Discover the leading SaaS software comparison site

Each month we help +100k companies to find efficient online tools

82 Essential SEM Statistics: 2020/2021 Data, Trends & Predictions

by Arthur Zuckerman

If you want your business to make it big online—and offline for that matter, then search engine marketing (SEM) shouldn’t go missing from your marketing plans. That’s almost a no-brainer, especially for seasoned search engine marketers.

SEM has been around since the 1990s when the first search engines started developing business models to fund their services. Every year since, new trends and developments continued to bring opportunities to all parties involved. 

The continuously changing search engine landscape is both challenging and exciting. SEM, as we know it today, is a far cry from what it looked like a decade ago, and it continues to evolve even faster. This is why businesses and marketers must not relax one bit. You need to set their sights on the right focus. Staying up to date with the latest data and statistics helps you determine in which aspects you need to invest more and improve on to get the best SEM results, for instance.

With this in mind, we pulled together the top SEM statistics to guide and make you knowledgeable about digital marketing conditions this year and beyond.

sem statistics

First Things First: Why Does SEM Matter?

When you invest in digital marketing, you’d naturally want to market where your audience is. Besides social media, search engines still take the bulk of people’s attention when they seek information, products, and services. Let’s take a look at these facts that reiterate the importance of search engines and why you should prioritize them when planning your digital marketing strategies.

1. More than 90% of all web traffic comes from search engines. This figure alone represents how relevant SEM remains today despite the rising popularity of social media marketing and other forms of digital marketing. This is also the reason why search engine optimization (SEO) also continues to hold importance. A business must rank on search engines if it wants to be discovered.

2. Speaking of brand discovery, a recent survey found that search engines are still the top source of new brand discovery, particularly among Internet users aged 16 to 64. Search engines are the go-to source for users who are researching brands, products, and services.

Sources of New Brand Discovery Online

Sources of New Brand Discovery Online
Search Engines: 35

Search Engines

Sources of New Brand Discovery Online
Social Media Ads: 27

Social Media Ads

Sources of New Brand Discovery Online
Brand or Product Websites: 25

Brand or Product Websites

Sources of New Brand Discovery Online
Website Ads: 25

Website Ads

Sources of New Brand Discovery Online
Retail Websites: 24

Retail Websites

Sources of New Brand Discovery Online
Social Media Comments & Recommendations: 23

Social Media Comments & Recommendations

Sources of New Brand Discovery Online
Mobile Apps Ads: 22

Mobile Apps Ads


Source: GlobalWebIndex

Created by

3. Furthermore, the majority of online users perform 3 to 4 searches a day. Only 15% of American users conduct at least one search per day. This means that most of the online searches come from moderate to heavy users. This also indicates that there’s a great search growth opportunity that marketers can take advantage of.

4. Today, as people enjoy better access to information more than ever, 97%of consumers tend to research a company online before doing business with them or purchasing their products.

5. Unsurprisingly, around 70% of users trust the information they see online. This is why organizations must publish correct, sufficient, reliable, and relevant information about their business on the web.

6. Because of the importance of search engine presence and ranking, more than 60% of digital marketers believe that proper SEO is vital to online success. It plays a crucial role in taking up a slot in the first search engine result pages (SERPs) to increase website traffic and awareness.

7. Additionally, 82% of businesses and marketers who implemented an SEO strategy observed its positive effects.

8. Meanwhile, 70% of digital marketers consider SEO to be more effective than pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. The former is seen as a long-term strategy, while the latter gives short-term yet high-yield awareness boosts.

9. Furthermore, aside from SEO, businesses also benefit from search engine advertising solutions. According to Google, over 1.3 million commercial and non-profit organizations and marketers have benefited from their advertising services. Thus, marketers will be wise not to completely dismiss search engine marketing and advertising to favor SEO.

How Effective Is SEO?

Source: Safari Digital

Created by

Google Is Still the Top Search Engine

When you invest in SEM, you naturally want to do it where you are most likely to get optimal results. Google is still the most successful among search engines to date, and this is why digital marketers play by Google’s algorithm rules. To get a good grasp of how powerful a search engine Google is, here are some more facts and stats to digest.

