Is the Fortune being used for Search?

By Jeff Campbell, VP, Senior Account Director

The top companies in the world are doing something right…is it Search? Below, I critique the Search campaigns (Paid & Natural) for a few of the largest companies in the world, according to Fortune’s coveted list.

1. Wal-Mart – We all are quite familiar with the cost-savings methods of the largest retailer. That said, I was surprised to see that Wal-Mart was not utilizing paid search on it’s brand terms knowing there are many benefits. When doing a few more searches, I noticed an Affiliate ad and clicked it, only to find that another Affiliate is living up to their shady stereotype:

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WalMart Affiliate Security Warning

When making product searches for Wal-Mart products, they don’t seem to compete. Interesting model; I wonder if it’s due to extensive testing and a strategic decision or lack of prioritization. Further, they simply don’t have enough web content on digital cameras or the Nintendo Wii to compete naturally (look at those URLs & page titles: oh my!).

2. Toyota Motor – A search for ‘venza’, the new Toyota CUV, reveals top listings are dominated by Toyota – paid and natural. Customized ad copy, text-based landing pages, and clean/crawlable URLs help support this success. Video results are also included in the Google SERP, hopefully, the folks at Toyota realize the power of video content and top listings are positive reviews. Also, cheers to Honda, who is ranking in PPC spot #3 with the competitive Honda Pilot. Unfortunately for Toyota, they aren’t showing for Honda Pilot searches…guess it’s a one-way competition.

3. General Motors – Are they putting America’s bail out dollars to work in (arguably) the most efficient media out there with paid search? Yes! Searching model names and numbers, they pass the test. Jeers to their development shop who didn’t consider optimizing for search engines with an HTML mirror for their Flash Hummer site. Further, when going to, a user has to go through annoying pop-ups – it’s even mentioned in the precious real estate of their homepage:

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Hummer Flash Site Pop Up fares no better:

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Saab Flash Site

Overall, it was an eye opening experience to see the opportunities (low-hanging, at that) that exist for each of the mighty companies. Whether it’s optimizing existing content for search engines and users or buying content around searches, I guess it’s reassuring to see the growth opportunity for Search Engine Marketing. Sales guys…make their phones ring!

Please note, I only spend about 5 minutes per company and this doesn’t represent a full site audit.


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