Search and Referrals are Santa’s Gifts for your Site this Holiday Season

Everyone knows that Search is important. So is understanding traffic sources. The trick is learning to combine the two in order to draw shoppers to your site. According to toeMarketer, holiday e-commerce is set to reach an estimated $72.41 billion, growing 16.1% for this year.  Want a slice of this profitable pie? The key to boosting site visits and conversions is to focus on both search and referrals, as most online shopping traffic comes from both of these sources.


Traffic Sources for Shopping Websites in the US

Get data-driven insights from SimilarWeb to refine your marketing strategy during the crazy holiday season.

Why waste your time poring over keyword traffic to find trending searches, when you can just pull what you need from leading retailers? We used SimilarWeb to get a better handle on the competition, by finding and comparing the four top retail sites.

We analyzed the top searches on these leading sites. Understanding which products shoppers are hankering for enables you to really optimize your landing pages, ultimately saving you money on costly marketing tactics.


And the keyword winner is…Xbox One, which is clearly the hot commodity to have for this holiday shopping season. iPhone 6 and other Apple products were also highly popular search items. Electronics in general seemed to rule, especially at Walmart. Despite an immense product range, all of the top 10 searches on this site are related to electronics. Tis’ the season to be digital!

Interestingly, visitors used different types of search terms on different sites. For example, on Best Buy and Walmart visitors were more specific in their searches, while on Costco they tended towards broader search terms. “iPhone 6” and ”Galaxy S4” were common searches on Walmart’s site, while “cellphone” was the choice term for Costco shoppers.

Yet on Best Buy, customers looked for brand names rather than models. Meanwhile, Toys “R” Us is the obvious winner in the children’s category, with searches for Lego topping the list. Like Best Buy, Toys “R” Us shoppers search by brand names.

From these different types of searches, you can draw insights as to what type of consumer visits each retailer. This can also help you fine tune your marketing strategy.


Following on the heels of direct visits and search are site referrals, which are the third-highest traffic source for e-commerce sites. Unsurprisingly, coupons and vouchers are the real deal (pun intended) for retailers and customers alike.


According to SimilarWeb, three out of the 10 top-referring traffic sites are websites featuring coupons and deals, totaling 14 out of the top 100 on our list.Three of these sites –,, and – comprise 8.25% of all referral traffic to the shopping industry. In October 2014 alone, they contributed a staggering 104 million visits. We expect even higher numbers during the holiday-heavy months of November and December.

Deals are not just for grown up purchases, either: out of the top 100 sites referring traffic to children’s stores, 13 were coupon sites. With the cost of children’s clothes and toys always on the rise, it’s no surprise that mom and dad are looking to get a little more bang for their buck.

So for this holiday season – and for every season – a two-pronged marketing approach analyzing both search and referrals is the best way to boost site traffic and make the season a very merry (and profitable) one.

A version of this article was originally published on

About the Author -

Ari is the Sr. Director of Corporate Marketing at SimilarWeb. He has spent the last decade in ad-tech working on the agency side of the business before jumping over to Kenshoo where he launched their marketing activities. He also led the marketing for Adquant, a Facebook ad platform, making it a top 10 Facebook PMD prior to its acquisition.

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