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Although they spend millions of dollars on paid search, Fortune 500 companies are largely invisible in natural search: Collectively, the Fortune 500 spent an average $3.4 million per day on 97,559 keywords during the fourth quarter of 2009, yet only for 25% of those keywords Fortune 500 companies rank in the top 50 of natural search results, according to research from Conductor.

Still, the finding is an improvement from the same period last year, when the group ranked in the natural-search top 50 for just 17% of their primary paid keywords.

Below, other findings from the study Natural Search Trends of the Fortune 500: Q4/2009.

Search Visibility Scores Among Fortune 500 Companies

More than one-half (52%) of Fortune 500 companies have almost no natural search visibility, receiving an "F" or failing visibility score with their targeted keywords not ranking within the top 100 natural search results.

None of the Fortune 500 companies had a majority of their keywords ranking in the top 25 search


Below, the Fortune 500 keyword visibility scores:

  • A. Highest keyword visibility (keyword ranks in top 30 returned search results): 0.2%
  • B. Some keyword visibility (keyword ranks form 30 to 50): 0.4%
  • C. Low keyword visibility (keyword ranks from 50 to 75): 14.7%
  • D. Very low keyword visibility (keyword ranks from 75 to 100): 32.3%

Search Visibility by Industry

The two industries most visible in keyword searches—Management of Companies & Enterprises and Accommodation & Food Services—increased their respective visibility scores from the mid 60s in 2008 to 72.5 and 72.3, respectively, in 2009. Even so, those increases did not propel their respective rankings above page five in natural search results.

Fortune 500 Keyword Visibility: Domain vs. Landing Page

Over two-thirds (68%) of visible keywords were found on a landing page (e.g., versus at the top-level domain page.

Among industries with at least 100 visible keywords, Wholesale Trade had the greatest percentage of keywords found on a landing page (84%), while Real Estate and Rental and Leasing had the least (42%).

The Effect of Increased Specificity on Search Visibility

The Fortune 500's keyword visibility remains in inverse proportion to the length of the search query, with the most significant drop occurring in searches with greater than seven words.

The disparity between the visibility of one and two-word searches increased in the 2009 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.

About the data: On behalf of ConductorSpyFu studied the natural search results for the Fortune 500 companies using the top 5 traffic-generating URLs for each company and the keywords they most advertise on.

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