In today's MercuryNews, Elise Ackerman has an article about Microsoft's response to Google. What's working and what isn't. It's a pretty nice article.
So I'm reading along and I find this tidbit:
Microsoft's page views, an approximation of how long visitors spend at its sites, was down 12 percent in December to 18 billion, according to the research firm. Google's page views were up 90 percent to 13 billion.
Yet she also says:
According to comScore Media Metrix, the total unique audience that visited Microsoft's U.S. Web sites in December 2006 was roughly 117 million, unchanged from the previous year. Google is fast catching up, with its number of unique visitors up 21 percent to 113 million.
Let's see ... unique visitors stable, page views down. This means that Microsoft's sites aren't as compelling and people leave faster. Or so the old logic went.
What I would imagine though is that Microsoft has actually made their sites 12 percent better. Even today, people in my office become completely fed up with the convoluted nature of the Microsoft site. There are sometimes easy links (like www.microsoft.com/powerpoint). But often there are not - and it's a surprise.
When you can't easily find something on a site where you MUST find the information, you click around until you finally find the information you are looking for. That's not a measure of popularity, it's a measure of a captive audience.
Google's 14 billion page views likely have a much higher percentage of willing or intentional page views. Where users find what they are looking for and then leave.
Microsoft's site navigation and their offerings have improved considerably. I still find myself poking around like a maniac trying to find things and then del.icio.using the links as soon as possible to make sure I don't have to do that again, though.
As Microsoft continues to lose page views due to better site design, they will have a happier user base and a more popular set of web sites.
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