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Why Hitwise Added Search Market Products

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Change is constant, as the saying goes. That goes for the way analytic and data firms account for monthly search market share for Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask and others, too. Earlier this week, comScore released monthly market share search stats based on a revised method to collect data. The change, in part, is accounted by for Microsoft and Yahoo's recent practices of publishing contextual links to search queries on their owned and operated properties. Technology continues to change, and with it, reporting methods.

Online competitive intelligence firm Experian Hitwise has launched two Search Intelligence products: Search engine Results Pages (SERP), and Search Term Sequencing. Luke McGuinness, vice president, partnerships and product management at Experian Hitwise, explains the shift.

What data will Hitwise report?

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McGuinness: With SERP Positions we introduce data for the natural rank position of Web sites for the most popular search terms on the Internet. Clients can correlate what natural rank position on a given engine means in terms of actual traffic. This allows clients to understand all of the top ranking terms for a given Web site.

For example, we can report on hundreds of search terms that Target.com appears on the first page of Google search results for, as well as how much traffic they're receiving from those terms. We can also report the actual landing pages to which competitors drive traffic.

The Search Term Sequence product reports on the overall sequence of search terms consumers use when searching online, reporting before and after site visits and use of specific search terms. It is common to see consumers leaving a Web site to continue their search, due to lack of content, product lists or search for competing brands.

Search Term Sequence identifies what searches are performed after leaving a Web site, providing a wealth of information about consumer behavior. As well, when people search for 'wedding dresses,' for example, Search Term Sequence can reveal what search terms users tend to search for before or after that search. Are they more likely to look for 'vera wang wedding dresses' or 'wedding cakes?'

Why did Hitwise make the change?

McGuinness: Search marketing will continue to be the dominant channel for online marketing for the foreseeable future. Both products provide greater relevance to the long tail of search terms and allows clients to better prioritize their paid search spend and SEO priorities. The introduction of these products reflects our commitment to providing the most robust suite of tools available to help search marketers plan, execute and measure their campaigns.

How is SERP determined, what is the methodology, and why and when would companies use it?

McGuinness: The SERP Position data is queried once weekly from the dominant search engines in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. For example, these include Google.com and Google.com.au in Australia. The top 100 ranking landing pages for each search term are then processed through the Experian Hitwise data processing and categorization systems to enable us to correlate search term traffic with the ranking landing pages for each domain on each engine.

How is Search Term Sequencing determined, what is the methodology, and why and when would companies use it?

McGuinness: Search Term Sequencing is created by aggregating all anonymous searches performed before or after a given search term or Web site visit to understand how their queries evolve. Our clients can take their top converting search term, for example, and analyze it using Search Term Sequencing to understand what terms people are most likely to search immediately prior to that term or a number of searches prior to that term.

Clients can use these insights to optimize search campaigns, focus on untapped opportunities and move further upstream as consumers consider purchases. Clients can also analyze what people search for next when they leave their Web site. This helps clients understand what consumers look for but may not find on their site.

How will this reporting differ from the past?

McGuinness: Both products are additive and provide greater relevance to long-tail search terms, allowing clients to better prioritize their paid search and SEO initiatives utilizing our existing Search Intelligence suite of tools.

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