Fortune 500 Still Clueless About SEO, Study Says

Despite spending millions of dollars on paid search, Fortune 500 companies continue to fail when it comes to natural search visibility. That’s the conclusion of “Natural Search Trends of the Fortune 500: Q4/2009,” the latest study released today by Conductor, a New York-based SEO services/technology firm.

Some key takeaways from Conductor’s survey of Fortune 500 search marketing efforts include:

  • Only 15% of Fortune 500 companies have “mid to strong presence” in natural search results for the same keywords on which they advertise the most.
  • 53% have “no natural search visibility for their most advertised keywords” — meaning they don’t show up in the Top 100 results
  • Collectively, the Fortune 500 spent about $3.4 million per day on more than 97,000 keywords, but they show up in the Top 50 of natural search results for only 25% of those keywords

That final statistic — showing up in the Top 50 natural results on 25% of overall keywords — is actually an improvement from the same study a year ago, when Fortune 500 companies only ranked in the Top 50 for 17% of their primary paid keywords.

Conductor worked with SpyFu to analyze the natural search results of the Fortune 500 companies, using the top five traffic-generating URLs for each company and the keywords they advertise on the most.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Search Marketing: General | SEO: General | Stats: General


About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • Duane Forrester

    Weren’t they clueless last month or the month before when a similar study was released?

  • allydent

    It sounds like there’s a pretty big selection bias on this though. I know there are arguments that you should appear in both the naturals and the paid listings on your main keywords, but most marketers would prefer not to use PPC on core keywords they rank well on in the organics.

    So by default, looking at lists of their top PPC keywords will exclude their top-ranked organics. Right?

    Assuming their SEO is targeting a smaller number of top keywords, looking at the list this way around will always bring up results like this. Starting with a large PPC keyword list, then wondering why a very small number of SEO keywords don’t appear in it, when the PPC would deliberately be avoiding them…

  • djfink2001

    I should be surprised by this but I’m not.My experience has been the same. Many F500 are lacking even their basic blocking and tackling skills on SEO

    Pretty shameful for this day and age


  • http://incrediblehelp incrediblehelp

    I am sure the numbers are about right, but I would still love to understand how SpyFu picks their organic keywords. Whenever i use their tool, the keywords are WAAAAAY off from an organic perspective.

  • nickstamoulis

    Excellent post Matt and it is truly amazing to me that in 2010 you are reporting these kind of SEO numbers with regards to large companies. From one perspective it may be good for SEM folks like myself, since I don’t work with enterprise companies and it makes the competition much less for some of my clients. Large brands tend to have excellent rankings due to the trust that these brands have build over the years online. Simple on site optimization would often help propel these sites to the top of the SERPs.

    Anyway, I referenced your post and linked to it in my SEO blog on a post that I just added this morning:

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