10. Google is the most popular search engine as of 2020. It accounts for almost 80% of the overall desktop search traffic. Meanwhile, Bing takes a 7.27% share, Baidu 6.55%, and Yahoo 5.06%. The remaining 2.2% is spread among smaller players such as AOL and

Source: Safari Digital

11. Google processes over 40,000 searches per second. This amounts to more than 3.5 billion queries per day and 1.2 trillion per year.

12. Since Google’s establishment in 1998, the volume of searches it processes has grown by around 10% per year.

13. Every year, 16 to 20% of Google searches are new, which means they have never been searched by any user before.

14. About 90% of searches done using desktops are done on Google.

15. Around 35% of all product searches happen on Google.

16. The web page that holds the 1st position in Google search results enjoys a click-through rate (CTR) of 34.36%.CTR is the ratio between how much a page or ad is clicked versus how often it is shown. This goes to show that to get as many clicks as possible, your page needs to take the top spot in the Google SERPs, or at least make it to the first page.

17. The first five organic results in Google SERPs take 67.60% of all search engine clicks.

18. Approximately 92% of all search engine traffic goes to results found on Google’s first search result page. If a page falls on pages two and up of Google, the chances of it being found are low.

19. It was also found that 75% of users are unlikely to scroll past Google’s first result page. The results on the first page of Google are deemed by users as reliable enough to stop checking the next page. This is crucial for businesses, especially if the first page is riddled with negative comments and posts about them.

20. Marketers who want to have a better chance of getting their pages up the first page of Google search results should consider adding videos. Pages with videos are 53% more likely to make it to Google’s page 1.

21. In terms of user demographics, the majority of Google’s visitors come from the US (27%). So, if your business is based in the US, targeting Google for SEM proves a smart move. The next country with the highest number of Google users is India (8.7%). Japan and China take 4.6% and 3.6% of the pie, respectively.

Source: 99firms

22. In Q2 of 2019, Google also took 93% of all organic search engine visits from US users.

23. On average, a Google search session lasts less than a minute. Users’ attention is fleeting, so marketers need to make the most of it by providing the information users need at a glance.

24. When marketing in Google, it’s also important to note that 70% of Google search result clicks go to organic results, while 30% go to AdWords.

Source: Safari Digital

SEM Is a Continuously Growing Industry

As long as people use search engines to look for information they need—which could be forever—search engine marketing is likely here to stay. As it is, SEM is a continuously growing industry as businesses and marketers continue to plan and invest in marketing strategies that target search engine visibility. Here are some mind-blowing facts to ponder.

25. Businesses allocate around 41% of their marketing budget to SEO. As it has been found that users appreciate organic results better than obviously sponsored or paid ones, more businesses invest in SEO to boost organic ranking and views. This trend is expected to grow upward from 2020 onward.

26. More than half of businesses invest 25% of their marketing budgets in link building. Meanwhile, 34% of companies invest over $1,000 per month in link building. This high regard for link building can be attributed to the idea that it helps boost and maintain website pages’ position in SERPs.

27. Google’s advertising and search tools helped generate a whopping $335 billion worth of economic activity in the USA alone in 2018. Collectively, this activity resulted in profits for millions of businesses, website owners, and even nonprofits. Every month, Google facilitates billions of connections between local and global organizations and their audiences.

28. For most businesses, investing in Google paid search, and ads mean a significant return on investment (ROI). It is estimated that for every $1 spent on Google paid search and ads, the business makes around $8 in profit.

29. As of January 2020, Alphabet Inc., which owns Google, is already worth $1 trillion. It joined Apple and Microsoft in the trillionaire club. Although Alphabet owns other brands aside from Google, it’s not difficult to deduce that the conglomerate’s income comes mostly from the search engine.

30. To support this, Google’s annual revenue in 2019 was more than $160.74 billion. This is about a 15% rise from their 2018 revenue, which is $136.36 billion.

31. It is also estimated that over 85% of Google’s 2018 revenue came from its advertising services. This speaks volumes about how huge and profitable Google’s ad services department is.

Source: Statista

Marketing for Mobile Search

About half of the world’s population use smartphones. It’s not even surprising if it turns out that you’re reading this on a mobile device. As smartphones become smarter, they have made surfing the web faster and more convenient. It’s no secret that mobile search will be here to stay. As a result, businesses and marketers are better off having mobile search marketing strategies in place. Let these data and statistics help get your plans and priorities in order. 

