Would you think that a simple search for ‘Back to School Middle School Outfits’ would start a 43 website-long browsing session? Moms looking for the best deal and teens looking for the perfect fit are exhibiting this type of online behavior, indicating that the school uniform market is flooded with competing vendors.

At the beginning of this year’s back-to-school shopping season, we published our recommendations for retailers to optimize their inbound and outbound back-to-school marketing initiatives. Now it’s time to recap and analyze real consumer data and identify this year’s winners of back-to-school search traffic and conversions. We analyzed US consumer search phrases, click-throughs and subsequent purchases on eight leading back-to-school e-commerce websites including Walmart, Target, Amazon, Staples, Office Depot, JC Penny, Old Navy and Lands’ End, then ranked the winners in terms of search traffic and conversions during this busy shopping season.

Trends in Back-to-School Traffic

We analyzed back-to-school consumer searches, keyword performance and consumer behavior on the above mentioned e-commerce platforms between July 1st and August 31st, 2015. Using Jumpshot Elite and the Jumpshot Keywords Research tool, we identified the top 200 US organic and paid back-to-school keywords and analyzed their performance in regards to traffic and conversions. Here are our findings:

  • Consumers visit five websites per search query. Generally speaking, consumers click on an average of five search results for every search they make.
  • Consumers are comparative buying. Although consumers follow five different links per search, only one to two of these websites are e-commerce websites, meaning that they are also clicking-through to price comparison and content websites to find the best deals.
  • Keywords containing ‘back to school’ got the most clicks. Keywords containing the exact search phrase ‘back to school’ generated the most amount of pageviews (64 percent of total back-to-school click-throughs) and unique visitors (55 percent of total US consumers searching for back-to-school items).
  • Keywords containing ‘back to school supplies’ were in second place for clicks. Keywords containing the search phrase ‘back to school supplies’ generated 20 percent of the overall back-to-school pageviews and 23 percent of the overall unique visitors.
  • Tidbit: One percent of consumers that searched for back-to-school items and clicked through were actually looking for school buses.

Percentage of users and pageviews by keywords back-to-school shopping 2015

Focusing on the search traffic itself, our keywords data identified a clear winner: Walmart took the top spot with 33 percent of the overall US back-to-school search traffic to the leading e-commerce platforms. Target was the runner up, with 18 percent of the overall search traffic, followed by Amazon, Staples and Office Depot.

Percentage of back to school 2015 search traffic by retailer

Congratulations Walmart, you are the back-to-school 2015 traffic winner!

Now let’s chat conversions.

Trends in Back-to-School Purchases

Our Keywords Research tool lets you tie keywords to conversions for any website, in just a few clicks. The keywords conversion data for back-to-school keywords revealed that Walmart, with almost one third of the overall back-to-school keyword purchases, was also in the lead for conversions. The runner up was Lands’ End, with one fifth of the total back-to-school keyword conversions. Other platforms worth mentioning are Office Depot that received 14 percent of back-to-school keyword conversions, and JCPenney and Target that each received 10 percent of the overall conversions.

As for conversion rates – the ratio of purchases to unique visitors – Lands’ End had the highest back-to-school keyword conversion rate out of the e-commerce platforms researched, and more than seven times that of Walmart, the conversion rates runner up. This very high conversion rate is likely due to the website’s focus on school uniforms, which generated a lot of consumer interest, detailed searches (‘back to school uniform ideas’, ‘back to school middle school uniforms’, etc.) and clicks. Walmart’s conversions, on the other hand, were more general and mostly a result of generic ‘back to school’ searches such as: ‘walmart back to school’, ‘back to school sales’ and ‘walmart back to school sale 2015’.

Walmart keywords for back to school shopping 2015

So, even though more people purchased a back-to-school item on Walmart, Lands’ End is our winner due to its extremely high conversion rate compared to the rest. This just goes to prove what every marketer already knows: the more targeted your website is, the more it will match what people searched, resulting in more sales and higher conversion rates. This is especially true for long-tail keywords, as they are detailed manifestations of consumer intent.

Congratulations Lands’ End, you are the back-to-school 2015 winner for keyword conversions!

Bottom line: With the help of Jumpshot’s Keywords Research tool, we were able to identify the top 200 consumer back-to-school keywords and tie them to inbound search traffic and conversions for the leading e-commerce websites in the US. We crowned two clear winners for this year’s back-to-school shopping season: Walmart brought home the gold medal for the most search traffic and Lands’ End took first place for keyword conversion rates, proving it knows how to transform a casual browser into a school uniform shopper. Our analysis pinpoints the benefits  of targeted environments that match consumer searches in raising conversion rates and that consumers are comparative shopping for back-to-school items. The more you know about your visitors’ intent, the better your chances are in converting that visitor into a customer. That’s why real keywords searched by real people are more precious than gold. Regain your keyword visibility and identify the keywords that are driving your sales with our help.