Tag Archives: hitwise

Digital Marketing

Volcano erupts in Iceland. People change their searching habits.

Recently we’ve looked at how the weather and the World Cup have change what people search for on Google: it looks like a volcano can do it too.

We all know what huge effects the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland has had on air travel. Recent data released from online traffic monitoring firm Hitwise UK has shown how it has changed what we’re searching for.

Up to the 10th of April, there were only around 1,000 different search terms that included the word ‘volcano’. The week after, this number exploded to 10,000.

The eruption also had a huge impact on visits to aviation websites, which were up 45% that same week. People were very concerned about how this extreme event would affect their travel plans, but this didn’t stretch to trying to find out more about future impact – weather website traffic was unaffected.

Whilst air travel traffic surged, so did that of trains: Visits to eurostar.com were up 67%, and to ferry companies by 59%.

Here’s a graph from Hitwise:

Are you in related area? Did the volcano eruption affect traffic to your website? Have other events changed the number of visitors you have? Leave us a comment below.

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Its all about the Bing

Research from Hitwise UK out this week shows how well Microsoft’s the new search engine ‘Bing’ is getting on in the UK. We revealed just a few days ago how the US market has taken to the Bing. But whilst Americans are bombarded with a $100m advertiBing campaign (do you see what I did there) to promote the new engine, over here we’ve had to be content with a few niche press releases.

The UK stats show that following the official June 3rd launch Bing’s market share grew significantly. If you exclude Google US and UK, Bing was the third ranked search engine, making up almost 11% of the UK market. After the launch hype, traffic has declined although the average length of visit has grown to over 8 minutes.

And what are people looking for on Bing? Well the top search term for the week ending 6th June was ‘facebook’, which made up 3.94% of all searches.

Branded terms (those that include a company or product name) make up the other big numbers (as usual), but despite that there are 5 generic terms in Bing’s top 100.

More of a concern for Bing is that a significant proportion of its ‘downstream’ traffic – those websites that people visit after having been on Bing -were other search engines. This suggests that people tried Bing our before returning to their favourite search engine.

And another concern for Bing is who they are stealing market share from. Most people visiting Bing came from MSN UK- another of Microsoft’s search engines. There’s obviously not a lot of point in building a brand new search engine if the only people who end up using it were previously customers of your other search engine. Microsoft would clearly rather convert users from Google and Yahoo.

Here’s a graph showing UK visits to Bing, from Hitwise.

Have you tried Bing yet? If so, what do you think? And does your WebEden website rank well in Bing’s Search Engine Results Page? Leave us a comment below.

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Swine Flu is good news for WHO. Well, their web traffic…

Research from Hitwise UK this week showed the impact of world events on Internet traffic. The outbreak of Swine Flu in April boosted traffic to the World Health Organisation and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by more than 200% each in just 4 days.

Here’s a graph from Hitwise that shows their traffic.

And of course it also has a huge impact on what people are searching for. UK searches for ‘swine flu’ increased 58-fold for the week ending 2nd May. Of the 10.9 million different search terms that Hitwise monitored over this period, ‘swine flu’ was the 20th most popular.

And as we’ve discussed before, this booming interest in swine flu has meant the cyber squatters have moved in. This is good news of course if your website is all about flu symptoms. But for the rest of us, we can only watch (with our facemasks poised). Time to use the WebEden Website Maker to write about Swine flu?

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Twitter now the 50th most visited Website

More interesting research is out this week, once again from Hitwise. It shows the continuing growth in traffic of Twitter. UK visits to the micro-blogging service have gone up 6 times this year, and are up an amazing 32 times between March 2008 and 2009.

Here’s a nice graph:

This is despite the fact that other research has found that 60% of Twitter users leave in the first month.

Twitter has now entered the top 50 websites in the UK, outranking major players such as he Daily Mail, RightMove, MSN UK Search, Directgov, and all retail websites – with the exception of eBay, Amazon UK, Play.com and Argos.

