensive list of up-to-date SEO statistics to help you get the insights you need to understand how search engine optimization can be used to fuel your company’s growth.
Panda, Penguin, Medic, Pigeon, EAT, YMYL, Bert, Core. What all these updates have in common is that they’ve made Google’s search algorithm much more sophisticated and transformed SEO from a spammy, manipulative practice into a data-driven science.
Getting into search engine optimization (SEO) can be daunting at first glance. It can almost feel like you’re drinking from a fire hose with how much information there is floating around out there.
That’s why I’ve hand-picked these SEO stats to help you hit the highlights and start putting the pieces of the organic search puzzle together.
- 1. Organic Search Statistics
- 2. Content Marketing Statistics
- 3. Backlink Statistics
- 4. Technical SEO Statistics
- 5. Mobile Search Statistics
- 6. Local Search Statistics
- 7. Voice Search Statistics
1. Organic Search Statistics
Google makes up 70.99% of all organic searches made on the internet.
Google dominates when it comes to search engine usage with 70.99% of all searches followed by Bing at 12.76%, Baidu at 11.53%, Yahoo at 2.36%, and Yandex at 1.1%. (NetMarketShare)
Takeaway: Optimizing your website to rank organically in Google should be one of your company’s top marketing priorities. Growing your business depends on getting eyes on your website and Google has the numbers.
There are roughly 83,000 searches made on Google every second.
That’s 298,000,000 every hour and 7,171,200,000 every day. (Internet Live Stats)
Takeaway: Every day that you’re not ranking for relevant keywords is another day that you’re losing thousands of opportunities to your competitors.
Google uses over 200 ranking factors in their search algorithm.
Google’s search algorithm uses a combination of over 200 ranking factors at varying weights to algorithmically sort websites based on a searcher’s intent. Some are known, some can be inferred, and others are completely unknown. (Backlinko)
Takeaway: While it’s important to focus on improving certain parts of your search marketing efforts, don’t get tunnel vision. Your website is the sum of its parts. Getting familiar with which ranking factors Google uses in their algorithm will help you identify and prioritize your workload.
67% of people click on one of the first 5 organic search results.
71% of organic searches result in a click and if you don’t rank on page 1, your company doesn’t exist. Only 3.99% of searchers interact with page 2 of the search results and only 1.6% go to page 3. (Moz)
Takeaway: Sites in the top 5 spots in search will take up the lion’s share search traffic. The lower you rank, the less traffic you’ll get. You should always focus on improving and maintaining your keywords rankings to get as much organic traffic as you can.
The sentiment that’s been circulating about how “rankings don’t matter anymore” is accurate but nuanced. It’s correct in that you shouldn’t set goals to be #1 for specific keywords. The amount of traffic you get from those keywords is what matters.
However, if you aren’t in the top 5 search results, or on page 1, you aren’t going to get traffic. Therefore, rankings do matter.
The average time to see results from SEO is 4 to 6 months.
The real answer is that it depends on what keywords you’re targeting and how much competition there is. However, if you have a competent SEO agency building out a targeted strategy for you, the typical time to see results is 4 – 6 months. (Forbes)
Takeaway: SEO is an investment in your company’s future. Be patient. These things take time. Results aren’t going to happen overnight. Quitting early is one of the biggest SEO mistakes out there. If you’re willing to stick with it for the long haul, it can catapult your business out of utter obscurity and into the limelight.
However, bear in mind that this does not apply if you’re recovering from a penalty or an algorithmic filter. It’s entirely possible that it can double or triple depending on how bad things were. Speaking of…
It can take up to 12 – 24 months to recover from a penalty or filter.
Even if every issue on your website is fixed overnight, it can take a year or more for Google’s algorithms to learn that it has improved in quality. It will most likely not see a marked change in search placement from one crawl to the next. (Search Engine Roundtable)
Takeaway: Don’t take shortcuts. Don’t use shady tactics or try to game the system. Whatever gains you get will be temporary and it can take years for you to fully recover. Many companies are forced to shut down when a revenue stream dries up overnight.
