For advertisers using pay-per-click search engines, nothing matters more than the quality of search traffic, according to a new survey of nearly 300 businesses advertising on Search123 (www.search123.com).

The survey asked advertisers to identify what considerations are most important when selecting a pay-per-click (PPC) search engine. Eighty-five percent cited the quality of search traffic as the single most important factor. Bid prices and quantity of search traffic rounded out the top three criteria, at 67 percent and 51 percent, respectively.

"When we surveyed advertisers a year ago, search engine marketers said that bid prices were the most important consideration. Today advertisers are squarely focused on traffic quality," said James Beriker, CEO, Search123. "The message to paid search engines is that traffic quality is not to be compromised. Marketers are looking not for clicks, but for ‘e-commerce productive' traffic that yields measurable ROI."

Among the survey's other findings:

  • Fifty-three percent complement paid search with search engine optimization (SEO) efforts to improve rankings within algorithmically-based engines.
  • PPC advertisers use less of other online marketing disciplines. Only 31 percent use opt-in e-mail, followed by affiliate marketing at 24 percent. CPM banner ads finished last with just 14 percent.
  • Sixty-six percent regard PPC search as their most effective method of online advertising, compared with 15 percent who believe SEO offers greater effectiveness. Banner ads did not register at all.
  • Thirty-four percent of respondents allocate at least 75 percent of their online advertising budgets for pay-per-click search engines; another 21 percent devote half to three-quarters of their budget to paid search.
  • Seventy-two percent track sales conversion data from keyword listings, indicating that the majority of search engine marketers are sophisticated about the relationship between traffic quality and ROI.

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