In less than a decade, Lazada has established itself alongside Shopee as the premier ecommerce platform in the Philippines. It’s no secret that marketing has a lot to do with the online marketplace’s rapid ascent, and a strong search engine presence has been a key aspect of its strategy.
Try to search for any B2C products on Google’s Philippine version and you’ll likely find a Lazada listing at or near the top of the SERPs. As a matter of fact, link intelligence tool Ahrefs estimates that the ecommerce giant ranks for more than 3.7 million keywords:
And if you think this is because of Lazada’s aggressive advertising on YouTube, social media and legacy media, you’d only be partially correct. While those promotional channels do play an important role in keeping Lazada relevant, there’s actually a lot more that goes into its SEO strategy than meets the eye. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the tactics that the ecommerce platform uses to stay ahead of most competitors in the SERPs.
Before that, though, let’s get something out of the way: I am NOT in any way connected to Lazada and neither is my agency. We do not work for them and never claimed to have done so. I am writing this as a simple observer who recognizes quality SEO work when he sees it. With that said, here are some of the reasons why Lazada’s ecommerce SEO is better than yours:
- They Categorize Effectively
One of the most essential aspects of ecommerce SEO is proper product categorization. Categories were originally intended to help human users find their way around a website so they can zero in on the kind of product they’re looking for. Later on, search engines started using them to help their crawlers index subcategory and product detail pages. As search engine algorithms advanced, categories were used as clues by search engines to better understand a website’s content themes and relevance to queries.
What many ecommerce operators don’t realize is that their category pages can serve as important landing pages that can target fat head and “chunky middle” keywords. These are search terms that are 1-5 words in length and are commonly used when a searcher knows what kind of product he or she wants to buy but hasn’t made a decision on who to buy it from, what brand to get and what exact product SKU suits their needs.
In Lazada’s case, they made it a point to break down their broad product portfolio into a multi-tiered tree of categories and subcategories. Since every category page represents a different keyword, it’s in Lazada’s best SEO interest to have as many categories as possible so it can rank for more terms and collect more organic traffic.
In the image above, you can see how Lazada executes its multi-tier categorization scheme. Under the broad Women’s Fashion category, the subcategories split off into clothing, shoes, accessories, and other subcategories. If you hover above Accessories, you can see that the subcategory further splits into belts, scarves, hats and others. Dividing products into smaller sections and classifying them into their respective types allows the website to publish more pages that go after distinct but contextually related keywords which bring in separate audiences who search for these terms month in and month out.
In summary, their main category – women’s clothing – ranks for broad keywords like:
- Buy women’s clothing
- Women’s clothes for sale
- Women’s clothes Philippines
- And more
While their subcategory pages would take care of ranking for more specific keywords like:
- Buy women’s accessories
- Women’s belts for sale
- Women’s scarves Philippines
- And more
Instead of having just a few big category pages trying to rank for a lot of keywords, breaking down categories into subcategories gives Lazada dedicated landing pages for a lot of distinct terms.
2. They Categorize by Brand
Lazada doesn’t just categorize by product type. They also have categories for individual brands. They know that some searchers may not know exactly what product they want to get, but they could already know what product type they’re looking for and from which manufacturer. In order to rank for these, brand-specific category pages have been set up.
As the name describes, brand category pages explicitly state the brand’s name in the page’s title tag, meta description, H1 text, and body text. It also features only products belonging to the brand. That way, brand-specific keywords such as these can be targeted:
- Xiaomi Smartphones
- ASUS laptops
- Gucci perfumes
- Esprit Bags
- And so on
Keep in mind that popular brands carry search volumes from their name alone because they’re top of mind for their respective followers. If you have category pages that are dedicated to ranking for keywords associated with the brand name and their products, you can scoop up part of the traffic that’s intended for those keywords each month.
3. They Manage Product Indexing
In medium-to-large ecommerce websites, unintentional content duplication can often limit indexing and keyword rankings. This is due to the fact that many highly similar products often end up having equally similar content.
In Lazada’s case, duplication can happen when multiple merchants sell the same exact products. These guys usually don’t bother writing unique content for their product descriptions and instead rely on text that’s been lifted off of manufacturer spec sheets. When everyone does the same thing, Google tends to crawl all of them but shows only one in its SERPs.
In the example above, we can see that there are at least 4 different sellers of Apple’s iPhone 12 on Lazada. All of the pages use similar product descriptions, so Lazada averts content duplication issues by using a rel=canonical tag. Basically, this HTML element tells Google that the website recognizes the potential for duplication and is instead nominating just one of its many similar pages to represent it in the search results.
This works by having the canonical tag “point” to the page that Lazada chose as its “representative” in Google’s SERPs and having that chosen page point a canonical tag to itself. Once Google recognizes this configuration, it indexes and ranks the representative page while leaving the rest of the pages out of the SERPs.
