Heather Hopkins from Hitwise has some interesting statistics about The Sun’s success this month in driving traffic to its site through paid search marketing. The  tabloid outstripped its online media rivals in this area by some distance.

Heather reveals that The Sun received 20% of its traffic from paid search, whereas other news and media sites achieved no more than 3% of traffic in the last month by the same method.

The Sun received 34.77% of its traffic last week via search engines, higher than the average 29.2% for other news and media sites.  

Heather Hopkins of Hitwise believes The Sun is using a bolder strategy than its rivals on search engine marketing:

“We captured 642 paid terms sending visits to the site. The Sun is casting their net wide and buying traffic from Google based on the content they offer. It’s a pretty interesting approach and one that not a lot of publishers are pursuing.”

Their success in this area is partly due to the popularity of the search terms paid for by The Sun. These included ‘richard hammond’ and ‘steve irwin’, who featured in two of the biggest news stories over the past month.

For the search term ‘richard hammond’, The Sun received 93.38% of their paid search traffic, and for ‘steve irwin’ the figure was 86.11%. Both were impressive results considering the volume of news available on both stories.

By contrast The Times, which received 3% of search traffic from paid terms, opted for terms such as ‘ryder cup’  and ‘sudoku’, while The Guardian paid for variations on the site’s name.

The Sun may well be spending more than its media rivals on paid search, but this strategy can pay off, allowing them to boost the CPM rate it can charge its advertisers, as well as helping to build long-term brand awareness.

If this more aggressive approach continues to pay dividends for The Sun, other news and media sites may have to reconsider their own paid search strategies.