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March 19, 2008

Top Search Trends

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Hey, hey, happy people. Lunch is over and it’s time to learn about the Top Search Trends. Speaking we have Heather Dougherty (Hitwise), Jeremy Crane (Compete) and Roger Barnette (SearchIgnite). I had a brownie for lunch. It tasted like rainbows and sunshine.

Kevin is making jokes about the SES box lunches and no one is laughing. It’s awkward. He’s dying up there. I giggle at his expense. Affectionately, of course. Who doesn’t love Kevin Ryan?

[20 minutes later: Speaking of lunch – Did anyone have the tuna salad and is now suddenly feeling sick? I’m not trying to cause an epidemic, just asking. I’m not feeling so hot.]

Heather Dougherty is up first.

She works for HitWise and all of their data has been collected by studying 10 million Internet users. That’s a lot.

Google and Yahoo continue to capture the majority of the share of searches – 88 percent combined. Together the four top engines account for 98 percent of the search market share. There hasn’t been much shift compared to last year. Interesting is that time spent on Google has also increased. I noticed from the chart that Ask.com users spend the second most time on site, beating out Yahoo and Microsoft.

How many people are returning to the sites over a 30 day period? Almost 94 percent of Google users return. It’s about 89 percent for Yahoo, 77-79 percent in MSN and mid 70s for Ask.

Besides reach, there needs to be a way to differentiate the search engines by specific objective. They use Mosaic to get segmentation. From there, they compare how the segments translate into the audience of the search engine.

Heather whips out a chart that shows that the majority of Ask.com users are, in fact, female. Which means that if Barry Diller really is turning Ask into a "search engine for married woman" that they would be going after their core market. Whatever. I hate him.

The ubiquity of search behavior drives frequent return visits, creating creatures of habit.

Shopping and Entertainment categories currently benefit most from search traffic, but there is little reliance on specific categories to drive referrals. Using segmentations based upon behavior can help differentiate between the search engines beyond reach.

Jeremy Crane is up to talk about the state of search.

Seven out of ten Web search queries performed in the US are on Google. Ask is the only other engine with year-over-year market share gains.

What about that second click through?

Yahoo searches result in a search referral to another Web site more often than the other major engines. Ask searches are the least likely to result in a referral.

Average search fulfillment: 65 percent for Google, 75 percent Yahoo, 61 percent MSN and 12 percent Ask. Ouch, Ask.
Percentages of Web search queries that result in a referral to another page in the search property domain:

Google – 11 percent
Yahoo – 17 percent
MSN – 5 percent
Ask – 29 percent

The slow death of the 10 blue links: We’re seeing this evolution of the search results page, what it looks like and how people interact with it.

Ask 3D made the biggest impact with blended search. The rollout of blended search has yet to have a major impact on the top 3 engines but the story is different for Ask. The amount of people clicking off an Ask results page plummeted. Shows Ask keeping people in their own domain.

Ask is all about the ladies, or is it?

Among major search engine properties, Ask has the highest concentration of women and Family Oriented users – 55 percent (I love that Google has 51 percent, yet Ask’s bar is about twice the size. Way to not scale things to make them more dramatic.).

Kevin asks the panelists if it’s smart for Ask to target women. Kevin says he’s found that it’s not wise to tell women to do anything. Heh. Heather chimes in that not all women are alike.

Last but not least is Roger Barnette.

Marketer Trends

Marketers are spending more money in paid search in Q1. Same advertiser media spend is up 43 percent. Paid clicks are up 47.2 percent.

Search engine market share is basically flat and has been over the past year with slight gains for Yahoo.

User Trends

On the user side, impressions are up dramatically. Advertisers’ ads are being seen substantially more than they were a year ago. Google is up 60 percent year over year.

Cause for concern: Click through rates declined 18 percent in Q1 and conversion rates have also dropped.

User Engagement: Users are getting smarter and searching. The average number of clicks it takes to lead to a client transaction has gone down 1.43 percent. The average keyword length has declined 6.8 percent to 15.46 percent.

Industry Trends

  • Flight to quality in uncertain economic times.
  • Beginning of momentum towards blending of search and display campaigns
  • Auction media platforms beginning to move beyond paid search in earnest.
  • Marketing demand for better cross-channel marketing attribution measurement.

Okay, that was a whole lot of stats.

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