How do top e-commerce companies in the United States dominate search engines?
What strategies do they use to increase website traffic? By studying their methods, what can you learn and apply to improve your own business?
To answer these questions, this paper analyzes a recent study by emarketer, a market research firm, which surveyed the top 50 e-commerce companies in the United States. A complete study needs to be paid to read, but this paper has summarized the study.
This paper uses the data provided by ahrefs to analyze the performance of these companies in SEO. The following figure shows the revenue of these 50 e-commerce companies:
As expected, these 50 e-commerce companies do occupy a leading position in SEO, and they can bring tens of thousands or even millions of natural traffic through SEO every month.
This analysis excludes several smaller e-commerce enterprises among 50 companies. In addition, the top three e-commerce companies are also excluded because their huge data makes all other websites inferior.
This analysis will also be more in-depth, and show that the dominant position in SEO is not only basic knowledge. Yes, you need to get more backlinks and keyword rankings, but that’s not all.
Some companies get more traffic and revenue, but have fewer backlinks and keyword rankings. Modern SEO depends on many factors.
Some important findings of the study include:
· All companies have obtained considerable SEO Traffic, but traffic itself is not a direct indicator of revenue.
· Ahrefs domain rating (an ahrefs specific metric that shows the total size and quality of backlinks on the target site) does not predict the traffic and revenue of the company under study very well.
· The number of keyword rankings is a powerful traffic predictor.
· Companies can dominate traffic without indexing a large number of pages.
All companies have huge SEO Traffic
The 50 companies analyzed this time all have huge SEO Traffic.
It’s tempting to think about how many more people visit the top three companies (Amazon, apple and Wal Mart) than others. Huge traffic is also reflected in revenue data, with the three companies being the only ones with revenues of more than $10 billion.
There seems to be some relationship between revenue and flow, so this analysis links the flow and revenue of each company, and finds that:
The line in the figure above is a best fit line, which shows an approximate linear relationship between the two variables.
It can be seen from the figure that although there is a relationship between traffic and revenue, it is not an absolute relationship. Some companies generate three times as much revenue per SEO visit as others. This also proves that the success of SEO is not only that it can bring natural traffic.
How high is your traffic conversion rate?
Can you get more sales from these traffic like other companies?
Can the keywords you get ranking take the traffic to the right page?
Although there are millions of articles on the Internet describing the importance of traffic, traffic indicators are still difficult to achieve. Some of the 50 companies have similar revenues, but some have to maintain service costs three times higher than others if they want to retain more visitors. If your SEO doesn’t attract the right people, then you will see your traffic soar, but not your income.
Finally, in emarketer’s revenue estimation of these 50 e-commerce companies, non SEO Traffic may play an important role. In particular, paid advertising (paid search and paid social) traffic is a major driver of sales growth for many e-commerce companies, including these 50 companies.
The number of pages indexed has nothing to do with SEO traffic or revenue.
It will make you mistakenly think that if you have more pages indexed, then you can get more keyword rankings, which will bring more traffic and income. According to this analysis, this idea is simply wrong.
There is no correlation between the number of pages indexed and traffic, keywords, or revenue. It is also difficult to find the correlation between the number of index pages and other indicators.
To prove this, here is a graph of the relationship between revenue and the number of index pages:
As you can see from the figure above, there is no clear correlation between revenue and index number. Macy’s, for example, has $4.6 billion in revenue, with 1.6 million pages of index pages. JC Penney, a clothing store in Jesse Penney, has only $1.5 billion in revenue, with 3.8 million pages of index pages.
You may think that because there are non SEO traffic sources, revenue should not be related to index pages. The following figure shows the relationship between traffic and the number of index pages:
The figure above shows that there is no correlation between traffic and the number of index pages. That’s why SEO experts often look for “index bloat” on their websites when working with e-commerce customers, which can help them improve their results by deleting unnecessary pages. The company on the right in the figure above is relatively a large site with thousands of index pages, but most of them are not in the lead in SEO Traffic.
It is worth noting that Costco and Kohl’s, the largest chain member retailers in the United States, both have more than 10 million natural traffic per month, but their index pages are relatively small.
Costco has so much search traffic for several reasons. One is that it has a brand influence that cannot be underestimated. Costco has many top keywords (such as “Costco ties”, “Costco photo” and “Costco optical”) with its brand name. Costco, an impressive brand name, has gained more targeted search traffic.
Another reason may be that Costco is indexing unnecessary pages. Although they get a lot of traffic, but not from the target customers will not bring income to Costco. The traffic brought by this kind of page actually has no meaning at all. It also divides the traffic of other pages.
Finally, the following is the relationship between the number of keyword rankings on the website and the index page:
While more pages may mean more keyword rankings and access to traffic, this is not always the case. In fact, reducing the number of pages partially indexed is also a way to increase search traffic.
As shown in the figure above, increasing the number of pages in the index does not guarantee more keyword ranking. You can use a small number of high-quality pages to get more keyword rankings. There is a Cruft finder tool that can help you solve this problem.