32. As of 2020, there are around 3.5 billion smartphone users worldwide. This is about half of the current estimated population, which is 7.8 billion. The number of smartphone users is expected to grow to 3.8 billion by 2021. It’s not difficult to see that most of these users search the web through their phones.

Source: Statista

33. As mentioned above, Google got 93% of all organic search engine clicks and views in the US in Q2 2019. Google’s share is actually higher in terms of mobile search engine traffic, which is 95%

34. In all, 63% of Google’s visits from US users were done on a mobile device. In 2014, only 34% of Google searches came from mobile devices.

35. Furthermore, 69% of Google’s paid search clicks from US users in 2019 were from mobile devices, too. Of these mobile clicks, 63% were from mobile phones, while 6% were from tablets.

Source: 99firms

36. It’s also important to note that of all search engines, Google has the biggest share of worldwide mobile search traffic. It tops the chart with a share of 86.11%, followed by China’s Baidu with 10.86%. Yahoo takes 1.19%, while Bing and Yandex got 0.88% and 0.44%.

37. By 2021, mobile could finally beat desktop when it comes to generating online sales. Ecommerce websites are better off making sure that their websites are mobile-friendly.

38. It is reported that 57% of online users are unlikely to recommend a business with a poorly developed and designed mobile website. As more businesses now optimize their websites for mobile, those who fail to do so could lose valuable viewership and conversion. According to Google, users who can’t seamlessly and efficiently browse through a page using their mobile device are likely to abandon the page faster.

39. Google also revealed that 51% of users trust websites that are optimized for mobile search

40. It’s also interesting that over 30% of mobile searches were done right before the user visits a physical store. This highlights the importance of making a business visible in search engine results. This also says a lot about the dynamics between the Web and brick and mortar businesses.

41. Furthermore, 43% of users will still conduct a search on their mobile device even when they’re already inside the store. They will search for products, services, and offerings before purchasing. So, it’s vital for businesses to also make information about their products and services available online to help customers make favorable buying decisions.

42. It was also found that about 88% of consumers will call or visit a brick and mortar business within 24 hours after doing a search using their mobile device. This shows that customers want to be well-informed before trusting a business.

43. To make things more interesting, 66% of ecommerce browsing time comes from mobile devices, but only 30% of sales happen through mobile.

Location-Oriented Marketing

If we’re allowed to state the obvious, the World Wide Web is global. If it can help you find information across the globe from where you are, it can help you do the same locally. Users are now aware that more local enterprises take their business online or at least expecting that they do. And as with any good business, you want to meet that expectation and be visible where customers are. This is where location-oriented marketing comes in.

44. Around 46% of all searches in Google are related to local matters and businesses.

45. It is also reported that 88% of consumers who perform local search contact or visit a business within 24 hours.

46. Additionally, 72% of consumers who perform local search visits a business within 5 miles.

47. In all, 28% of local searches result in a purchase.

48. Meanwhile, 78% of location-oriented queries lead to offline conversion.

The Power of Local Search

Source: Safari Digital

Created by

49. According to Google, “where to buy” with “near me” queries on mobile grew to more than 200%. Businesses that rely on local traffic should take advantage of this trend and make information about their products and services readily available online. It’s also important that a local business website is optimized for mobile search, as consumers who are on the go and ready to purchase are likely to use their mobile devices to search.

50. Despite the power of local search, many local businesses have yet to harness it. It is estimated that 56% of local companies have not claimed or configured their free Google My Business listing yet. As GMB is among the first things that show up on Google search results when a user searches a business, it is crucial for businesses to get theirs listed.

51. Similarly, 82% of businesses have also not claimed their Bing business listing.

Traditional Strategies That Still Work

The Web and SEM have unquestionably come a long way. The developments over the years called for new marketing strategies. However, this doesn’t mean that all tested and proven traditional strategies no longer work. Take a look at these facts to see what we mean.

52. Content is still king. According to the latest data, 57% of digital marketing experts rank content creation and marketing as the best way to drive traffic and results in search marketing. Social media marketing and backlinking rank #2 and #3, respectively.

53. In another survey, 72% of online marketers list content marketing as their most effective search optimization strategy.

