As the economy sours, more Americans are turning to the Web for advice on navigating the financial storm.
Yahoo Finance was the most popular finance Web site in February, as visits to sites in the category rose by double-digit percentages, according to Hitwise.
Hitwise reported this week that Americans' visits to sites in its "stocks and shares" category rose by 19% in February compared with February of last year.
"With recent declines in the Dow Jones industrial average Index, consumers are increasingly turning to Web sites to monitor financial news and portfolio performance," Heather Dougherty, director of research for Hitwise, said in a statement. "There is a strong need for continuous information, particularly during economic uncertainty, that provides an opportunity to drive repeat visits and increase customer communication -- especially advice that could help customers weather the storm."
The category accounted for 1.11% of all American Internet visits in February. That's a little less than September and October but the third-highest reading in the last year.
Within the category, Yahoo Finance was the most popular site, with 22.21% of U.S. visits to sites featuring information on stocks and shares. MSN Money ranked second, accounting for 7.32% of the visits, followed by CNN Money, which accounted for 7.16% of the visits.
Sixty-four percent of the top search terms that sent traffic to stocks and shares Web sites in February were for branded terms. Most searches in the stocks and shares category stem from visitors entering a brand name to navigate to a particular stock and share site. Stock searches accounted for 20% of the traffic, while generic searches drove 16% of the traffic.
Sirius XM was the top-searched stock last month, as news of potential bankruptcy spread. Bank of America, General Electric, Pure Spectrum, and Cross Atlantic Commodities were among the top five most popular terms. The most widely used generic search terms included "currency converter," "gold price," "gold prices," "exchange rates," and "gold."
On average, visitors spent about 11 minutes and 24 seconds on the sites, up 14% from February 2008, Hitwise reported.
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