With the rise of the digital age the “brick and mortar” shopping experience has now been digitized and made accessible to the user in the comfort of their home. It’s no wonder that the retail industry boasts phenomenal SEO, ranking in the top five performing verticals. In the Vector Report, an SEO study of the INC 500, we revealed that the top performing industries in both 2014 and 2015 are Education, Food & Beverage, Consumer Products & Services, and Retail – which we will be discussing in this post. In the retail industry specifically, stimulating sales is always the high-level business objective.
This is why B2B retail industries give companies the opportunity to connect to their online customer and motivate customers to take action. Below, we will discuss the online shopping phenomenon and how SEO impacts the success of this industry.
Online shopping is expected to grow to $370 billion by 2017 (link). Retail brands face the constant challenge of keeping themselves relevant and unique to their users, using the internet as a way to share their visual story.
Through careful analysis of top performing and underperforming companies, we at iPullRank revealed that companies in the retail vertical tend to perform well in terms of spam score and unnatural link grades, but struggled in maintaining strong trust metrics and link popularity scores. Furthermore, we uncovered that companies performing well did a phenomenal job connecting users to their products through extensive reviews, varied content, and an engaging personal online shopping experience. Let’s take a look at five companies in the retail vertical to better understand the do’s and don’ts in the retail marketing world.
Tatcha (SEO #13, Inc. 500 #21)
Founded in 2009, Tatcha is a skincare line inspired by the rituals of Japanese geishas. With a strong presence on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, Tatcha does a great job connecting to its users through short videos and daily posts. The site does phenomenally well in terms of unnatural linking. With nearly 16.2K backlinks and 1.6K referring domains, the site has built strong quality links with reputable sources bringing in organic traffic and a stronger customer base. Additionally, the brand does a good job telling a visual story through its overall user experience. Users are greeted with strong visuals and even more compelling reviews and product descriptions.
The first part of the parallax site offers several strong call to actions making the page overall very actionable. However, the site struggles in terms of link popularity and visibility scoring. The site has about 2,107 “nofollow” links totaling about 13 percent of the site’s total backlinks. This in turn has affected the site’s trust metrics, which is why they scored a B. The site’s overall spam percentage is over 0%-.01%. Tatcha’s most linked to content is the site’s main landing page. Additionally, the average URL rating for Tasha’s content is a UR score of 35/100 meaning that the site’s backlink profile is target URl is relatively low. As we know it, search engines use anchor text as part of their rankings.
Since Tatcha is a topic-specific popularity site, it should focus on obtaining links from blogs and websites that discuss similar products. For example Refinery29 and StyleCaster would be good blogs to target for backlinking. Additionally, the site should focus on creating diverse content surrounding popular anchor texts. See image above. For example the site could create memorable content pertaining to its popular products relating to “deep brightening serum” or “moisture rich silk cream”. Diverse content such as how-to videos, product reviews, and best skin regime incorporating these anchor texts alongside SEO-optimized text and strategically incorporating internal links would beneficial.
Tipsy Elves (SEO #258, Inc. 500 #30)
Tipsy Elves gained popularity after appearing on the hit show Shark Tank. Known as the “holiday themed” retail company the company earns ninety percent of its revenue through online sales (link). A unique and charitable marketing component employed by the company is that users are able to round to nearest dollar at checkout and the extra money is donated to Save the Children. Prior to the Shark Tank investment money the company initially focused on selling ugly Christmas sweaters. It then became all encompassing focus on “socks, jumpsuits, and college sweaters”, while also incorporating other holidays. The site scores an A in unnatural Links and Spam Score, but scores a C in Link Popularity Grade.
A deep look at the site’s links and referring domains shows that the site’s main e-commerce landing page is most linked to. The best linked content page on the site is “The Ugly Christmas Sweater,” which takes a user to a product page. Because this content is so popular, adding additional content around this piece, such as videos about hosting “Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties” or infographics about ugly sweater games that can be played during the holidays, would be a great way to get even more traffic to this product. Most importantly, because the company is retail-specific, optimizing anchor text could greatly benefit their Link Popularity grade.
In terms of Trust Metrics the site scored an overall B. What’s interesting to note is that while users can rate the products with a 5 star scale, they are unable to write actual reviews of the products. The site has an overall domain authority of 45.21 out of 100.00. By having authentic reviews written by real users the site could increase its Trust Metrics. The content on the site is not very shareable and does not internally link to the unique products the site is selling. Witty, comical, brand-related to seasonality and current holiday the site should focus on creating timeless evergreen content that speaks to all demographics on the site. Blog posts, infographics, and how-to videos can internally promote items that are on sale. Additionally, great content can create a collaborative environment for users to communicate with each other throughout the site and social media sites and in turn urge users to review products. According to Moz, 67 percent of users responded that online reviews are “fairly or absolutely important” when making an online purchasing decision (link).