54. That digital marketers favor content creation and marketing is not entirely surprising. After all, it has been found that content creation can improve search engine indexation by over 434%. Needless to say, Google loves websites with sufficient, relevant, and updated content.

55. Because of this, about 40% of marketers publish content once a week.

56. Furthermore, even old or existing content can be updated and reposted and still generate results. Updating old content and adding new images can increase traffic by 111.3%. This strategy is called historic optimization. It helps you maximize the potential of good, existing content, especially when you run out of fresh ideas or if the topic becomes relevant again.

57. The average length of content taking the top spot in Google search results is around 2,000 words. Google favors pages with sufficient information that accurately and completely provide answers to the user’s query. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all of your content needs to be lengthy, though. You should also practice conservative judgment. If you can answer the typical questions of your audience in less than 2,000 words, then, by all means, write shorter content!

58. Images are also a vital aspect of online content. According to the latest Moz Google SERP Feature Graph, 27% of Google’s response to a query consists of images. This can be attributed to the ongoing popularity of platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram.

59. In relation to that, data shows that 62% of Millennial and Gen Z customers favor visual search over another search tech. Thus, it’s wise to add images in your content or, better yet, create your own.

60. Marketers should also incorporate videos into their content as much as possible. It is reported that videos are five times more likely to drive conversion than plain content.

61. Moreover, 36% of search marketing specialists believe that the headline or title tag is still the most important element of content in terms of SEO. So, besides having good content and adding images and videos to it, you should also take headline creation seriously. 

62. Link building is among the oldest tested and proven search marketing strategies, and it continues to be effective until today. When you have good, linkable content, backlinking will prove a great way to help your pages rank. High-quality content and links are two of the factors scrutinized by Google’s algorithm.

63. However, 65% of online marketers admit that link building is the most difficult SEO aspect. As search engine marketing and optimization constantly evolve, your effective and reliable links and sources now may be affected, and as a result, your content may get hit as well. Because of this, it’s not just the content that you’d want to update and check regularly. You should also check and audit links.

64. Now, how important is backlinking, exactly? Over 90% of web pages never get organic visits mostly because they don’t have backlinks.

65. In relation to that, more than 55% of web pages don’t have any backlinks. Meanwhile, around 30% have only two to three backlinks.

Source: Ahrefs

66. Research shows that the more backlinks a page has, the more traffic it gets, and the higher it ranks in SERPs.

67. Moreover, 57% percent of online marketing specialists also report that on-page content development is their most effective search marketing technique.

68. Ultimately, businesses that combine SEO and PPC advertising can get as much as 25% more clicks and 27% higher income compared to those who focus on a single-channel approach.

Keyword Matters

Keywords are essentially what fuel searches. Users enter keywords to help them find what they’re looking for. Thus, marketers must be aware of trends and statistics that involve keywords.

69. On average, users key in 3 words when doing a search

70. Desktop users tend to use more words. Sixteen percent of desktop users use 6 or more words, while 14% of mobile users do the same. 

71. Eight percent of all search engine queries are in question form.

72. Meanwhile, 50% of all organic searches have at least four words. 

73. Long-tail keywords have 3% to 5% higher CTR than generic, shorter search queries. Businesses and website owners should maximize the potential of long-tail keywords by incorporating them into their headlines and content.

74. Almost 70% of mobile users say that they are more likely to do business with websites that can address their inquiries instantly and easily. This means that besides using the right keywords, it’s also crucial to provide the right and sufficient answer to users’ questions related to your products and services.

75. When creating your content, you surely want to use keywords that are likely to return more traffic. Among your choices are topics that cover the keywords “best” plus “right now.” Keywords with this combination have grown more than 125% in the previous years.

User Satisfaction Matters

Another way for businesses and websites to do well in search engine marketing is to satisfy users and the customers themselves. Let’s take a look at these facts for a better understanding.

76. Businesses with positive online reviews are trusted by 73% of online users. These reviews can be curated from Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, and other review platforms. Furthermore, when a business gets reviews, they also get more mentions, which search engines like.

77. Naturally, having positive reviews makes a business appear trusted and reliable. Positive reviews increase the trust of online users aged 18 to 34 in a business by 91%.

New Search Technologies

Technology has always been one of the strongest forces that drive progress and evolution in the search engine marketing and optimization landscape. To better understand how SEM works and how to make it work for you.

