‘Bricks beat Clicks’ on Google as Walmart, Nordstrom and BestBuy make Big Search Visibility Gains in Pandemic Year 2

Retailers with a physical presence dominate Searchmetrics’ List of Top 10 eCommerce Winners in Google.com Organic Searches in 2021

San Mateo / Berlin, February 2, 2022 – Traditional big box retailers and department store brands with brick-and-mortar locations dominate the list of top ten eCommerce websites with the biggest gains in google.com search performance[1] in 2021 new research finds. While apple.com enjoyed the biggest absolute boost in search visibility during 2021, established retail brands walmart.com, nordstrom.com, bestbuy.com and target.com are in the top five in the analysis by Searchmetrics.

Lillian Haase, CMO at Searchmetrics

Lillian Haase, CMO at Searchmetrics

No pure-play eCommerce brand (those without physical stores) made the top ten winners list. And while three major online marketplaces – amazon.com, ebay.com and etsy.com – were among the major eCommerce winners in search in the 2020 analysis, no online marketplaces featured in 2021.

“The pandemic continued to impact people’s ability or willingness to shop freely in physical stores last year, meaning curb-side pickup, click-and-collect and buy online pickup instore (BOPIS) have been booming. So perhaps it’s fitting that the sites that have made the most gains in search during the year are mainly those with physical stores who can offer shoppers these options,” said Lillian Haase, CMO of Searchmetrics. “During the pandemic, the brick-and-mortar retailers invested significantly in improving their web presence, product range and their purchase, delivery and collection processes. They seem to have accepted the challenge to compete with online marketplaces and they are seeing some good success, as this study reveals”.

Top 10 eCommerce sites with the biggest improvements in Google search performance in 2021



SEO Visibility

SEO Visibility

Increase (absolute number)

Increase in %









































2021 was a busy year for search with the roll-out of two major core algorithm updates (in June / July and November). Google uses core updates to correct and optimize its algorithm to ensure it is delivering the most relevant results. While the timing of the November update was criticized for hitting retailers close to the holiday shopping season, Searchmetrics’ analysis shows it actually had a positive impact on the Google visibility of retail websites including bestbuy.com and target.com.

July also saw the roll-out of the Core Web Vitals update (also known as the Page Experience update) in which Google began rewarding websites that deliver a good user experience in areas such as load time, interaction, and stability. This new ranking factor is not just important for eCommerce stores’ visibility in search, it also has a positive impact on revenue and conversions.

Also, Instagram, which many retailers use to drive product discovery, saw traffic and sales achieve an unprecedented rise in absolute search visibility in Google.com searches. While its competitor Pinterest was one of the biggest losers in 2021.

“This trend is the same across all the countries we analyzed; Instagram seems to be getting a lot right, while Pinterest seems to have fallen out of favor with Google,” said Haase.

The Searchmetrics study measured search performance[1] 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 ten ranking was based on a website’s absolute improvement in search performance between the start and end of 2021.

More findings from Searchmetrics analysis can be found on the company’s blogpost at: https://blog.searchmetrics.com/us/google-winners-losers-2021-us/

[1] A note on how Searchmetrics measures search performance
Searchmetrics measures search performance for websites using its SEO Visibility score calculated by monitoring the organic search results of millions of keywords. The SEO visibility score for a web domain is based on data such as:

  • The number of times a domain appears in the search engine results pages (SERPs) across the keyword set
  • Its prominence within those SERPs (a higher ranking equates to a higher visibility score)
  • The competitiveness of the keyword (higher search volumes equate to a higher visibility score)

For its evaluation of the biggest winners in eCommerce in 2021, Searchmetrics analyzed the change in the SEO Visibility of all domains included in its Index over the course of the year and identified the ecommerce sites with the biggest absolute growth in SEO Visibility.

The study focused on analyzing SEO Visibility (search performance) on Google US (Google.com) search results.

It is important to remember SEO Visibility is only an indicator of visibility that comes from a website’s organic search channel.


About Searchmetrics
Searchmetrics is a global provider of search data, software and consulting solutions. Its innovative approach ensures household names like AXA, Lowe’s and McKinsey & Company thrive in the hyper-competitive search landscape.

Searchmetrics enterprise offerings turn data from search into unique business insights that fuel clients’ continued growth.

Searchmetrics Suite delivers data-driven insights to maximize search and content performance. Its four modules: Research Cloud, Content Experience, Search Experience and Site Experience contain the tools SEO professionals, content marketers and digital specialists need to grow their organic search into a major driver of revenue.

The Digital Strategies Group is a team of data, SEO and content consultants who guide the world’s largest brands to excellence in digital marketing.

Searchmetrics Insights offer new sources of market research through exclusive metrics and analysis derived from search data.

Searchmetrics API allows enterprises to enrich BI or data warehouse applications with search engine rankings, keywords, content data and other marketing analytics.

More info: www.searchmetrics.com.

Press Contact:
Nadja Schiller
Searchmetrics GmbH
Director Global Marketing Communications
+49 30 322 95 35 – 52

Uday Radia
CloudNine PR Agency
+44 7940 584161

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