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Before Chapter 11, RadioShack Struggled with SEO

Ryan Johnson

Someday, the semantic web will make web browsers capable of understanding everything on your website without you doing any keyword research. But we aren’t there yet. Keywords are still necessary to tell Google what your website is about, and failing to plan accordingly will cost you valuable rankings in Google search results.

Since they were lauded for last year’s Super Bowl ad, I’ve been tracking RadioShack’s flailing fortunes. Then last week came the announcement they officially filed for bankruptcy.

There were many causes for the company’s decline: online competition, poorly run stores, over-expansion and mismanaged finances. However, their SEO efforts certainly didn't help them win any battles online. Failure to designate and optimize for a primary keyword on their website was part of the problem.

What is a Primary Keyword?

Every page on your website should have its own primary keyword. This goes back to general website structure. Rather than depending on multiple pages with the same idea, think of your website as a book and each different page in your site as a section of that book. Think of your home page as the inside of the cover — a blurb that succinctly says what the website is about.

You wouldn’t read a book where each chapter was the same, right? Same thing with a website. Don’t use multiple web pages to say the same thing over and over. Each section should have it’s own themes, all of which support the central idea of the website.

For each of those pages, or sections, the primary keyword is what tells both readers and Google “Hey! This is what this page is about!” The primary keyword should relay this idea in simple-to-understand text.

How RadioShack Failed at Optimization

Just off the top of my head, I’d say that RadioShack is a chain of electronics stores. So, let me search for that.

As you can see, RadioShack does not come up in my first page SERP results, even though there is one closer to me (a 5-minute walk) than any other electronics store. Best Buy and Fry’s, however, made the cut.


RadioShack’s website has a stunningly high domain authority of 87. If they did even the slightest bit of work to optimize the site for what their actual business is, namely an electronics store, they could be getting a sizable amount of the 12,100 monthly US searches (according to Google’s Keyword Planner) for the term “electronics stores.” As is, according to MOZ, the site doesn’t rank in the top 50 SERP results for “electronics stores.”


I’m going to only look at the homepage of RadioShack and its competitors for this piece.

Header Designation

There is not one mention of the term “electronics” on RadioShack’s homepage. If I were designing this website, I would add a simple H1 below the header on the homepage that says something like “America’s Top Electronics Stores”

The only H1 on the page is around the logo and the alt text RadioShack. Remember: you don’t need to optimize for your brand name. Don’t tell Google who you are, tell Google what you do. That’s what people search for – services, not brand names. If people are searching for you by brand name, they will find your site just by virtue of the brand name’s prominence of use on the site.

Meta Content

RadioShack’s homepage meta title says, “Do It Together.”

The meta title is the most important piece of content to optimize on your page. It’s it Google’s first stop for site information. It’s not the place for corporate branded messaging, and especially not for a term as bland and meaningless as “do it together.” Best Buy’s is pretty generic too: “Expert Service - Unbeatable Price.”


Fry’s, by contrast, has a homepage meta title of “Fry's Home Electronics | Computer Parts & Accessories, Software, Games, TVs, Cameras -” This is not perfect. It’s too long, keyword stuffed and has the brand name at the beginning instead of the end. It does, however, tell you (and Google) what Fry’s is about.

RadioShack’s meta description isn’t bad: “Shop RadioShack for a great selection of tablets, no-contract phones, audio accessories, Bluetooth devices, DIY components and more. RadioShack.”

However, I still find Fry’s to be much more straightforward: “Shop for your home electronics, from computers & laptops parts to cameras, televisions & home appliances.”

Best Buy’s is also good, but too long: “Shop Best Buy for electronics, computers, appliances, cell phones, video games & more new tech. In-store pickup & free shipping on thousands of products.”

Keyword Usage

The term “electronics” is not used anywhere on the home page, but is in the nav structure (electronics section and car electronics section).

On Best Buy’s site, the word “electronics” appears in the source code 40 times, almost exclusively in URLs. In Fry’s home page source code, “electronics” appears 80 times. On RadioShack’s homepage, the term “electronics” appears six times in the source code.

Failing to Optimize is Optimizing for Failure

As with Budweiser, another venerable brand that is falling behind in digital era, RadioShack has been unable to adapt to the changing ways in which people find and purchase products. Simply having a brand name is not enough.

By failing to optimize properly, the RadioShack that is a five-minute walk from me is losing potential business to a Fry’s 15 miles away. Brands can still buy TV ads, but those ads are providing increasingly diminishing returns in business.

And now, for RadioShack, it's simply too late.

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Ryan Johnson is an award-winning web content producer, online and traditional marketing strategist and writer. He is based in Chicago and is the SEO Manager at Imagination. Follow Ryan online or on Twitter. His last article for SEMrush was “Before Chapter 11, RadioShack Struggled with SEO."
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Ok thanks for your comments, appreciate it
Hi Ryan ok, I have thrown myself into Seo 8-9 months ago so I'm still learning and reading hours a day to try improve.

If I may elaborate my Qs, assuming we optimise homepage as you say, if we take a fictitious domain to put this into context:

1. you would assume this owner would optimise for halloween costumes & costumes on homepage as the website is all about this naturally, same as your example. You would have several categories of costumes across the site, adult, kids, pets etc. One no doubt would be "/costumes". So right now we have homepage and competing on this same keyword? Is that ok? You say one page should target one keyword. Here we have two pages competing for same KW.

2. Imagine Bob changes his mind and moves his site to the EMD. So as he now has this new domain, does he still optimise the homepage for costumes and would it be wise to drop the /costumes page as it would now read That may look spammy? The only difference between point one and point two is a shorter domain name in point 2, thats EMD.

Henry James
Hi Henry:

1) I would advice Bob to optimize the two pages for different keywords, using keyword planner to find some variations. For the main page, he might use a meta title of "Buy Costumes Online | Bob's Costumes". Follow through optimizing the page in header text, etc. for this keyword.

I disagree that one would no doubt be simply labeled as "costumes" as the site would probably be broken up into mens, women's, sexy, Christmas, etc. But for the argument, let's say that the site does have a page that is simply "costumes." This page could be optimized for "halloween costumes online" or "costume ideas". This requires you to think beyond just the word costume -
rather, think about what combinations people are searching for that include
the word costumes.
Hi Ryan. Whilst I understand all of your points, ive also read that Yoast and other sites like moz recommend optimising home page for brand only, not electronics. Any greater info on homepage Seo would be great reading for me. Thanks
Henry James
Hi Henry:
I disagree with that notion and here is why: If someone knows your brand name, and is already searching for your brand by name, you will turn up first in their search. You don't need to optimize for something you will rank first for anyway. The point of SEO is to beat your competitors for competitive business terms (like electronics stores).
Abhishek Kasaudhan
Thanks Ryan.. SEOs should optimise title for page summary not for branding i believe
Abhishek Kasaudhan
I agree, because you still get the brand name into the meta title. Radio Shack gets a lot more out of Electronics Stores | Radio Shack than they do out of Radio Shack | Do It Together.
I can't stop laughing at the meta title "Do it together". Anyway I did a little research myself and Radioshack does indeed have an SEO but from stories I've read from past employees they were stuck in the past. Imagine trying to pitch an SEO budget to Radioshack. No thank you.

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