Weather in 2017 is big news, overflowing from weather-specific sites and weather apps to flood the front pages of every news site. But when the winds die down and the waters recede, where do people go to get the information they need about the next big weather event or just to find the chance of a sunny weekend?
Here we look at the two biggest weather forecasting sites which together account for over 70% of traffic to all-weather sites in the US. In comparative terms, the category leader, accuweather.com is neck and neck with cnn.com in monthly visits generating over 50% more traffic than either nytimes.com or foxnews.com.
The site weather.com began as the online arm of The Weather Channel. The Weather Channel is now owned by a consortium of businesses including NBC/Universal while weather.com and the app Weather – The Weather Channel remain the property of the original parent company, The Weather Company. In 2016, The Weather Company was sold to IBM.
AccuWeather began life as a service that provided forecasting services to broadcasters and news organizations before going online as accuweather.com and eventually launching The AccuWeather Network and The Local AccuWeather Channel in 56 markets around the US. The company also operates the AccuWeather with Superior Accuracy™ app for Android devices.
Even as these two sites stand clearly at the head of their category they exhibit different digital strategies. While accuweather.com focuses heavily on mobile web traffic and optimization of that traffic through search, weather.com reaches many more people with its mobile app and gets its mobile web traffic from referrals rather than search engine optimization.
Looking at mobile and desktop traffic together, accuweather.com outperforms weather.com by almost two to one. But the share of traffic to each platform is wildly different. Around 92% of all traffic to accuweather.com comes from mobile rather than desktop. For weather.com the share is almost even with mobile ahead of desktop by less than 1%. In absolute volume terms, weather.com gets more desktop traffic than accuweather.com.
App-wise the situation is reversed with Weather – The Weather Channel installed on 10.7% of Android devices in the US over the past six months and AccuWeather with Superior Accuracy™ found on 3.5%.
Weather.com vs AccuWeather – Traffic from Referrals
Focusing on the mobile web strategies of the two sites reveals some more significant differences between the brands. Since February of 2016, weather.com has increased the amount of its mobile web traffic coming from referrals from 5.6M visits in a month to over 58M visits in October 2017. Referrals now account for over 57% of mobile web traffic to weather.com. Referrals are a far less significant source of traffic for accuweather.com despite increasing from 1.5% to 4.4% in the past six months.
Weather.com vs AccuWeather – Traffic from Search
When it comes to traffic from key search terms, accuweather.com’s performance points towards a well-defined and executed SEO strategy. Over 68% of searches for the keyword weather send traffic to accuweather.com over weather.com. Other keywords including, local weather and nyc weather favor accuweather.com over weather.com by around three to one with the search term forecast over nine times more likely to drive traffic to accuweather.com. Even searches for the weather channel which is part of weather.com’s branding, result in visits to accuweather.com over 40% of the time. It seems that weather.com’s focus on referral traffic means that the site has de-emphasized SEO for driving visits.
Both these weather forecasting powerhouses demonstrate a savvy digital presence competing on desktop, mobile web and with their apps for the attention of weather-obsessed consumers.
Wondering what Similarweb can do for you?
Here are two ways you can get started with Similarweb today!