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US Web Search Wars – Paid vs Organic

US Web Search Wars – Paid vs Organic


From social media and news to retail and encyclopedia websites, one thing all these have in common is they all want to be at the top of the search pile – but who is?

Search and social analytics company Searchmetrics, has compiled a top 20 list of the most visible paid search advertisers on, as well as a list of the top 20 sites that are most visible in organic search. Searchmetrics analysed 12 months of data as part of the study.

Chief technology officer of Searchmetrics, Marcus Tober, said: “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.”

Top of the Polls

The Searchmetrics’ weekly paid visibility score, taken over the course of 2012, is a measure of how frequently and prominently a domain appears in paid search results. This is 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 marketers.

Top of the polls for the most visible paid search advertisers on, was question answering site This was followed by retailers and A total of 11 of the top 20 were retail focused sites, such as,,, and

Technology sites also did well, with the likes of,, and, making it into the top 20.

Google itself ( came in at fourth place, as it uses paid search results to attract customers for its own products - such as the AdSense program and by promoting its web browser, Google Chrome.

Knowledge over Retail

When it comes to the most visible in organic search, Amazon again had a high-ranking at number five, but the free, collaboratively edited internet encyclopedia, Wikipedia, took the sought-after number one slot.

Marketing director at Searchmetrics, Matthias Bachor said: “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.”

Social networking site and came in at second and third place in the organic search part of Google - perhaps due to the massive volume of content generated on social networks every second.

Get Social Networking

Bachor stressed that the high visibility of social sites within search is an additional reason as to why brands need to build a presence on them.

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.

It also calculates the visibility scores based on its prominence within those SERPs (a higher ranking equates to a higher visibility score). It also looks at the competitiveness of the keyword (higher search volumes equate to a higher visibility score).

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

Check out A4u's story on who came top of the list for paid and organic searches on

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Pippa Chambers

Pippa Chambers

Freelance News Journalist at PerformanceIN - working to source the latest and breaking news in performance marketing. 

From newspapers to national B2B magazines and technology reporting, I have covered a variety of genres. NCTJ/NCE qualified.

Please email me at and follow me @PippaC1

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