WalMart fails to understand online marketing

From several previous posts we have discovered that a majority of traditional retailers don’t place as much effort into their online strategy as they do their shades of colour used on the logos or even the material used for corporate furniture….

While a majority of the Toys R Us web properties fail to follow the basics around search optimisation, they still rank #1 or #2 for many of the high volume terms because they have an effective and established backlinks.  But with some on site optimsiation it is possible that they can further increase their online sales from their current position. This will also help them expand their reach to the profitable and higher converting long tail search terms that their competitors currently capture. They appear to be well ahead of Walmart.com in the market to capture a bulk of the profitable online toy market.
Website Traffic
Even the more established online sites Toys.com and eToys capture significantly less traffic according to compete.com site analytics. The site analytics figures show that even though ToysRUs.com is a niche retailer it still attracts a significant amount of website visitors.
Walmart.com (51.8 million)
Toysrus.com (18.7 million)
Amazon.com (76.4 million)
What is interesting is that Walmart traffic grew 52% less than the 78% growth for Toys R Us leading upto the Xmas period.  Amazon showed far less of a spike with around 8% growth but matched the other 2 websites for yearly growth rates according to compete.com.
Keyword Ranking?

So how does eToys managed rank #2 for the search term “toys” when Walmart struggles to rank #5. The basic analysis revolves around eToys is a keyword friendly domain and has always been associated with toys.  This combined with around 20,000 links from 2,500 domains

vastly out performs Walmart.com/toys which has 57,000 links but from only 80 domains. Domain diversity is an issue and Walmart’s backlink strategy is leaning closer to spam and failing to give it the extra online sales.
So how does Walmart rank for its key terms and products it seems to indicate are key areas of business or has plans to capture more market share. It doesn’t appear that they have made an effort to improve what toys are the hot/popular from Christmas 2008 which is not the best start.
Walmart.com Keyword Rankings in Google.com (Top 100)
Toys #5
Games #N/A
High School Musical  #N/A
Disney #N/A
Iron Man #N/A
Elmo #70
Star Wars #N/A
Batman #N/A
Barbie #N/A
Lego #N/A
More #N/A
Action Figures #24
Bikes #7
Scooters #21
Skates #11
Building Sets #N/A
Dolls #N/A
Stuffed Toys #N/A
Games #N/A
Kids Electronics #3
Learning Toys #12
Music Instruments #N/A
Karaoke #N/A
Outdoor Play #3
Preschool Toys #3
Riding Toys #2
Radio Control Vehicles #53
Video Games #27
Gift Finder #19
We did not include universal search results that showed Google Product listings for some searches such as Scooters, only actual organic results for Walmart.com.  The biggest problem is that based on our own clients data you need to be first page of the search results at 92-94% of clicks occur here and do not goto the second page, combined with expanded universal search results it is key to be in the top 3 results to be successful. There is so many gaps in their products that don’t even feature in the top 100 which I thought would be impossible for a website like Walmart.com which shows there are major issues with their online marketing strategy.
Meta Tags
It also seems that Walmart still seems to follow some basic points to guide the search engines such as Meta description or Meta Keywords and leaves this marketing message to algorithms. It is not always best to leave your advertising message to a robot to self generate based on its estimates on what would encourage people to click.
Canonical Tag
But a guiding point is that they are using Canonical tags to reduce duplicate content and give Google/Bing the hint of what page they wanted showed in the SERPs. http://www.walmart.com/toys
The canonical choice of URL does show some hope for WalMart at a top level but they seem to fail around most other factors such as relevant title tags, and even SEO friendly URLs within the store.  These failures combined with overuse of onsite ads, too many images, too much flash and poor page loading times affect website usability.
Site Navigation fails consistency
I would rate this is a poor navigational URL for a website and one that could easily lead to broken links
Product URL fails to rank well
How could what product or item this URL is for? http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.do?product_id=11018843
It doesn’t make sense to the user and would i be likely to share or bookmark this link? Once again Toysrus.com ranks higher at #3 for the search term “DC Universe Batman figures” but below Amazon.com #2 which shows that there is something wrong with the online marketing by Walmart.com
Google Insights
Using Google Insights for Search Toys R Us has around 10 times the amount of branded search traffic that Walmart Toys does.  Combined with owning 3 of the top online domains: Toyrus,eToys,Toys gives them a massive lead over Walmart. Using the basic calculation of a #1 & #2 result for Toys R Us website this gives them an estimated of around 53% of clicks from searchers seeking toys in the US market.
SEO Factors such as Domain Age?
Looking at some key search ranking factors for Walmart.com and it appears to be around 2 years older than the eToys.com domain so we can say that in this case domain age is less of a factor. Also it seems that Walmart.com’s competitors such as Toys R Us fail to take onsite optimisation as seriously which leaves link strategy as the only differentiator between the two companies.
Walmart Domain Strategy
Walmart continues to buy back domains which it didn’t secure early in the dot.com days, but is it making effective use of these domains as part of an overall strategy.  The only domain that is partly setup correctly is “wal-mart.com” which has a 302 redirect to its primary Walmart.com domain. It would appear that they wish to have these other domains show within the search results, and they are likely causing issues such as duplicate content and maybe marked as spammers due to how the search engines are treating the domains.
  • wallmart.com (200)
  • wal-mart.com (302)
  • Retaillink.at (200)
  • Wallmartphoto.com (200)

So based on our initial analysis their appears to be several key areas where Walmart fail to be the 800 pound gorilla of the online retail world and may just need to sit back eat some humble pie and consider its strategy with some more thought.  Only digital strategy takes more planning and requires a site wide view that matches with several elements of your online marketing and some companies still need work.

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3 comments

  1. [...] our agency « WordPress add automatic Analytics Notations WalMart fails to understand online marketing [...]

  2. As a Walmart affiliate, I think that they should also organize their advertising tools better too, many retailers don’t really understand the new, simple technologies that would really make online promotion easier for affiliates.