Search engines are becoming more and more important for online retailers, with the percentage of traffic from shopper’s search queries rising in 2007, with more finding a site via Google or Yahoo than going direct to an e-commerce site.

According to stats from web measurement firm Hitwise, the top 500 retailers received more traffic from search than in the previous year. 72% of firms received more search traffic in 2007 when compared with 2006.

Also, 13% of Internet Retailer’s top 500 list received half or more of their total traffic from search engines, compared with 10% in 2006.

Heather Dougherty of Hitwise says the figures show the value of search engine marketing:
“Search engine-oriented traffic is becoming increasingly more important for retailers as consumer use of search engines continues to rise. Some retailers may be missing out on potential sales and valuable information about consumer intent if they are ignoring this marketing channel.”

Overall in 2007, search engines were responsible for 25% of traffic to websites in Hitwise’s shopping and classifieds category, the same percentage as in the previous year.

Other stats from the report:

  • Online-only retailers receive most traffic from search – 37% in 2007, up 6% on 2006.
  • Catalogue sites come second in terms of search traffic on 32%, compared with 30% in 2006.
  • Traffic from search engines to consumer brands rose by 15% to 31% in 2007.
  • Retail chains received 28% of their traffic from search in 2006, this rose to 30% last year.