There has a been a huge shift to online behaviour across search engines, e-commerce and social media ever since the Coronavirus outbreak. We’ve all experienced the quarantine trends in social media overnight, namely the “Until Tomorrow” photo challenge, Instagram story questions/bingo templates, 400 times coffee, and many more.
From an Ipsos’s market research conducted in March 2020, 48% of respondents said they had spent more time browsing online platforms. Watching this shift in online behaviour, our team has taken the chance to investigate into Coronavirus’ impact to search engine trends as well as to observe SEO best practices taken by top ranked pages.
Checking out Google Trends, we learn that keyword queries like “Coronavirus”, “Face masks”, “Alcohol hand sanitizer” has surged in interest and frequency over the last 3 months.
Google Trend: Interest over the past year of keyword query “口罩” (Masks)
Google Trend: Interest over the past year of keyword query “酒精搓手液” (Alcohol Hand Sanitizer)
We’re going to use “酒精搓手液” one of these most popular keywords to test and analyse the SEO tactics behind the top ranking sites. In the past 30 days, the interest for sanitiser is still high on some days.
Google Trend: Interest over past 30 days of keyword query “酒精搓手液”
A Glance at Google Search Results
When we enter the query into the search engine, Google displayed a variety of websites. While the 1st page contains more informative content from government bodies and key media, the 2nd and 3rd page start to show more online shops, local news and social media.
Search results of keyword query “酒精搓手液” – Apr 8, 2020
Within the first 3 search results pages, the overview of various search results are as follow:
The overall proportion of website types gives us an idea of the type of content users are looking for when searching 酒精搓手液. It is surprising to see that 50% of top 3 pages represent informative pieces while 30% represent online stores with purchase intent. Users are mainly looking to find out proper sanitizer usage or are looking to buy sanitizers online.
Here, we’re going to focus on 4 websites that showcases sanitizer products: Dettol (Rank #1), ParknShop (Rank #7), Watsons (Rank #14) and Medimart (Rank #47), to compare them in terms of 1) Traffic, 2) Technical SEO, and 3) Content and how it is presented.
The chart below shows the trend of average daily organic traffic to these 4 webpages from Feb to Apr, 2020. Average daily traffic of Dettol’s webpage (green) climbs sharply from 600 to 6009 over the period. Both ParknShop’s (yellow) and Watsons’ (red) increase as well, with ParknShop’s catching up at a faster pace from 178 to 2326. Whereas Medimart’s webpage (grey), which only appears on the 4th page of search results, experienced no daily traffic on average over the period.
Technical SEO elements:
In our technical SEO analysis, we’re going to compare the 4 websites based on SEO foundation elements such as headers to more advanced elements such as structured data. Below is a summary of the comparison.
How are technical SEO elements applied in the websites?
We’ll move on to drill down into each website to identify good and bad examples of how these key SEO elements are implemented.
Rank #1 – Dettol:
SEO foundational elements such as header tags, meta content and page speed were all well implemented. Dettol has provided a customized meta content with an approachable friendly tone that relates well to personal hygiene and the current environment. It also includes brief description of the product characteristics, as well as a call-to-action message. As illustrated in the table above, the website offers a relatively fast page speed.
Meta descriptions by Dettol
The website has also optimized its images with descriptive alt text to help rank in image search results.
Use of descriptive alt-text for image
Image from Dettol website appears in image search for keyword query “酒精搓手液”
A more advanced SEO element implemented here is structured data. Structured data is a standardized format to mark up the information about the webpage. It serves to help search engines like Google, Bing and others to better understand what the webpage is about. Dettol has implemented structured data “breadcrumb” that is supported by Google, helping Google identify the key information about the webpage as being highly relevant to sanitizer.
Structured data tag with breadcrumb implemented by Dettol
Rank #7 ParknShop:
ParknShop also has SEO foundation elements in place already. In this website, alt text are found with some images, but not all. Most product images are optimized with alt text installed.
Similar to Dettol, an advanced SEO element implemented by ParknShop is a “breadcrumblist” type of structured data tag.
Structured data breadcrumb list tag implemented by ParknShop
Rank #14 Watsons:
Watsons is a well-known chain retailer with e-commerce website. But not all SEO foundation elements are well in place. Although it has clear header tags, we discovered a problem with its meta description. If you compare the search result with its meta description below, you’ll find that instead of showing the meta description written by Watsons, Google creates its own snippets. This means Google identifies the meta description as irrelevant – reasons could be being badly-written, off-topic, duplicates, or even non-existent.
