AOL Engine Tops Search Conversion Rates on Ecommerce Sites


AOL’s search engine generated the best conversion rate at business-to consumer e-commerce sites (6.17%) beating Google, MSN, and Yahoo!, according to a new study released by WebSideStory, Inc. According to the WebSideStory Index, a new statistical barometer that features techno-graphic and e-commerce trends pulled from millions of users who visit websites using the company’s award-winning web analytics technology HBX Analytics, MSN’s search engine followed with 6.03 percent, Yahoo’s search engine with 4.07 percent, and Google’s search engine with 3.83 percent. The study includes traffic from both organic and paid keywords.

Ali Behnam, Senior Digital Marketing Consultant for WebSideStory said in a press statement, “One way to explain the difference in conversion rates is demographics. With portals rich in content and services, AOL, MSN and Yahoo may tend to appeal toward a more buyer friendly demographic. Google, meanwhile, may appeal to more browsers — those with less of an intent to buy.” Furthermore, “All of this suggests search engine marketers may want to consider demographics in allocating their budgets,” Behnam adds.

According to the index, each of the major search engines posted conversion rates well above the median average for all search engines, which was 1.97 percent for the month of January. This compares with a median average of 2.30 percent for the last three months of 2005, which WebSideStory reported on last month. Another important consideration in the study is that the conversion rates are likely higher than industry averages because the sample sites are using best-of-class web analytics to improve their search engine marketing and optimization. Jeff Lunsford, chairman and CEO of WebSideStory, said in the press release, “Our clients are steeped in web analytics best practices and are not buying search engine traffic that does not deliver. In addition, they understand how to convert visitors into buyers once they arrive at the site.”


  1. Excellent article. For the last 5 years I have run many campaigns (both SEO and sponsored) for our clients, largely in travel and finance, and I always make a stand about steering my clients to different search engines, according to their industry sector and offering. In many cases I find that I suggest to clients not to target Google (at least not in the first instance)but to focus more or the MSN, AOL, Yahoo mix of search engines as they tend to represent more shoppers. They also have the added benefit of delivering lower cost traffic with much higher ROI. This has been true for almost all of my clients (except for one large exception!).


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