Different sectors and industries offer different challenges for SEO strategists. To help with this some leading SEO commentators, like Searchmetrics, publish sector-specific reports detailing which factors have the biggest impact on search rankings in that particular sector.
The reports are well respected and provide interesting insights into which ranking factors have the biggest impact on search rankings, broken down by different sectors or industries.
We adopted a similar methodology, using the UK domestic energy sector as a case study, and concluded that in this instance a sector-wide approach offered less insight than a page-based analysis.
Case study: the UK domestic energy sector
Aggregated ranking variances
An ‘aggregated’ approach seeks to identify sector-specific variances in aggregated data. This approach looks at particular keywords, or keyword sets, and analyses the aggregated data for a specific industry to see how different ranking factors influence the SERPs in the target sector.
The sector-specific results are then compared with the results across all searches; statistical variances in correlation between the two will provide unique insights into what has the largest – or smallest – impact on page rankings in that sector.
We used SERPLab™, part of our proprietary SEOLab suite of strategic and analytical tools, to obtain data on the SERPs for the UK domestic energy sector, a sector where the comparison sites dominate the SERPs. SERPLab records data for over 50 different metrics relating to keyword–domain pairings and gives us visibility of who ranks for a keyword, and why they do.
The results identified some variances between the energy sector when compared with “all market” data:
- Keyword count in the page title was three times as closely correlated in the energy sector compared to general web traffic: positions were, on average, improved when the keyword appeared in the page title.
- Page authority has a lower correlation in the energy sector than in other industries, reflecting a high level of ambiguous user intent in keywords such as ‘energy’, ‘electricity’, and ‘gas’.
- URL trust flow and citation flow also showed a lower correlation with page ranking in the energy sector than it does in other sectors.
- Keyword count in URL and H1 correlation was higher within the energy sector: positions were on average improved when the keyword appeared in the URL and main heading (H1) of a page.
This appears to be interesting, however…
In all of the above examples, while the variances in correlation scores appear significant, the actual correlation scores were still low, usually between 0.1 to 0.25.
Statistically, this is a very low correlation, and leads to the conclusion that, in this study, an aggregated analysis of ranking variances provided insufficient evidence for actionable insight.
What does “statistical correlation” mean?
Analysis by page and keyword
Using SERPLab, we also undertook detailed granular analysis. SERPLab is able to look SERP by SERP at keyword level data, which gives us the ability to make data-driven optimization decisions. To illustrate how we do this, we undertook a case study on the SSE website.
Our research identified an opportunity to optimize a specific page for the search term ‘control heating from phone’: a fairly high-volume keyword that wasn’t dominated by comparison sites, and one that is likely to generate good quality traffic from engaged consumers with buying intent.
The benefits of this approach also included:
- The opportunity to direct traffic to other pages for different energy deals and money-saving packages on offer from SSE
- Any link acquisition work will benefit the whole site, not just that page
- Pixels could be added to the content and used for in remarketing activities: delivering energy offers through multiple channels, and maintaining brand awareness.
Our conclusion is that, in this study, a ‘top-down’, or aggregated sector analysis did not provide insights to inform an SEO strategy: the variances we identified did not have a statistical correlation that was high enough for actionable insights.
When we undertook a competitor-based market review, however, followed by a ‘bottom-up’ approach using page- and keyword-based analysis, we identified a specific opportunity for SSE to improve their rankings for a higher-value keyword. While this approach can be more resource intensive if you don’t have access to a tool like SERPLab, it is more likely to deliver actionable insights to improve keyword rankings and brand awareness for relevant audiences.
Download the full report
To access the full details of the analysis please download the full report.