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What you will read in this post:

  • Understand holiday season traffic trends
  • Optimize for strong SEO and PPC keywords
  • Analyzing keyword-driven traffic for seasonal marketing
  • Which sites won the most keyword traffic?
  • Black Friday marketing: November 2019
  • Christmas marketing strategy: December 2019
  • Build strong display and referral partnerships
  • Analyze historic conversion data
  • The biggest display and referral sites (and the brands winning traffic)
  • Black Friday marketing strategy: November 2019
  • Christmas marketing: December 2019

Already imagining the taste of the delicious holiday meals and the laughter of your kids when the entire family comes together? Sorry, we know you’re a marketer; you don’t have time for that. You’re busy worrying whether you have everything you need so your marketing strategy can ensure the biggest possible chunk of holiday traffic and generate maximum sales.

This post investigates seasonal marketing statistics of the past few years and provides some eye-opening insights from SimilarWeb’s Digital Marketing Intelligence that helps plan your seasonal marketing.

But first, let’s quickly look at how the COVID-19 pandemic changed consumer preferences and spending this year. Keep these in the back of your mind when you set goals for this year’s holiday marketing strategy.

According to a recent report published by McKinsey & Company, consumer behavior has shifted in five main areas:

  • Increased online buying
  • Increased interest in household goods
  • Higher focus on essentials (health, hygiene, security, and sustainability) 
  • More mindful buying (consumers are researching more, looking for cheaper alternatives and value)
  • More readiness to break loyalty to a brand

Pay attention to the last point. Consumer loyalty has suffered during the time of crisis. This can be meaningful for your retention marketing and also serve as an opportunity for your acquisition marketing and content SEO strategyOne thing is for sure: Competition is going to be more fierce than ever during November-December.


Content created in partnership with SmilarWeb.

Holiday Marketing 2020

It’s now more crucial than ever to know how to leverage your digital marketing channels and optimize campaigns in real-time to reach relevant consumers and stay ahead of the competition. You need the most up-to-date data on overall traffic trends and impactful digital marketing strategies to ensure you can pivot and optimize campaigns as trends emerge.

So digital marketers, to learn how to stand out from the countless online businesses vying for your customers’ attention away from, tune in as we deep dive into SimilarWeb Pro data focused on SEO, PPC, and affiliate channels.

This article will help you understand the data behind seasonal marketing and how to translate it into a strong digital marketing strategy. Make sure you are well-positioned to beat the competition.


Prime Day isn’t usually part of the official holiday season. However, in 2020 “usual” doesn’t count. Due to the wrinkle of COVID-19, Prime Day was pushed back and correlated with the seasonal kickoff this year.

We decided to look at its impact in previous years to understand how this might affect the shopping-heavy fourth quarter of the year and help you draw conclusions for your holiday season marketing push.

Amazon’s annual two-day event has grown in significance over the past few years and not only impacts amazon.com (and it’s dozens of subdomains), but the whole ecommerce space.

In 2019 we witnessed more than 8% growth in traffic during the Prime Day week, compared to the year before. Shopping in December has been increasing over the years as well. Meanwhile, traffic during the Black Friday-Cyber Monday week did not increase in 2019 compared to 2018 when a record growth of 12% year-over-year (YoY) occurred.

This year we are faced with the question: How will COVID-19 impact consumer behavior during the holidays? Analyzing shopping behavior on Prime Day may indicate what you can expect for the remainder of the year.

According to Amazon, 2020 Prime Day sales topped last year’s by almost 40%. And based on our data, half of the 50 best-selling products are private label brands. That’s good news for ecommerce. Or is it? Forbes tells us that Amazon avoids comparing numbers with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so we are wondering if Prime Day sales met the goals.

Looking at the data provided by SimilarWeb’s digital marketing intelligence tool, we see that non-amazon retailers saw increased traffic of just below 30%.

Target, for example, created a rival Deals Day, which led to a 54% week-over-week (WoW) traffic increase. BestBuy, with its exceptionally attractive deals, experienced the most significant growth among top retailers. Next in line was Costo with a traffic increase of 59%.

It looks like last year’s trend for Prime Day continued. If this is true for the remaining two months of 2020, Black Friday will be less significant, and shoppers in December will look for the best deals. For marketers, it means now’s the time to buckle up; you might need an extra-aggressive holiday marketing strategy.

Optimize for strong SEO and PPC keywords

However heavy holiday traffic in 2020 will be, you need to grab your share. It’s a good time to review your keyword strategies for SEO and PPC. After all, they are both major traffic drivers.

SEO means optimizing your website’s content, structure and user experience according to Google’s Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). This starts with an effective keyword research for organic searches and competitor analysis, followed by a review of your pages, and optimization of your pages according to your research findings.

For SEO, it’s crucial that your pages stay focused on the topic at hand which means your meta tags need to be relevant and your pages need to include related and relevant information around the right focus keyword.

