It’s been a crazy year for SEO. This year’s analysis of Google winners and losers shows significantly greater fluctuations than in previous years. Which U.S. websites successfully rode the wave? And which sites took a nose dive? Also, what impact did the year’s two major Google Core Updates June/July and November have on Google.com rankings? Read on to find out who made our lists.

Google’s 2021 loser is Pinterest, while Instagram comes out top in 2021

If Google were to have a social network award, it would most certainly have gone to Instagram in 2021. In absolute terms, Instagram achieved an unprecedented rise in SEO visibility in our index for Google.com. For its competitor Pinterest it was all downhill. 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.

Google Update Rally: Many of 2020’s losers made the 2021 winners lists

Google giveth and Google taketh away. One of the negative trends seen in the past few years is clusters of websites being penalized by the updates. Yet then the algorithm is revised and previous losers are back on top. For example, we identified this trend in some of the music and podcast sites we analyzed. While iheart.com, last.fm, and rateyourmusic.com were among the biggest losers in the May 2020 Core Update, the July 2021 Core Update gave these sites a boost right through December. This meant they ended 2021 with a clear increase in SEO visibility compared to pre-2020 levels.

Google Update of the Year 2021: Core November Update

Google’s Core Update November 2021 also drew some ire from the SEO community when it launched in the strongest sales period of the year: Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Now we are seeing how this core update positively impacted the SEO visibility of many websites, much to their delight. Here’s what the visibility histories of Google U.S. domains in eCommerce and reference sites look like when Google’s algorithm is feeling really, really generous:

The Top 100 Google winners of 2021

Google’s 2021 winners came from a wide variety of different sectors. While previous years saw some ups and downs in dictionaries, health and finance, the patterns in 2021 are much more diverse. The following are examples from various sectors that made the 2021 list of Google US winners:

  • E-commerce: Among the big players in eCommerce that won in overall visibility on Google are walmart.com, bestbuy.com, target.com, and nordstrom.com.
  • Education: The pandemic had a positive effect on the rankings of education and learning platforms such as kidadl.com, cuemath.com, and study.com, which saw a huge surge in SEO visibility.
  • Entertainment: Numerous portals from the streaming, music, and games sectors ended up Google winners in 2021 most certainly due to increased demand resulting from the pandemic. These include discogs.com, last.fm, gameforge.com, and twitch.tv.
  • Publishers: Following losses in 2020, many publishers enjoyed a very good year on the visibility front in 2021. These include parade.com, nypost.com, and the-sun.com, for example.

Top 100 Google Winners in 2021

Rank Domain SEO Visibility Increase (absolute) SEO Visibility Increase in %
1 instagram.com 2,729,198 37%
2 google.com 2,293,239 22%
3 imdb.com 2,131,250 26%
4 britannica.com 1,921,200 36%
5 merriam-webster.com 1,761,595 34%
6 facebook.com 1,365,968 8%
7 spotify.com 1,086,469 98%
8 linkedin.com 1,051,784 22%
9 apple.com 1,005,355 19%
10 tvtropes.org 829,527 340%
11 rottentomatoes.com 730,277 30%
12 walmart.com 718,040 36%
13 mayoclinic.org 626,616 29%
14 collinsdictionary.com 556,302 78%
15 yelp.com 527,510 46%
16 clevelandclinic.org 526,699 95%
17 dictionary.com 511,006 13%
18 tvguide.com 506,692 128%
19 people.com 471,881 64%
20 parade.com 469,862 153%
21 nordstrom.com 461,831 183%
22 bestbuy.com 448,982 47%
23 usmagazine.com 414,745 126%
24 target.com 402,730 33%
25 biography.com 355,984 33%
26 fandom.com 352,046 9%
27 reddit.com 348,359 38%
28 nytimes.com 347,406 12%
29 nypost.com 347,039 119%
30 quora.com 332,161 104%
31 discogs.com 293,185 61%
32 usnews.com 292,399 18%
33 iheart.com 279,134 94%
34 last.fm 274,389 222%
35 twitter.com 265,920 6%
36 lifewire.com 265,094 66%
37 makeuseof.com 254,155 243%
38 tvinsider.com 253,424 310%
39 eonline.com 250,651 92%
40 live.com 240,375 39%
41 cambridge.org 223,970 15%
42 yahoo.com 219,348 8%
43 genius.com 217,794 19%
44 steampowered.com 215,714 32%
45 gameforge.com 213,267 457%
46 softonic.com 200,311 41%
47 the-sun.com 198,729 207%
48 foursquare.com 196,478 410%
49 hulu.com 195,889 41%
50 tiktok.com 193,489 741%
51 rateyourmusic.com 189,835 252%
52 rollingstone.com 186,778 33%
53 looper.com 177,179 346%
54 foxsports.com 171,816 75%
55 si.com 170,282 85%
56 everydayhealth.com 166,050 100%
57 rd.com 165,214 80%
58 sciencedirect.com 165,041 28%
59 brainyquote.com 163,492 72%
60 fandango.com 159,149 84%
61 thefamouspeople.com 154,096 444%
62 reuters.com 154,092 44%
63 state.gov 153,301 42%
64 themoviedb.org 152,857 3916%
65 pagesix.com 150,553 88%
66 justwatch.com 149,872 247%
67 thesaurus.com 147,898 15%
68 nih.gov 145,671 8%
69 twitch.tv 144,074 143%
70 crazygames.com 143,799 36%
71 wikihow.com 141,482 44%
72 downdetector.com 134,620 48%
73 digitaltrends.com 129,818 49%
74 kidshealth.org 127,494 33%
75 vox.com 126,984 50%
76 shutterstock.com 126,623 39%
77 thepioneerwoman.com 121,883 145%
78 kidadl.com 121,317 10679%
79 study.com 121,192 103%
80 mapquest.com 117,769 18%
81 goodreads.com 116,845 14%
82 poshmark.com 115,922 85%
83 seriouseats.com 113,872 156%
84 gamespot.com 112,333 78%
85 uptodown.com 111,853 108%
86 foodnetwork.com 110,460 16%
87 screenrant.com 110,131 26%
88 istockphoto.com 109,243 139%
89 alamy.com 108,390 270%
90 homedepot.com 106,706 10%
91 cuemath.com 104,516 5749%
92 flickr.com 104,375 218%
93 ca.gov 102,691 16%
94 knowyourmeme.com 101,743 125%
95 dailymail.co.uk 100,905 38%
96 thoughtco.com 100,362 34%
97 nfl.com 98,786 22%
98 cornell.edu 97,583 38%
99 aljazeera.com 97,177 95%
100 couponcabin.com 97,054 29%

