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How Many New Customers Can You Acquire from Search Engine Marketing?



By Neal Lappe

The major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) remain the number one source to attract new customers online. Sure, we've heard about how social media is the new big thing in terms of online marketing, and that's certainly true – but the search engines continue to be the foundation for marketing online. is the #1 website in the world with more than 40% of the worldwide population using it.  Yahoo and Bing rank #3 and #5 respectively.  While reports vary, conducts about 200 million searches a day – yes that's each day, and captures about 65% of total market share among online search engines. 

So, if you want to market your products and services online, the search engines, especially Google, are among the most important places to be.  But what can you expect in terms of generating traffic from search engine marketing? 

First, there's two sides to search engine marketing, Sponsored Links more commonly known as Pay-per-Click (PPC), and Organic or natural listings.  Sponsored links show at the top of the page in a shaded area and along the right side of the page.  When someone clicks on one of these listings, the sponsoring company pays for each click.  Organic listings show along the left side and they are considered by the search engine the most relevant websites for the phrase being searched.  For the sake of this article, we'll refer to Sponsored Links as "PPC", and refer to Organic listings as "SEO". 

The chart below illustrates typical click activity between PPC and SEO listings.  PPC listings get about 26% of total clicks from a search engine results page (SERP) while SEO gets the remaining 74%.  In other words, if you are only doing PPC search marketing, you are missing 74% of searches. 

In our experience both PPC and SEO work in the right circumstances.  We've found that SEO converts better overall because Google has deemed Organic listings as the most relevant for the phrase being searched.  Consequently, the content on these sites matches well to the phrase being searched.  PPC tends to convert better in a B2C (business-to-customer) environment than in B2B (business-to-business).  However, we have found success for our clients on both sides, and in both B2C and B2B.

How many website visitors can you expect to get from search engine marketing?  There have been several studies on this topic over the years and results vary to some degree.  However, the chart below gives you an indication of the approximate number of website visitors you'll get from search engine marketing.

Naturally the higher you are on the SERP the more click-through's you will get.  Beyond where you rank on the page, the number of clicks you get can be influenced by two things: 1) the bold Title of the listing and 2) the descriptive text under the bold Title.  While some searches just click on the listing without reading it, recent studies indicate that nearly all read the bold Title and more are taking the time to read the descriptive text under the bold Title. 

Upon doing a search for "radial tires," here are two examples of how the descriptive text under the bold Title can make a difference.

If you are like most of us, you are more likely to click on the second listing.  So, even though the second listing might be positioned below the first one on the SERP, the click-through rate will likely be higher.  For Organic listings, the bold Title is the Title Tag in your meta-data for that page, and the descriptive text under the bold Title is usually the Description Tag in your meta-data for that page.

In summary, you can drive significant traffic to your website through search engines, and the search engines remain the dominant way to attract new customers.  Use PPC and Organic listings in the right circumstances, and by making your way up the SERP, you can get a good sense for how many visitors will come to your website via the search engines. 

WSI | Web Strategies Incorporated
Driving Your Business Success Online
PO Box 998, Midlothian, VA 23113 - 804-200-4545 (o), 804-379-1436 (fax)

About the Expert: Neal Lappe, President, WebStrategies Inc.
PO Box 998
Midlothian, VA 23113

Neal Lappe leads a team of digital marketing experts with the primary objective of providing online marketing solutions that deliver measurable results for clients.  The firm focuses on using data and web analytics to develop, implement and measure effective online marketing programs.   

As the firm's leader, Neal is responsible for staffing the company with the best talent and developing people to reach their fullest potential. He oversees all client activities, ensuring excellent customer service, and the highest level of quality control. Rarely found at his desk, Neal thrives in the public business sector and enjoys personally working with clients to develop online marketing strategies and implement their plans.

A sought-after speaker and expert in online marketing, Neal has addressed business owners, marketing professionals and internet marketing consultants in South America, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. His areas of expertise include integrating internet marketing with an overall business plan, small business development, search engine marketing, web analytics and web usability. 

Prior to WebStrategies, Neal spent nearly 20 years in senior management at Circuit City; and has extensive experience in sales, marketing, finance, human resources and operations management. He earned a BS Degree in Business from the University of MO.

Involvement in the civic and business communities has been extensive including  

  • President Elect - American Marketing Association
  • Internet Consultant Advisory Council - WSI International
  • Ambassador - Greater Richmond, VA Chamber of Commerce
  • Past Chairman - Chesterfield County, VA Chamber of Commerce 

In his free time, Neal enjoys spending time with his wife, two daughters and two granddaughters. An armchair social anthropologist, Neal is a reality TV fan. He is also a bit of a fitness fanatic and enjoys hitting the links whenever he gets a chance.

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