Google’s ranking algorithm takes on site engagement into account.
Google’s Head of Rank Brain disclosed that the algorithm uses machine learning to understand, and value, how a user interacts on a site after finding it in search. If they stay on the page, click through to other pages on the site, or bounce back to search tells Google about your site’s relevance for that search query. (Search Engine Roundtable)
Takeaway: Keeping traffic is just as important as getting traffic. Before sales or generating leads, a page’s primary focus should be providing a good user experience. It should clearly answer a specific question, feature a specific product, fully explain a certain topic, etc. so the visitor’s needs are met.
The last thing you want is for them to bounce back to search and go to one of your competitors. That behavior sends negative engagement signals to Google that your site did not help the visitor accomplish their goal.
61% of marketers see investing in SEO & growing their organic traffic as a top priority.
70% of marketers believe that SEO is more important than PPC. (They’re right.)
A recent survey showed that the vast majority of marketers believe that SEO is a better driver of growth than PPC. The primary reasons for this are that SEO is cheaper, it generates higher quality leads, and it’s a long term approach. (Databox)
Takeaway: PPC is a great tool for on-demand traffic. It can be used to supplement organic traffic while you do major dev work on your domain, promote a specific marketing campaign, or teste the waters in new verticals before you commit to SEO.
However, if you’re planning on using PPC as a long term marketing tool, that budget would be put to better use by investing in search engine optimization.
Think of it like this, PPC is a slot machine and SEO is your Roth IRA. Once you pull that PPC lever, that money is gone regardless of that click’s outcome. On the other hand, every dollar you put into SEO continues to work for you after it’s spent.
The potential ROI for SEO is limitless whereas the ROI for PPC is finite.
50% of all search queries are 4 words or longer.
Takeaway: Searchers aren’t just putting in one or two phrases into search. They’re being specific about what they want. You can capitalize on this specificity by thinking about user intent and optimizing for phrases and questions your customers might be asking around that topic.
Nearly 33% of phrases with 10k+ monthly searches are 3+ words long.
Takeaway: Long live long-tail keywords. The days of 1 – 2 word phrases having the highest search volume is over. Don’t allow misconceptions to keep you from optimizing for these keywords. They can drive a surprising amount of traffic and revenue!
2. Content Marketing Statistics
Google prefers content with a 2,400+ word count.
Content that ranks in the first 3 results of organic search has an average word count of 2,461 with content in the 10th spot averaging around 2,040. (SWEOR)
Takeaway: Longer content ranks higher in search. The reason behind this is threefold.
- There is greater perceived (and actual) value in longer content. There are more takeaways and valuable information that keep visitors engaged.
- Longer form content keeps visitors on your site longer and sends better engagement signals to Google.
- There are more opportunities to link to other valuable pieces of content on your domain which in turn helps with site crawling & indexing as well as user engagement signals.
We still maintain the position that you should use as many words as it takes to accurately explain your topic. If it’s 500 words, then it’s 500 words. If it’s 5,000 words, then it’s 5,000 words.
The correlation is clear though. Longer content ranks higher.
However, your content shouldn’t be long for the sake of being long. Make sure that every section provides value and if it doesn’t, rework it or remove it.
Longer content gets 56% more social shares.
Blogs with word counts over 1,500 received 293.5 tweets and 59.3 Facebook likes on average where blogs with word counts under 1,500 received 174.6 tweets and 59.3 Facebook likes. (QuickSprout)
Takeaway: Longer content, when it’s properly researched and written, simply provides more value to readers than short form content. There’s just more there. This in turn leads to more takeaways, better user satisfaction, and higher social engagement.
Using video on content pages can help boost organic traffic by up to 157%
Takeaway: Embedding a video within a piece of content can lengthen that page’s average visit duration and other user engagement metrics. This sends positive signals to Google which can that page climb the search results and lead to more inbound traffic.