eCommerce 2021 – The Top 10 Google Winners:

Rank Domain SEO Visibility Increase (absolute) SEO Visibility Increase in %
1 apple.com 1,005,355 19%
2 walmart.com 718,040 36%
3 nordstrom.com 461,831 183%
4 bestbuy.com 448,982 47%
5 target.com 402,730 33%
6 homedepot.com 106,706 10%
7 lowes.com 84,023 17%
8 macys.com 75,008 12%
9 costco.com 72,790 34%
10 ikea.com 71,533 48%

 

The Biggest Google Losers of 2021

As always, in any given year there will also be Google losers. Here’s a look at some of the losers in 2021:

  • Pinterest: For Pinterest, all the TLDs indexed in Google experienced losses in visibility in 2021, especially Pinterest’s primary domain, pinterest.com. It saw a significant drop in visibility in Google’s U.S. index. But all the other TLDs whose URLs rank in the U.S. index pinterest.ca, pinterest.co.uk, pinterest.com.au, pinterest.es, or pinterest.ph, for example also saw a loss in visibility. This trend not only applies to the U.S., however. The year was also bad for Pinterest SEO visibility in the Google SERPs in the UK and in Germany.
  • E-A-T-Websites: As in previous years, there are some sectors with greater ups and downs than others. These includes E-A-T content about health and finance. Examples of losers this year include whattoexpect.com and healthgrades.com from the health sector and clark.com and citi.com from the finance sector. The algorithm seems to be testing domains at certain intervals so, these sectors can’t afford to rest on their laurels.

Top 100 Google Losers in 2021

Domain SEO Visibility Decrease (absolute) SEO Visibility Decrease in %
youtube.com -1,210,931 -20%
pinterest.com -971,779 -22%
tripadvisor.com -688,904 -35%
healthline.com -487,238 -17%
rakuten.com -334,926 -75%
cia.gov -239,641 -95%
vulture.com -233,024 -47%
pinterest.ca -228,587 -81%
bbb.org -227,745 -44%
niche.com -198,709 -30%
craigslist.org -184,639 -14%
mashable.com -157,401 -52%
thebalancecareers.com -155,750 -50%
prnewswire.com -151,466 -39%
gamestop.com -126,488 -33%
clark.com -124,219 -57%
whattoexpect.com -119,794 -44%
globenewswire.com -115,972 -71%
crunchbase.com -109,641 -11%
theatlantic.com -109,639 -24%
pinterest.co.uk -105,445 -81%
popcornflix.com -95,956 -60%
vimeo.com -94,859 -72%
givingassistant.org -93,868 -45%
mentalfloss.com -93,482 -40%
patch.com -90,977 -53%
cbs.com -90,248 -31%
bing.com -89,187 -36%
caranddriver.com -88,885 -20%
savings.com -88,474 -48%
whitepages.com -86,705 -29%
freeform.com -85,735 -74%
pinterest.com.au -84,428 -75%
cuny.edu -83,749 -39%
rxlist.com -81,898 -18%
agame.com -79,881 -39%
pinterest.es -77,589 -91%
openculture.com -76,013 -79%
hbr.org -72,264 -32%
astrostyle.com -72,082 -85%
healthgrades.com -70,340 -50%
thecut.com -69,171 -45%
muckrack.com -66,385 -29%
yandex.com -65,611 -52%
simon.com -64,645 -39%
usc.edu -64,091 -49%
consumeraffairs.com -63,103 -23%
lifehacker.com -60,545 -56%
pinterest.ph -59,785 -95%
khanacademy.org -58,885 -19%
springer.com -58,688 -58%
penguinrandomhouse.com -57,682 -35%
citi.com -56,164 -33%
topcashback.com -55,658 -82%


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