May 5, 2004, 12:00 AM

The importance of showing up early

The conventional wisdom has long been that it’s important for marketers out for share to place high in search results. Now there’s evidence that it`s even more important for some than for others.

The conventional wisdom has long been that it’s important for marketers out for share to place high in search results. Now there’s evidence that it’s even more important for some than for others. A study of search engine use that sliced responses from 1,649 web users by demographic factors has found that retailers aiming for certain groups are likely to miss those targets if they don’t appear early in results listings.

When segmenting responses by four occupations-IT or MIS professional, educator, homemaker and student-homemakers more than any other group said they don’t review more than the first page of search results. 52.2% said they don’t look beyond the first page. Educators were slightly more willing to dig deeper into results, with 40% saying they don’t look beyond the first page, followed by IT/MIS professional, 38.2%, and students, 27.2%. “For sites like Tupperware.com and BettyCrocker.com, failing to appear in the top ten search results means over 50% of potential visitors, leads and customers will never find your web site for the majority of your targeted keywords,” says Fredrick Marckini, CEO of search engine marketing firm iProspect.com Inc., which sponsored the survey.

The survey also found that 44% of female users don’t review more than the first page of results, while only 37.3% of male users don’t look beyond the first page. “Failure to appear on the first page of results for marketers targeting women essentially cedes 44% of the market to competing sites that do appear on the first page,” Marckini notes.

For marketers to all demographics, survey findings confirm the power of search engine marketing-if they can find a way to place high in results. 98.8% of Internet users said they use search engines, with 56.3% doing so at least once a day. However, they rarely look beyond the first three pages of results. 81.7% say they launch a new search if they aren’t satisfied by what they find in the first three pages of search results, while 18.6% do so after viewing the first page of results and 22.6% look only at the first few listings on the first page.

“Failing to get your web page into at least the first three pages of search results for keywords that relate to their products or services is equivalent to not having a web site in the eyes of 80% of online users,” Marckini says. m

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