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Why iCrossing is to Search Share as Viagra is to Sexual Intercourse

Imagine for a second that I’m a doctor.

Now imagine that I specialize in…ahem…erectile disfunction.

Let’s say the average married couple has sexual intercourse 3-4 times a month–backed-up by most national surveys.

But, I conduct a survey among my viagra-popping patients, and release a report that suggests married couples are in fact having sex 8-10 times a month.

Would you throw out the other data? Or, would you piece this together and say, "wait a minute, of course you’re seeing a higher number?"

Well, that’s the observation I made when reviewing iCrossing’s new study that suggests Google accounts for almost 77% of search engine visitors–compared to the 65% and 71% suggested by comScore and Hitwise respectively.

Either I’m the only one seeing this, or it’s all in my head, but wouldn’t a company that helps its clients improve their Google traffic, see higher numbers like this? Now, I know that SEO firms supposedly help you with all your search engine traffic, so this Google-bias should be negated, but do they? I don’t know a single search marketing firm–or client for that matter–that doesn’t focus 90%+ of its efforts on increasing traffic from Google.

With that kind of focus, aren’t you artificially increasing the search share you realize from Google?

Look, I’m not out to bash iCrossing. I just want to help you connect the dots that this data is no more unbiased than Click Forensics’ reports on click fraud. :-)

  • http://www.highrankings.com/newsletter/ Jill Whalen

    Andy, we see numbers much higher for Google than the typical studies too. But it’s right from the start before we do any work or make any recommendations to clients. So I disagree with your premise.

    Pretty much any site I’ve ever looked at the analytics for has a good 80% or more of their search engine traffic from Google. And that’s often without them ever having done any SEO.
    .-= Jill Whalen´s last blog ..Advanced Forum Thread of the Week =-.

    • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

      I don’t doubt what you see, but I would expect that the majority of clients that come to you have done at least some SEO beforehand–even if badly. :-) This in itself, would skew the numbers slightly higher than the “average” web site.

  • http://www.toprankmarketing.com Lee Odden

    Good catch Andy. You know what they say, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics. ” – Benjamin Disraeli ”
    .-= Lee Odden´s last blog ..Defining Search Engine Optimization =-.

    • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

      LOL – I tend to have a cynical eye when it comes to research published by any company that’s knee-deep in an industry. I don’t blame iCrossing for putting out this report–I know I would have while running an SEO firm–but I just can’t look at this data without seeing the bias.

  • Rob Garner

    Hi Andy,

    I put this study together with a colleague at iCrossing, so hopefully I can help shed some light on the data we found. Your observation that the findings are biased is absolutely correct. The Search Engine Land post stated that the share was for *enterprise* level sites that generally fall into the category of a Fortune 1000 level business. It is by no means intended as a proxy for all search share across the web, but we did cover a wide range of verticals in the enterprise space.

    When we ran the numbers, we thought there was a compelling story here that search share for large enterprise sites is likely very different from that of the “all sites across the web.” I found the individual ranges very surprising in many cases (especially for sites that derived a substantial amount of traffic from Bing and Yahoo), and many other sites were receiving shares well into the 80%+ range from Google. But when averaged out, what you get is a slightly higher share of search traffic from Google, and lower from Bing and Yahoo.

    As far as the aspect of Google bias in optimization, I’ve been on the record many times in speaking, and in my MediaPost column in saying that we optimize for all engines. Maybe this Google skew towards enterprise is more of a reflection of Eric Schmidt’s comment that “the internet is a cesspool, and brands are the answer”, and the data provides some proof that their emphasis on big brands is greater than the other engines, however slight.

    Again, hope this helps shed some light on the purpose and findings of the study.

    Thanks,
    Rob

    • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

      Hi Rob, thanks for stopping by with some additional info.

      I hadn’t even considered the “Enterprise” skewing. Any data on the number of those queries that were “brand” keywords. I would suspect that Google sees a higher share of “IBM” or “Coke” searches, which could be another factor that skewed the share higher for Google.

  • Rob Garner

    Andy,

    Yes, the data included all brand and generic keywords. The share was also calculated for natural search only. This also indicates that searchers who go to enterprise sites may use Google more often, although now I’m curious about brand vs. generic distribution in natural search. Maybe the topic of a future study : )

    Rob

  • http://www.jaankanellis.com Jaan Kanellis

    I dont see anything wrong here. Are some have suggested the numbers for overall Google traffic versus the other search engines is always around 60-80% for me sites as well. iCrossing simply pointing this out to their potential and current clients seems like smart business to me.
    .-= Jaan Kanellis´s last blog ..Jaan Got Married! =-.

  • http://www.toddmintz.com Todd Mintz

    This is the one blog I would have never expected to cross into PG territory :.)

    • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

      I think we still keep our clean rating, I tried to be very clinical with my descriptions. ;-)

  • http://www.toddallison.com Todd Allison

    Andy,

    I always appreciate the cynical eye toward any facts, figures, and research – but I have an even more cynical view of the ComScore data. I think there are biases in any research and the ComScore data may just be biased to skew away from Google data (I’m not saying it does, but there are surely biases there too). I think ComScore, Hitwize, Compete, and the like are “decent” at directional data, but often actual figures are questionable – such as predicting an exact search market share.

    It’s also been my experience that Google sends significantly more traffic than its “market share”. I’ve managed plenty of small business sites that followed this trend – and much like this research, all the Fortune 500 sites I’ve had access to their analytics show the same larger share.

    What about the sites you’ve managed? Have you seen things more inline with the market share figures that has led you to question this?

    • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

      Good point Todd. I’m just as cynical towards comScore’s data–a quick search of this site should confirm that! ;-)

      My own “research” would be very much inline with iCrossing’s–which is part of my observation. Site’s that have been SEO’d tend to have a higher percentage of Google traffic. ;-)

  • http://www.frankthinking.com Frank Reed

    Wow – I can’t believe how cynical everyone is about research numbers! I would never do that :-).

    The research and statistics thing as it relates to the Internet and traffic and blah blah blah is ridiculously imperfect and highly malleable. As Internet marketers we all just need to keep that in mind as we get inundated with data.

    Research is starting to seem as valid as the number of followers is for how influential one is on Twitter.
    .-= Frank Reed´s last blog ..Is Aimless Meandering Just a Part of Social Media? =-.

  • http://doctorv.blog.friendster.com/ Doctor-V

    I have wonderful doctors but it seems that some of their staff members don’t communicate with them much! Does anyone else seem to have this problem?
    .-= Doctor-V´s last blog ..VIAGRA =-.