Search Engine Optimization: What Drives Organic Traffic to Retail Sites?
AbstractThe lion’s share of retail traffic through search engines originates from organic (natural) rather than sponsored (paid) links. We use a dataset constructed from over 12,000 search terms and 2 million users to identify drivers of the organic clicks that the top 759 retailers received from search engines in August 2012. Our results are potentially important for search engine optimization (SEO). We find that a retailer’s investments in factors such as the quality and brand awareness of its site increases organic clicks through both a direct and an indirect effect. The direct effect stems purely from consumer behavior: The greater the brand equity of an online retailer, the greater the number of consumers who click its link rather than a competitor in the list of organic results. The indirect effect stems from our finding that search engines tend to place better-branded sites in better positions, which results in additional clicks since consumers tend to click links in more favorable positions. We also find that consumers who are older, wealthier, conduct searches from work, use fewer words or include a brand name product in their search are more likely to click a retailer’s organic link following a product search. Finally, the brand equity of a retail site appears to be especially important in attracting organic traffic from individuals with higher incomes. The beneficial direct and indirect effects of an online retailer’s brand equity on organic clicks, coupled with the spillover effects on traffic through other online and traditional channels, leads us to conclude that investments in the quality and brand awareness of a site should be included as part of an SEO strategy.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy in its series Working Papers with number 2013-02.
Date of creation: May 2013
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: 1309 East Tenth Street, Room 451, Bloomington, IN 47405-1701
Web page: http://www.bus.indiana.edu/bepp/
More information through EDIRC
search engine optimization; organic clicks; search marketing;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- L0 - Industrial Organization - - General
- D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure and Pricing - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
- D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search, Learning, and Information
- L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2013-08-05 (All new papers)
- NEP-COM-2013-08-05 (Industrial Competition)
- NEP-ICT-2013-08-05 (Information & Communication Technologies)
- NEP-MKT-2013-08-05 (Marketing)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Yongmin Chen & Chuan He, 2006.
"Paid Placement: Advertising and Search on the Internet,"
06-02, NET Institute, revised Sep 2006.
- Yongmin Chen & Chuan He, 2011. "Paid Placement: Advertising and Search on the Internet," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(556), pages F309-F328, November.
- Benjamin Edelman & Michael Ostrovsky & Michael Schwarz, 2005.
"Internet Advertising and the Generalized Second Price Auction: Selling Billions of Dollars Worth of Keywords,"
NBER Working Papers
11765, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Benjamin Edelman & Michael Ostrovsky & Michael Schwarz, 2007. "Internet Advertising and the Generalized Second-Price Auction: Selling Billions of Dollars Worth of Keywords," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 242-259, March.
- Babur De los Santos & Ali Hortacsu & Matthijs R. Wildenbeest, 2009.
"Testing Models of Consumer Search using Data on Web Browsing and Purchasing Behavior,"
2009-05, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
- Babur De Los Santos & Ali Hortacsu & Matthijs R. Wildenbeest, 2012. "Testing Models of Consumer Search Using Data on Web Browsing and Purchasing Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2955-80, October.
- Baye, Michael & Morgan, John, 2004.
"Brand and Price Advertising in Online Markets,"
Competition Policy Center, Working Paper Series
qt9760k3hz, Competition Policy Center, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
- Michael R. Baye & John Morgan, 2005. "Brand and Price Advertising in Online Markets," Working Papers 2005-08, Indiana University, Kelley School of Business, Department of Business Economics and Public Policy.
- Michael Baye & John Morgan, 2005. "Brand and Price Advertising in Online Markets," Microeconomics 0504009, EconWPA.
- Anindya Ghose & Sha Yang, 2007. "An Empirical Analysis of Search Engine Advertising: Sponsored Search and Cross-Selling in Electronic Markets," Working Papers 07-35, NET Institute, revised Sep 2007.
- Anindya Ghose & Sha Yang, 2009. "An Empirical Analysis of Search Engine Advertising: Sponsored Search in Electronic Markets," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 55(10), pages 1605-1622, October.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Rick Harbaugh).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.