91% of B2B marketers & 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing.
Takeaway: Nearly every business has embraced content marketing over traditional advertising. There simply is no better way to get your business in front of new customers, educate them on your products / services, and build trust at the same time. It checks all the proverbial boxes.
39% of B2B marketing budgets are going towards content marketing.
Takeaway: Not only are the overwhelming majority of businesses doing content marketing, they’re dedicating a significant portion of their marketing budget to it. You don’t necessarily need to dedicate 40% of your marketing budget, or more, to content marketing, but you do need to make it a high priority.
Updating & republishing old blogs can lead to a 106% boost in organic traffic.
A recent study showed that by leveraging historical optimization, they were able to double their monthly leads generated by blog posts and increase organic views of old posts by 106%. (HubSpot)
Takeaway: All of the heavy lifting has already been done on your existing blogs. They’ve already been written and they’re just sitting there. Going back through to update them, add new CTAs (if available), and republish them is a borderline trivial task that can have significant gains for your business.
3. Backlink Statistics
66.31% of pages have zero backlinks.
90% of pages get absolutely zero traffic from Google and the primary driver of this is that ~66% of pages have no backlinks pointed at them. And, only 26.29% of pages have 1 – 3 links. (AHRefs)
Takeaway: The bar is far lower than you might think for creating content and earning links. Don’t get discouraged. If you can only get 1 link to a piece of content, that’s better than 66% of the internet! And getting one link on each piece of content you create adds up to a lot of links over time.
Small, consistent gains + consistency over a long timeline = big results.
Organic search traffic scales with the number of backlinks.
Sites and pages that have < 5 referring domains average 1 – 500 organic visits per month whereas sites with > 30 referring domains average 10,000+ organic visits per month. (AHRefs)
The #1 result in Google has, on average, almost 4x more backlinks than websites ranking beneath them. (Backlinko)
There have also been studies which show that the number of domains linking to a page had the highest correlation to a page’s rank in Google. (Backlinko)
Takeaway: The more links you’re able to earn, the more likely it is that you’ll see a significant increase in inbound traffic. If you’re planning on making organic search a cornerstone of your marketing efforts, you need to spend just as much time on link building to amplify your efforts.
Bear in mind that link quality is still an important metric to focus on. You don’t want to get involved in any link schemes. Having a lot of links from low quality or spammy websites can have a negative effect on your site.
Inbound links is one of the most important factors to rank highly in search.
We’ve always known that links are important, but with algorithms like Penguin and how quickly ranking factors can shift, you don’t know how important they are. Google’s Andrey Lipattsev confirmed that inbound links to your site is one of the top 3 ranking factors they use to judge your site. (Search Engine Watch)
Takeaway: Backlinks are still the gold standard for building Trust and Authority. Links aren’t easy to earn. Every link you get is a vote of confidence in your site and the content you’ve created. Google values these votes highly and so should you.
Disavowing links will not help you rank higher in search.
John Mueller recently confirmed that uploading a link disavowal file would have “little change on a site’s visibility in search”. Disavowing may help with trust, but Google’s algorithms do not look at disavow files. (Search Engine Roundtable)
Takeaway: Disavowing links is a proactive measure you can take to prevent your site(s) from getting pinged with a manual penalty for having an unnatural link profile. The only other reason to do one is if you want to err on the side of caution.
We recommend doing one annually just to get rid of the most egregious offenders. This will help keep your link profile clean without feeling curated.
Interest in Google’s disavow tool has waned by 75% since its launch in 2013.
Takeaway: The disavow tool was released around the same time that the Penguin algorithm went live. Cleaning up your link profile was a Big Deal back then because pre-2013 link building was basically the Wild West. Businesses and marketers are much more cautious now when it comes to link building.
The interest in backlinks has surged 136% since 2018.