Another important factor is that your content needs to be linked to from other pages on your site as well as from other websites. As your content pages gain authority and rank over time, they will move up the SERP.

The process of optimizing your pages should have started months ago so, now is an excellent time to re-check your internal linking, meta titles, and image ALT tags and ensure everything is in the right place.

It’s also critical that you check search volume changes and new trending keywords to make sure you’re still targeting the best keywords. People’s searches are constantly changing so there may be a new keyword phrase growing in search volume that your competitors aren’t targeting yet. The closer we get to the holidays, the more competition gets fierce over major seasonal terms.

Keyword analysis for PPC is one of those critical tasks for the holiday season. To get optimal results with PPC, you have to be on the ball with the latest trending keywords.

This is the time to finalize your budget, adjust your bids and overall strategy, so you can easily adapt and pivot during the busier times ahead as you see campaign results and understand how your audience is responding. You may also want to adjust based on what your competitors are doing to drive clicks.

Analyzing keyword-driven traffic for seasonal marketing

During the holiday period, brands largely dictate what shoppers are searching for. That’s because consumers don’t want to miss out on their uncounted deals and special offers.

For you, this is an opportunity to hook onto the right keywords and go head-to-head with your biggest competitors. It’s a once-in-the-year chance to “steal” large amounts of traffic from under their nose and convert them into paying visitors. Once you’ve acquired new customers, it’s hard for others to win them back.

How do we know this? Our keyword research tool provided us with data from previous years. Contrary to other keyword research tools, SimilarWeb Pro leverages actual user search queries and clicks to provide highly reliable data.

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You can use the tool to receive the freshest keyword-related data and identify trends before anyone else. Can you see how you would lead the keyword competition for paid traffic? The tool also lets you generate and prioritize keywords, optimize traffic share, benchmark against your industry, and more.


Next, we want to see if brands also snatch the majority of the traffic. Spoiler: No! SimilarWeb data shows that publishers and Black Friday sites receive the majority of search traffic in the U.S..

This underlines the importance of partnering with affiliate and coupon websites- such as Slickdeals and CouponChef – that know how to leverage search traffic and seasonal trends. The top winners were bestblackfriday.com and blackfriday.com, both with approximately 11% traffic share, followed by bestbuy.com and walmart.com at around 9%.

Which sites won the most keyword traffic in the holiday season?

Black Friday marketing: November 2019

A review of popular keywords in November 2019 shows that three out of the top ten paid search keywords were related to gaming, representing 24% of total paid search traffic.

Battlefield 5′, ‘Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’, and ‘Fire Emblem Warriors’ were popular video games, and it’s fair to assume that they appeared on innumerable wish lists that people were attempting to fulfill. It seems Black Friday marketing that considers Christmas wish lists are a good bet.

It is also interesting to note that amazon.com claimed over 96% of all traffic from these terms in the time period analyzed. When we look at Black Friday keywords specifically, things get more interesting.

The top PPC-related queries at that time included the term ‘Black Friday’ in combination with a branded term. The keywords ‘Black Friday ads 2019′, ‘call of duty black ops 4’, ‘Nintendo Switch Black Friday’, and ‘black Friday deals’ claimed traffic shares ranging from 9% to 12%.

Specific Black Friday campaigns paid off. Most of the traffic winners were well-loved retail brands such as Best Buy and Walmart.

Most searched organic terms related to Black Friday in 2019 were ‘deals’, ‘black friday’, ‘cyber monday deals’, and ‘black friday ads 2019’ claiming respective traffic shares of 3% to 5% each. Unlike PPC-driven traffic, none of the leading organic search terms were branded.

Not only did big box retail names win traffic from these keywords, top affiliates such as blackfriday.com and bestblackfriday.com also made it into the top 10, which you can see in the graph below.

To sum this up:

  • Top organic searches were generic 
  • Top PPC terms were 50% branded and 50% generic
  • Organic search traffic went to retailers, brands, and affiliates 
  • PPC traffic went to popular household brands

The top ten winners can be seen below.

Christmas marketing strategy: December 2019

As expected, the overall November trends continued throughout December. The highest traffic-driving keywords were again gaming-related gifts and gadgets. The three most searched terms were ‘just dance 2020’, ‘star wars jedi fallen order ps4’, and ‘the witcher 3’. 

Interestingly, Amazon scooped up over 96% of all traffic for ‘just dance 2020’, and ‘the witcher 3’; rd.bizrate.com won 97% of the traffic for the keyword ‘star wars jedi fallen order ps4’.


Now let’s take a closer look at terms related to the December holidays to see how Christmas marketing campaigns compare.

Most searched organic terms were ‘cyber monday’, ‘deals’, ‘ugly Christmas sweaters’, and ‘laptop deals’ with traffic shares of  3% to 9%. 

