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Survey Finds Search Engine Referrals Low

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Survey Finds Search Engine Referrals Low

By Danny Sullivan
From The Search Engine Report
Jan. 3, 2001

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New statistics from WebSideStory's StatMarket service show that search engines generate only 7 percent of traffic to web sites, far below the leading methods of direct navigation or following links. The low figure is very surprising, because other surveys have consistently found that people report search engines as one of the top ways they find web sites.

The StatMarket survey found that either direct navigation or using bookmarks was the most popular way of reaching web sites, generating 47 percent of traffic. Following links was the second most popular, generating 46 percent of traffic. Included in the links total were clicks on banner ads.

The statistics are gathered by measuring traffic to 200,000 sites that use WebSideStory's HitBox tracking service. These sites include everything from large businesses, to hobbyists, to porn sites. The statistics are as measured on Dec. 17, 2000.

Only pages actually tagged with the HitBox tracker get counted, which could have a big impact on the search engine representation. For example, if many people only tag their home pages, then search engine referrals to inside pages (which are common) would be missed entirely.

My suspicion is that the true average of visits generated by search engines is higher, perhaps considerably so, especially when you consider how popular search services are as rated by user measurement companies such as Media Metrix and Nielsen//NetRatings.

Search Engines Refer Only A Small Percentage Of Traffic To Web Sites Worldwide
StatMarket, Dec. 19, 2000
http://www.statmarket.com/SM?c=WeekStat

Release with details of the survey from StatMarket.

Ratings, Reviews and Tests
http://searchenginewatch.com/reports/

You'll find more information about StatMarket on the StatMarket Ratings page, as well as statistics from other ratings firms. Please note I'm working to update these this month. Also see the Search Engine Index page, which provides an at-a-glance look at key statistics about search engines.

A longer, more detailed version of this article is available to
Search Engine Watch "site subscribers."
Click here to learn more about becoming a site subscriber.


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