The major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) remain the number one source to attract new customers online. Sure, we’ve heard about how social media is the new big thing in terms of online marketing, and that’s certainly true – but the search engines continue to be the foundation for marketing online.
Google.com is the #1 website in the world with more than 40% of the worldwide population using it. Yahoo and Bing rank #3 and #5 respectively. While reports vary, Google.com conducts about 200 million searches a day – yes that’s each day, and captures about 65% of total market share among online search engines.
So, if you want to market your products and services online, the search engines, especially Google, are among the most important places to be seen. But what can you expect in terms of generating traffic from search engine marketing?
First, there are two sides to search engine marketing, Sponsored Links more commonly known as Pay-per-Click (PPC), and Organic, or natural listings. Sponsored links show at the top of the page in a shaded area and along the right side of the page. When someone clicks on one of these listings, the sponsoring company pays for each click. Organic listings show along the left side and they are considered by the search engine the most relevant websites for the phrase being searched. For the sake of this article, we’ll refer to Sponsored Links as “PPC”, and refer to Organic listings as “SEO”.
This chart illustrates typical click activity between PPC and SEO listings. PPC listings get about 26% of total clicks from a search engine results page (SERP) while SEO gets the remaining 74%. In other words, if you are only doing PPC search marketing, you are missing 74% of searches.
In our experience, both PPC and SEO work in the right circumstances. We’ve found that SEO converts better overall because Google has deemed Organic listings as the most relevant for the phrase being searched. Consequently, the content on these sites matches well to the phrase being searched. PPC tends to convert better in a B2C (business-to-customer) environment than in B2B (business-to-business). However, we have found success for our clients on both sides, and in both B2C and B2B.
How many website visitors can you expect to get from search engine marketing? There have been several studies on this topic over the years and results vary to some degree. However, the chart below gives you an indication of the approximate number of website visitors you’ll get from search engine marketing.
Naturally, the higher you are on the SERP the more click-through’s you will get. Beyond where you rank on the page, the number of clicks you get can be influenced by two things: 1) the bold Title of the listing and 2) the descriptive text under the bold Title. While some searchers just click on the listing without reading it, recent studies indicate that nearly all read the bold Title and more are taking the time to read the descriptive text under the bold Title.
Upon doing a search for “radial tires”, here are two examples of how the descriptive text under the bold Title can make a difference.
If you are like most of us, you are more likely to click on the second listing. So, even though the second listing might be positioned below the first one on the SERP, the click-through rate will likely be higher. For Organic listings, the bold Title is the Title Tag in your meta-data for that page, and the descriptive text under the bold Title is usually the Description Tag in your meta-data for that page.
In summary, you can drive significant traffic to your website through search engines, and the search engines remain the dominant way to attract new customers. Use PPC and Organic listings in the right circumstances, and by making your way up the SERP, you can get a good sense for how many visitors will come to your website via the search engines.