Traditional Retailers Need To Improve Search Presence

    February 4, 2009

Online retailers such as Amazon are doing well with their search presence compared to traditional retailers, according to a study from Internet marketing firm Internet Engine.

"The Retail Search Presence Study" found that online retailers have a very strong presence, representing over 30 percent of the listings shown, while bricks and mortar retailers consistently have had the weakest presence of any group showing up only 12 percent of the time.

With search activity growing more to more than 10 billion searches each month and Forrester Research reporting that 24 percent of all off-line purchases are influenced by the Internet, it is important to maintain a strong search presence.

"On-line retailers have developed and maintained a dominant presence in search marketing," said Thom Disch, Internet-Engine’s CEO and the director of the study.

"To put this in perspective, when a shopper does a search on the Internet, he or she will find three listings from on-line retailers for every one listing from a traditional retailer. I find it very surprising that brick and mortar retailers have not invested more dollars in search marketing, since e-commerce sales have grown 28% since 2006 (according to comScore) while total retail sales have grown by only 3% over the same time period."

Traditional Retailers Need To Improve Search Presence

While traditional retailers have increased their search presence slightly over the past three years, they still remain behind every other group including manufacturers.  "The manufacturers are making a good investment by establishing their web presence and using the Internet and search marketing to get in front of the consumer when the shopper is in the decision making process," Disch.

The study compared paid and organic search results, finding that the organic listings of traditional retailer Web sites have only a 2 percent share of total listings. This is significantly smaller that the share of organic listings for ecommerce sites at 17 percent, shopping comparison sites at 11 percent and manufacturer’s sites at 10 percent.

"Not appearing in the free listings means that the brick & mortar retailers must spend more of their money on paid search listings which ultimately will have a negative impact on their overall profitability," said Disch.

"Investing in search optimization techniques to increase the organic or free listings would help these traditional retailers by balancing their listing placements, reducing their overall costs and increasing their market presence."