Who Has the Most Valuable Search Traffic?

By | Last Updated: | SEO

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We’re big fans of this infographic by WordStream that tells you which companies spent the most on Google AdWords a few years back. However, as an SEO-focused content marketing agency, we naturally turned our thoughts to search—what businesses are the closest equivalent to those in that infographic—that is, whose search traffic has the most true value?

SEMRush has an extremely useful Traffic Cost metric that gives you an approximate value for monthly search visits based on what other people are bidding on the keywords a site ranks for.

Using this metric, we now have a measure to determine a monthly “value” for organic traffic from Google for companies across the web. As we know, it doesn’t matter if you have five billion visits if people aren’t willing to spend a dime when they enter your site—what matters is that people have purchase intent when entering.

Despite the fact that “Traffic Cost” can mean you have a lot of monetization potential with your traffic, it does not mean a given business is making that much—in fact, it’s very possible many companies are making much more, and some much less.

When Value Doesn’t Mean Profits

For example, Wikipedia is far and away the #1 site on our list—but as you likely know, they do not have ads, nor do they sell product. They are the encyclopedia of the web, and for that reason, do not make much for the equivalent “value” of the keywords they rank for.

It is also worth noting that Google News is not included in SEMRush’s calculation, so it’s very possible many of these companies, specifically publishers, capture far more value than listed below. And with Google now including tweets again in search results, it’s possible Twitter may benefit additionally as well.

Finally, Yahoo/Bing is also not included in SEMRush’s calculation, so for most, you can take the number and increase it by about 20%. In short, the companies below capture a lot of monthly value from search.

Who Has The Most Valuable Search Traffic

Looking at the infographic above, some obvious stories emerge. First, it should come to no surprise for naysayers of Google that the company generates the third most valuable traffic on their own search engine.

It should, however, come as a surprise that if you compare the above numbers to today’s numbers of $819,249,556, Google’s monthly search traffic value has gone up $353,307,598, or 82.8%, in less than 30 days. 

This makes Google #2 on an updated list, and #1 for “for profit” businesses. And this isn’t the tool changing – most of the other companies have stayed in similar ranges, and other tools report aggressive search growth for Google as well.

You can also take a look at the following spreadsheet compiling the data we pulled that also brings in projected ad spend from SEMRush – by looking at that, it’s interesting to see which companies, such as Craigslist, generate a ton of valuable traffic through search but simply don’t care to spend on ads.

It’s also interesting to note that a car insurance company such as Geico could have more hypothetically valuable traffic than major banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America. That likely has much to do with many banks being slow moving and legally less likely to be able to take advantage of many search opportunities available to them.

Companies to Learn From

No matter how you slice it, these businesses are ones we can learn from as SEO practitioners. They have managed to accumulate a lot of really valuable search traffic, and they’ve done it in many different ways.

By keeping an eye on the ones doing it well, we might be able to learn a thing or two that may eventually enable our companies – and the companies we help – find their way onto posts like these.