Smaller online retailers in the US are far more reliant on search engines to drive their traffic, according to a new study from Hitwise.

The research group looked into the search traffic of companies in Internet Retailer’s top 500 list over the past two years, and found that half of merchants ranked 400-500 in the list received more than half of their visitors via Google, Yahoo! et al.

This trend, however, was reversed for the larger etailers, with the majority of the top 100 relying on search engines for between 11% and 30% of their monthly traffic.

Hitwise’s other findings included:

  • Only 13 of the top 100 etailers generated between 30% and 40% of all site traffic from search engines; 50 received between 20% and 30% of visits via search, while six etailers generated less than 10% of traffic in this way.
  • Online-only retailers, without the offline presence to attract vistors, relied on search engines the most, followed by catalogue-based retailers, chain stores and consumer brand manufacturers.  
  • On average, the 224 retailers in the list that sold online only attracted 64% of their monthly visits from search engines, while the 89 catalogue firms attracted 30%, chain stores 28%, and brand manufacturers 27%.

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