Search Engines Contribute High Levels of Holiday Shopping Referrals

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While visits to shopping sites are claiming a record share of total holiday season Web visits, search engines are continuing to contribute high levels of shopping referrals.

According to Hitwise, the market share of all U.S. visits to Shopping and Classifieds sites reached their highest weekly levels (week ending Dec. 11, 2004), reaching 9.73 percent (breaking the prior record set Thanksgiving week 2004 at 9.72 percent). Specifically, Google contributed 4.26 percent of visits to shopping sites last week, while Yahoo! Search contributed 2.24 percent and MSN Search 0.54 percent.

“The holiday shopping frenzy is continuing strong on the Web, with search engines becoming ever more integrated,” said Bill Tancer, vice president of research, Hitwise. “While Google dominates overall referrals, it is important to note that the leading search engines vary in their strength to refer traffic to certain categories versus others. Marketers should carefully consider the nuances of each engine in order to maximize their search strategies.”

Top Category Referrals For Leading Search Engines

The top three downstream retail categories for the three major search engines were Rewards & Directories (compiled largely of comparison shopping sites), Auctions and Department Stores (week ending Dec. 4, 2004). However, these search engines are stronger in sending their users to varying retail segments:

— Google sends a higher share of its downstream traffic to Books, Sports and Fitness, and Music.

— Yahoo! Search is stronger in sending its shopping referrals to: Video and Games, Automotive and Classifieds.

— MSN Search sends a higher share of its shopping referrals to Apparel & Accessories, House & Garden and Appliances & Electronics.

Nintendo, Playstation & Barbie Top Search Terms

Among nearly one million unique terms driving traffic to shopping sites via all major search engines during the four weeks ending Dec. 4, 2004, the top brand-specific product searches were: “nintendo ds,” “playstation 2,” “barbie,” “barbie.com” and “bowflex”. Other notable product searches in the Hitwise Search Intelligence tool were: “ipod,” “xbox,” “yugioh cards” and “live strong bracelets”. (See full chart below).

“With shoppers looking to fulfil friends and families’ holiday gift wishes, the top online product searches suggest what could end up being this season’s hottest sellers,” said Tancer. “Video games, consumer electronics and music are among the most sought-after categories this year, while Barbie, Bratz and American Girl are among the hottest toys.”

Of the top 500 unique search terms driving visits to the Shopping and Classifieds category, 86.7 percent were related to a corporate brand (i.e., “ebay” and “best buy”); 10.8 percent were related to generic products (i.e., “sporting goods” and “furniture”); and 2.5 percent were related to branded products (i.e., “nintendo ds” and “playstation 2″).

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Search Engines Contribute High Levels of Holiday Shopping Referrals
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