10 Sites that Killed it on Organic Search Growth

Search traffic is hugely important for any website, no matter what industry, category, or time-period. For a website to maintain and increase its search traffic is a huge accomplishment and can only be good for the long-term health and growth of the site. To determine the biggest winners in year-over-year search growth we looked at the top 10,000 sites, judged by volume of traffic from organic search in of 2015, and compared this traffic to the same period in 2014. Of these sites, we discarded any that showed a negative trend in search traffic and only looked at sites that grew by 1% or more. The list below represents the top 10 overall, as ranked by 2015 search visits. If a site didn’t exist in 2014 we were unable to rank it among the top search winners.

The top winner of all 10,000 sites was YouTube, Google’s video streaming giant, whose U.S. search traffic grew 1% from 563,827,000 to 569,727,000. YouTube was the only website on the list with over a hundred million U.S. search visits, and only Pinterest had more than 50 million.

Among the top 10, Quora had the biggest gains in terms of percent change, as the Q&A site grew its search traffic by 120% in the U.S. This phenomenon, which we explored in a previous post, is even more impressive because only 5% of the site’s December 2015 organic search traffic came from the branded keyword “quora”. The next 3 most popular search terms of December 2015 represent a wide range of topics: “tai lopez,” deep web,” and the long-tail keyword “india is the largest exporter of beef in the world”.

overal top 10

In contrast to Quora, a whopping 48% of YouTube’s December 2015 traffic came from the branded keyword “youtube” with additional traffic coming from terms such as “you tube” “youtube.com” and “utube”. The most popular non-branded search term of December 2015 was “hotline bling” which accounted for about 1.2 million U.S. search visits overall. Pinterest is another site that thrives on branded search- 56% of the 2015 search traffic came from “pinterest” but an important 6% came from “pintrest” showing how important it is to make sure your SEO strategy covers misspellings.

In the case of the Washington Post, only 11% of the search traffic came from “washington post,” while 8% came from “donald trump” and an additional 3% coming from “trump”. For more information on how the election is shaping up online download our 2016 election report here.


The list above is made up of sites representing various categories, but below we break it up and look specifically at 11 different categories. Using the same methodology we found the top organic search winners in the following categories: AdultArts and EntertainmentEducationFinanceGambling, Online MarketingShopping, SocialSports, and Travel, with more insights on News and Media found at the bottom. Overall, the biggest winner by percent increase was citi.com which grew its search traffic from 601,000 to 3,334,000, an amazing gain of 455%. Other sites that saw a growth of over 100% include: movie and pop culture site cinemablend.com, education site coursehero.com, MMA news site mmajunkie.com, news and entertainment site bustle.com and 3 Adult sites: justporno.tveporner.comnhentai.net.

Discover the leaders in each category in the charts below:

arts and ent




online marketing






Lastly, in the news and media category there were many sites with over a million search visits that saw a growth in organic search traffic, and as such, we decided to extend the list and display the top 20. On the news and media list, CNN and Washington Post both made the top 10 list overall, and both LA Times and CBS News join them as sites that had over 10 million search visits in December 2015 alone. In terms of percent growth, Bustle was the runaway winner with 194%, followed by Vox, Esquire, and People. More information on the top U.S. media publishers and publications can be found in our media index here.



About the Author -

A pioneer in the field of SEO from a young age, Roy Hinkis currently serves as the Head of SEO & Digital Marketing Evangelist for SimilarWeb. He has over 10 years of experience in online marketing, with specific expertise in affiliate marketing, social media, and of course, SEO.

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