Thousands of small businesses and millions of bloggers rely on Google to bring traffic to their site. If your content is good and if you’re doing some basic SEO then you had a good chance of ranking in search results and getting some decent traffic.

But some investigative work done by SEO geeks at Viperchill has uncovered that most of the top search results in popular industries are dominated by just 16 giant media companies. The dominate food, technology, gaming, beauty, lifestyle and many other popular niches.

But more alarmingly they are using the domain authority of their network of websites to rank brand new websites and those brand new websites are already ranking above old and established websites. These companies own these websites so it’s up to them to decide how they link to sites in their network. But if large media companies has the power to manipulate search engine rankings through their network of domains where does that leave other smaller publishers who don’t have a similar network.

This just goes to show the power of having an authority domains. You can write the best article about any topic and you can even rank for it, but if a top brand like Forbes or Inc covered the same topic you can be almost certain that they will outrank you, even if the article is average at best.

But what about the people who look to Google to find the right product, service or advice. They may think they’re visiting multiple websites and making an informed choice, but in reality they are visiting different websites owned by the same company. Imagine visiting 3 different websites for the same search and all of them recommending the same product or service. You’ll have little or no hesitation to pay for that product or service.

If you’re alarmed then you’re not alone. After reading the ViperChill article search results never looked the same for me. You’ll always have that little doubt in your mind. The best we can hope for is that those companies will promote the right products and not the products that pay the most.

The below infographics shows the top media companies and the authoritative websites owned by them. I’m sure you’ll recognize most of them, which makes it even more scary.

16 companies that dominate search results and the websites owned by them

The above info-graphic was made using Creately and the original image can be found by visiting 16 companies dominating search info-graphic.