Fortune 500 Companies Fail at SEO | What does this mean?

By Paige Payne | Feb 23, 2010
More Articles by Paige


I recently read an article entitled Fortune 500 Companies Fail at SEO by Laurie Sullivan.  In this article Laurie discussed the learnings of a study performed by Conductor.

Summary of the Article:

The article discussed how Fortune 500 companies fail at search engine optimization on the bases that many companies still don’t link paid-search keywords with SEO campaigns.

More specifically, Fortune 500 companies collectively spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $3.4 million daily on 97,559 keywords, and yet, the Conductor Research Q4/2009 Fortune 500 Report reveals that only 25% of those keywords rank in the top 50 natural search results on search engines such as Google, Microsoft Bing or Yahoo.

Compare this with what the report says about Q4 2008:

“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. Even among the top performers, there were no companies that had a majority of terms ranking in the top 25.”

Overall grades assessed by Conductor were as follows:

Tossing aside discussion that questions the integrity of data and methodology used for the Conductor comparison of PPC strategy with the organic search snapshots, I found the results of the study quite interesting.

Say you were to assume the data from the study does indeed paint an accurate portrait.  And yes, from this data it is true, Fortune 500 companies did in fact earn a failing grade for their 2009 Q4 SEO efforts. My questions are:

  • Should Fortune 500 companies be offended or much less surprised that during one of the worst economic recessions in history, data overwhelmingly supports they choose to focus the majority of their marketing efforts on what is viewed to be one of the quickest and most proven marketing media for converting the online searcher?
  • How much weight should be given to a study of this nature at this point in time?
  • When taking into account the economic circumstances surrounding Q4 for 2009, is it fair to conclude that Fortune 500 companies are still just as novice as the year prior when it comes to their understanding of SEO?

According to a statement from Nathan Safran, senior research analyst at Conductor Research:

Many companies still have not adopted a culture that identifies what it takes to build and support a natural search campaign.”

I’ll be interested to see next year’s findings, when hopefully the economy will be in more of an upturn and in my eyes, less of a independent variable manipulating the results.

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