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Stats, Facts and Organic SEO

Everybody loves lists and statistics. From the annual Top100 movies of all time lists to the Top10 cities in which to live, even the simplest comparative studies can captivate people and inform pop-culture opinions. Folks use lists to prove points, gauge their own successes and get a reckoning on what’s going on around them.

Our love of lists affects us in both profound and subtle ways. Today’s search engine users have long been conditioned to believe that the stuff found at or near the top of a list ranks among the best of whatever vintage is being examined. After all, it was found at or near the top of a list that might contain over 1,000,000 other references. Now, many of those top listings were affected by another group of people who live for lists and statistics, search engine marketers.

SEOs and SEMs take great interest in a number of lists and statistics beyond the Top10 search rankings. One of the most helpful aspects of working on the Internet is the ease of compiling and tracking statistical data. It is relatively simple to find statistics on user numbers for the major search engines and for unique clients.

There are three types of stats that are relevant to a specific client. The first two sets are comprised of external factors and the third set is made up of client specific factors. The ability to combine information from all three areas into a coherent plan is arguably the greatest asset a professional search marketer offers his or her clients. While the information itself runs from the vague to the highly detailed, the compilation of all of it can provide a rich view with a complete background.

When looking at external factors that effect search marketing planning, statistics tend to fall into two general categories. The first describes the overall search environment and search related options available to the client. The second category describes the search environment in relation to the sector in which our client works. Internal stats are compiled with a view to understanding how our marketing plan is working based on the behaviours of visitors and search spiders.

The overall search environment changes from time to time. Knowing who is what and where in the search engine universe is important to knowing who will view your clients’ messages. Some search engines drive more traffic than others do. Some appeal to different types of users. Each of the major search engines has a following though as statistics and common sense tell us, those who lead sometimes lose their followers.

Over the past four years, Google has dominated the search scene. Up until last year, Google fed results to most other search engines including Yahoo, which fed some results to MSN. This outward pollination of search results made Google responsible (directly or indirectly) for over 80% of search results worldwide. After Yahoo and MSN developed their own proprietary search tools, Google’s influence dropped to 54% of search results as measured in the May Nielson NetRatings survey. Following this trend has led SEOs to start paying more attention to Yahoo and MSN both of which can deliver significant chunks of search engine traffic. Search Engine Watch regularly publishes stats about the major search engines.

All search marketers know there are several search tools delivering traffic to commercial websites. While Google is the largest of all, it is important to get placements across numerous search tools. Though there are hundreds, if not thousands of search tools working on the web right now, less than ten of them provide enough traffic to be considered statistically relevant to SEOs and SEMs.

In the organic listings field, there are four major search engines and about six minor ones. Google, Yahoo, MSN, and Ask Jeeves are considered the Big4 as they each have their own unique spiders and ranking algorithms. Following the Big4 are, AOL, Lycos, Netscape, AltaVista, FAST, and Excite. Each of the six smaller search tools mentioned above has some sort of loyal-user following though they are not nearly as popular as the Big4. A primary reason for this is the fact that the six smaller search tools are actually fed results from one or more of the Big4. This brings us to another interesting and essential list for search engine marketers, the Search Engine Relationship Chart. Search marketers need to know which search engines feed other search engines in order to know where to focus their energies for optimal results. One of the more popular versions of this list is found at the IHelpYou SEO Forums.

About the Author:
Jim Hedger is the SEO Manager of StepForth Search Engine Placement Inc. Based in Victoria, BC, Canada.

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Camilla Todd
Camilla Todd is Head of Digital Marketing at WNW Digital and manages Search Engine Optimisation, PPC, Social Media campaigns and Brand Awareness for WNW Digital SEO clients. You can follow her on Twitter @camilla_wnw, email her at or phone on 01392 349580

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