Retail and reference sites saw an uptick in unique US visitors during August 2010, while map sites underwent a traffic decline, according to data from Compete.
Web Shoppers Head Back to School
Most likely due to the annual influx of back-to-school shoppers, Compete showed that traffic was up for a broad range of retail sites, but there were a few standouts. Department stores and other retailers selling back-to-school essentials saw increased traffic in August, and top movers included target.com (+6.2%), staples.com (+22.8%), jcpenney.com (+24.8%), kohls.com (+23.8%) and macys.com (+13%).
In addition, online shoe retailer zappos.com had a 30.3% traffic spike in August and apparel retail site gap.com saw monthly traffic rise 19.6%.
The Answers are Online
Compete credits a social/behavioral shift toward finding answers online, as opposed to in encyclopedia, with likely driving an increase in reference site traffic tracked during August 2010.
In August, reference.com reported 11.98 million unique visitors, which is an 18.2% increase for the month, while monthly unique visitors for faqs.org rose by 15.51%.
Possibly due to many K-12 schools and colleges beginning the 2010-11 academic year in August, dictionaries and thesauruses also experienced significant month-over-month and year-over-year growth. For example, thesaurus.com rose 17.12% for the month and 181.56% since August 2009; dictionary.com traffic increased 30.95% in August, up 688.65% from last year; and yourdictionary.com increased 27.11% and 31.57%, respectively.
Map Sites Lose Traffic in Height of Travel Season
Although August is traditionally the peak of the summer travel season, some major map sites experienced a decrease in unique visitors as part of a gradual decline occurring during the past year. For the month and the year, mapquest.com traffic was down 2.4% and 23.26%, while MSN’s mapblast.com lost 6.72% and 38.79% of its respective monthly and yearly traffic.
Compete analysts say the expanding inclusion of map features in other web sites may be partially to blame for this decline, along with the introduction of the map feature on the Bing search engine in 2009.
Top 3 Sites Lose Traffic
Google had the most US unique visitors of any site, 145.6 million, in August 2010. However, Google lost 1.6% of its traffic from July 2010 and 1.4% from August 2009. Similarly, number two site Yahoo reported 133.3 million unique visitors, down 1.3% monthly and 2.5% yearly.
Number three site Facebook, which reported 127.5 million unique visitors, lost 0.4% of its monthly traffic but a substantial 23.2% of its traffic reported in August 2009. Conversely, number four site YouTube, with 103.8 million unique visitors, reported only a 0.9% gain month-over-month but 18.2% gain year-over-year.
comScore Tracks Back-to-School, Sports Traffic Increases
Using different metrics, comScore also tracked an uptick in unique US visitors to websites in back-to-school categories such as books, apparel, educational resources and consumer goods. comScore also tracked a 5% gain in unique visitors to sports sites from the prior month, and credited a 23% month-over-month traffic increase to Yahoo Sports with helping Yahoo displace Google as the top site in its August rankings.
About the Data: Information regarding aggregate web categories is drawn from the Compete PRO Enterprise edition on Compete.com.