Fortune 500 companies fail at search engine optimization, and many still don't link paid-search keywords to SEO campaigns, although they collectively spend about $3.4 million daily on 97,559 keywords, according to a report.
The Conductor Research Q4/2009 Fortune 500 Report released Wednesday identifies that only 25% of those keywords rank in the top 50 natural search results on search engines such as Google, Microsoft Bing or Yahoo. The Fortune 500 report analyzes national search results and optimization effectiveness, as well as trends and integration plans for the corporate and the consumer brands during the December 2009 quarter.
Analyzing the most expensive keywords that companies bought allowed Conductor to measure intent by assuming these words should float to the top of natural search in query results.
"Since they spend all that money on paid-search keywords you would expect these companies would want the keywords in natural search to correlate with investments on the other side and make them as visible as possible," says Nathan Safran, senior research analyst at Conductor Research.
The group made slight improvements in aligning natural search with their paid campaigns, increasing the percentage of companies in the top 50 natural search results to 25% in the December 2009 quarter -- up from 17% in the year-ago quarter, but overall the Fortune 500 remains largely invisible in natural search.
Results also identify that only 2% of the domains surveyed show a significant number of terms in the top results. Many companies still have not adopted a culture that identifies what it takes to build and support a natural search campaign, Safran says.
Still, 15% of the companies demonstrate mid-to-strong presence for their most advertised keywords. And, 53% have no natural search visibility for their most advertised keywords.
Fortune 500 natural search visibility decreased with longer search queries, and 68% of keywords were found on a landing page, such as amazon.com/cell phone, compared with a top-level domain page, such as amazon.com.
Compete ranked each keyword, gave it a score and averaged it into a grade. Grades A and B note the best, but Grades C through F average poor visibility across keywords.
Compared with Q4 2008, the results this year identify a major gap between the companies that rank well for some terms and ones that have poor visibility. Even among the top performers, there were no companies that had a majority of terms ranking in the top 25. The group also did not improve on their overall visibility score, rating a 'D-' and scoring 61 on the visibility scale, the same score it received in our previous research.
The report breaks down the companies by market segment, including retail, finance and insurance, manufacturing, transportation and warehouse, food services, construction, science and technical, and more. It shed light on keyword distribution of the retail and information subcategories, and search visibility by industry.
Conductor also found that the Fortune 500's visibility remains in inverse proportion to the length of the search query. The most significant drop occurred in searches with greater than seven words. The inconsistency between the visibility in query results for one- and two-word searches increased in this year's study, with one-word searches scoring a 70 on the search visibility scale and two-word searches scoring a 65, compared with 62 for both one- and two-word searches last year.