James Arnold, Chief Digital Officer, Rooster Strategic Solutions
Last year, Rooster introduced an independent review of agricultural company websites. 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. It is presented as quality directional data accessible by most in the industry through a respected toolset. The analysis/assumptions provided are my own. We provide this report first to our clients, along with more context and sophisticated metrics, before providing this free to the public.
Here’s the Q4 Report and some takeaways (based on SEMrush data):
AgWeb closes the year on top. The digital arm of Farm Journal, Inc. ended 2021 exactly where it started – with a slight edge in monthly visitors over Agriculture.com. But it was a rough 12 months for AgWeb, which included a 40-percent drop in Spring before levelling out in late Summer. And despite clawing back to a leadership position, it’s still a long way off from the heady days of 2020 when the site was routinely drawing more than 2 million monthly visitors.
Beef leads, but Drovers gains. The cattle news category has been a two-bull rodeo for the last couple years with Drovers.com and BeefMagazine.com vying for the top position. Beef held serve throughout 2021, largely thanks to its efforts with Search, but the year closed in a virtual tie between the two. The category, however, is reeling, down by nearly 50 percent compared to the highwater mark in 2020.
Poultry visits plummet. Overall traffic in the category dropped nearly 60 percent over the year, with ThePoultrySite.com shedding more than 200,000 monthly visitors. This briefly knocked it out of the top spot. We’ll keep an eye on this category to see if it rebounds, or if the lower traffic is a new normal.
What’s going on with the seed hybrid sites? At first glance, things don’t look too bad. Category leader Pioneer is down by more than half, but the others seem to be holding their own. Look back a little further, however, and you see an industry average that’s a fraction of what it was in 2020 when the category pulled in more than a million visitors each month.
Look out John Deere, here comes Kubota. Although John Deere maintained its strong lead in the category, the number of monthly visitors to its site is slightly lower than when the year began, compared with Kubota, who saw its numbers nearly double over the past 12 months. We’ll keep an eye on this one.
Precision Planting plants a flag in the precision category. Ag Leader started the year in the top spot, which it had held throughout 2020. Then, in a startling reversal, the industry leader plummeted last summer, apparently to the benefit of Precision Planting, which opened a huge lead that it continues to hold.
What’s next? We’ll keep tracking these websites; look for another report on Q1 activity in late 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 dive deeper, I’d love to have a conversation.