Benchmarks for Paid Search Advertising in 2021, by Industry

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Today’s day and age see us turning to Google (or whatever search engine we use) when we want to buy something. Whether we know exactly what we are looking for in nearby businesses or want to do more in-depth research, 71% of buyer journeys begin with a search engine.

In other words, consumers have the highest purchase intent when on search engines. This is why paid search ads are so highly effective. This also makes it very competitive.

For you to compete, you need to have a clear picture of your performance in relation to others in your industry. To help you with this, WordStream and LOCALiQ have released the benchmark data you need.

Below you will find the following metrics across the top 20 industries for Google and Bing search ads:

  • Average cost per click
  • Average click-through rate
  • Average cost per lead
  • Average conversion rate

The data can help you to stay competitive. Just compare your averages to those in your industry and you’ll get a solid read on where you need to improve.

Search advertising average cost per click

Search advertising average cost per click

The level of competition for a keyword, audience, location and etc. can affect the cost per click. This means your bidding strategy can impact this metric.

Key Takeaways:

  • The average cost per click for search ads across all industries is $3.53, ranging from $1.40 to $8.67.
  • Industries with the lowest CPC include travel ($1.40), animals and pets ($1.60) and sports and recreation ($1.73).
  • The highest average CPC lies remains in the industries of attorneys and legal services ($8.67), dentists and dental services ($6.49) and home and home improvement ($5.75).

These findings are consistent with the past benchmarks reports, with the legal industry having the highest cost per click and sports and fitness being among the industries with the lowest.

If you need to improve your cost per click, our web experts have some tips for you:

  1. Choose your keywords wisely – not just the cheapest ones
  2. Improve your quality score
  3. Keep a solid negative keyword list

Search advertising click-through rate on average

Search advertising click-through rate on average

Click-through rate factors into your Quality Score and guides you in identifying the right targeting, ad copy, and offers for your ads. The metric can be misleading by itself, so be sure to analyze it with respect to other metrics (like conversion rate).

  • The average click-through rate across all industries is 6.18%, ranging from 3.84% to 10.67%.
  • Industries with the highest average click-through rates include arts and entertainment (10.67%), travel (8.54%), and real estate (7.75%) with sports and recreation just behind that (7.73%).
  • Industries with the lowest average click-through rates include attorneys and legal services (3.84%), home and home improvement (4.21%) and dentists and dental services (4.69%).

These findings are consistent with past reports, which was the highest click-through rates in the travel and arts industries while the lowest with legal, health and home industries. 

On the other hand, sports and fitness have historically had lower click-through rates than what we’re seeing here, and the personals vertical has shown significantly higher click-through rates than these numbers.

Search advertising cost per lead on average

Search advertising cost per lead on average

Cost per lead is also known as cost per action cost per conversion or cost per acquisition. Whatever it is you want to call it, it tells you how much you spent in order to get someone to complete the desired action. This can be filling out a form, calling you or making a purchase.

Key Takeaways:

  • The average cost per lead across all industries is $41.40, ranging from $14.88 to $73.70.
  • Among the industries that have the highest cost per lead include attorneys and legal services ($73.70), furniture ($64.72), and finance and insurance ($62.80).
  • Industries with the lowest cost per lead include animals and pets ($14.88), automotive repair, service and parts ($17.81) and restaurants ($20.49).

This overall average is lower than what it was in the past, which is good news for advertisers. The automotive vertical has consistently been in the lowest bracket in the past findings.

Search advertising conversion rate on average

Search advertising conversion rate on average

While the cost per lead measures how much you spent to get someone who clicked on your ad to contact you in some way, the conversion rate tells you just how many people who clicked on your ad actually converted.

Key Takeaways:

  • The average conversion rate average across all industries is 8.82%, ranging from 3.25% to 19.19%.
  • Among the industries that have the highest cost per lead include animals and pets (19.19%), physicians and surgeons (19.15%) and automotive repair, service and parts (15.23%).
  • Industries with the lowest cost per lead include furniture (3.25%), apparel/fashion and jewellery (3.6%) and real estate (3.93%).

The past data also found the highest conversion rates in the legal and automotive verticals. While the lowest high conversion rates were found in real estate and apparel. Meanwhile, the personals conversion rate has historically been higher than what you can see here.


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