Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Search Referrals and Organic Traffic Rising

Search Referrals and Organic Traffic Rising

As a companion piece to the post by my colleague Heather Hopkins, I thought it would be interesting to take a step back and look at the overall impact of search upon specific industries. For the majority of categories measured at Hitwise, search is the top source of traffic referrals and the share has increased year-over-year. Overall, search is increasing as a traffic driver. Among the parent categories that received less than 25% of traffic from search in April 2008, all except News & Media received a higher share of search referrals last month. This data suggests that the best growth opportunities for search are among the laggard categories where adoption has been slower as a referral tool.

Overall, visits to search engines increased 8% on April 2009 as compared to the previous year, implying that those visits will result in the searcher going somewhere afterwards. In order to translate the impact of search referrals upon traffic, I also took the size of the category into account and calculated the market share of visits that were search driven for the same year-over-year comparison. In this analysis, when translated into visits, the largest categories received more visits from search, regardless if overall traffic was up or down.

As Heather pointed out, the ratio of clicks from paid search has declined within some categories due to reduced spending by marketers in the current economic climate. There is nothing like a recession to encourage marketers to become more creative with budgets. The increased share of organic clicks also implies that companies are getting smarter about optimizing their websites to take advantage of organic search results and these SEO efforts are working. Additionally, the increased popularity of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, along with blogs and video, are sites & pages that index quickly within search engines and result in higher organic results.

Posted by Heather Dougherty a

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