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E-Marketing Performance Blog

SES SJ: Searcher Behavior Research Update

Moderator: Greg Sterling, Sterling Market Intelligence

I wasn’t sure I wanted to attend this session, but the four-star rating got my attention. My choice was between this or social search. From a marketing perspective the information here was interesting and probably helpful in building your overall online marketing campaigns, but nothing real “actionable”. If you’re like me, you tend to always look for what is actionable, but remember that solid actions can never be taken without an informational foundation.

Note: Italics are my own personal thoughts and interpretations, not a re-iteration of what the speakers have said.

Ann Frisbie, Yahoo! Search Marketing.

Online marketing is not a classic funnel. Technology allows people to continue research through every phase. Most shoppers are still researching up to the very end (and even through the end) of the purchase decision.

Internet is the most used resourced for research. The Internet empowers them with knowledge and shoppers rate it comparable to word of mouth.

Searchers are looking to be influenced. They’ll make their own decisions and not just rely on what they’ve been told by those that traditionally already have the answers. Searchers are no more bargain shoppers than the average consumer. Searchers enjoy the research process and take in more sources of information (outside of search).

Those that research online are less likely to change their mind when they purchase offline. 63% (online researchers) vs. 40% (no research online) said they purchased the item they intended to purchase.

Exposure to ads (not just clicking) creates a branding effect.

Bill Barnes, Enquiro

Premapping: imagining what the results page will look like even before the search. They user will know where the relevant information is before the results are displayed. This is typical of people who know where the paid ads are, especially if they routinely disregard them.

It has always been assumed searchers are looking for organic listing when researching but go to sponsored listings when they are ready to buy. Studies show that both groups look at search results almost entirely the same.

Top number of conversions in PPC are #1, 2, 3 and then 7/8 spot. More research needs to be done.

Perceived Relevance: More searches look at Google’s top PPC result but not on MSN. MSN gets hotter on the organic. When MSN is unbranded, more people look at the ads. More reading happens on MSN results than Google results. This was portrayed as a problem with MSN’s results, but I’m not convinced. It would be interesting in seeing additional studies on these to see if less reading (and less clicking to multiple SERPS pages) might actually be a fault of the engine itself, whether that be relevance, layout of SERPs, or something else.

David Williams, 360i

He said something about brand vs. non-brand searches. Made sense, though extremely wordy, but the significance is lost on me. People who click on an ad ten times are three times more likely to buy than those who click on an ad once. This means these conversions cost you more than three times as much than the others to get the conversion.

55% of conversions came from natural results and 45% came from paid results. Consumers using both natural and paid results will click on more results than those looking at one or the other.

Use brands on non-brand keyword landing pages.

Rob Murray, iProspect

In regard to a study on SERPs and searcher behavior:

62% of respondents said they will only click on the first page. 90% only on the first three pages. Only 10% go past page three.

36% believe that when a company in top natural positions then that company is a leader its field.

41% of respondents will change their search or search engine if they don’t find what they want on the first page. 88% will do so if not found on the first three pages.

If the desired info is not found, 82% will perform a new search on the same engine, just adding keywords. More long-tail keywords are being used than ever before.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

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