Of course, if you sell a lot of products, it may be the right way to try to rank many pages. It all depends on your business.
Some companies may index less content, but they still rank a lot of keywords. They may have less inventory and higher prices. They may give priority to ranking product category pages, such as those that sell all phones, rather than individual product pages, such as those for iPhone 7. Or, they want to focus all their energy on a set of important keywords and pages.
Fortunately, this shows that providing more products is not the only way for an e-commerce company to grow. Effective marketing of existing products can also bring huge benefits to the company.
Ahrefs domain rating doesn’t seem to measure traffic and revenue very well
Ahrefs has a domain rating system, which is used to measure the ranking of a site on Google. The ranking is based on 1-100. This ranking is in logarithmic form, so a website needs to greatly improve its backlinks to get 10 points each time. Each next 10 point increase is much more difficult than the previous one (from 1 to 10 is easier than 10 to 20).
Keep in mind that 83% of sites have a 0-5 site rating, but the lowest site rating seen in the above figure is 73. On the other hand, it shows that 50 companies on the list make full use of SEO technology.
When ahrefs uses related domain names (referring to a domain with a backlink pointing to a page or a link, which can be understood as a backlink domain) to determine domain rating, it can find the weak correlation between domain rating and revenue. This is reasonable, because the website can improve the keyword ranking by its own influence, but this is not omnipotent.
These sites have built their own image in Google, so their image may be more important than other factors. Getting an extra hundred or even a thousand backlinks won’t change much for most of these 50 companies.
Of course, for the small website being built, every reliable backlink is valuable.
Ahrefs needs a paid subscription to view the rating of your site in domain rating. If you want to get a free alternative, you can check the domain name authority indicators from Moz, the SEO company. It also ranks sites on a scale of 1-100. You can use Moz’s open site explorer tool to see the domain name authority of any website.
Referring domain is a good predictor of success.
Although there are many ranking factors for SEO, the total number of related domain names is still one of the most powerful predictors of overall SEO ranking. To quantify the ability of these sites to create backlinks, this analysis looked at the number of related domain names each site had. In addition, we also studied the backlinks of dofollow (which can track the link) and nofollow (which tell spiders not to track the link on the web page), because there are still some arguments about the influence of nofollow link.
These e-commerce companies do a great job in building links. From this analysis, you can’t know how many links are created actively or passively.
For almost all sites, you can see that most related domain names have at least one follow backlink. Therefore, it is difficult to analyze the impact of nofollow backlinks on the ranking of these websites.
When we study the relationship between revenue and backlinks, we see the same trend when comparing revenue and traffic:
It can be seen from the above figure that there is a relationship between revenue and related domain names, but it is not very strong.
The figure also shows why modern SEO needs to consider more than just backlinks. There are many factors in a successful SEO scheme.
The number of keyword rankings vs. the proportion of revenue to traffic vs. revenue is almost the same
When you look at the number of keywords ranked by each e-commerce website, you will find that the overall proportion is similar to the proportion of traffic and income. The company with the highest ranking is also the company with the most Keywords:
Also interesting is the relationship between traffic and the number of keyword rankings:
Although there is a general correlation between keywords and traffic, the traffic generated by each keyword is significantly different. You can refer to the following chart showing the ratio of traffic to keywords:
Therefore, although more keywords will bring more traffic, there are still many choices when deciding which keywords to target. Is your goal to have 100 searches per month, or more than 1000 searches per month?
Your industry should be able to explain that. If the product name sold in your industry belongs to long tail keywords, you need to rank more keywords with less traffic; if you sell products in an industry with shorter search keywords and a wider range, you need to rank a few keywords with more traffic.
No reason can be found in this analysis to support this view. But you can refer to two similar companies: Nike and under armour. Nike has 3.7 million keywords and 24 million monthly visits. Andrma’s ranking keywords are 883000, attracting 2.7 million visitors a month.
There seem to be other factors at work, such as how strong your brand is, and these factors determine the most suitable SEO method for your website.
The following are the biggest gains of this analysis:
·When you want to maximize sales with SEO, you have to consider more than natural traffic.
· It’s not good to index more pages if you’re not careful.
· Although domain rating is a general measure of your website’s success, you can also see companies with similar scores but with large differences in traffic and revenue.
· Focus on quality: you may get more backlinks, but know that you can also succeed with relatively few high-quality related domains.
· There should be a strategy for the type and number of keywords you are targeting.
· If you want to master e-commerce SEO, you must go beyond the simple basic level. Even if you get a lot of backlinks or a lot of keyword rankings, it doesn’t guarantee that you get more meaningful traffic. SEO ranking system (domain rating of ahrefs) is useful, but not all.
SEO can also force you to make decisions without a clear answer. Do you want to get the keyword ranking with less traffic and more quantity, or the keyword ranking with more traffic but less quantity? How many pages have you indexed? Have you established enough authority, and no longer need to establish links to help improve traffic?
Happily, SEO can solve your problem. Emerging new companies are constantly using SEO technology to get traffic. As long as you make the right decision, SEO can bring you a lot of traffic.