It seems I now do this rant every single year when traffic statistics are discussed in web industry news. Last week I posted to my Reality SEO blog that referred traffic numbers are only statistic that webmasters should be concerned about when looking at their search engine rank. I wrote about this last year after ComScore Media Metrics statistics were relased discussing Search Engine Queries generated by each search property. http://searchengineoptimism.com/Google_refers_70_percent.html
In that article, I suggested to Micorsoft as they developed their own search technology that MSN search might consider resisting 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 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 right side of page. Not bad visually, but it appears to be keeping visitors on 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.
I've been pouring over web stats for a half dozen clients looking for traffic from MSN and it is missing in action. Even though these sites rank well for targeted terms for my clients - MSN is not delivering traffic at all.
This has always been an issue for SEO's and their clients and we are puzzling this one over, looking for results from those top rankings at both Yahoo and MSN as they seem to retain searchers no matter how well we rank sites!
Yahoo has dropped dramatically, with referred traffic that used to amount to over 5% of visitors to client sites, it has dropped as low as 1.5% of total referred traffic from search engines. After a recent increase in referred traffic from Yahoo search, we were hopeful it would stay high, but it wasn't to be. Rankings have not declined - Read That Again - Rankings have not declined, just referred traffic!
Google has gone up in referrals from foreign countries, including foreign language sites. We used to see tiny amounts of traffic trickle in from non-English language countries, but Google country sites for Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Mexico and a dozen other language specific Googles have combined to send more non-English referred traffic than total coming from (English) Yahoo Search!