Study Shows Which Websites Did the Best on Google in 2015

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

Google is a dominating force in just about every aspect of the internet. Besides making the company a lot of money, it has also earned them the ire of their competitors, many of whom claim Google manipulates results to hurt their businesses. Though it will probably do little to blunt their critics, a recent analysis from Moz suggests that many of Google’s competitors were among the top gainers in SEO in 2015.

At the beginning of December, Moz began an analysis that showed which domains made gains and improved their search visibility in 2015. Moz tracks about 10,000 keywords daily. The analysis shows the top ten domains that got the most exposure or improved the most among those 10,000 keywords. The results shows the biggest winners were often companies that rival Google for services.

moz-top-10-domains-googleAccording to the report, the top 10 domains for search visibility for the 10,000 keywords tracked only contained one Google property (YouTube). In fact, the three of the top five domains were direct competitors to Google. In order, they were Wikipedia,, Facebook, YouTube (which Google owns) and Yelp.

The benefits to Google’s competitors can also be seen by the rankings of improved domains in 2015. The top five domains that improved their search visibility the most in 2015 were Amazon, Etsy, YouTube, and Google Play.

Social media sites were among the losers in 2015. The report notes that Pinterest and Twitter saw declines in search visibility. This decline is particularly noticeable with Twitter. As was discussed in another article, Twitter and Google teamed up to add live Tweets to search results. So despite this partnership, Twitter is still shown in fewer results than the same time a year ago. However, the report notes that the new partnership benefits Twitter in other ways.

“Tweets are now a true Google vertical result, occupying an organic position and appearing in almost 6% of the searches that we track,” the report authors wrote. “Fellow social media site, Pinterest, also lost ground in 2015, after nearly breaking into the Top 10 (they were #11 in 2014). Unfortunately for Pinterest, their losses weren’t offset by a sweetheart deal with Google.”

An important caveat for these totals is that they don’t cover the increased visibility when Google promotes things like its own local or shopping listings through special displays.

Search Engine Land gave the following illustration, “For example, if you do a search and get a big local results box or Google’s Hotel Finder unit, listings in those — which often either are from Google or lead into Google’s own vertical properties — don’t appear to be counted in the Moz survey.

Etsy increased its visibility more than any other domain tracked, by 156%. Instagram was close behind, at 123%. Groupon upped its SEO game or just got lucky with a 90% gain. Google’s Google Play app store increased visibility by 41% but Apple’s own iTunes beat that with a 48% rise.”

One thing that marketers can take away from this is that it’s possible to succeed with SEO if you use good practices. Even Google’s competitors were able to make gains in search visibility. It’s also a sign that the last week of the year is really slow for SEO-related news.

For more news about what Google will be doing in 2016, read this article on algorithm updates that are around the corner.

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