H1 tag implemented by Watsons
Meta description by Watsons
Despite the problem with foundation elements, most images on Watsons are optimized with alt text.
Image from Watsons website appears in image search for keyword query “酒精搓手液”
As for structured data, the existing structured data doesn’t provide useful information (neither product information nor page content) to Google, thus a more well-organized structured data is needed from Watsons.
A more well-organized structured data is needed from Watsons
Rank #47 Medimart:
Although Medimart has installed h1 and h2 header tags, the SEO foundation is incomplete as the site lacks a meta description. The page speed is relatively slow as illustrated in the comparison table.
Empty meta description in the webpage
Alt descriptions for key product images are missing.
In this webpage, although it tried to implement different structured data types, it was not well-implemented and some necessary elements are missing as illustrated below.
In the structured data markup for “product” type data, 6 items are missing.
Content and the way it is presented:
It is difficult to have an objective measurement of whether a content piece is good or bad. Instead, here we shall review content differences and use a user point of view to see how information is presented.
First of all, let’s suppose you would like to search and purchase alcohol hand sanitizers for your family. You googled “酒精搓手液” (alcohol hand sanitizer) to look for them. You do not have any brands in mind, and expect to see information of alcohol hand sanitizers and their prices, being ready to make an order online right away as it is running out at your home. Let’s go through the four websites below.
Global Manufacturer of Sanitizers and Cleaning Supplies – Dettol:
“Clear and precise, you’ll find what you need.”
Any common users who click into Dettol’s website from searching “alcohol hand sanitizer” would expect to see information about the mentioned product and where they can purchase it. Compared to the other 3 retail websites, Dettol as one of the largest brands for sanitizer, has more detailed information to offer for its own brand products and their outlets.
On the webpage, Dettol has made itself straight to the point by direct messaging with clear product information and images. When you arrive on the page, you will be able to find all the information you need about Dettol sanitizer products right away.
As a sanitizer specialist, Dettol also provides you, one of its target audience, a lot of tips and insights on personal hygiene related issues.
Regional Supermarket/ Grocery Giants – ParknShop and Watsons:
“Could be more specific, but you’ll still find what you need”
Since ParknShop and Watsons are retailers with multiple product selection, its landing displays a long product list showing all relevant hand wash product images, with further details available. Prices are clearly listed. But you’ll just need to look for alcohol hand sanitizers through the product listing.
A user-friendly feature is that you could apply product filter on both sites. ParknShop offers filter by brand, price range, country of origin, rating etc, whereas Watsons provides fewer filters comparatively. ParknShop provides button descriptions which allows you to navigate easily.
Local health product retailer – Medimart:
“Too little information on sanitizer, you’d like to know more.”
As a retailer of health products and equipment, Medimart’s webpage only provides one low-resolution product image of the alcohol hand sanitizer. Although the price and “purchase” buttons are clear, there is limited product information with only few lines of general descriptions. You’ll find that the rest of the website is not relevant to your immediate needs as it covers different chronic illness instead of personal hygiene issues.
From what we observed over these 4 websites, we could see Google ranking interrelates with various factors, from traffic and clicks to domain authority of the brand itself, technical SEO elements and content of the website.
You need a good technical SEO foundation.
Within the many factors involved, it is important to ensure that a website implements SEO foundation in order to gain a higher possibility of being ranked. As illustrated in the above cases, websites which implement all foundation elements i.e. Dettol and ParknShop tend to have a better ranking.
With all foundation elements well set, you can take a next step to customize meta descriptions, making your search result more specific and eye-catching to capture your target audience. You can also increase search engine reach by implementing alt text on images. Another tactic is to provide search engine with more information about your website by building structured data.
Content is Key.
But we also need to know – SEO is content-focused. Although technical elements cannot be neglected, it is also key to provide relevant and useful content to your target keywords to generate high ranking results.
Do you have any ideas about your website performance? Are your technical SEO such as structured data tags and meta content already well-implemented? Which part of website content should you focus on enriching?
To start off, simply go through a quick self-service site health check here. We’ll analyse your website with various SEO metrics, and provide your website SEO score, and guide you through how your site can perform better