Online sites with biggest Google search growth during COVID-19 were …

Some familiar names and a couple of surprises pop up among the 10 e-commerce sites with the biggest pandemic growth in Google search performance.

Tech giant Apple ranked first in absolute Google search engine optimization (SEO) visibility increase, according to a new measurement of e-commerce brands’ overall improvement in Google search visibility during 2020 from digital marketing analytics provider Searchmetrics. Following Apple were Amazon (which straddles the line between tech giant and online marketplace) and online marketplaces eBay and Etsy. 

The first possible surprise member of the top 10 list was telecommunications provider Verizon at number five, followed by Microsoft and  The Home Depot. Video game brand Nintendo was also a less expected entrant on the list at number eight, followed by possible surprise member Audible.com (an audio content platform owned by Amazon) at number nine and discount chain Target at number 10. 

Searchmetrics classifies Apple, Verizon, Microsoft and Nintendo as electronics brands; Amazon, eBay, Etsy and Target as consumer goods brands; Home Depot as a home improvement brand; and Audible.com as a personal development brand. Target and Home Depot are the only traditional brick-and-mortar retailers whose online retail stores rank among the top 10 e-commerce with the highest Google search performance growth during COVID-19. 

Interestingly, no fashion e-commerce stores improved their search performance enough to make it into the overall top 10 winners list. According to Searchmetrics, Macy’s lost over 20% of its search visibility during 2020, while H&M, ASOS, and global fashion search platform Lyst were the top three brands that made the biggest search visibility gains on Google from within the fashion category over the course of 2020.

The Searchmetrics study measured search performance by analyzing weekly search results for millions of keywords throughout the year, scoring websites for factors such as how frequently they appear in results and how high they rank. The top 10 ranking was based on a website’s absolute improvement in search performance between the start and end of 2020. 

However, strictly analyzing the Google SEO visibility increase of the top 10 performers during 2020 by percentage value, Searchmetrics found that Audible.com led with a 567% gain. The only other brand in the top 10 with a triple-digit percentage increase was Verizon (102%). Second-place finisher Amazon actually had the lowest percentage increase among the top 10 overall performers (10%), while overall leader Apple ranked sixth with a 52% increase in SEO visibility.

“It’s not always easy to reduce to one reason why certain brands are winning on Google,” said Tyson Stockton, VP client & account management U.S. at Searchmetrics. “However, one important factor is that Google’s algorithm reacts to changes in user behavior and this has given some brands a boost during the pandemic. For example, Google Trends data showed a big increase in searches for e-commerce brands such as Home Depot and Etsy, especially during the first lockdown period in the spring and some experts believe this can carry over into helping those brands also rank higher for their generic non-branded search terms.”