One of the primary things we do for clients is conduct keyword research to determine the exact search phrases people are using to find information about their product or service.
After compiling a list of relevant search phrases, we analyze the list for volume of searches (popularity), intent (search mode: is the searcher an information seeker?, in purchase mode? etc.), and efficacy (how likely is it that we will have success using that phrase for search engine marketing given the competition and other factors?).
Recent data from Hitwise on “xbox 360” searches will give you an idea of searcher’s behavior. Hitwise released the following list of “Top 10 Sites receiving traffic from the search term “xbox 360″ – based on volume of searches” for the four weeks ending 12/10/2005. The following list indicates which web sites got what share of traffic from the search phrase “xbox 360.”
Based on the top 10 sites that people chose to go to after searching for “xbox 360,” we determine several things. The top 10 sites can be divided into two general categories: informational and ecommerce. The preponderance of the searches were informational, with most people going to Microsoft-owned sites Xbox.com, Microsoft.com and MSN.com. That’s unsurprising, given that the Xbox 360 is a Microsoft product. We also know that a subset of the information seekers looked specifically for news about the Xbox 360 because of the traffic to Google’s news search engine and the traffic to the video game web site published by IGN.
The remaining sites are ecommerce-related. Even if we hadn’t seen the news about Xbox 360 shortages, we could have gotten a hint that there were shortages because eBay was the top ecommerce site people visited. Why would people buy a product at a site where the price is not fixed unless supplies were scarce?
Atomic Park is primarily a software site but also sells Xbox 360s, so their traffic is probably a combination of people wanting to buy the actual console and people looking for information on Xbox 360 games.
Bizrate is a price comparison search engine, so the traffic to that site consists of people looking for a deal.
Shoplocal, as the name implies, is a site where you can find stores near you and, so, their traffic is fairly self-explanatory: Those people are trying to find a store in their neighborhood where they can buy an Xbox 360. The same might be said for Walmart, one of the official Xbox 360 retailers, because they have a store locator on their site.
Finally, when you look at the Xbox 360 searches in the three major search engines: Google, Yahoo, and MSN.com, you’ll notice that the ecommerce sites are not listed in the “natural” search engine results but that they are heavy advertisers in the sponsored sections of the search results page. That tells us that most, if not all, of their traffic is coming from pay-per-click search engine advertising.