78. Google’s algorithm takes into account more than 200 factors before returning results. So, besides good content, high-quality backlinks, page-level aspects, and site-level factors, there are a lot of things that make a page worthy of making it to the top of Google SERPs.

79. Voice search is one of today’s rising search technologies. It is estimated that in 2020, half of all searches will be voice-based. Since voice search was first used, over 20% of Google’s queries were voice-based, so it’s not at all far-fetched to arrive at the 50% estimate. This is particularly possible as more people use voice-powered AI devices and programs, such as Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant.

Source: Microsoft

80. According to the latest data, 27% of online users already use voice search

81. Furthermore, 7% of voice search responses were from featured snippets.

82. It’s also worth noting that the average word count of a content returned for a voice-based query is around 2,300. By creating long-form content with a featured snippet that directly answers the target audience’s typical question about the topic, you can leverage the growing potential of voice search.

How the Latest Data and Trends Are Shaping the Future of SEM

It’s been said time and again: technology is constantly evolving. And when we talk about technology, it includes the internet and World Wide Web. With this in mind, we can expect the current trends to change direction and the figures to dramatically increase or decrease.

However, we can also deduce several things from emerging trends and the latest data. These predictions are likely to hold until at least 2021.

  • SEM services, including PPC, paid search, and sponsored links, are not going anywhere. Even though most digital marketers rank SEO and content marketing as their most effective strategies, they cannot completely dismiss the power of SEM.
  • As many people are forced to stay indoors because of the ongoing health crisis, they will rely on the internet even more to get information, products, and services they need. Search engine usage, particularly that which is done through mobile phones, will likely see a spike. 
  • With more enterprises taking their businesses online, especially in this time of social distancing, most of them might invest more in SEM and other digital marketing strategies to catch the attention of consumers. And they well should.
  • Mobile search figures are likely to go up as smartphones become as smart—if not smarter than—desktops. Businesses and website owners need to take mobile search marketing more seriously.
  • Finally, those who are already applying tried-and-tested techniques, such as SEM, SEO, content marketing, and backlinking should also begin using techniques that can help them leverage the rise of voice search usage.

Search Tech and Industry Continues to Evolve—And So Should Marketers and Advertisers

The search industry that we know today has come a long way from how it looked like in the past few years. It has become so fast-paced that businesses and digital marketers need to always keep themselves up to date with the latest marketing trends and techniques. This is particularly important as search engines, notably Google, regularly update their search algorithms to provide users with the best responses for their queries. And with more consumer tech emerging nowadays, advertisers have to keep themselves abreast of developments that may affect their strategies.

In one way or another, marketers and advertisers need to evolve as quickly as the search industry does. But at the end of it all, consumer and user satisfaction should remain as your number one priority when creating marketing strategies. After all, that’s what search engines do, too.


  1. 54 SEO Statistics That Will Impact Your Business in 2020
  2. 26 SEO statistics for 2020 and what you can learn from them
  3. Search Engine Statistics
  4. SEO Statistics
  5. The Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics for 2020
  6. 25 Mind-Bottling SEO Stats for 2020 (+ Beyond)
  8. 15+ SEO Statistics From 2020 That’ll Transform Your Strategy
  10. Economic Income Report United States 2018 – Google
  11. Google Search Statistics
  12. Worldwide desktop market share of leading search engines from January 2010 to January 2020
  13. More Product Searches Start on Amazon
  14. The State of Searcher Behavior Revealed Through 23 Remarkable Statistics
  15. Google owner Alphabet is now worth $1 trillion
  16. Annual revenue of Google from 2002 to 2019
  17. Worldometer – Current World Population
  18. Number of smartphone users worldwide from 2016 to 2021
  19. Insights we uncovered in 2019 that will take you into 2020 – Google
  20. Google SERP Feature Graph – Moz
  21. 90.63% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google. And How to Be in the Other 9.37% [New Research for 2020]
  22. We Analyzed 10,000 Google Home Results. Here’s What We Learned About Voice Search SEO
  23. Microsoft Releases Voice Assistant Usage Report, Finds Apple Siri And Google Assistant Tied at 36%, and 41% of Respondents Have Privacy Concerns

You may also like

Leave a Comment