Search engines and directories are the main way Internet users discover web sites. Various resources confirm this statement, and the percentages generally range from 42 percent of Internet users to 86 percent.
A January 2001 study conducted by NPD Group, a research organization specializing in consumer purchasing and behavior, tested the impact of search engine listings and banner advertisements across a variety of web sites to determine which marketing medium was more effective. In each situation, search engine listings came out on top. They found consumers are five times more likely to purchase your products or services after finding a web site through a search engine rather than through a banner advertisement.
Jupiter Media Metrix, another Internet research firm, determined that 28 percent of consumers go to a search engine and type the product name as a search query when they are looking for a product to purchase online.
Search engines and directories average over 300 million searches per day. Therefore, regardless of whether the percentage value is as low as 28 percent or as high as 86 percent, millions of searches are performed every day. Properly preparing your web site for search engine visibility increases the probability that web searchers will visit your site.
Additionally, think about your own personal experience. Where do you go to search for information about a company or a product on the web? Where do you go to find a site whose web address you do not know or cannot remember? In these cases, you probably use a search engine or directory to find the information.
Web searchers are not random visitors. When searchers enter a series of words into a search engine query, they are actively searching out a specific product or service. Thus, the traffic your site receives from the search engines is already targeted. In other words, web searchers are self-qualified prospects for your business.
Of course, search engines are not the only way in which people discover web sites. People may find a web address in offline sources such as print, television, or radio. They might click a link to a web site in an email document or a banner advertisement. Word of mouth (referral marketing) also is a popular method of bringing visitors to sites. In addition, people locate sites by clicking links from one site to another, commonly known as surfing the web.
Because millions of people use the search engines and directories to discover web sites, maximizing your site's search engine visibility can be a powerful and cost-effective part of an online marketing plan. A properly performed search engine marketing campaign can provide a tremendous, long-term return on investment (ROI).