Internet users who still haven't found what they're looking for may need to go beyond the first couple of pages of results.
Top billing is essential and paying for high search engine rankings may be a good investment, some research finds. A report from iProspect reveals that more than half (56.6 percent) of Internet users abandon their searches after the first two pages, and with more than three-quarters of Internet users relying on search engines, the first page could be critical.
Culled from the results of 1,403 email participants during spring 2002, the iProspect Search Engine Branding Survey found that roughly 16 percent only look at a few entries of search results, and almost 32 percent read through the whole page. Only 23 percent of searchers go beyond to the second page, with the numbers dropping significantly for every page thereafter: first three pages (10.3 percent) and more than three pages (8.7 percent). Almost 10 percent will read through the whole list of search results, unless it's dozens of pages.
The survey also revealed user allegiance, with more than half (52.1 percent) usually using the same search engine or directory, and almost 35 percent using several different ones interchangeably. Only 13 percent said that they use different search engines for different types of searches.
Interestingly, nearly half (45.9 percent) felt that their searches were successful almost all the of the time, but when they are unsuccessful, 27.2 percent of the respondents switch to another search engine, rather than refining the search with more key words (7.5 percent). One-third of the survey participants indicated a success rate three-quarters of the time, and 13.3 percent found what they were looking for half of the time.
These findings are valuable to the thousands of online businesses that rely on search engines as marketing tools. A survey of nearly 300 businesses by Search123 revealed that 32 percent of the respondents allocate at least three-quarters of their online advertising budgets for pay-per-click (PPC) search engines, with another 21 percent devoting half to three-quarters of their budget to paid search.
Additionally, the firm found that two-thirds of the respondents regarded PPC search as their most effective method of online advertising, followed by search engine optimization (SEO) at 15 percent. More than half augment their paid search efforts with SEO to improve rankings within algorithmically based engines.
The research indicated that quality was the priority over other criteria, such as bid prices and quantity of search traffic. "When we surveyed advertisers a year ago, search engine marketers said that bid prices were the most important consideration. Today advertisers are squarely focused on traffic quality," said James Beriker, CEO, Search123.
Beriker commented that marketers were not just looking for clicks, but for "e-commerce productive" traffic.
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