Black Friday vs. Cyber Monday: The Search Targeting Battle of Retail and Ecommerce

Luke Harsel

Nov 23, 20165 min read
The Search Targeting Battle of Retail and Ecommerce

Americans love competition. We also love shopping.

Naturally, Black Friday — a day of competitive shopping and searching for the absolute best deals —- was adopted into our holiday season.

People love the deals and businesses love the profits. It’s generally a win-win… until a product runs out and desperation ensues.

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Would the plot of Jingle All the Way be different if Arnold Schwarzenegger could've looked online for Turbo Man? Most likely, but we’ll never know. Jingle All the Way came out twenty years ago, and Cyber Monday didn’t come around until 2005.

So now that we're in 2016, which day gets more attention from search? Cyber Monday or Black Friday?

Using SEMrush data, we compared three major retailers (Best Buy, Target and Walmart) and three major ecommerce sites (Amazon, Overstock and Groupon) to see how Black Friday and Cyber Monday are targeted with SEO, PPC and PLA (product listing ads).

Comparing Search Volume

While “cyber monday” has 90,500 average monthly searches, “black friday” has 301,000. This makes sense, since some Black Friday searches carry the intent to visit a physical location and some carry the intent to shop online. In contrast, Cyber Monday searches are likely just from people looking to shop online.

Using the Phrase Match report on SEMrush, we found the top ten most popular modifiers used in conjunction with “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.”

Black Friday

Phrase Match reportPhrase Match report

Cyber Monday

Phrase Match reportPhrase Match report

Both reports include “walmart,” “target” and “best buy” as modifiers in their top ten, and Cyber Monday’s list included “amazon” as its sixth most popular modifier. 

"Walmart black friday” (450,000) is searched nearly ten times more than “walmart cyber monday” (49,500), and “best buy black friday” (201,000) is searched nearly six times more than “best buy cyber monday” (33,100).

However, “black friday deals” (246,000) and “cyber monday deals” (201,000) see a similar level of search interest.

SEO Keyword Magic: Total Volume

The SEO Keyword Magic tool is one of the fastest ways in SEMrush to see a keyword’s SEO value. After entering a single keyword, you generate a table of every search phrase in SEMrush that includes the keyword with selected groups (see the column to the left) and the total volume of all of these terms.

Check out the difference between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the SEO Keyword Magic tool:

Black Friday Keyword Magic

Keyword Magic ToolKeyword Magic Tool

The related topics found in SEMrush around Black Friday amount for 29,815 keywords with a total average monthly search volume of 8,270,690.

Cyber Monday Keyword Magic

Keyword Magic ToolKeyword Magic Tool

Meanwhile, the related topics found in SEMrush around Cyber Monday amount for 6,264 keywords and a total monthly search volume of 1,735,680.

Again, we can see there’s clearly a higher amount of searches for Black Friday related topics.

How many of these searches happen in November?

While the volume metric in SEMrush is a measure of average monthly search volume, we can assume that most “black friday” searches occur within the month of November. 

With no real way of knowing what percentage of searches actually happen in this month, we'll estimate that somewhere around 80% of all Black Friday related searches occur in the month of November for the sake of example. Now, we can estimate the total volume of searches about Black Friday that occur in November.

The way we’d estimate it would be:

Total average monthly search volume x 12 (12 months) x .80 (80 percent of all searches being in November).

Add in the numbers for Black Friday's total average monthly search volume:

8,270,690 x 12 x .80 = 79,398,624

That’s an estimated seventy nine million searches for Black Friday related keywords in the month of November.

So, who has the most Top 3 positions for Black Friday and Cyber Monday keywords?

To find out, we used the Organic Positions and Advertising Positions reports. The trick is adding filters for keyword (black friday or cyber monday) and position range (less than 4) to find all of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday keywords the domains rank for in the top 3 positions.

SEMrush filters

For each website, you can click the link to view the filtered report on SEMrush (if you have an SEMrush account).

“Black Friday” keywords


  • 2,944 ( link)
  • 1,903 ( link)
  • 921 ( link)
  • 1,495 ( link)
  • 418 ( link)
  • 249 ( link)


  • 132 ( link)
  • 131 ( link)
  • 129 ( link)
  • 59 ( link)
  • 6 ( link)
  • 2 ( link)

“Cyber Monday” keywords


  • 1,249 ( link)
  • 1,076 ( link)
  • 199 ( link)
  • 1,038 ( link)
  • 268 ( link)
  • 152 ( link)


  • 24 ( link)
  • 7 ( link)
  • 5 ( link)
  • 10 ( link)
  • 1 ( link)
  • 0 ( link)

Who’s using PLA (Google Shopping) keywords the most?

Did you know SEMrush has a section of reports dedicated to PLA research?

Product Listing Ads are product ads placed on Google Shopping, and a great way to advertise ecommerce products since they let you display an image of your product directly on the results page.

Out of the retail sites, SEMrush found Walmart using the most PLA keywords, followed by Target and then Best Buy. Surprisingly, Amazon wasn’t found using any PLA keywords

Click on any of the links to see the exact ads SEMrush found them running.

  • 959,000 ( link)

  • 601,000 ( link)

  • 282,000 ( link)'s PLAs

  • 187,000 ( link)

  • 50,100 ( link)

  • 0 ( link)'s PLAs

Overall Domain Comparisons

To compare the behaviors of these six domains, we used the Domain vs Domain tool to analyze how many keywords that include the words “black friday” and “cyber monday” they shared.

Organic Keyword Comparison: Retailers

With the Domain vs Domain tool, you can see how many keywords multiple domains share in common. It lets you analyze organic, paid, or PLA (Google shopping) keywords, and visualize their common keywords with nifty circle charts.


Without any filters, we can see that Best Buy, Target, and Walmart share a total of 998,149 organic keywords. Using filters (keywords including “black friday” and “cyber monday”), we found that these retailers shared a total of 6,331 ( link) Black Friday keywords and 1,856 ( link) Cyber Monday keywords in their organic portfolios.

Organic Keyword Comparison: Ecommerce Sites

Again, using Domain vs. Domain, we see how the three ecommerce websites overlap their organic keywords. According to SEMrush, Amazon, Overstock, and Groupon share 500,676 organic keywords.


Applying filters for “black friday” and “cyber monday,” we found that the websites shared 1,960 ( link) Black Friday keywords and 1,210 ( link) Cyber Monday keywords in their organic portfolios.

Next we looked at how the retailers and ecommerce sites targeted keywords with PPC ads.


Target had the most paid keyword rankings out of the three (348,656), followed by Walmart (34,461) and then Best Buy (19,989). While Target and Walmart shared 5,168 paid keywords, Best Buy and Target shared 1,400, Best Buy and Walmart shared 828, but SEMrush reported zero paid keywords that all three retailers were bidding on.

We saw the same case with the three ecommerce sites as well. Amazon, Overstock, and Groupon shared no paid keywords despite them all running PPC campaigns targeting thousands of keywords.

Ending Thoughts

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are some of the most popular days for online shopping, which means they're some of the most competitive events for SEO and PPC professionals. Over time, will we see Cyber Monday's popularity rise and Black Friday's popularity fall? Which of the two holidays do you prefer? Let us know in the comments! 

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Content Lead at Semrush. Here to help you solve your everyday marketing challenges with Semrush‘s tools and apps.