Compete Releases Ranking of Top 50 Web Sites for August 2010


Consumers Seek Out Retail and Reference Sites, While Map Sites See Declining Traffic

BOSTON, MA–(Marketwire – September 22, 2010) – Compete, a Kantar Media company, today released its ranking of the top 50 web sites for August 2010. Notable movements for the month included an uptick in traffic to retail sites, a rise in unique visitors to reference sites and a mysterious decline in traffic to map sites.

Retail Heads Back to School

August is prime time for students to stock up on essentials and traffic to online retail sites received a back-to-school boost. In line with the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) August retail industry sales numbers, Compete showed that traffic was up for a broad range of retail sites, but there were a few standouts.

Department stores and retailers selling back-to-school essentials saw increased traffic in August, and top movers included target.com (+6.2 percent), staples.com (+22.8 percent), jcpenney.com (+24.8 percent), kohls.com (+23.8 percent) and macys.com (+13 percent). In addition, online shoe giant zappos.com had a 30.3 percent uptick in August and apparel retail site gap.com saw monthly traffic rise 19.6 percent.

Turning to the Web for Answers

The days of the door-to-door encyclopedia salesman are over. Why leaf through a book in search of answers when you can get the same information with a few simple keystrokes? This social/behavioral shift is likely behind the traffic data for online reference sites. In August, reference.com hit 11,981,855 UVs, which is an 18.2 percent increase for the month, while monthly UVs for faqs.org rose by 15.51 percent.

Dictionaries and thesauruses also experienced remarkable month-over-month and year-over-year growth — thesaurus.com rose 17.12 percent for the month and 18156 percent since August 2009; dictionary.com traffic increased 30.95 percent in August, up 688.65 percent from last year; and yourdictionary.com increased 27.11 percent and 31.57 percent respectively.

Map Sites Lose the Road

In August, a month of vacationing and travel for many, some major map sites experienced a decrease in unique visitors as part of a gradual decline over the past year. For the month and the year, mapquest.com traffic was down 2.4 percent and 23.26 percent and MSN’s mapblast.com lost 6.72 and 38.79 percent of its traffic. So why is the traffic to these sites waning?

One reason, said Compete.com data product manager Chris Bulger, could be the expanding use of map features into other web sites. “This integration of more map features may have had a negative impact on the number of UVs. For instance, if you conduct a search for ‘Boston, MA,’ the actual map will often be displayed as part of the search results without searchers having to navigate to a map site.”

Another possible contributor to the decline is the introduction of Bing and its map feature last year. The widening array of options for searchers to obtain maps may be responsible for a decline in the share of web traffic for sites like mapquest.com.

Information regarding aggregate web categories is drawn from the Compete PRO Enterprise edition on Compete.com. For more information on the enterprise offering, please contact Gavin Blackmore at gblackmore@compete.com.