Regular Visitors Far More Valuable Than Search Visitors

Posted on March 20, 2008

The New York Times reports on a new study that measured the value of search engine click-throughs based on whether or not the people who clicked over would purchase something. Paid links edged out organic (unpaid) search clicks.

A recent study by Engine Ready, an Internet marketing company, analyzed 18.7 million visits over two years to Web sites run by 27 of the company's roughly 500 clients. The study found that paid listings had a slight edge over "organic," or unpaid, search results: visitors who clicked on paid links were 17 percent more likely to buy something, and they spent about 18 percent more on each order.
However, both types of search engine visitors were crushed by the people that bookmark a website or just type in the URL - a website's regulars.
But neither of these is the most valuable kind of Web site visitor. That honor goes to the people who arrive at a site by typing its Web address directly into their browsers or clicking on a bookmark. Such visitors, who tend to be repeat customers, linger the longest, spend the most money, and are the most likely to "convert" to buyers, doing so on 3.3 percent of their visits. On average, their visits are worth $5.69 apiece.
The very best type of visitor to have is someone who bookmarks your website, visits regularly or subscribes to your feed. That isn't a surprise but it is interesting to see that this study valued these types of visitors nearly three to four times over those from search engines.

Here's the break down from the study the Times described:

  • Organic Search Visitors: $1.35
  • Paid Visitors: $1.91
  • Regulars: $5.69

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