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?