Conductor Study Reveals Leading Internet Brands’ Natural Search Visibility is Poor

Conductor released a research report today on the search visibility and optimization effectiveness of the Internet Retailer 500 (IR 500). The report, entitled “Natural Search Trends of the Internet Retailer 500, evaluates the natural search visibility of the IR 500’s more than 88,000 most expensive paid keywords, on which they spend $1.2 million per day. The study reveals the IR 500 companies average a ‘D’ visibility score, appearing on page 6 in natural search results.

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The study also segments the IR 500’s natural search visibility by four merchant type categories and by 14 merchandiser categories. Out of all merchant types, web based retailers have the highest natural search visibility, while brick and mortar merchants have the least. Among merchandiser categories the ‘Health/Beauty’ category has the most visibility, with leading the way as the category’s front runner, while the ‘Mass Merchant’ category suffers the poorest visibility.


Key findings include:

  • The Internet Retailer 500 spend approximately $1.2 million daily on 88,765 keywords, yet only 33 percent of these keywords rank in the top 50 natural search results.
  • 93 percent of Internet Retailer 500 companies are not ranking above position 50 in natural search results, only slightly better than the natural search visibility of Fortune 500 companies.
  • Web based retailers are the most active in paid search and most visible in natural search, in contrast to more traditional brick and mortar retailers who are the least.
  • 19 percent of Internet Retailer 500 companies are completely invisible in natural search for their most expensive paid keywords.

Conductor’s study is among the first to track and measure the maturity of the natural search efforts in comparison to the pay-per-click spending of the 500 largest internet retailers included in Internet Retailer’s annual report, the Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide. The IR 500 represent the largest and most successful online retailers responsible for more than $113 billion in online sales. The Q2 study analyzes 4.5 million paid keywords, examines the paid/natural visibility correlation and investigates the effect of more specific ‘long tail’ searches for these brands.

For more a copy of the entire study, go to

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