I really had to sit down and mull facts released in a joint study by comScore Networks and DoubleClick. The ‘Understanding Online Buyer Search Actvity’ report studied 1.5 million internet users purchase decisions as related to 30 different web sites. It followed users over 12 weeks time acquiring data on how searchers made their buying decisions online.
While many advanced marketers may find this information to be old news they should be embracing release of this data by DoubleClick and comScore. It’s significant research that can help to enhance visibility of search marketing in general (both organic optimization and paid placement) and helps to dispel common myths involved in online search marketing. This research got very little press in search marketing community today and I’m kind of upset by that.
This is research that helps pave way for new online advertisers to completely understand metrics behind why search engine marketing is absolutely vital to success of their web site(s).
These companies should be applauded by search marketers for proving some of assumptions we have guessed at for last few years.
Three things stand out in this research that are significant findings:
More than 50% of online buying decisions begin on a search engine. Using “generic search terms” is extremely important for search marketing. Contrary to popular belief, one click will never equal one sale.
Of course there are more stats like 75% of all searches for travel related information result in an eventual sale. In other words if you have a travel related site and you are not focusing your online advertising dollars on web search then you are just plain crazy. Still, I want to elaborate on three notes above.
50% or more of ALL online buying decisions begin with a web search.
Search marketers have known this for a long time. The reason that this is a significant fact is because no one has ever produced a solid number to emphasize impact that search engine usage has on buying process. It is a powerful statement to be able to say to potential search advertisers, “50% of all your sales are going to emanate from web search”. If you are not listed on engines 24/7 you are killing your own sales revenue and handing business directly to your competitor.
What study reveals is that searchers look for information on their purchases over a period of weeks before they make their buying decision. They repeatedly return to search results looking for valid information on their purchase. If your web site is not listed constantly in a prominent position on 1st page of search results you might as well pack it in and go home. You’re getting beaten badly by every competitor ahead of you in search results not to mention losing a major branding opportunity on every search.
In other words, if you’re doing pay per click, maintain your bid in one of top 3 to 5 positions on first page of search results ALL THE TIME, if possible. Turn on your auto-charge account at pay per click provider and set a daily budget cap. Better yet figure out what times of day generate most sales on your web site and implement a day parting program for your ads. (Day parting is when you time your search ads only to appear during certain hours of day).
If it’s organic optimization techniques then shoot to be on first page of search results. Searches for “web hosting” will count for far more brand impact and sales than “cheap web hosting in louisville kentucky". Frankly if you’re ranking well for long search queries like that one then you need to fire guy/gal working on your organic search optimization program. Although it’s great to say, YAY! We’re ranked #1 on phrase “cow chips and moose patties” it sure as hell isn’t going to do much for your search volume and it will not contribute to your sales growth. Yes, it is important but it is also extremely useless to focus effort on optimizing for long phrases like that.
Using “generic search terms” is extremely important in search marketing.