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.
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.
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 - Frys.com.” 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 Frys.com 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.”
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.