Even though it has had such strong growth, Twitter is still only ranks the 5th most popular social networking site.

But where is the traffic coming from? Its perhaps an indication of the increasing interconnectedness of social networking platforms, that Twitter’s largest source of traffic is actually Facebook, which makes up almost 20% of all its’ visits. Its possible to ‘tweet’ from your Facebook page, and you can also update your Facebook status from twitter too.

But once people arrive on Twitter, they’re also following links they find there in order to move on: twitter is the 36th biggest source of traffic to other UK websites.

The top four downstream categories of websites from Twitter are Entertainment, Social Networks, News & Media and Lifestyle.

Are you tweeting? Do you want to follow WebEden on twitter? Do you see the point? Leave us a comment below.

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Country people spend more time online

Hitwise UK produced some research at the back of last year that broke down Internet use in the UK by city, county and region.

I’m not sure if you’ll be surprised by this – I certainly was – but the data indicates that people living in the country spend more time online than their urban counterparts. The activities that they out-participate city dwellers in are online shopping and social networking.

I had always made the assumption that people living in cities would spend more time online. First of all, I thought that ‘new’ things came to cities first, and whilst the Internet isn’t new then at least urban people would have had a head start in all things ‘online’. Also people living in cities are exposed to a lot more advertising (free newspapers, public transport, outdoor). And since advertising is often packed with technology – the UK’s biggest advertisers are often technology companies such as telecoms giants – that this would drive greater use. Then last of all is the physical reality of getting a broadband connection. If you live in the city you’ve got the option of adsl, fibre, free wi-fi or 3G, Not many rural places can boast all of those.

Hitwise analysed user behaviour for a four week period and found that city populations were least likely to visit an online retailer, whilst those in Wales and the South West showed the greatest propensity. And when it came to social networking, London was the most under-represented. The keenest social networkers were residents of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

On reflection, this sort-of fits. People living in cities live right by shops, so why bother shopping online? And in living in proximity to so many people, maybe they’re less keen to socialise online too? There’s no doubt that city people keep longer work hours, so maybe it just comes down to a plain old lack of time.

What does this research mean if you’re building a website? Well I’m not sure I can find anything for you. I would love to be able to deliver an easy conclusion; for example, make your shopping site appeal to the sensibilities of a villager. But what are those sensibilities? I’m sure I could only come up with a few stereotypes.

Of course, whilst the urban population might be under represented as website visitors, they still outnumber rural dwellers by a huge margin. So like it or not: your website visitors will still most likely be living in a town or city.

Are you just targeting one or other group? How has that influenced your web design? Leave us a comment below.

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Search Queries are getting longer

Search queries – the words that we type into the search box on Google (or Yahoo, or MSN) – are getting longer, according to research from Hitwise.

Whilst this data is US specific, the same factors apply here in the UK.

In previous years the vast majority of searches were single, two or sometimes three word combinations. These days searches of four words and up are on the rise. In fact, more than 50% of searches are now at least three words long. And a third are four words or longer.

Here’s the table:


From this, you can see that 1 and 2 word queries are actually becoming less common.

Hitwise say the trend for longer search queries is ever increasing. These longer search queries are often referred to as the ‘long tail’ of search terms.

What does this mean if you’re building a website? At the most basic level, people using search engines are getting a lot more specific about what they’re looking for. This is possibly because Google is getting better at delivering results that are more relevant to them.

This has a significant impact in terms of both your Search Engine Optimisation efforts and also your Pay Per Click activities. (We’ll be producing a Pay Per Click guide soon – so keep reading).

The main action you need to take is to make sure your website is optimised for keywords that are very specific to your business. People who are using very specific (and therefore longer) search queries are more likely to carry out an action when they arrive on your site. They have a clearer idea of what they want, have moved along from the ‘research’ phase of their searching, and are ready to take the next step. If they find what they want on your website then they will buy / leave their details / make an enquiry.