Paid keyword terms with the highest traffic shares were ‘cyber monday deals’, ‘siberian husky christmas blowups’, ‘black friday deals’ – still a high traffic share, however 68% down month-over-month (MoM), ‘christmas tree’, ‘icicle christmas lights’, ‘die hard christmas book’, and ‘nintendo switch games for christmas list’. Interestingly, several of the top keywords were related to Christmas decorations, with gift-related keywords coming in closely behind them.

Ugly Christmas sweaters’ was the top Christmas related keyword driving organic traffic in December.

See the ten winners for Christmas related keywords here:

Build strong display and referral partnerships

Referral sites and a Display Ads strategy are crucial during this time. Why? Consumers are looking for deals, but they also know that not every ‘deal’ is a good bargain for them. They trust 3rd party sites to review and guide them through the jungle of deals during the holiday seasons.

We found that SimilarWeb data supports this assessment. Some of the affiliate and display publisher sites driving the most traffic fell within the 10 top winners of keyword traffic over the holiday season in 2019. 

Here’s your opportunity to generate more traffic to your site. A display publisher will show your display ads on the ad space of their websites. Rather than publishing your display ads by yourself, use affiliates to do it for you. The same goes for other referral sites such as deal comparison sites and review sites that can help you win a bigger chunk of the traffic share.

Use SimilarWeb’s digital marketing intelligence tool to find your best affiliates by analyzing performance statistics of display publishers and referral sites. You can compare relevant sites and identify the biggest traffic providers. The tool also lets you benchmark against your main competitors for traffic from the significant sites.

Analyze historic conversion data

Looking at the stats from 2019, we see that direct traffic brought the highest conversions volume on average in November. Retailers experienced the largest growth in converted traffic from Display and Referral channels during this month, growing MoM 42% and 32%, respectively. Also, referral was the best converting marketing channel at 11%, overtaking even direct traffic, which converted approximately 9% during that same period.

Referral traffic spiked during the last week of November. Display ads’ traffic growth wasn’t as concentrated and was used more evenly to promote future deals and increase brand recognition.

The biggest display and referral sites (and the brands winning traffic)

Black Friday marketing strategy: November 2019

When looking at retail winners, Kohs and BBB experienced the largest increase in overall traffic during the last week of November in 2019. Other big winners include CostoWalmartTarget, and Wayfair.

During this time, Costco and Sam’s Club saw the highest growth of referral traffic during, growing 241% and 199% from October to November, respectively. Another big referral traffic winner, Walmart, came in third, increasing its traffic on this channel by a whopping 114%.

Referral leaders have received more than 50% of referral traffic from the top two coupon and rebate sites, with bestblackfridaydeals.com sending about 45% of all referral traffic to the competitive set during November. Walmart seems to have had a solid relationship with the referral site. About 81% of all its outgoing traffic went directly to the retail giant.

While slickdeals.net was the second-largest referral site during that period, it only drove about 6% of traffic. However, display traffic tells a very different story, as slickdeals.com claims the number one spot.

Bestblackfridaydeal.com dropped down to the third spot with shares of  18% and 2% of display traffic, respectively. Cosco.com scooped up about 73% of that traffic in November. Shopping-category leaders utilized display advertising traffic analytics to increase their brand awareness on affiliate sites.

Did we mention the importance of display and referral sites for your holiday marketing? The numbers speak for themselves.

Christmas marketing: December 2019

Now, take a look at the interesting shifts in winners throughout the holiday season of last year. November’s big winners were overtaken in December. As Christmas approached, michaelkors.com grew by 191% when compared to October the same year, claiming the number one spot for overall growth.

While neither Walmart or Target landed in the top spots for MoM growth, the retail conglomerates did win massive overall traffic. Walmart.com saw a mind-blowing 450M visits while target.com was able to rake in upwards of 250M.

Swagbucks.com was the top referral site in December 2019 for the best-performing sites during that period with an 8% traffic share. It drove about 63% of its traffic to worldmarket.com. Other big referrals sites were slickdeals.net and cashbackholic.com.

Among the display publishers, Rakuten secured the largest traffic share with almost 17%. Dealmoon could seize 9% and Slickdeals managed to grab 4%. In fourth place was Dealsplus, everyone else in the top 10 got less than 2%.

The holiday marketing games are on, roll up your sleeves!

During the holiday season, optimizing your digital strategies is more critical than during any other time of the year. You can only be sure of it’s efficiency when you build on reliable data about you and your main competitors’ performance. Make no mistake, they are getting ready for the winter games as well.

Understand how different channels work together to drive success. Leverage marco and seasonal market trends and determine how to make consumer behavior work in your favor. In our example, we’ve learned that brands who partner with affiliates have the best chance of winning traffic from top keywords. 

Now use SimilarWeb Pro to find the best affiliates to partner with, the most successful channels to utilize, and the highest trending keywords in real-time. Get started by opening an account now!

And if you can’t wait to see how you can fine-tune your marketing strategy for this holiday season, use the form below to download the most-up-to-date data for this year and get the competitive edge you need to blow your competition away.

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