Study: Big box stores losing search engine battle

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Consumers are six times more likely to be pointed toward independent or Internet-based retailers than to major bricks-and-mortar retailers, according to a study conducted during the holiday season by Internet-Engine titled "Search Share Analysis."
A mere 5.3 percent of the sites displayed by the search engines were for big-box stores. Independent e-commerce stores represented 32.3 percent of the sites. Manufacturer and shopping-comparison sites each drew nearly 21 percent of the search results. The study evaluated search activity for the average searcher, starting with a high-level or category-type search, then refining the search for specific attributes and, finally, looking at a specific brand or model.
"The search terms were entered on the Google, Yahoo and MSN search engines, and the results from the first page were analyzed," said Thom Disch, Internet-Engine's founder/CEO. "This typically included the top 10 sponsored search results and the top 10 naturally occurring, or organic, results."
Ten product categories were analyzed, and 2,000 Web sites were manually visited and reviewed.
Internet-Engine, Libertyville, IL, is an Internet marketing firm providing services such as search engine optimization, Web site design and development, keyword research, competitor analysis and search engine submission.
Mr. Disch said that instead of marketing aggressively through search engines, national retailers have relied on branding, reputation and ad campaigns to bring customers into their locations and their Web sites.
"We think this study highlights the ways consumers are using the search engines to improve the way they shop, and this study helps marketers better understand how they will have to modify some aspects of their retailing strategy," he said.

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