For example, a few years ago if you ran a bed and breakfast in Somerset you might have wanted to focus your efforts on keywords such as ‘b&b’, bed and breakfast’, ‘West country.’. When your website popped up in the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) you would have had to rely on those people who were looking for a B&B in the West Country to pick out your website.  These days it might make more sense to look at longer tail keywords such as ‘b&b exmoor’, ‘cheap b&b somerset’, or even (and of course only if its relevant), ‘award winning bed and breakfast near horse riding’.

Whilst the number of visitors won’t be huge, those that do arrive your website will be highly relevant to your site, and therefore more likely to carry out an action when they get there.

Have you had any direct experience of changing your keywords that you can feedback to other readers? Leave us a comment below.

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What are you searching for?

More research from HitWise this week reveals the subjects that we, as a nation, are most interested in.

Hitwise analysed the top 1,500 search terms from Google, Yahoo and MSN for the last three months of 2008. They then placed each search term in a category. For example, the search term ‘the apprentice’ was placed in the category ‘TV’; and ‘Coldplay’ was in ‘Music’.

And the result? It seems that as a nation we’re obsessed with TV and online gaming. If you take out non-brand searches, over 14% of searches are related to TV, and just under 14% are related to Online Gaming (such as World of Warcraft). The next three categories are Travel, Sport and Finance.

Breaking it down further, the most popular search terms in the TV category were ‘strictly come dancing’, ‘eastenders’, ‘x factor’ and TV listings. So as we mentioned in our blog post about the UK’s most searched for celebrity, we haven’t completely lost our interest in pop, soaps and that sort of thing.

Delving further into the other top categories, here’s the top search terms for each sector:

Online gaming:
games
free online games
car games
free games
cooking games (really!)

Travel:
train times
cheap flights
cheap holidays

9 out of the top 10 sport related terms were football related, with ‘arsenal’ topping the list. ‘F1’ was the only one from any other sport.

And when it comes to finance, the list was headed by ‘currency converter’. The words ‘exchange rate’ were right up there too. So it seems the weakness of the pound is on lots of people’s minds.

What does this mean if you’re a website builder? Well one thing to take from it is that if your business or hobby falls into one of the popular search areas, you have the potential to get lots of visitors to your website. Follow our search engine optimisation guide (SEO) to maximise your chances. Of course what also might be true is that since these are the most popular search terms, they might be the most competitive too. Therefore work out which niche you are best catering for, and concentrate your SEO in that area. For example, if you run a B&B in Somerset, near Exmoor and you specialise in horse riding too, then make sure you’re optimising not just for ‘B&B’ and ‘Somerset’, but also ‘Exmoor’, the local town, and possibly horse riding in Somerset, Exmoor, and the local town.

What are you searching for right now? Leave a comment below.

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The most searched for UK Celebrity

More research from HitWise, the website traffic measurement company, was out this week. This time it revealed the most searched for celebrities in the UK. This is a top ten long dominated by the stars of pop and soap, and closely mirrors the amount of coverage they generate in the red tops.

So who is the top this year then? Paris Hilton? Jordan? It’s perhaps an indication of these austere times, or maybe a drop in the intensity of our celebrity obsession, but these year’s list topper isn’t a star of screen or stage, but a hero of frugality instead. Martin Lewis, the person behind ‘consumer revenge’ website Money Saving Expert was the most searched for personality in the three months ending January 2009. On top of that, Martin’s website moneysavingexpert.com was the 100th most visited site in the last 3 months.

Second in the list was Barack Obama, another sensible persons’ search term. Barack received 11% less searches than Martin.

The presence in the top ten of a couple of WAGs and some other tabloid fodder shows we haven’t completely turned our backs on ‘traditional’ celebrities.

Here’s the full list:

1. Martin Lewis
2. Barack Obama
3. Diana Vickers
4. Britney Spears
5. Leona Lewis
6. Cheryl Cole
7. Georgina Baillie
8. Miley Cyrus
9. Nicola Mclean
10. Katy Perry

Well I suppose a straw poll of us website builders might reveal a different list again. We’re all searching for heroes of the web, aren’t we? Like Tim Berners-Lee- the ‘founder of the Internet? Another might be Bill Gates? Eric Schmidt (Google CEO)? Or maybe Jakob Nielsen (the website usability guru)?

