We carried out a comparative study of over 1,000 websites using the world’s most popular eCommerce platforms. The research shows the relationship between the choice of cart software and the factors known to correlate with search engine rankings.
Methodology & Analysis
A large part of good Search Engine Optimisation is to ensure that your category and product pages look as relevant as possible for the keywords you are targeting.
While running SEO training workshops, I noticed that many of the shopping cart platforms they used did not have the necessary features that allowed them to correctly optimise their website.
We analysed over 1,000 websites using the most popular eCommerce carts to see which ranked best on the first page of Google and the degree to which they were performing on a number of other engagement metrics such as bounce rate and page views.
A level playing field
There would be little value in comparing a site such as Amazon with the website of a small eCommerce business. To ensure that we were comparing like-with-like, we only compared sites sharing a similar Domain Authority.
What is Domain Authority?
Domain Authority is a widely-respected metric produced by Moz to evaluate both the link profile and trust of a domain. It is widely considered to be the closest model of how Google’s algorithm evaluates a site for quality when deciding which position it should appear for a given keyword.
A large website with thousands of pages such as Amazon is likely to rank for many more keywords than a small site selling only a handful of products. We took account of this by dividing the number of top 10 ranking keywords by the total number of pages Google had indexed on the site. This allowed us to identify the number of keywords for which the site ranked as a ratio of the total number of indexed pages on the site.
A popular website such as Amazon will be ranking prominently on Google for a large number of branded keywords e.g. “Amazon”, “Amazon Shop”, “Amazon Prime”, “Amazon share price” etc. To ensure that were conducted a fair evaluation we excluded all branded keywords from this analysis. We only included competitive keywords in the study which several other businesses may also wish to target.
Removing the outliers
Finally, we excluded any websites that were not ranking for any keywords at all on Google and anomalies ranking for an unusually large number of keywords relative to their respective Domain Authority.
Correlation is not Causation
While we tried to account for of as many external variables as possible, it is important to remember that correlation is not causation. Just because an eCommerce cart has a particular set of features it doesn’t necessarily mean that the feature is the cause of that higher ranking.
1) Which eCommerce platform ranks best on Google?
WooCommerce was the clear winner of the eCommerce cart ranking best on Google. This may be less to do with WooCommerce itself and more to do with the fact that sites using WooCommerce are also likely to be using the free and popular Yoast plugin which makes it easy for business owners to optimise their pages correctly for SEO.
2) Which eCommerce platform has the highest Domain Authority?
Little surprise here to see Magento appearing as the platform with the the highest average Domain Authority. Magento is an enterprise-level eCommerce platform used by some of the world’s biggest and most well-known brands. These businesses are therefore more likely to have the largest number of external links and trust signals.
It is interesting to observe that despite having the highest Domain Authority, many of these Magento sites were not fully optimised with Magento coming in third place behind WooCommerce and SquareSpace in the best ranking table.
3) Which eCommerce platforms have the largest number of pages indexed by Google?
Again, no surprise to see Magento hosting the sites with the largest number of indexed pages. It is however interesting to see that a free/low-cost platform such as WooCommerce is being used for sites listing tens of thousands of products.
4) Which eCommerce platforms have the fastest response times?
Having a site that loads quickly is crucial to both a prominent Google ranking and to a great user experience. It’s great to see SquareSpace performing so well in this area.
The response times for self-hosted carts such as WooCommerce and OpenCart will be mostly dependant on the web hosting company chosen to host the site. Companies such as SquareSpace that only host their own websites are able to optimise their servers and code to deliver the best performance.
If ranking on Google is a primary consideration for your eCommerce business, my recommendations would be WooCommerce or SquareSpace for an SME or Magento if you are looking for an enterprise-level solution.
Please note that I receive no compensation, financial or otherwise, from any of the companies mentioned in this report.
1) Take a sample of 1,000 random UK websites using the 10 most popular eCommerce carts 2) Extract the sites with a Domain Authority between 15 and 40 for comparison 3) Count the number of Google UK Top 10 unbranded keywords for each domain and removed all outliers. 4) Calculate the Ranking Ratio by dividing the number of Top 10 keywords by the number of pages indexed on Google UK. 5) Calculate the Ranking Score by dividing the site’s Domain Authority by the Ranking Ratio. 6) Calculate the average Ranking Score for each eCommerce cart 7) Extract all engagement data from SimilarWeb
1) Take a sample of 1,000 random UK websites using the 10 most popular eCommerce carts
2) Extract the sites with a Domain Authority between 15 and 40 for comparison
3) Count the number of Google UK Top 10 unbranded keywords for each domain and removed all outliers.
4) Calculate the Ranking Ratio by dividing the number of Top 10 keywords by the number of pages indexed on Google UK.
5) Calculate the Ranking Score by dividing the site’s Domain Authority by the Ranking Ratio.
6) Calculate the average Ranking Score for each eCommerce cart
7) Extract all engagement data from SimilarWeb
If you have any questions about this study please contact me via Twitter @DannyRichman
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