James Arnold, Chief Digital Officer, Rooster Strategic Solutions

Last year Rooster introduced an independent review of 33 agricultural company websites across six categories. Using the same tools and measurements, this is an “apples-to-apples” approach that companies can use to see where they rank, and advertisers can use to compare publishers. We provide this report first to our clients, along with more context and sophisticated metrics, before providing this free to the public. We hope that this accurate review of websites will be useful to you.

Here’s the Q4 report and some takeaways (based on SEMRush data):

Overall traffic declined. Zoom fatigue? Tired of reading election stories? For whatever reason, site visits in the last quarter were lower in nearly all categories.

Do we have a new ag news leader? We do, at least for now, as Agriculture.com overtook Agweb.com and held the lead throughout the quarter. This is particularly interesting when you look at the full year and see the considerable spread that Agweb.com enjoyed as recently as June – and how that lead simply eroded over the last two quarters. We’ll keep an eye on this one for the next several months.

Equipment and seed searches decline … Typically, equipment manufacturers see a bump at the end of the year. This year, as it was in every other facet of life, 2020 had to be different. Web traffic dropped considerably on sites that cater to purchases for both used and new equipment. Visits to seed sites dropped at an even higher rate. For instance, visits to Pioneer.com in December were down more than 60 percent compared to last August, although the site continues to dominate the category.

…. and Cattle visits fall even faster. After combining for a million visits in October, the number of visits to beef cattle websites fell to its lowest point of the year. The bigger story, however, is the neck-and-neck battle for supremacy in this space between BeefMagazine.com and Drovers.com. The latter has traditionally maintained a slim lead but dropped significantly over the last quarter, with declines in the numbers of unique visitors and time spent on the site. This is worth some extra attention next quarter.

One fewer dairy site. MilkBusiness.com, which ranked either third or fourth of the dairy sites we track, will now resolve to DairyHerd.com, the category’s clear leader. While you’d expect this news to further cement the leader’s position, the site actually had its lowest visit total of the year in December.

What’s next? We’ll keep watching. Look for another report in April. And we understand that a report like this raises as many questions as it answers. That’s why we provide our clients with a smorgasbord of options, from a one-time web audit to a comprehensive, ongoing analysis. If you’re ready to delve deeper, I’d love to have a conversation.