As the festival weekend is fast approaching the E-commerce majors are coming up with another sale which is exactly during the Diwali. This triggered off the idea to really see how well these brands have invested in building their organic reach.
Before deciding to see how well each of these sites adopted themselves to the E-commerce SEO, I used Semrush.com data to see what kind of keywords for which these websites were ranking. Apart from keywords with "buying intent" and "branded keyword" searches, I found another peculiar thing.It was surprising to see that these websites now have started ranking for generic keywords such us 'dslr camera' , 'induction cooker' , 'imitation jewellery' where there may or may not be buying intent associated with the keyword. This clearly shows that over time Google's RankBrain has figured out that in India if a user is looking up for them then it is with intent to buy. Due to this Google has started to show all the top 3 e-commerce websites for such keywords. Having seen this additional insight which I managed to find with the data, let's now dig in and see how the sites fair against each other.
Schema E-commerce Markups
It has been known for some time that Schema markups provide great value added information which is used to enhance the SERP listings like reviews , price , stock availability etc. You may read about all possible E-commerce schema implementation. To benchmark them I have used a popular keyword 'iPhone 6s buy online' and then used the Google Structured Data Testing tool to check for structure data in the results pages.
On comparing the 3 e-commerce players using the tool , we see that SnapDeal comes on top as the best-optimised SEO website for schema.org implementation and Amazon.in does not seem to be adopting any form of schema.org which is very surprising!. But Google still displays the aggregate rating from the Amazon website may be due to its global algorithm understanding the Amazon product ratings structure very well. Flipkart can simply enable it by making the Schema.org implementations like SnapDeal and get to see - Bread Crumbs , Rating , Votes and inStock right inside the Google SERP.
*Product Schema : This encompasses Price , Aggregate rating, Offer (Instock).
Mobile & Desktop User - Page Speed Experience
The parameter to compare is the overall user experience. This is a fairly complex metric to compare the website since the actual user experience can only be measured by using tools like InspectLet or CrazyEgg or GA where we can check the page bounce rate. But a good proxy for this would be to measure google page speed. I have used the same links as previously discussed and collated the page speed scores on desktop & mobile.
It is a bit strange that Flipkart wins the desktop score with 83 but I think it's working closely with Google has helped it and Amazon wins the day for mobile. Having worked with development teams in Sportskeeda, I know that a score of 100 is ideal which is hard to target but normal experience has shown that a higher score do translate to better user experiences hence is a positive SEO signal.
On-Page SEO features
The traditional SEO on-page features like clean URL , title & heading with keywords, bread crumbs, unique product content, have long been covered by these web sites ( and possibly by every E-commerce player) and it does not make sense to compare the sites on this as these factors have lost their weight. So to compare the on-page features one needs to compare other features which are adding more value to the user during his buying process. These have an impact of reduction in the pogo-sticking effect. You can read more about this in my previous article 'SEO in 2016 = Solving for User Intent!'
Product Reviews: Easy to use & trustable product review which can help the users to make a buy decision.
Product Q&A : During the buying process if the user has questions about the product which are not addressed by reviews then the websites have Q&A. This is an innovation created by Amazon globally.
Let's compare & see who has added more value in these features so that users have better user experience. If one were to look at product reviews as a feature it seems Amazon with its first mover advantage and vast experience beats both Flipkart & Snapdeal by offering a very detailed review platform which allows users to get what they are looking for. Flipkart is the next best one and Snapdeal is the last in terms of an offering.
Similarly if one were to compare the 3 e-commerce sites for the answers section. We see that that Amazon and Snapdeal have decent implementations of the features while Flipkart misses this factor altogether
Technical SEO Comparision.
Over the years a lot of small HTML features were added to make the life of search engines easier and some of these when not one right can harm the rankings of the brand. One of the most important features is having 'canonical' tags to highlight the page which you would like the search engines to show. This is because E-commerce websites have many versions the same/similar content because of sorting function. As an example, it is usual to have up to 20 different versions of the URL with almost similar content and websites should use canonical tags in those 20 URLs pointing to the single URL which should they want to show in the search results. Similarly, there need to be canonical tags to indicate that mobile version and desktop version of the pages are the same.
Based on the analysis it can be seen that these 3 have got their tech part sorted , except for a small error in Flipkart not having used canonical tags for mobile & desktop.
Internal Linking & External Links
As E-commerce is a dynamic category the main lever which the SEO team has to improve the rankings on SERPs is to use to internal linking to enhance certain pages and their rankings. This is not a topic which can be studied in an easy manner without access to analytics or by using paid tools like SearchMetrics. Since I don't have access to the SearchMetrics tool anymore I have not done any analysis on this topic.
But still mentioning it here because it is a very important lever in E-commerce optimisation and is often overlooked in favour of external link building using spurious means. In my experience, I have seen that internal links if used effectively are able to really take away the need for external link building by spurious means. !
In Summary- SnapDeal is the winner ?
On the basis of the analysis, one can see that SnapDeal seems to have done quite a bit of good work and this shows up in several places in the SERPs. Flipkart seems to lead the SERP rankings for now because of it being around for a longer time and being a more well-known brand than Amazon & SnapDeal.This just re-emphasises the fact that brand signals as perceived by Google as a powerful SEO parameter and this is usually measured by the number of branded searches which are made. Spending money on full-page newspaper ads seems to be driving this. But since all 3 are spending the same money, Flipkart can potentially be displaced from its top spot unless it pulls it's socks and stays on top of SEO changes.
This article was originally published on LinkedIN here <Seo Analysis>