Incoming Traffic, Website Turmoil During COVID-19 In First Half Of 2020

Out-of-stock items and hoarding of products challenged retailers and brands during the first half of the year, creating bottlenecks and outages on their websites. Data shows what brands kept up with changes in consumer behavior that led to ups and downs in website traffic.

SimilarWeb released data Tuesday that analyzes incoming traffic from the top 100 websites across eleven categories during the first half of 2020. 

The data includes traffic from desktop and the mobile web, and provides a year-to-date comparison between 2019 and 2020.

The purpose of this report is to revisit the data and evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on the Digital 100 sites' business growth and marketing strategies.

The average monthly visits to the 60 sites analyzed by SimilarWeb rose year-over-year (YoY) by 4.8 percentage points to 6.1 billion in the first half of 2020. In this case, the company analyzed the second half, which included the holiday shopping months, and compared it with the first half of this year.

The data shows that branded keywords play a crucial role in the ability of the sites to grow. Excluding the Luxury category, all maintained relatively high conversion rates, suggesting that people who look to shop online have higher buyer intent than pre-COVID levels.

In SimilarWeb's report, desktop extended its lead on the mobile web. 

On average, desktop browsing represents 54.3 percentage points of traffic for the categories in its data, up 1.8 percentage points compared with 2019.

The top keywords driving traffic across the set of 100 sites were “coronavirus,” “netflix,” “amazon,” and “zoom.” In terms of traffic, SimilarWeb tallied 60.3 billion organic and paid searches in the first half of 2020.

The percentage of traffic for the top three categories differed by slightly above half. In the e-learning category, took the top traffic share, with 57%. In the resale category, took 55% share, and in the career site category, took 52% share.

The Marketplace category increased in average monthly user visits by 2.3 percentage points compared with 2019. 

While Etsy has the lowest amount of monthly user visit traffic volume compared with other top sites, it saw higher growth year-to-date (YTD) than each specific site, and the category as a whole rose 22.9%.

Amazon was not only the number-one site in terms of monthly average users, but also had the highest conversion rate YTD at 8.4%, which means it had a higher share of visitors who converted into customers.'s average monthly unique visitors tallied 237,226,965 taking 37.6% traffic share. Its YTD change fell 5.1%, with an average bounce rate of 30.6% and a conversion rate of 8.4%. came in a distant second with 126,067,483 monthly unique visitors, with 20.0% traffic share. Its YTD change rose 2.2%, with an average bounce rate of 48.9% and conversion rate of 4.8%.

There were no surprises here. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on brick-and-mortar department stores, with all the top sites experiencing YTD decreases in monthly user visits. The category as a whole contracted by 18.1%.


Organic website traffic, however, rose 2.5%, driven by branded keywords, as well as a 1.6% increase in referrals and a 1.2% increase in direct visits.

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