Takeaway: Google’s EAT, YMYL, & multiple core algorithm updates over the last few years have left many companies scrambling to find ways to build, or re-build, their authority. Earning high quality backlinks has been and will continue to be the best way to do this.
4. Technical SEO Statistics
Long load times lead to higher bounce rates.
Sites that have long load times don’t rank as well as faster websites since they have higher bounce rates. Sites with a 3 second load time have a 13% bounce rate, 17.1% bounce rate for a 4 second load time, 22.2% bounce rate for a 5 second load time, and so on. (Section)
You typically have about 3 seconds to capture your user’s attention or they’ll bounce back to search. (Google)
Takeaway: Tasking your developer with optimizing your site load time is time well spent.
2021’s User Experience Update will make user experience an official ranking factor.
Google recently released a news update that they will be rolling out a major update to their search algorithm in 2021. This update will take load times, mobile friendliness, and various user experience criteria into account while ranking websites in search. (Google Webmaster Central Blog)
Takeaway: You have until the end of 2020 to get your house in order. Dedicate the time to optimize your Core Web Vitals so you’re on the right side of this update. There is plenty of time between then and now to get the work done so you can capitalize on these engagement signals.
Google can’t rank pages that aren’t indexed.
Takeaway: If Google can’t “see” or is being told to not index your pages, it isn’t going to. You absolutely, positively need to A) make sure that your sitemap is submitted in Search Console, and B) try to maximize your site index rate.
Also, keep an eye out for noindex tags, bad canonicals, and bad redirect implementations that may be preventing your pages from being indexed in search.
85% of enterprise marketing teams say that page speed and index rates are their top technical SEO priorities.
Takeaway: If you only have two technical SEO projects, focus on optimizing page speed and site index rates. The bottom line is that Google can’t rank pages that aren’t indexed and users aren’t going to stay on sites that have long load times. Breaking down these barriers to entry will boost your traffic.
5. Mobile SEO Statistics
Mobile search makes up 52.6% of all searches.
Smartphone adoption has caused mobile search to skyrocket over the last 5 years from 31% in Q1 2015 to 52.6% in Q4 2019. (Statista)
Takeaway: If you’ve been resisting the transition to mobile, you need to knock it off. Mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic back in 2016 and is only going to keep growing. Take the time, make the jump, and get with the times!
27% of searches made on mobile were using voice search.
Takeaway: With a virtual assistant coming installed on every smartphone, it is easier than ever to search online using voice commands. Voice search will continue to gain in popularity as mobile takes up more and more of the market share.
59% of shoppers said that being able to shop on mobile determines where they’ll shop.
Takeaway: Shoppers will use whatever device is easiest to buy what they want and if your site is difficult to use on mobile, they’ll take their business to on of your competitors.
Mobile traffic is projected to be almost 7x of what it was in 2017 by 2022
Takeaway: Smartphone accessibility, mobile first adoption on websites, and mobile entertainment (gaming, apps, & video) are the primary drivers behind this enormous surge in traffic. As more users shift to primarily using mobile devices, businesses will shift their marketing efforts to focus on these devices.
Mobile traffic stands to nearly double over the next two years. Businesses have an enormous opportunity for growth if they’re able to adapt and capitalize on this surge in popularity.
60% of smartphone users have contacted a business after finding them in search.
Click to call has broken down the barriers to contact businesses so much so that it’s basically trivial now. A simple tap with your finger can pop open a phone call and get you in touch with them in a matter of seconds. (source)
Takeaway: Make sure that A) your phone number is easy to find, and B) that click to call works on every one of them. You could be missing out on dozens of opportunities every day
43% of customers do research on your products in your store.
They can be looking at anything from what products you carry to product reviews or where the products are located in your store.
As a regular fixture at my local Home Depot, can confirm. I am always on their site when I’m running in to grab a few things. I’d much rather just punch something in my phone and find it myself than track down an employee.
Takeaway: Having a mobile friendly website will improve your sales since customers can fast track their own buying process. They’ll even look at the competition if they don’t like what they find. Make sure that your site is easy to use and customers can quickly find whatever info they’re looking for.
