Domain Authority Study: Static Growth for FTSE 100 Retailers

The UK e-commerce industry has changed dramatically over the last six years. As well as traditional bricks and mortar stores overcoming the recession in 2008/2009, the same period saw an introduction of a swathe of pure online retailers, which sparked a rise in the volume of online purchases.

Fast forward to 2015, and ecommerce in the UK is booming. Sales continue to increase for brands such as ASOS, Missguided and Farfetch, showing there is no let up for the thirst in online fashion purchases.

In other sectors, and indeed other ecommerce markets, growth figures paint a similar picture. According to recent research published by OC&C Strategy Consultants, PayPal and Google, online sales in the UK, US, Germany and China will grow by £320 billion between now and 2018, expanding the market to £645 billion.

The catalyst for much of this growth? Mobile shopping. In the UK, 59% of online sales and now driven by smartphones or tablets.

At the heart of these ecommerce strategies lies search engine marketing, and in particular, the focus on SEO performance.

With many online players building large in-house SEO teams to focus on different product categories and international markets, SEO is key to delivering sales performance.

But how do the major UK retailers compare when it comes to domain authority (DA)? DA is a metric developed by the team at Moz.com, and is a score (from 0 – 100) that predicts how well a website will rank on the major search engines. As many signals are involved in its calculation, it is best used as a competitive metric, which is ideal for our study.

We wanted to compare year-on-year DA performance, and get both a better understanding of the average DA score for the FTSE 100 retailers, as well as any significant changes across the last 12 months.

In July 2014, the average DA score for the FTSE 100 retailers was 63. The highest scores were produced by Tesco, ASOS and Marks & Spencer, with 88, 87 and 84 respectively.

For an image version of the data (and for mobile users), please click here.

Fast forward to June 2015 and how do their respective DA’s compare? Our findings show that the average domain authority score hasn’t really changed, coming in at 62.

This demonstrates that for the FTSE 100 retailers, there has been relatively static growth in terms of SEO success with regards domain authority. Now clearly all SEO success is not down to links of course, but a higher domain authority does certainly help boost the on-page, technical and content work done by retailers.

Additionally there are some interesting comparisons to be drawn between the 2014 and 2015 figures for specific retailers. Laura Ashley for instance, dropped from 62 to 56. B&Q, with its memorable DIY.com domain, dropped 9 points from 72 to 63.

With all the press coverage that Tesco have received over the last 12 months, it was a little unexpected to see their domain authority drop from 88 to 82.

While some saw DA drops there were others that saw notable improvements such as Dixons Carphone and their Curry’s site jumping from 52 to 67.

So what could explain the static average DA for retailers? As many believe DA is based predominantly around link diversity and the number of authoritative links to a domain, one theory could be quality links are becoming harder to generate.

Bloggers are a key target for many retailers, but even they have now discovered the importance of the ‘rel=”nofollow”‘ tag, which discounts any equity a link may pass.

Whilst links form an important part of the DA score, other signals such as domain trust, on-page optimisation and spiderability all play an important part in determining DA. As such, focusing on all those areas should have an overall impact in your search engines rankings, as well as your traffic and revenue from SEO activities.

One thing is for sure, the SEO landscape is getting ever more competitive, which is inevitably making things more challenging for retailers. However, organic search is growing exponentially and presents huge opportunities, particularly around mobile, for those that can get things right. Domain authority on its own won’t always drive success, but as part of an overall strategy it will play an important role in the digital success of online retailers.

Given the fairly static DA authority across the last 12 months, this should be an opportunity for the most forward looking online retailers to steal a march on the competition and benefit from the consequent increasing traffic and revenue that will follow.

How does your site stack up against the average score? How much do you think on-page optimisation impacts success? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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digital domain authority ecommerce FTSE100 retail revenue SEO

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