Retail sites, including Amazon, dominate paid search advertising on

Study reveals 20 most visible sites in paid and organic search listings

SMX West, San Jose, CA, March 13, 2013 A new study reveals that retail web sites are dominating paid search advertising on, with taking the lead as both the most visible retail advertiser and also the retail brand most likely to be seen in organic search results.

The findings come from a study by search and social analytics software leader, Searchmetrics, which has produced a list of the top 20 most visible sites in paid search on (see table below) and a similar list for the top performers in organic search.

While question answering site,, takes the top position in the list for paid search advertising, 11 of the others in the top 20 are retail focused sites¹, with and taking second and third place. Other retail brands in the list include, and

Top 20 most visible paid search advertisers on Google US

“The Paid Visibility score that we used to create the list reflects the advertising activity of a domain on Changes in Paid Visibility could result from budget increases or decreases and you could probably assume that the higher the Paid Visibility score, the more budget a domain is spending on Google AdWords campaigns,” said Marcus Tober, CTO of Searchmetrics.

The Searchmetrics’ weekly Paid Visibility score is a measure of how frequently and prominently a domain appears in paid search results based on weekly data from the search results for millions of keywords, which Searchmetrics uses to populate the database that powers its online software for search and social marketers².

“Many online companies plan paid search campaigns hand in hand with their organic search marketing efforts – often turning to paid search to keep their traffic stable in the wake of fluctuations in the organic search results,” explained Tober.

Google itself ( takes fourth place in the list of 20 top paid search advertisers, as it uses paid search results to attract customers for its own products, such as the AdSense program and promoting its web browser, Google Chrome. And technology giants Apple and Microsoft feature in the top 20 as do telecoms brands AT&T and Verizon Wireless.

The Searchmetrics list of the top 20 sites that are most visible in organic search (see table underneath) is topped by free online encyclopedia site,, with ranked fifth, making it the most visible retail site in organic searches, as well as being second for paid search.

Searchmetrics studies in the UK and in Germany found Amazon taking similarly high positions in both paid and organic search.

“Our data indicates that many potential online shoppers who are not sure where to buy a product would probably end up buying at Amazon, because it is highly visible in both the organic and paid part of Google, driving lots of customers to its website,” said Matthias Bachor, marketing director at Searchmetrics.

Top 20 most visible sites in organic search on Google US and come in at second and third place in the organic part of Google, according to the data, perhaps due to the massive volume of content generated on social networks every second.

“The high visibility of social sites within search is an additional reason why brands need to build a presence on them,” added Bachor.

The list for the top 20 sites in organic search was developed using Searchmetrics‘ SEO Visibility score for, a measure of how visible and prominent a site is within organic search results².


¹ The 11 retail focused sites included in the top 20 paid search advertisers list are,,,,,,,,, and

² How Paid and Organic search visibility is measured: The study analyses the most visible websites across’s paid and organic search results, where visibility is defined by Searchmetrics’ ‘Paid Visibility’ and ‘SEO Visibility’ scores.

Searchmetrics tracks the paid and organic ranking of millions of keywords every week and calculates the visibility scores based on:

  • The number of times a domain appears in the search engine results pages (SERPs) across the keyword set
  • Its prominence within those SERPs (a higher ranking equates to a higher visibility score)
  • The competitiveness of the keyword (higher search volumes equate to a higher visibility score)

To create the top 20 lists in this study, Searchmetrics has used average Paid and SEO Visibility scores for the relevant domains based on the weekly scores over the course of 2012.

While SEO Visibility can relate to a website’s real traffic, it is important to remember that traffic can come from many different places online. Therefore SEO Visibility is only an indicator of visibility that comes from a website’s organic search channel.

If you want to get the images in high resolution, click here for download:

Biggest Spender PAID Visibility US, high resolution

Biggest Spender SEO Visibility US, high resolution

For questions about the study, don’t hesitate to contact us.