WebSideStory did a study on conversion rates for major search engines and came up with some interesting and maybe even shocking results. For the month of January, AOL generated the best conversion rate of 6.17%, followed by MSN with 6.03%, Yahoo with 4.07% and finally Google with 3.83%. Results included both organic and paid referrals.
Some people were shocked that Google came in last. I guess we are just too used to seeing Google being first everywhere. In reality Google is still in its infancy in terms of “buyer friendliness”. Yahoo!, MSN and AOL have been working in that direction from the start: offering anything from instant messengers and e-mail to internet access services. Google started offering a customized homepage, e-mail and messenger services relatively recently and many users of those services can be summarized in two words – “tech geeks”. Most people use either Yahoo! or MSN e-mail services and chat using AOL or MSN messengers. I know people who don’t know what Internet Explorer is (I’m not even talking about Firefox) and all they use is AOL Explorer. Personally, I don’t use Gmail or Google Talk simply because I have been using other services for many years before Google introduced its own.
Of course, all these services contribute to a better understanding of customers and from that to targeted ads in all kinds of services. So it comes as no surprise that Google came in last.