4. Their Title Tags Convey Intent
The title tag is one of the most important ranking factors for any webpage. It’s a microcosm of a webpage’s content and it sets the searcher’s expectations on what they’ll find when they click on a search listing. It also gives search engines strong clues as to what words the webpage is relevant to. In this regard, title tags need to be written in a brief, direct, and clear way to give the webpage the best chance of ranking for the terms it represents.
Many SEOs who work on online stores use the basic formula of inserting the main target keyword on a page’s title tag along with its branding like this one:
While this is certainly an acceptable way to do things since you can still rank with this type of title tag, Lazada does it even better by writing their title tags this way:
Notice how the first example only mentions the main keyword (smart TVs) and immediately proceeds to mention its brand name. In Lazada, “Smart TVs” is immediately followed by “for sale,” which helps users get an idea of what they can expect on the page. By adding those two words that convey commercial intent, Lazada is able to tell people that its search listing isn’t an informational or navigational one. Users (and search engine algorithms) immediately get an idea of the webpage’s context, allowing it to rank more easily for search queries that are being entered by people with purchasing intents.
In effect, the tendency for Lazada is for it to dominate not just the “smart TVs” keyword, but also the following medium-length, highly-motivated terms:
- Smart TVs for sale
- Buy smart TVs
- Shop Smart TVs
- Buy Smart TVs Online
You can see a similar pattern of title tag writing on most of Lazada’s category and product detail pages.
5. They Optimize Category Pages With Rich Copy
Being prime landing pages for organic search traffic, category pages need to have an ample amount of unique content so Google can see the relevance between the webpages and the keywords they’re campaigning for. Lazada is aware of this and has exerted considerable effort in making sure that’s the case.
They do this by writing rich text copy on their category pages which talk about the nature of the products listed on the page. You’ve probably been on one of their pages which has this but you probably didn’t even notice the SEO technique being put to use:
That’s because the lengthy copy you see can be found near the bottom of each Lazada category page. They position the text here so it wouldn’t get in the way of good user experience by occupying space above the fold. Since search engines read webpages at the code level, it doesn’t matter if the rich copy is at the bottom of the page. It only matters that it’s there and that it gives search engines clues as to what the page is really about.
6. They Optimize for Engagement Signals
Many SEO experts believe that Google has started using user engagement signals as ranking factors over the past few years. Statistics such as bounce rates, average times on site and conversion rates are among the indicators that a website’s visitors are finding its content relevant to their intents. Lazada is also aware of this and has fielded some elements that will keep online shoppers interested longer than they usually would be.
Take for example this product detail page for a USB card reader found in Lazada. You can see when you scroll down on the page that there’s a section called “from the same store.”
This is one of the most effective tactics in helping ecommerce category pages rank on Google. By adding 100-300 words of copy, you can convert vague category pages from navigational gateways to legitimate content reservoirs in the perception of search engines.
Showing you these items is Lazada’s way of trying to entice you to spend more. Even if you don’t, Lazada still wins because it makes you aware of more products and your act of checking out other pages on the website improves its overall user engagement score.
Having you visit multiple pages lowers Lazada’s bounce rate, increases average user times on site, and raises the likelihood of you completing additional conversions.
7. They Have Strong Brand Equity
Since the early 2010’s, Google has started shifting its algorithms to favor websites that represent reputable brands and entities. This means that you can have the best SEO campaign in the world, but if you’re up against a website that’s a known authority in its vertical, you’re still going to struggle.
Lazada is able to dominate a large chunk of the Philippines’ search market thanks in large part to its strong brand equity. Since its launch in the country, the ecommerce platform has promoted itself heavily not just online but also on legacy media channels and in the real world. Using TV spots, printed ads, radio, and celebrity endorsers, Lazada was able to burn its name into the collective psyche of the Filipino people. This translates into many searches on Google for the name “Lazada,” which indicates to the search giant that the ecommerce platform is popular and relevant to many people.
On the Internet, Lazada is also omnipresent as it continues to advertise heavily on Google Ads, Facebook, and YouTube – all of which are some of the most visited websites for tens of millions of Filipinos daily.
8. They Have a Bazillion Backlinks
Okay, if there’s one undeniable thing that’s obviously propelling Lazada’s search engine presence, it’s the 3.7 million backlinks pointing to its pages from more than 10,000 unique domains on the web:
This gives the website massive authority, forcing Google to prioritize its search listings for keywords relevant to its content. Other than the tactics I mentioned in previous points, this is Lazada’s biggest advantage over every major ecommerce operator in the Philippines. Very few websites even come close to this level of ranking power – with its main rival Shopee “only” managing to rack up 2.05 million backlinks so far.
While I have zero knowledge of how Lazada runs its link building campaign, I reckon that their budget for this aspect of SEO must be significant. Through proactive link acquisition and natural link profile growth, Lazada has amassed a number of backlinks that can only be rivaled by the Philippines’ biggest media websites.
At the end of the day, this is probably only the tip of the iceberg as far as Lazada’s overall SEO strategy goes. However, the things I pointed out here happen to be the techniques that many ecommerce SEO specialists in the Philippines often neglect the most.