How Amazon is Dominating Google Searches (And What Retailers Can Do About it)
Statistics show that Amazon.com is already the first place most U.S. consumers go when they start to research product purchases online. And now a new study by Searchmetrics shows just how hard Amazon is working to lure consumers away from other retailers when people search for products on Google.
Essentially, Amazon occupies a variety of different "real estate" on the search page, from traditional organic results to images and AdWords listings for product keywords from "curtains" or "bike lock" to "power rangers costumes," crowding out other retailers.
Dominating the First Page of Search Results
The data shows that even when Amazon already has the top result on Google for product-related searches, it has at least one other (and sometimes more than one) organic result in nearly half (45 percent) of cases. Similarly, it has at least one product image in 95 percent of the Images boxes shown for searches where it's ranked top and where Google includes images in results.
Additionally, Amazon uses Google AdWords and Google Shopping ads very effectively. These channels are highly relevant for product searches, with paid AdWords listings appearing for 27.5 percent of searches when Amazon ranks first for organic results, and Google Shopping ads being displayed for well over half (56 percent) of these keywords.
This means that Amazon’s organic result is often competing for searchers’ attention with AdWords and the carousel of product offers in Google Shopping ad units. However, given that Amazon itself appears in the Google Shopping box for 31.1 percent of the keywords analyzed, it's in a strong position to get that all-important user click.
What Does This Mean for Retailers?
Dominating Google search results is another way that Amazon can increase visibility at the expense of retailers. All is not lost however; the data indicates that there are ways for retailers to compete:
- Video: Videos in carousels appear in the results for 34.5 percent of searches where Amazon has the top organic position. However, Amazon itself doesn’t provide any video content, meaning it misses out on appearing here. In fact, the overwhelming majority of these results are from Google-owned YouTube. This means that retailers that target video — especially if it's hosted on YouTube — stand a better chance of competing for visibility against Amazon.
- Images: Image boxes appear in 44 percent of Google search results for which Amazon has the top organic spot. However, these boxes can include multiple images. In our analysis, the average box contains 11.8 images, which means that while Amazon provides almost a quarter (23.4 percent) of all images, three-quarters of the available spaces are up for grabs for other retailers. The best way to get into these results is to use plenty of high-quality images on your site and have your SEO team optimize the alt-tags and surrounding text with the correct keywords.
- Help from Google: Of course, even if Amazon owns the top organic result (and sometimes multiple other results) on the first page, there are still many organic slots available for retailers. On average, Google’s first page still shows around nine traditional organic results. In June 2019, Google rolled out its diversity update, which is intended to stop major brands (such as Amazon) from dominating organic search results. Our analysis shows this update did have an effect, particularly for transactional searches, where 52.3 percent of searches returned a first page showing a different website for every organic position on the first page.
Amazon and Google are battling to become the place where consumers start their shopping journeys. The data shows that the combination of Amazon’s huge product portfolio and resources is helping it to dominate search engine results, even when it already has the No. 1 organic result. This is another threat to other retailers, however, there are ways to fight back to gain consumer attention and clicks.
About the Data
Searchmetrics analyzed the first page of Google.com search results for 10,000 transactional keywords for which Amazon.com ranks with the No. 1 organic result. Brand searches — i.e., keywords containing the term “amazon” — were removed. The study focused on desktop searches, and the data was gathered in January 2020.
Tyson Stockton is the U.S. vice president of the Digital Strategies Group at Searchmetrics, the search and content optimization specialist.
Tyson Stockton is the U.S. Vice President of the Digital Strategies Group at Searchmetrics. Over the past 10-plus years, he has driven success in SEO & Digital marketing in both in-house roles and externally with some of the top online businesses. Over the last 4+ years at Searchmetrics, Stockton has led Fortune 500 companies in utilizing search data to drive SEO and content strategies. Stockton leads the Client Success, SEO & Content Services, Account Management, and Data Services teams at Searchmetrics.