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The most compelling value proposition of SEO is access to free traffic. The beauty of an organic visit is also the credibility offered by search engines when one of your links is ranked towards the top of the first page for any given query.
Think about it from a searcher’s perspective.
A user’s preferred search engine suggested your site was one among what can seem like an infinite number of results that may actually help that user uncover quality answers to her query.
Of course, when it comes to search market share, we all know that Google takes the cake.
The following stats reinforce that notion. Below, we’ve analyzed data collected over the last six months (December 2013 – May 2014) that aggregate organic search traffic numbers from 300,000+ publishers reaching an audience of more than 400 million monthly unique visitors.
Search Engines’ Share of Visits
The figures here are represented as “share of visits,” a percentage of overall traffic — direct traffic, social referrals, organic search, paid search, etc. — sites received.
In this report, we’ve specifically called out the top 5 US search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask.com, and AOL) and observed trends in the traffic they sent to publishers. These numbers shouldn’t surprise anyone. Still, a few things worth pointing out are:
- Search alone makes up about 1/3 of sites’ overall traffic.
- Google is every successful search marketer’s best friend, claiming a 31.04% share of traffic.
- Yahoo, Bing, Ask.com, and AOL each drove less than 1% of the overall visits sites received in May.
- Google alone sends nearly 17 times the amount of visits Yahoo, Bing, Ask.com, and AOL send to publishers, combined!
More interesting though, is the fact that, across the board, search engines contributed a smaller percentage of overall traffic last month (in May) compared to six months ago (in December). Above, you notice the steady decline in Google’s share of visits.
The following chart excludes Google’s data to offer a close up of the downward trend lines for the remaining search engines.
None have fared well over the past six months as other sources of traffic, especially social media, have gained significant share. The top 5 US search engines saw their respective shares of traffic shrink by 17% to 32% since December.
As I’ve mentioned before: Search’s heyday is over; it’s a mature channel.
These days, marketers are executing more strategies that diversify their traffic sources so a manual penalty from Google or a sudden change in its algorithm won’t immediately sink their business. Channels such as social media also offer plenty of opportunity to be discovered and to grow your audience.
Search Engine Post-Click Engagement
Since SEO is still, without a doubt, a significant customer and traffic acquisition channel, it is worth asking: What is a visit from each search engine actually worth?
To answer this, we analyzed three key metrics — average visit duration, pages per visit, and bounce rate — to give us a sense of which search engine delivers the most engaged audience.
The above findings are represented as average values over the last 6 months for their respective categories.
Two key takeaways include:
- Ask.com, Bing and Yahoo drive few visits, but offer the most engagement. Though sites receive hardly any traffic from these three search engines, users that favor these Google alternatives generally stay on-site longer, view more pages during each visit, and are less likely to exit after reading only one page.
- Google and AOL offer the lowest quality visits. Though Google directs the highest volume of search visits to sites, it offers some of the least engaged users. Google searchers are quick to abandon sites they deem unfit to help them solve current issues — on average, 61.26% bounce. Also, Google fans, on average, view the fewest number of pages per visit (2.34). But it still ranks above AOL which has no redeeming qualities. As the US search engine which sends the fewest organic visits to sites, with users who spend barely above two minutes during each session post-click (129.07 seconds), publishers could care less about AOL traffic.
For the full data set, here are three charts that show average visit duration (chart #1), pages per visit (chart #2), and bounce rate (chart #3) for each of the 5 search engines over the past six months.
How engaged are your visitors from your favorite search engines?
Related story: YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn Drive The Most Engaged Social Referrals
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