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Want more referrals in a gloomy year?

Alex Christie

19 May 2009

That’s the message coming out of Hitwise as a follow up to their report last week that paid search traffic is down by 26%. Specifically the share of paid clicks to insurance web sites is down 22% and to retail sites down by 20%. However, search-reffered traffic to finance sites is up 16% year on year and up 9% to retail sites.

search-referrals1

With organic traffic rising, search is the top source of traffic referrals and is increasing as a traffic driver year on year. Here are 5 reasons as to why this is so:

1. Customers’ purchasing cycles are growing in length as they search for best value, resulting in an increased volume and frequency of searches

2. Where companies use their larger online margin to proliferate online discounts price sensitive customers will congregate. With meta data being refreshed at a greater frequency, so discount copy is more up to date and relevant resulting in reduced cannibalisation of natural search traffic by paid ads

3. Purchasing online is cheaper, especially in sectors where there are no delivery charges, increasing the overall savings

4. Purchase-related information is readily at hand. Whilst a good blogger may use clauses and sub-clauses to get to the point, so a savvy online purchaser will be running multiple windows concurrently in order to find their perfect purchase. It is quick and easy to run a price comparison whilst online

5. Referrals from search engines continue to climb but the proportion of clicks going to sponsored or paid listings is decreasing. Is there any doubt that this is as a result of cutbacks in marketing spend due to the recession?

Whilst it is difficult to understand why the number of searches for ‘rocket science’ have been increasing over the past 6 months or so, it is not hard to understand why companies are increasing their natural search spend and feeling the love of more referrals.

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