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SEO Doesn’t Guarantee Blog Visitor Loyalty

Mixed blessings for SEM come from a Boston University study entitled Traffic Characteristics and Communication Patterns in the Blogosphere.

First, the good news: the majority of blog traffic comes from search engines. Search engines accounted for 43% of referral traffic in the blogosphere. Hurray for search engine marketers! Their diagram of referral traffic (below) does not include the 28% of blogosphere traffic without any referral data (probably bookmark or type-in traffic).

referral traffic to the blogosphere

Now for the bad news: “Despite the intimacy between traffic and search, however, optimizing a blog for search engine algorithms does not win the blogs retention or popularity,” as MarketingVOX put it. Yep, all the rankings in the world don’t make your blog well read, popular or sticky. You have to do that.

The Internet Influences Chinese Shoppers?

Despite the Internet’s ever-increasing sphere of influence, the BIGresearch 1st Quarter 2007 China Quarterly Survey finds that the Internet isn’t as influential in Chinese shopping as US. The survey focuses on the 18-34 year old demographic, which consists of 380 million (including 191 million men),

MediaPost states that the key findings of the study include:

  • European brands continue to be preferred above U.S. brands in key categories such as Clothing, Cosmetics, Furniture and Jewelry
  • Consumer confidence remains very high
  • Planned expenditures on electronics are much higher in China than in the U.S.
  • Chinese men and women say surfing the net is #1 leisure activity
  • Word of mouth is even more influential to Chinese consumers than U.S. [consumers] for Electronics, Clothing, Autos and Pharmaceuticals

Social Networks’ Real Influence

Last month, JupiterResearch reported that 48% of Internet marketers would venture into social media marketing this year. This month they were involved in the research behind iProspect‘s Social Networking User Behavior Study (press release). The result? Some pretty good stuff.

  • 1 in 3 Internet users state that social networks have influenced their purchase decisions.
  • 1 in 4 Internet users visit the most popular social networking sites at least once a month.
  • About 20% of visitors to social networking sites don’t search once they’ve reached the site.
  • Search engines still reach a broader audience than social networking sites, thus SEM is still a very important aspect of Internet marketing. (Of course iProspect found that!)
  • The social networking sites featured in the study included:
    • MySpace
    • Facebook

Animated GIFs Help Email Campaigns?

Every couple of days in this industry, you come across a headline and think, “What? No way. How could that be?” Sometimes it’s linkbait, sometimes it’s tongue-in-cheek—but this time it’s for real. Animated GIFs help email marketing campaigns.

I know, I know, it’s so 1999 (and that’s being generous). But the ever-venerable MarketingSherpa has the data (beautiful data!) to back it up.

Why in the world could this be working? There are a few key clues in the article (open access until April 18):

  • They (Lake Champlain Chocolates) tested the campaign to make sure that the GIF displayed properly in a variety of mail clients.
  • They made the file small enough for reasonably fast downloads over high speed (and recognized that their minority of dial up customers wouldn’t be able to see the file).

UK Search Engine Marketing Report 2007

E-consultancy continues to churn out great research on the UK search marketing space, with the release of their UK Search Engine Marketing Report 2007.

Here are some highlights from the report:

  • 68% are getting SEO returns in excess of 300%, with 40% seeing ROI’s of 500% or more!
  • 60% of UK companies are increasing their budget for paid search in the next 12 months.
  • 62% will be making more investment in search engine optimization (SEO) to increase natural search engine visibility.
  • 56% of UK respondents said that their companies spend more than £10,000 annually on paid search (i.e. sponsored listings). A quarter of UK respondents (25%) reported spending of more than £100,000 annually.

Some interesting bad news for Google:

Google Still Growing

Hitwise’s latest numbers indicate that Google, already the clear leader among search engines in the US, is still growing at a pretty healthy rate.
Hitwise search engine market share

All the other major search engines have declined in the last year. Google, on the other hand, now drives 64% of US searches—10% growth over last year.

I like the statement that Search Engine Journal quotes after the chart:

Yahoo! Search, MSN Search (Live.com) and Ask.com each received 22, 9 and 3 percent respectively. The remaining 48 search engines in the Hitwise Search Engine Analysis Tool accounted for 5 percent of U.S. searches.

So, not only did Google grow 10% over last year’s numbers, but now we’re measuring 103% of all searches performed. Cool.

Five Years of Double-Digit Growth Lie Ahead for Online Advertising

Over at Axcess News, Dave Porter takes an in-depth look at recent studies on the growth of internet advertising, and points out the opportunities and the potential stumbling-blocks.

Among the data, you’ll find these encouraging stats…

  • The IAB said in 2006, $16.8 billion was spent on online advertising.
  • Online ad spending in the U.S. rose 34% compared to last year!
  • Q4 of 2006 saw the fastest ever growth in online ad spending.
  • Expect U.S. online ad spending to grow at double-digit rates, for at least the next five years!
  • Local online ad spending will reach $5 billion by 2012.
  • Online media consumption by users averaged 20%, yet online ad spend still sits at 5%.