A study on the internet and how it’s used
- Jan. 31, 2003
Occasionally, in our industry, an SEO professional gets caught in the trap of “I must increase my website's exposure, so I can get more traffic” without giving much consideration to the people who are actually doing the searching. That is, what happens after we get a person to click on a link in a search engine, to your site?
After all, we can do an effective keyword analysis, optimization, proper submissions to get you the most qualified traffic to your site, even focus on building quality links, to help your rankings in the search engines improve even more, but after that, many SEO’s consider their job done.
We don’t consider this the case. In fact, we consider ourselves partners in your overall success. Achieving rankings, which ultimately drives traffic is only part of the job. That is why we consider information like this study to be an invaluable resource to help us further define what we can do for you as your SEO firm.
Over the past 3 years (beginning in 2000) the
for Communication Policy has been studying how we use the internet, and they have come up with some interesting results this year (published in “The UCLA Internet Report - "Surveying the Digital Future"”). UCLA Center
In the first year (2000) they created a baseline on which to evaluate future results. They then query internet users and non-users, and new internet users to get their opinions on over 100 criteria including trustworthiness of information, browsing habits, online shopping habits and more. For the purposes of this article, I will focus on the use of websites rather than other forms of online communications such as email and instant messaging.
Overall, although access to the internet hasn’t increased, the number of hours spent online have. In 2001 people spent an average of 9.8 hours per week, whereas in 2002 they spent an average of 11.1 hours. More people are getting connected at home, than ever before, but many are still using a dial-up connection (although broadband usage is on the rise, while dial up connections are decreasing).
One of the most interesting results of the study is that the number of users who found the information reliable and accurate declined from 2001 to 2002, with fully 1/3 of users saying that they felt that 1/2 the information found on the internet is not accurate. As a website owner, this would concern me. How do you convey to your customers that your information is accurate enough to encourage them to browse (and eventually buy from) your site?
Another interesting fact: The number of people buying online dropped from 2001 to 2002, but the dollar value of the purchases went up overall. What is the main reason people aren’t buying online? They don’t feel secure giving banking or credit card information to a website. Their main concern is that a hacker somewhere is going to gain access to their personal information and use it. Therefore, the internet has to prove itself as a secure alternative to other forms of purchasing before more people feel safe enough to buy. One way to do this would be to implement more secure encryption software, or convey to your customers that you have implemented the strongest possible security on your website.
Another fact: About 1/2 the internet users polled said they waited two years before making their first purchase. Another 1/3 said they waited more than three years.
So, what’s the good news for an e-commerce site? After all, if they are concerned the information they get from you isn’t likely reliable, and they aren’t likely to give you their credit card information to purchase from you, then what’s the hope for an e-commerce site?
Patience. 71% of users plan on spending more money online in the coming years. Again, once people feel more secure in giving out this information then they will. Also, providing reliable, verifiable information will go a long way to proving your worth on the web.
Finally, like any business, if you are established on the web, you will get buyers. Consider your website to be a virtual representation of your retail business. The longer you’ve been around to provide quality service (and reliable information) the more likely a potential customer will consider you to be a “trustworthy” website.
And how do you maintain your position as an established website? Proper SEO with the focus on driving and keeping qualified customers is always a definite asset.
If you wish to learn more about the UCLA studies, please click here.