6. Local SEO Statistics
“Where to buy…” + “…near me” searches have grown 200%+ in the past 2 years.
These search modifiers are seeing incredible adoption rates across practically every category with users pairing their local search with intent signals. (Google)
Takeaway: Searchers are beginning to think more locally than they have in previous years. Focusing on improving your organic presence in a geo-targeted radius around your location can give you a surge of recurring business.
Nearly 50% of all Google searches are by people looking for a local business.
Takeaway: If you remember the earlier SEO statistic, there are 83,000 searches happening every second on Google. This means that roughly 38,000 of those searches are for finding local businesses.
72% of people that do a local search visit the store if it’s within 5 miles of them.
Takeaway: Building off of the previous stat, 72% of 38,000 searches is 27,360 people deciding to visit a local business every second. This stat shouldn’t be that surprising. If someone is looking for something locally, they don’t want to wait for it. They want to get it ASAP.
28% of local searches result in a purchase.
Takeaway: Building off the previous local SEO stat, 28% of 27,360 is 7,660 purchases happening every second. Local users are motivated to find what they need and get it. If you have a physical storefront or run a local business, you need to work local SEO into your marketing plan.
79% of users will revisit or share a mobile site if it’s easy to use.
Takeaway: This is pretty straightforward and should come as no surprise. If your site’s easy to use on mobile, people will come back and/or share it with their friends. Take an objective look at your mobile site, or hire some testers, and iron out any pain points that might be interfering with your customers’ experience.
7. Voice Search Statistics
40% of voice search answers come from a featured snippet.
Appearing in a featured snippet can improve the chances that you rank highly in voice search. (Impact)
Takeaway: High quality, authoritative content ranks highly in organic search and is usually selected for the featured snippet as well.
75% of voice results come from on of the top 3 ranking pages page in search.
Takeaway: Building content pages around your customers’ frequently asking questions can be an excellent tool to capitalize on the emerging popularity of voice search.
Most voice search answers are under 29 words long.
In a recent study of 10,000 Google Home search results, Google prefers concise answers to voice search questions. (Backlinko)
Takeaway: When you write content that answers a question, try to frame the answer itself as concisely and succinctly as possible. Ideally in 29 words or less. This will improve the chances that your page will be selected as the answer for a voice search.
Mobile searches are 3x more likely to be local searches than normal search queries.
Takeaway: When people use voice search, they use complete sentences and a conversational tone. This is in contrast to regular search where specific words or phrases are used. Using conversational diction when you make content for your local business will align with user search queries which should in turn help you see more traction in voice search.
Smart speaker sales were up 70% in 2019.
Takeaway: Smart speakers (Google Home, Amazon Alexa, etc.) are one of the main drivers of voice search with 30% of searches being done without a screen (Gartner). They’re still a relatively new piece of tech whose adoption will only increase as the market evolves. Don’t overlook how these users might interact with your content and find ways to improve their experience.
The average Google voice result is written at a 9th grade level.
Takeaway: Google is serving up search results to billions of people all around the world. The easier your content is to read, the more likely it is that Google will use it as a voice search result. How you write your content is just as important as what you’re writing about.
If you’re using WordPress to manage your website, download the Yoast SEO plugin and keep an eye on your Flesch reading score. This gives you an idea of how easy it is to read your content. In relation to this voice SEO statistic, you’ll want to shoot for a score of 80 or higher.
That does it for this round of SEO statistics.
That’s right, this isn’t an exhaustive list. This is barely scratching the surface of the iceberg.
I hand picked these stats to help you get your feet wet and learn about the ridiculous potential search engine optimization has to revolutionize your business.
I hope you enjoyed learning about SEO as much as I did putting these stats together.
Now I want to hear from you!
Let me know in the comments below which SEO stat was the most surprising or which one you’re focusing on this year to help your company grow.
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