Starbucks vs. Tim Hortons: Website Data Comparison on SimilarWeb

Tim Hortons is Canada’s largest fast food service with over 3,000 stores nationwide. One of Tim Hortons’ competitors in Canada is Starbucks, which is the largest coffeehouse company in the world, with 20,891 stores in 62 countries, including 1,324 in Canada. SimilarWeb is a free web traffic analysis service that provides traffic activity for a given domain including website ranking, traffic sources breakdown, leading referring sites, leading paid and organic keywords, geographic breakdown and also visited sites. I used SimilarWeb to compare the website data of Tim Hortons( and Starbucks(, with the aim of identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each site.


(Figure 1)

Website Traffic Overview Analysis

The two websites’ global ranks are very close. SimilarWeb ranks Starbucks 40,776 versus Tim Hortons 40,967. Starbucks ranks 433 higher than Tim Hortons in Canada. However, Tim Hortons’ weekly number of visits in last 6 months is far more than that of Starbucks, according to the comparison graph as above. I also noticed that the number of visits on Starbucks website is very steady, which means the site owns steady audience.

The Time On Site for Starbucks and Tim Hortons are the same as two and half minutes. The Bounce Rate on two websites are also very close, with Starbucks 35.76% versus Tim Horton 35.99%. However, visitors on Starbucks website viewed more pages (4.82) than those who visit Tim Hortons website (3.40). With the almost same bounce rate, it is obvious that Starbucks website is more attractive and can maintain more audience on it. When I viewed Starbucks website, I found that they placed a few appealing videos on the home page. This type of content is a blend of visual and aural impact, which usually is more inviting to audience. The data tells us it works.

Traffic Sources Analysis


(Figure 2)

As can be seen from the graph above, about 40% of the traffic share on Starbucks website is from referrals, much more than the percentage (10.85%) of Tim Hortons website. At the same time, there are about 38% traffic is direct and only 21% is from search.


(Figure 3)

As to Tim Hortons Website, more than 50% of the traffic share in last 3 months is from search, while more than 33% is direct traffic and almost 11% is from referrals.

This seems to me that Starbucks has built up good relationship with other websites and created a lot of linking-ins. However, the web search power of Tim Horton website is more powerful than Starbucks website.

It is interesting to find that, Tim Hortons’ traffic share from Social, which is 3.39%, is almost 3 times of that for Starbucks, which is only 1.30%. It means Tim Hortons utilized social web tools in better ways to generate more traffic on their website. I found on Tim Hortons website homepage an embedded tweets window, inviting you jump into a conversation at any time. Considering the popularity of Twitter in Canada, this is absolutely a great approach to engage the website visitors. Though Starbucks website got icons connecting visitors with social platforms, they are just not so inviting.

Search Result Analysis

 Image (Figure 4)

As we can see from the graph above, 21% of total Starbucks website traffic in last 3 months is search, and among this amount, 100% are organic search. Organic search results are “listings on search engine results pages that appear because of their relevance to the search terms, as opposed to their being advertisements.” This data here infers to us that Starbucks website has optimized their webpage content and spread links pointing to the website. Relevant content also help build trust between the visitors and the website, which is another way to attain website traffic. Starbucks website did a good job on this.


(Figure 5)

In comparison, more than 50% of Tim Hortons website traffic in last 3 months is search, among which 6.77% are generated from paid search and 93.23% are from organic search. For Tim Hortons, to have half of their traffic generated from search, the paid search from Google has accelerated the result. So a budget for paid search of a website is worthy to consider.

According to the analysis, though Tim Hortons website has more visitors than Starbucks website, Starbucks still have many advantages to compete with Tim Hortons. That’s mainly because visitors on Starbucks website are more engaged. They tend to view more pages within the same time length. Moreover, users are more easily to get to Starbucks website because they optimized the website content and created more inbound referrals. In addition, Starbucks’ website SEO is more successful. They have a better search result for a cost-effective organic search. All these aspects will ensure the steady status of the website traffic, so the online engagement with the visitors, which are customers and prospective, will be strong and lasting.

What needs to be done on Starbucks website is: Firstly, make it more searchable for users so that more traffic will be generated. Secondly, optimize the utilization of social media to interact with visitors and lead them to the website eventually.

On the other hand, Tim Hortons’ ability on attracting more traffic from search engines and social media is much stronger than Starbucks. At the meantime, it would be necessary for Tim Hortons to optimize the website content to sustain the visitors and increase their engagement level.

Works Cited:

“Starbucks.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 9 October 2013. Web. 9 October 2013.

“Tim Hortons.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 9 October 2013. Web. 9 October 2013.

“SimilarWeb.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 9 October 2013. Web. 9 October 2013.

“Organic Search Engine Optimization (Organic SEO).” Janalta Interactive Inc., N.d. Web. 9 October 2013.

Figure 1: and Tim website traffic overview comparison graph. SimilarGroup. N.d. Web. 9 October 2013.

Figure 2: website traffic sources graph. SimilarGroup. N.d. Web. 9 October 2013.

Figure 3: Tim website traffic sources graph. SimilarGroup. N.d. Web. 9 October 2013.

Figure 4: website traffic sources – search graph. SimilarGroup. N.d. Web. 9 October 2013.

Figure 5: Tim website traffic sources – search graph. SimilarGroup. N.d. Web. 9 October 2013.