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June 29 , 2010

HST searches peak in first weeks of June, Hitwise

Top searches focused on refunds, rebates

The Ontario government surprised many of us a couple of weeks back with a cheque. Before many had seen news coverage of the HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) rebate, the funds had already made their way into bank accounts across the province. Hitwise data reveals that searches including the word "HST" peaked in the week ending June 12th, 2010, the week many Ontarians received the rebate.

For the past two weeks, the top search terms to include the acronym "HST" were "HST rebate Ontario", "HST rebate", "HST", "HST rebate cheques Ontario" and "HST Ontario". While the terms "HST" and "HST rebate" were no doubt bouyed by BC consumers, the top BC specific search term only came in at #9 last week ("hst bc"). The BC government did not mail out cheques and so it is perhaps unsurprising that interest hasn't been as high.

Among the top 100 search terms that included the acronym "HST" in the twelve weeks to June 19th, the top searches focussed on the refund or rebate, petition and finding out what the HST is.

A search on Google.ca reveals that many websites are competing in the paid search listings for HST related searches. Among the top downstream websites for the top HST searches are the Ontario Ministry of Revenue, Red Flag Deals, Canada's Revenue Agency, and TaxTips.ca. More surprising was GoFTP.com, one of the top downstream sites for "HST Rebate Ontario" and "HST Rebate". The site hosts a very active forum on the HST Rebate and it ranks quite high on Google.ca for HST related searches.

The Ontario Revenue Agency website has been bombarded by consumers keen for more information on the rebate and the harmonized tax. Visits more than tripled in the four weeks to June 19th. In the week to June 12th, at the peak, the website ranked #2 among Provincial Government websites. In the week to June 19th it ranked #3.

It will be interesting to see how reaction to the HST evolves in Ontario after the cheques have been cashed and the rebate money spent.

~ Hitwise North America

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