In a past article, regarding the viability of search engine traffic I stated that “the majority of Web site visitors come from search engines.” Now there are those of you who doubt whether this is true. And, recently, a reader expressed his doubts. So to make believers out of you, I figured I’d show that the proof is definitely in the pudding (or, in this case, the stats) by compiling results from more than a year’s worth of studies.
The stats in the studies I selected support the idea that most Web site visitors do indeed come from search engines. And the strongest evidence seems to come from the number of unique visitors shown for search engines in the latest Media Metrix U.S. Top 50 Web and Digital Media Properties for December 2000.
My personal summary of Media Metrix’s Top 50 report identifies a few search engines measured in the report and shows their traffic numbers, in millions of unique visitors, from December 1, 2000, to December 31, 2000.
Unique visitors in millions
This amounts to nearly 300 million unique visitors during December 2000. Granted, many of these unique visitors could have been checking stock quotes or clicking into weather reports, etc.; not all unique visitors go to the search portals to search for Web sites.
However, logic tells us that those visitors who did perform a search would likely have searched by a number of keywords and key phrases. Unfortunately, the precise traffic numbers that are necessary to determine this are probably available only on the server logs at each search engine. To my knowledge, the engines are not publishing this data openly. But if you know where we can obtain figures, please contact me so I can share it with ClickZ readers.
Here are a few additional studies from the year 2000 that support the view that a substantial amount of traffic does come from search engines:
- More than 75 percent of surfers use search engines to traverse the Web, according to a RealNames Survey dated April 2000.
- An IMT Strategies research study quoted in April 2000 indicated that 45.8 percent of Web users cited search engines as their top choice for finding Web sites. Another 20.3 percent cited recommendations from friends, and 19.9 percent credited “random surfing.”
- Every day, 57 percent of all Netizens use a search engine, making searching the second most popular Internet activity.
- The only thing we do online more often than using search engines is check our email, according to a study by Statistical Research, Inc.
- The last Graphics, Visualization & Usability (GVU) Center User Survey conducted reported that 84.8 percent of respondents found out about Web pages from search engines.
- ICONOCAST (8/24/00) reported that 81 percent of U.K. users find Web sites through search engines (Source: June 2000, Forrester Research Inc., “UK Internet User Monitor.”)
- A year ago, the top 10 search engines had nearly 147,000,000 unique visitors each month, a number that jumps more than 10 percent every month (Media Metrix, January 2000).
More search engine statistics like the above can be found on the Search Engine Index page at Search Engine Watch.
For more information on why marketers should be listed in search engines, see “The Four Search Engines to be Listed in and Why.” Even though my article dates back to November, I don’t believe that the variance is going to change drastically from month to month, unlike Web site stats, which change constantly.
Now you’re still entitled to your own opinion whether it is worth considering SEO for driving traffic to your online business. But I trust the above data is persuasive enough to make a believer out of you yet.
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