Who Is Winning the SEO Game? — SEO Analysis of Top Online Fashion Shopping Websites

Based on my previous blog post, 61% of consumers use search engine to search information when shopping online and this trend continues to go up. Facing the online shopping behavior shift of consumers, online shopping websites are more SEO savvy nowadays and they are trying to win the SEO game. In this post, I will…

Based on my previous blog post, 61% of consumers use search engine to search information when shopping online and this trend continues to go up. Facing the online shopping behavior shift of consumers, online shopping websites are more SEO savvy nowadays and they are trying to win the SEO game. In this post, I will compare the SEO performance of three top online fashion stores that are among the most popular online fashion shopping sites. They are net-a-porter.com, gilt.com and saksfifthavenue.com. If you are a big fan of online shopping for clothing, I am sure you know all these websites. From this post, you will see the process of how I analyze the SEO performance of these three websites and how I identify the winner. If you are an SEOer, you can use this as an example for simple competitive analysis.

To compare the SEO performance without the access to their traffic performance and revenue information, I will compare it in three aspects: the visibility of the websites,  the backlink profiles and the social shares of the websites.

SEO Visibility:

SEO Visibility indicates the frequency and manner of the search terms in the search results of Google.  It roughly indicate the keyword rankings of a site. The higher the SEO visibility, the more “visible” the website is to the users. It indicates more keywords are ranked in the search results of Google.

visibility_-searchmetrics_suite-shopping sites

source: searchmetrics.com

As we can see, saksfifthavenue has the highest visibility. Saksfifthavenue.com and gilt.com are growing the visibility while net-a-porter.com drops the visibility a bit. It looks like saksfifthavenue is doing SEO quite aggressively.

Backlink Profiles Analysis:

Page Element:

backlink profile


From this chart, we can see that three websites do not have too much difference in the page elements. However, net-a-porter.com is doing relatively better than the other two websites, especially in the quantity of linking root domains. It indicates that the backlinks of net-a-porter.com are more diverse. You can also compare the unique IP C-block to get the number of unique linking root domains since there may be the same owners of different domains. IP C-block is a more accurate indicator of how diverse the links are. Majesticseo.com provides IP c subnet information. If you are not familiar with IP C-block, you can check out here.  Note: percentage of deep links means the percentage of links linking to a page other than the homepage of the sites. Deep links are more valuable than homepage links since these links are highly relative to that page. Homepage links can be directory links, etc. Google places more value in deep links. So the more deep links, the better. However, these three websites all have very high percentage of deep links and the difference is not significant. So there is no winner from this comparison.

net-a-porter link growth

source: majesticseo.com

gilt link growth

 source: majesticseo.com

saksfifthavenue link growth

 source: majesticseo.com

From the above graphs, we can conclude that net-a-porter.com, which doesn’t show aggressive move in link building, results in decreasing SEO visibility as shown in the visibility graph. Saksfifthavenue.com built lots of links in April which further prove that “saksfifthavenue is doing SEO quite aggressively” and it also explains the increase of the visibility of the website in search results. Gilt.com, which also has a increased visibility also built links aggressively in April. From here, we can see that link building is a very crucial part of the SEO game.

After analyzing the page elements and the quantity of backlinks, let’s move forward to the quality of the backlinks. Since not only the quantity of the links that matters, the quality of the links also matters a lot. I will compare the quality of the backlinks in link type and anchor text distribution.

Link Type Distribution:

Google places different value on different types of links. For example, those directory, sidebar and comment links are less valuable while article links, blog post links and social media links are more valuable. When doing link type analysis, I find linkdetective.com very useful. It visualizes the link type in pie chart where you can figure out the percentage of good quality links vs. low quality links.


sakssaksfifthavenue.com source: linkdetective.com

Judging from the link type chart, the backlinks of saksfifthavenue.com seem to be quite healthy. There are only less than 20% of the backlinks are-low quality. (including directory, comment and footer links). In general, the links don’t seem to be spammy. I will give it 4 points out of 5 points.


net-a-porter.com source:linkdetective.com

The backlinks of net-a-porter.com seem to be low-quality. Over 50% of the links are low-quality, including sidebar, footer, comment, directory and blogroll links. Good links suck as article links has very small percentage, only 14.07% of the links. I will give it 2 points out of 5.


gilt.com source: linkdetective.com

The backlinks of Gilt.com seems to be very spammy with 60% of the links being low quality. The backlink profile of gilt.com only gets 1 point out of 5 from me.

To conclude, saksfifthavenue.com has the highest backlink quality among the three websites while gilt.com has the lowest quality. saksfifthavenue.com is the winner in this sense.

Anchor Text Distribution:

saks anchor

saksfifthavenue.com source: linkdetective.com

Over 50% of the anchor texts of saksfifthavenue.com are branded anchor texts and only very small percentage of the anchor texts are keyword anchor texts.

net-a-porter anchor

net-a-porter.com source: linkdetective.com

There are less branded anchor texts for net-a-porter.com but it still looks good.

gilt anchor

gilt.com source: linkdetective.com 

About 60% of the anchor texts of gilt.com are branded anchor texts.

Based on the above analysis, the three websites seem to be doing well in anchor texts. There is no winner in this comparison. However, you can go deeper and check the anchor text profile from opensiteexplorer.org, ahrefs.com and majesticseo.com to do deeper analysis. Keep in mind, the mixture of branded anchor texts and keyword anchor texts with branded anchor texts more than keyword anchor texts is the best scenario. Too many backlinks with keyword anchor texts can do be a signal of spams to Google which will result in less value.

Social Shares:

Good social signals can help websites rank better. To simplify,  I will compare the social signals in social visibility and total social links. If you want to conduct a more comprehensive social signals analysis you can use social listening tool such as Marketwire Sysomos to obtain the sentiment data, etc.

social shares

source: searchmetrics.com

Saksfifthavenue.com has the highest social visibility while net-a-porter.com has the most total social links. From social media standpoint, net-a-porter is the winner while Saksfifthavenue.com is the second place winner.


Based on the above analyses, the SEO winner of the three website goes to saksfifthavenue.com. It has the healthiest SEO performance and is growing aggressively in SEO. Gilt.com is the loser in this game due to the low-quality backlink profile and it has the lowest SEO visibility and social visibility. However, it looks like gilt.com has been making effort in SEO recently. Net-a-porter.com seems to have slowed down the effort in SEO since it has established a very good SEO. However in a competitive environment such as this one, lack of growth  can be hazardous. This can provide multiple opportunities for your competitors, which in turn,  will result in the loss of market share, especially with new customers. Above all, SEO is very critical for a business’ success. You can’t afford to lose the SEO game!