Who is in your top 10? Leave us a comment below.

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The Top UK Websites for 2008

HitWise UK, the online website traffic measurement company, have just published some great website statistics for 2008. Its all about the top websites, with the highest traffic, the ones with the most visitors; and all that kind of thing.

Its useful to see who is being really successful at generating traffic to their website, since you can try and emulate the way they’ve generated success.

First off, its clothes shops. UK internet traffic to online clothes shops went up almost 18% between February 2008 and February 2009. This website category now makes up 1 in every 10 visits on online shops.

Here’s the top 10

1. www.next.co.uk
2. www.asos.com
3. www.topshop.com
4. www.riverisland.com
5. www.newlook.com
6. www.mandmdirect.com
7. www.dorothyperkins.co.uk
8. www.mothercare.com
9. www.monsoon.co.uk
10. www.jdsports.co.uk

Food and drink websites are also booming in the UK, due to the economic climate, since more people are looking to entertain at home.

Here’s the top ones:

1. www.bbc.co.uk/food
2. uktv.co.uk/food
3. www.deliaonline.com
4. www.waitrose.com
5. www.bbcgoodfood.com
6. www.channel4.com/food
7. www.qype.co.uk
8. www.jamieoliver.com
9. www.laithwaites.co.uk
10. www.sugarvine.com

The economic downturn and improved online services has also resulted in a 13% increase in traffic to Government websites.

Again, here’s the top 10:

1. www.metoffice.gov.uk
2. www.direct.gov.uk
3. www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk
4. www.hmrc.gov.uk
5. www.nhs.uk
6. www.dvla.gov.uk
7. www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
8. www.opsi.gov.uk
9. www.dsa.gov.uk
10. www.standards.dfes.gov.uk

Is your website one of the the top 10 in your market? Even if you already are, take a look at the keywords your most successful competitors are targeting, and make sure you are using them too. As we showed you in our Search Engine Optimisation guide, its really easy to use the WebEden Sitebuilder to change your keywords. Any comments, please leave them below.

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Search Engines deliver half of all website traffic

On average, almost half of all traffic that arrives on a website comes through search engines. This is according to recent research published by Internet traffic measurement company Hitwise UK.

Whilst in January 2008 search engines contributed 37.1% of total traffic to websites, by January 2009 this had climbed to a whopping 40.5%.

Here’s a graph from HitWise:

Apart from anything, this shows that if you want more visitors to your website, you need to make sure that your website appears high up in the search engine results page (SERPs). Read our guide to search engine optimisation to boost your website up the SERPs.

The dominance of search engines in website traffic is a huge opportunity for small businesses. Big brands used to be able to dominate the media landscape. What small company has the money to buy advertising on television, in national newspapers or in glossy magazines? But when it comes to search engines the game has changed. You don’t need big  budgets to reach out to potential customers, just an understanding of how search works, and a product or service that people want.

The flip side is that search has made it harder for large companies to ‘own’ consumer interest. Just because you’re a big brand it doesn’t mean you’re going to appear high in the search results. And spending lots of money on search doesn’t necessarily mean lots of traffic. A well optimised website of a small business or an individual will beat a poorly optimised big company website every time.

Just search for a common household product and you’ll see that the results page is full of unknown websites and unknown brands. None of these could afford to buy airtime of on TV. Before search engines, how would these brands have been able to reach potential customers?

The other interesting information arising from this research is the way in which we are now using search engines. 90% of the top 1,500 terms were brand specific. This means that people are using search engines to navigate the web, rather than typing a website’s address directly into the address bar. That’s the same sort of user behviour as seen in Japan, where people almost always use search engines rather than type in a domain name.

Do you a have a big budget competitor that you’ve managed to beat in the SERPs, using the WebEden website making tool? Leave us a comment below.

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