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Referred Traffic From Searches All That Matters!

It seems I now do this rant every single year when traffic statistics are discussed in the web industry news. Last week I posted (7 days before the Bill Platt article below this post) that referred traffic numbers are the only statistic that webmasters should be concerned about when looking at their search engine rank. I wrote about it last year as well.

In last years article, I suggested to Micorsoft as they developed their own search technology that MSN search might consider resisting the urge to keep searchers on their site by plastering both PPC and “Sponsored Sites” above and below search results. Google displays two “Sponsored Links” above organic results and none below, along with Adwords ads along the right column.

Well now that MSN search has made its official debut, we can see that they put three “Sponsored Sites” links both above AND below their organic search results, along with those Overture (Soon to be Yahoo Branded) PPC ads along the right side of the page. Not bad visually, but it appears to be keeping visitors on the MSN search site because they simply are NOT clicking through to highly ranked sites according to closely watched traffic statistics of several sites I monitor for clients.

Zippo, NONE are coming from MSN Search even though we are better ranked in several important search phrases for client sites at MSN that at Google! This is serious and it’s a problem that we must resolve. “Searches performed” statistics, like those exhaustively researched by Bill Platt in the article following this post below, are absolutely meaningless if searchers don’t click through to top ranking sites! What does this mean?

Even though I write a similar article each year, discuss this topic on large discussion lists and mention it regularly right here in Reality SEO blog, I have yet to get honest answers from search engine representatives at Yahoo or MSN. I did get a couple of Yahoo Search managers to admit that more visitors stay on the Yahoo site and continue to either PPC ads or to other Yahoo links because “There is more of value to the searcher at Yahoo.” What is of more value to a searcher than relevant search results?

I gave those Yahoo’s access to my traffic statistics and those of clients so they could see that nearly 70% of my traffic and that of clients was coming from Google – EVEN WHEN THOSE SAME SITES RANKED HIGHLY IN SEARCHES AT YAHOO! No comment and no explanations about why, when they generate huge numbers of search queries, that far fewer visitors click through from Yahoo search results than do from Google search results.

One must assume that someone searching for something visits at least a few of the sites that appear in the list of results, no?

Yahoo and MSN Search are both failing to send referred search traffic to sites ranked highly in their search results. Why?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Mark from March 30, 2005, 5:38 am

    Winston Churchill said “The people have spoken, the dumb bastards.”

    And it looks like the beginning of the end for the brilliant Google.
    If, as you suggest, traffic is down from high ranking sites because people are clicking on sponsored links… then the end is near. People are ‘voting’ for sponsored links… and they’re being encouraged to vote for them by search engines who place them more prominently.

    Perhaps it’s similar to the Yellow Pages (remember them?).
    As a Consumer:
    I open up to the right page and call the guy with the nice QPage ad. The free one-line listings are almost a joke… I know that the ‘real’ guys are the ones who can afford to present themselves.
    As an Advertiser:
    Every year I get a call from the ad rep suggesting that my competitor has just taken out a larger, more-colorful ad than I. The price just keeps going up.

    So the inevitable is that the top spots in all the popular search engines get taken by the big bucks. (Have you noticed the constant ebay ppc?) Nerds and acedemics (keepers of the flame) stick with Google.

    The new goal of of the Search Engine will be to present ads with a calculated balance of how much they paid and how relevant they are.

    Maybe a system whereby advertisers pay more for irrelevant ads? Coke would have to pay more for an ad under keyword “Basketball” than would Spaulding. Couldn’t Google do this today with the way they rank their PPC ads? Bet they could…

    In any case, it looks to me like consumers are going to be fed the premasticated stuff that they crave while the search engines become giant marketing arms for corporate America.

    Maybe the new frontier is the long tail marketing concepts… until those, too, are available at WalMart.

    Mark Robinson
    HandicappedPets.comFor Elderly, Injured, and Handicapped Pets – Products, Services, and Support to help you care for them.

  • amit March 30, 2005, 11:16 pm

    You should read up what people are discussing about your article at SitePoint Forums. That should clear some of your mis-concepts. 🙂