Search Engine: Volume & Visibility

When signing on new clients we are often asked if we will be advertising in the Big 3 (Google, Yahoo, MSN). Many clients like to be up and running in these three engines simultaneously, and right away. But we always explain that we will start with Google, then Yahoo, then finally MSN. Why this approach? Volume.

Hitwise recently released a report on overall search volume between its tracked search engines.

Now most agencies reference for their demographic/usage statistics, but is this always the best source to rely on? Are we wrong for taking the numbers given for face value?  We often ask these questions when blindly referencing statistical data compiled by various data houses. Is this massive aggregate of searches comparable to what weactually see?  Is it relevant to only PPC/SEM traffic?

To answer these questions, we accessed the most relevant data we could get our hands on: Our own clients statistics.

The Hitwise report shown above tracks the following search engines over the 4 weeks leading up to January 26th, 2008.

% of Search Volume per Engine
Google: 65.95%
Yahoo: 20.94%
MSN :  6.9%

For the same time period researched from our own collection of clients, we discovered the following:

% of AdSpend per Engine / % of Clicks per Engine
Google:  62.45%                   Google:  68.85%
Yahoo: 26.49%                      Yahoo:  22.70%
MSN:  10.79%                       MSN:  8.46%

When you take into account that Engine Ready avoids advertising in Ask.com, the report that Hitwise published is incredibly accurate. Of course we would love to have our clients visibility in all corners of the web (and so would our clients), but the fact is there are barriers.  Each engine requires its own interface and has unique bidding models, competition, traffic quality and even jargon.

When 90% of traffic being received is coming in via Google and Yahoo, should we really be spending 33% of our time managing 10% of the available traffic?  Definitely not.  MSN should not be dismissed, but rather put on the back burner until Google and Yahoo are running in tip-top shape. Then you can divert your eyes for a moment to get that last bit of untapped traffic.

As an announcement for the readers of this blog, one of the biggest name in the industry, Rand Fishkin, the founder of SEOmoz’s, together with Engine Ready’s Brian Lewis arranged for a holiday networking party for the local San Diego SEO community. About 35 internet marketers showed up at the Gordon Biersch Brewery in San Diego to join in some great networking, beer sampling and appetizer munching. I will keep you posted about any news in the industry!

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