Yesterday I cited the fact that paid search beat out organic (ie regular) search listings in the conversion rate category. I tracked down the actual figures so you can see for yourself. Plus maybe it’ll get certain people to stop calling me a liar (I’m talking to you, Mom). Anyway, here is the conversion rates based on a Web Side Story study. The percentages are a median of the results for each:
Paid Search: 3.40% Conversion
Organic Search: 3.13% Conversion
The study was done from January to August of this year, during which they tracked 57 million SE visits. Their ridiculous name aside, Web Side Story has a sterling reputation so these results can be considered reliable. Both of these search avenues beat what they term as ‘overall site conversion’, which, I believe, includes visitors who typed in the URL or were referred through some non-Search Engine link.
One notation they did make to the study is that the study participants had professional SEO/SEMs working for them and/or they were experienced in this area themselves, so their results may be higher than most. But they still stand by the findings as the ‘overall site conversion’ benefitted from this factor as well, so the comparison remains a valid one.
Here’s the kicker. An earlier study by Web Side Story, done in the last quarter of 2005, measured the conversion rates of SE acquisitions and non-SE acquisitions. This is different from the above study because ‘overall site conversion’ would factor in ALL conversions, both SE and non-SE. Here are the percentages that came out of the 2005 experiment:
SE Acquisitions Conversion: 2.30%
Non-SE Acquisitions Conversion: .96%
Now that’s a gap you’d want to consult a dental surgeon about. Non-SE avenues would include banner ads, shopping search engines & affiliate links.
The SE conversion rate lags the 2006 results, for some reason. Possibly because people tend to look at more sites while buying at Christmas time. Most do shop around more because of their desire to find that perfect Christmas gift. As opposed to my fail-safe system of buying what’s on the front shelf at 7-Eleven.
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