Search Engine Marketing Firm iProspect Study Reveals Increase in the Importance of Attaining Top Natural Search Results

Data also reveals more search engine users associate top rankings with brand leadership.

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Ostensibly, a percentage of search engine users ascribe industry leadership to those brands within top results, and believe them to be leaders in their fields given their placement in the results

Watertown, MA (PRWEB) April 11, 2006

According to new research conducted by Jupiter Research and sponsored by iProspect, “The iProspect Search Engine User Behavior Study” reveals that 62% of search engine users click on a search result within the first page of results, and a full 90% of users click on a result within the first three pages of search results. These figures were just 48% and 81%, respectively, in 2002.

The findings of this search engine marketing study are significant, both in terms of the behavior of the search engine user community today, as well as user trends over the last four years. Search engine marketers should take note of these findings and the implications to their businesses that are detailed within the study.

Other high-level findings Include:

  • 36% of search engine users believe that the companies whose websites are returned at the top of the search results are the top brands in their field. This represents a modest increase over the 2002 figure of 33%, but still reinforces the increasing importance search can have on brand lift.
  • 41% of search engine users who continue their search when not finding what they seek, will change engines or change their search term if they don’t find what they seek on the first page of search results. This figure was 28% in 2002.
  • Additionally, fully 88% of search engine users who continue their search when not finding what they seek, will change engines or change their search term if they don’t find what they seek on the first three pages of search results. This figure was 78% in 2002.
  • 82% of search engine users re-launch an unsuccessful search using the same search engine as they used for their initial search, but add more keywords to refine the subsequent search. This figure was just 68% in 2002.

The key findings of the iProspect Search Engine User Behavior Study all point to the increased importance of being found on the first three pages of search results. Couple these findings with the 2005 Jupiter Research finding that 87% of commercial clicks take place on the natural (not sponsored) search results, and it becomes even clearer how critical top rankings are to companies being successful on the Web.

“There’s no question about it,” according to Robert Murray, President, iProspect. “This study clearly shows the increased importance of being found in the top search results. With 62% of users clicking on a result on the first page, and 90% doing so within the first three pages, the message to marketers should be clear, and the implications obvious. After all, 90% is a staggering percentage. If you’re site is not found on the first page – or within the first three pages of search results – you might as well be putting up a billboard in the woods.”

Murray went on to explain, “As search engines efficacy has improved and search has become ubiquitous, users have also become more adept at searching, and their expectations have risen. They know what they want, and they want to find it immediately, and the majority want to find it on page one. And that majority is growing. We’ve witnessed this percentage climb over the last four years, from 48% in 2002, to 62% today.”

However, user expectations aren’t the only thing that has risen – their query abandonment rate should speak volumes. Murray warned, “With 88% of users abandoning their first query if they don’t find what they’re looking for within the first three pages, it should be clear that to be effective, marketers need to take action to ensure that their company is found in the top search results on a broad range of search terms and not just single word generic terms. Marketers make six figure investments in websites without any consideration for how that site will attract an audience. It’s time that companies that are refreshing, re-designing, or launching a new website start with the end in mind. If no one can find it, no one will use it. It will be a wasted investment without a clear search strategy.”

But even beyond the obvious benefits of being found within the first three pages of results, the search engine marketing study suggests that brand equity is bestowed upon those entities listed in the top results. “Ostensibly, a percentage of search engine users ascribe industry leadership to those brands within top results, and believe them to be leaders in their fields given their placement in the results,” offered Murray. “Cleary, this brand lift is a critical element for brand marketers. It not only reinforces the importance of being found in the top results, but also underscores the need for collaboration amongst online marketers and their colleagues in brand management, as search is clearly no longer just for direct marketers.

The study also revealed that 82% of search engine users re-launch an unsuccessful search using the same search engine as they used for their initial search, but add more keywords to refine the subsequent search. This behavior has seen significant growth, as in 2002, this figure was only 68%. “Increasingly,” noted Murray, “search engine users are demonstrating a preference to remain with a particular search engine and re-launch unsuccessful initial searches as longer keyword searches. As such, marketers need to be mindful of this trend, and work to better target these longer keyword phrases so they can be readily found by searchers.”

About iProspect

iProspect is the Original Search Engine Marketing Firm. The company helps many of the world's most successful brands maximize their online marketing ROI through natural search engine optimization, paid inclusion management as a Yahoo! Search Submit Certified Ambassador, pay per click advertising management via their own patent-pending bid management agent called iSEBA®, and Web analytics through their own SEM-configured version of WebTrends. Located in Watertown, Massachusetts, the company can be contacted at 1-800-522-1152, or by visiting http://www.iprospect.com.

Proper attribution requires that the study is clearly identified as the “Search Engine User Behavior Study." Copies of the study can be obtained at: http://www.iprospect.com/about/searchenginemarketingwhitepapers.htm

Questions regarding this release should be directed to iProspect Media Relations Manager, Colleen Reed, at 1-800-522-1152 x1203.

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