By Rob Young
Summer is finally here, and while for many, summer implies barbeques, school-break, vacations and trips to the beach; for most Internet businesses, summer implies slower traffic.
For an online business, traffic is paramount. Without it, conversions drop off, ROIís dwindle and businesses can fail. In the United States, netScore reported that seventy-four percent of the top 50 Internet properties experienced less traffic between May and June of 2001. A big reason for this huge reduction is the decrease in at-school Internet traffic. Visitor traffic from at-school computers, which represented almost 8% of U.S. Internet traffic in May, began declining as summer vacations started and decreased 40.5% in June compared to May. Traffic doesnít see an increase until mid-August. This means that for nearly four months, online sites are not seeing the traffic they so desperately need.
International Web usage is seeing declines in the summer months as well. Between mid-May and July of 2002, Russia reported a twenty-percent decline in summer Internet usage. Sweden saw its summer traffic stifled by eighteen-percent as early as July 1999, and many other countries around the world are feeling the hit of summer traffic reductions as well.
Seasonal traffic fluctuations are a recent phenomenon. The first few years of Internet usage saw such rapid growth in both the number of users and the number of pages visited, that seasonal variations were hardly noticeable. In recent years, however, Internet growth rates have slowed dramatically as the United States and the rest of the world crawls towards the user saturation point.
While most sites see drastic reductions of traffic from May to August, certain summer-oriented sites tend to be protected from the summer burn. May, June and July kick off the blockbuster movie season, drawing millions of visitors to Cinema sites. According to movietickets.com, traffic to their site rose 66% to 600,000 visitors and Twentieth Century Fox Film reported that web site traffic jumped 26% to 372,000 visitors. For the lucky few online Cinema sites, summerís heat fires up traffic.
Weight loss and travel sites have also seen increased summer usage in the past as people try to slim down before venturing to the beach.
As noted above, Internet traffic regains strength beginning in mid-August. E-commerce and apparel site usage increases dramatically with back-to-school sales, and by September, vacationing begins to decline and general Internet usage rises to normal levels.
The important thing to note for online businesses is that decreased traffic doesnít necessarily have to mean decreased profits. Make the most out of summer Internet traffic and prepare your site for fall and winter traffic increases. Now is the perfect time to update and optimize your site.
About The Author
Rob Young, Manager of Natural Optimization and Creative Director of full-service interactive marketing and advertising agency UnREAL Marketing Solutions,
has been with the company since its inception in 1999. Young oversees the Natural Optimization and Creative departments. www.unrealmarketing.com
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