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1/31/2006
07:17 PM
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Search Engines Excel At Turning Shoppers Into Buyers

Shoppers directed to online retailers from general search engines are more than twice as likely to become buyers than people who arrive through most other online sources.

Shoppers directed to online retailers from general search engines are more than twice as likely to become buyers than people who arrive through other sources, a Web analysis firm said.

During the last three months of 2005, the conversion rate for search engines at retail sites was 2.30 percent, compared with 0.96 percent for other sources, such as banner ads, affiliate marketing links, shopping search engines and other referring links, WebSideStory Inc., said in a report released this week.

Search engines, however, lagged far behind direct navigation, which had a conversion rate of 4.23 percent. Such acquisition sources include people using their own bookmarks to get to a site, or typing the URL into their browser.

"The best conversion rate still comes from good old-fashioned branding and customer loyalty, where visitors either bookmark your site or type your URL directly into the address bar,” Ali Behnam, a senior digital marketing consultant for WebSideStory, said in a statement.

Nevertheless, search-engine marketing and optimization was still far more effective than most other means of getting shoppers to a Web site, Behnam said.

WebSideStory basis its findings on people visiting Web sites that use the company's Web analytics technology.

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