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Google Ranks Worst in Conversion Rates

Posted February 17, 2006

A newly released study ranks the median order conversion rates for the top four search engines. The research was conducted by website analytics company, WebSideStory, Inc.

For the month of January, AOL Search generated the best conversion rate at business-to consumer e-commerce sites (6.17 percent), followed by MSN (6.03 percent), Yahoo (4.07 percent) and Google (3.83 percent), according to the WebSideStory Index, a new statistical barometer that features techno-graphic and e-commerce trends culled from the millions of users that visit web sites using the company's award-winning web analytics technology, HBX Analytics.

The study includes traffic from both organic and paid keywords.

Ali Behnam, Senior Digital Marketing Consultant for WebSideStory, analyzed the results, ''One way to explain the difference in conversion rates is demographics. With portals rich in content and services, AOL, MSN and Yahoo may tend to appeal toward a more buyer friendly demographic. Google, meanwhile, may appeal to more browsers - those with less of an intent to buy. All of this suggests search engine marketers may want to consider demographics in allocating their budgets.''

Each of the major search engines posted conversion rates well above the median average for all search engines, which was 1.97 percent for the month of January, according to the index. This compares with a median average of 2.30 percent for the last three months of 2005, which WebSideStory reported on last month.

One other important consideration to note in this study, WebSideStory officials said, is that the conversion rates are likely higher than industry averages because the sample sites are using best-of-class web analytics to improve their search engine marketing and optimization.

According to Jeff Lunsford, Chairman and CEO of WebSideStory, ''Our clients are steeped in web analytics best practices and are not buying search engine traffic that does not deliver. In addition, they understand how to convert visitors into buyers once they arrive at the site.''

HBX Analytics is an award-winning, on-demand web analytics solution that provides actionable information about online visitor customer behavior. It is part of the WebSideStory Active Marketing Suite, a suite of integrated, on-demand digital marketing applications including web analytics, site search, web content management and, later this year, keyword bid management.

Median Order Conversion Rate by Major Search Engine
at Business to Consumer E-Commerce Sites, January 2006

Search Engine Median (All Categories)
AOL 6.17%
MSN 6.03%
Yahoo 4.07%
Google 3.83%

Notes:
- Study examines only the conversion rate, not the ROI generated by each
major search engine
- E-commerce sample: The select business-to-consumer e-commerce sites
used in this study generate more than $3 billion in annual online sales

No comments were made on how the testing was done, which industries and what parameters were used. Without that information, the results can be suspect.

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