Paid-Search Ads Driving More Traffic Than Organic

Paid-search visits accounted for one-third of total search engine visits to ecommerce Web sites in the first half of 2013, up from 26% in the prior year. Revenue from paid search grew to 44% of total search engine visit revenue -- up from 40%, respectively, according to a study.

The MarketLive Mid-Year Benchmark report aggregates performance data based upon real-world buying behavior of millions of online consumers generating more than $1.5 billion in annual sales. In this report, MarketLive's Performance Index analyzes search engine metrics, and mobile and tablet trends. The key finding points to paid search rapidly supplanting organic search.

Paid search engine visits led to 2.6% more conversions, compared with organic at 1.9%. The average order site from paid search was $113 vs. $109.66 from organic, and drove 7.1 pages per visit vs. 6.8 pages, respectively. The percentage of new visits to a Web site rose for organic during the first half in 2013 compared with 2012. Paid-search ads drove 58% of new visits, whereas organic drove 66%.

Analysis of mobile and tablet trends show tablets leading 33% of all traffic to customer Web sites the first half of this year. Tablet traffic grew three times faster than smartphones; and revenue grew eight times faster. On smartphones, the average "add-to-cart" rate rose 15%, but fell on tablets and desktops. Smartphone conversions remain low, but improved by 24%, about four times greater than desktop.

The findings estimate that at current growth rates, mobile and tablet traffic will account for nearly half of all Web site visits within the year.

Overall, revenue across all sectors that MarketLive supports rose 14.8% during the first six months of 2013, compared with the first half of 2012. Web site visits from search engines rose 10.9%, respectively. While the average conversion rate rose 2.29%, the average order size fell 1.5% to $151.51; abandoned carts declined 1.2% to 72.1%; and abandoned checkouts dropped 3.0% to 40.1%.

As merchants head into the upcoming holiday season, they must have strong search strategies on smartphones and tablets to compete. The report suggests that marketers must think beyond the home page, make it easy for consumers to convert with fewer clicks, build in quality content and build out multi-device options.

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