Side by Side Stuff (SEO # 23, Inc. 500 #314)
Side By Side Stuff had a revenue stream that totaled about 6.8 M dollars in 2014 (link). They are an online retailer that sells aftermarket parts and accessories for off-road vehicles. Their site is extremely user-friendly with an inviting and clean user interface and strong call to actions. The site boasts nearly 13.2 K backlinks and has about 636 referring domains from high authoritative sites. These low metrics are the main reason the site’s Unnatural Linking Score is an F. The website is backlinked to sites that are primarily low quality, spammy, and lack authority in the digital world. Furthermore, the site has scored a C for Trust Metrics due to its lack of strong content being backlinked. The low scores in both categories can be fixed if the site focused on producing rich, diverse, and link worthy content, while optimizing their anchor texts. The site lacks a blog, which is imperative in being able to promote brand identity and awareness. Interestingly enough, the site has a few YouTube videos discussing certain products in depth, but does not embed these videos onto their actual site. The site should focus on building more videos discussing various products in depth and becoming an all around resource for motor sport gear tools. Red Bull does a phenomenal job implementing this strategy as it has become a lifestyle brand making their product relevant to specific demographics.
As of now the site lacks a blog, but has a Youtube channel with a fairly large following. Integrating Youtube videos into the site with the right social media buttons could help with the backlinking issue.While the site is referred to in many YouTube reviews, a link to Side by Side Stuff is nowhere to be found. The site has a strong presence in this niche and should build out varied content to create a stronger brand and stance in the industry. Tutorials, how-to’s, infographics, rich videos, and video testimonials can help increase user base and increase overall authority. The product descriptions are extremely detailed and reviews are clear and present new engaging content told by real users. In and of themselves, they are uniquely written and parallel well with the company’s branding, mission, and values. The site’s overall Page Authority is about 44/100 and has nearly 58 root domains and 6,974 total links. The sites backlinking and linking to the Side by Side are low authority sites leading a score of an F for unnatural link. A majority of content that is backlinked to the site are links with optimized anchor text in articles distributed on the other site. Google in has stated that such links can potentially go against quality sites.
Handsome Brook Farm Pasture Raised Eggs (SEO # 284, Inc. 500 #390)
Handsome Brook Farm Pasture Raised Eggs is a local egg business in Franklin NY, selling “pasture-raised” eggs in over 48 states and in 4,500 stores. The company is ranked number 284 in the Inc 500 but was awarded a D grade in the Vector Report. Additionally, the company has 286 backlinks and 104 referring domains. Its most referred to content is the site’s main landing page due to its lack of diverse content and blog posts throughout the site. Most domains backlinking to the site are low authoritative sites with a very minimal online presence. Important to note is that Handsome Brook Farm has two products with skimpy and unclear product descriptions.
Clear, informative and unique product descriptions with authentic reviews would increase the company’s trust metrics and link popularity grade. Furthermore, the site lacks informative content that helps retailers engage with the company’s mission and value. An addition of customer success stories, case studies, and relevant industry news pertaining to pasture-raised eggs could be beneficial for the company. The company lacks a strong online presence, which in turn is affecting the company’s overall Trust Authority. They lack strong content that is trusted and linked, hence their very low Link Popularity and Trust Metrics score.
The site also lacks user generated content that relates to the site’s overall Unnatural Linking and Trust Metrics. Handsome Brook Farm should focus on creating content that encourages its users/buyers to express their thoughts on the product. Such content could include quizzes, online forums, content discussing healthy eating recipes with the company’s eggs as a main ingredient. For example take a look at Sprouted Kitchen, named one of the Best 32 Food Blogs to Follow in 2016 by Greatist (link). Upon entry to the site a user is greeted to great quality images and videos.
By focusing on strong content and branding the products on the site Handsome Brook Farm Pasture Raised Eggs could have a strong presence in the digital ecosystem.
To Sum It All Up
An article written by WSJ reports that in 2015, 51% of shoppers did their shopping online compared to 48% in 2014 (link). Online shopping is growing and it is crucial for brands to have a strong online presence to continue keeping customers engaged and loyal. It is imperative that companies focus on staying relevant and constantly create and recreate their image through content. Content in turn helps a site’s overall presence in the digital world and helps with domain authority and backlinking. The better the content the more likely it will be referred to by another high authoritative site or blog. As indicated in our report, the lack of link popularity for retail is an indication that companies need to identify trends in SEO, Content Marketing, and Link Building to integrate the the best strategy for their specific company. Sites like Handsome Brook Farm Pasture Eggs who may treat their websites as secondary, as many other Inc. 500 companies do, are hurting themselves as there is immense value in the value of content marketing, and owned/earned media to speak to that vertical audience. Our team at IPullrank would love to see YOU on the list next year.
Want to find out how your company stacks up against the Inc. 500 in SEO? Learn how you can get your own in-depth analysis at Vector Report.