Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Web Site Traffic - Free Search vs Paid Search

Following up on my notes on Facebook ads, I thought there might be some interest in the comparison of one of my sites sources of traffic. Specifically comparing free search traffic and paid search traffic.

For some groundwork:

  1. This is a mature web site. It has been around for over five years. So the ratio of returning visitors to new visitors is different than a new site would have.
  2. Very good free search placement. Almost every one of the 100's of pages is a top 5 result in free search for it's targeted keyword.
  3. Top paid search placement. I pay to almost always be the #1 result in paid search.

So here is a quick peak:

Source of Visit % of Total Visits

Google Paid Ads 11.20%
Google Free Search 11.23%

Bing Paid Ads 2.84%
Bing Free Search 2.83%

Yahoo Paid Ads 1.79%
Yahoo Free Search 1.64%

You will notice this totals only 31.53% of the visits to this site.

Look back at my posting on our Long Tail for Keywords and you will see that most of our traffic comes from places we would never have guessed would create traffic. This is something that builds over time.

The result here is that paid search doubles my traffic. If your results in free search are not as strong as mine - always is the top five results - paid search will have an even larger effect. Of course, you have to decide if it is profitable for you. It is easy to get visitors, it is a challenge and constant chore to make money from visitors.

Like my Daddy always told me, that's why they call it fishing instead of catching.

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