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Best converting search engines?

Posted by Michael Bloch in ecommerce (Thursday February 16, 2006 )

According to WebSideStory, the month of January saw AOL Search with the best conversion rate at business-to consumer ecommerce sites (6.17 %), followed by MSN (6.03%), Yahoo (4.07%) and Google (3.83%)

The major engines experienced conversion rates well above the median average for all search engines combined, which was 1.97%. The study only reported on the conversion rate, no ROI (return on investment) figures were available.

Why the big difference? In my opinion, and I’ve seen this confirmed by many other ecommerce merchants; users of engines such as AOL and MSN are more geared towards purchasing rather than general browsing or researching as Google fans appear to be. They also tend to be younger with more disposable income that they are willing to part with on entertainment and lifestyle related products; and in many instances these are relatively low value items.

Remember, it’s not just conversions that count, but the size of the purchase and the return on investment. Let’s say that 1000 out of X number of searchers buy a ringtone via AOL or MSN. That’s around $2,0000 in sales, with around 30 – 60% as profit. Perhaps only 1 out of the same X number will buy a house as the result of a Google search. But that’s a few hundred thousand dollars in the sale and a commission profit of perhaps $5,000. Ah, statistics are wonderful things.

It all just depends on the market you’re targeting, the product or service you are selling and most importantly – how you present it.

Here’s another big “but” not mentioned in the report – while figures may vary from survey firm to survey firm, I think it’s fairly safe to say that Google has at least 4x the market share of MSN currently; i.e, delivering 4 times the traffic overall. 4x of traffic in theory will equal 4x the conversions – so a lower conversion rate perhaps, but more of them.

If you’re into Pay Per Click, more traffic at lower conversion rates isn’t such great news as you still may be paying more for your conversions on Google compared to MSN, but if it’s organic traffic (free listings) you chase, then Google is still *the* engine to woo generally speaking.

Don’t forget that Google also provides AOL with search data. Focus on Google and get the best of both worlds :)

Read more of the WebSideStory report

Learn more about creating effective landing pages

Learn more about Pay Per Click

Learn more about search engine marketing and optimization.


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