Value of Search Engine Visits

Conventional wisdom currently holds that visitors finding your web site via any of the major search engines will spend about the same amount, regardless of the search engine that they use.

Data from Viaweb, shown below and used with permission, contradicts this notion. Viaweb provides sophisticated online shopping software and web services for over 100 web sites. It can track how a visitor found a web site and how much they spent during their visit.

The company examined over a million visitors during a four month period and found that those from Yahoo spent the most, while those from WebCrawler spent the least. The results may not be applicable to everyone, but they provide an interesting glimpse at some of the differences between search engine-related traffic.

Viaweb Results

Allspv

These results are based on data taken between mid-December 1996 to mid-April 1997. There were just over 1 million visitors from the major search engines during this time, and they placed over $169,000 in orders, an average of $0.17 spent per visit. There may have been up to 2 million actual search engine related visitors, but due to proxy servers, only about half this number could be tracked. Also keep in mind that the numbers from HotBot and Lycos are rather small, which could skew their averages. The complete data is:

Search Engine Visits Income Avg Sale
Per Visit
Alta Vista

164,369

$37,067

$0.23

Excite

226,321

$26,478

$0.12

HotBot

16,917

$2,513

$0.15

Infoseek

217,448

$26,170

$0.12

Lycos

24,895

$5,302

$0.21

WebCrawler

179,551

$17,943

$0.10

Yahoo

170,522

$53,553

$0.31

Total/Average

1,000,023

169,026

$0.17

Viaweb makes data from the Movie Madness site available to demonstrate its tracking software. You can play with this data, but keep in mind it only provides results for a much smaller sample set than cited from the Viaweb study.

Related Links

Viaweb Value of Search Engine Hits Study
Viaweb, 5/97
http://www.viaweb.com/vw/search.html

Release about the Viaweb study, with the original data and more information about methodology.

Viaweb Demo Site
http://www.viaweb.com/cgi-bin/master/DEMOMGR/

Shows real-time data from the Movie Madness web site.