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What It Takes To Earn Search Clicks

mouseclickingMarketers often get it wrong. They assume certain keywords will attract consumers to a Web page, but many times that page either remains difficult to find or the keywords tied to the page don't reflect the correct products and services. While correcting the problem means testing to improve the click-through and the retention rates, as well as determining the best phrases, words and terminology, how click-through rates vary depends on referring Web pages.

I'm fascinated by the way search marketers drive conversions.Chitika released a study analyzing tens of millions of online ad impressions from Oct. 1 to 10, 2013, measuring the source of the traffic -- both within a Web site and from another site, or one of several search engines.

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Typically, you might think Google would produce the highest CTR. That's not the case in these findings. When it comes to search engines, users originating from Ask.com demonstrate the highest CTR, but it's important to note that the company's share of Web traffic remains low -- about 2% in North America. Yahoo and Bing follow at 28% CTR, and Google at 17% has the lowest rate when compared with other search engines. Users coming from outside sites demonstrate 14% CTR vs. 11% within the site or 6% for direct traffic. The study notes that search engines may drive the highest CTR because users going directly to a Web page are more likely to know what they want to find. Frankly, I would think that Ask.com would drive higher CTR simply because people are on the site asking questions and looking for answers.

"It is important to keep in mind that these data do not necessarily conclude that a site should focus exclusively on link backs from other sites, nor modify all of its SEO and SEM efforts to attain the maximum amount of traffic originating from particular search engines," according to the study.

Marketers should take several other factors affecting CTR into account-- such as average CTR is higher for Windows desktop users as compared with Mac OS X users, and new site users tend to click on ads at a higher rate versus returning site users. Understanding a site's traffic mix makes it easier for owners to test strategies to maximize clicks and conversions.

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