New Woolworths website

2 Comments

When Woolworths closed its 800 stores last year it made the recession hit home to many. This was a retail outlet that had been on the U.K. high street since 1909. The company had been struggling to fight off competition from Tesco and Asda who had increased their range of products to cover most items that Woolworths carried. Even though they still had some profitable stores they had become financially unviable by the end of 2008. The Woolworths name was bought by the Shop Direct group back in February of this year with aims to keep the brand name going online.

It’s an obvious place to take the name. With much lower costs than an offline shop an ecommerce shop with a hugely recogniseable brand will have a better chance of pulling in more traffic and clicks from search engine results. They have reported having over a million hits to the site within its first week but will these shoppers use the site repeatedly and what chance do they have against the other big brands out there?  The sites aesthetics are in keeping with woollies. Nothing too flash, just a simple, clean design that’s a bit kid friendly.
woolworths website screenshot

If you have a look at the site in 2005 through the way back machine I think it actually looked more professional then.

woolworths 2005 website screenshot

Are they thinking about optimisation? Well the home page code has over a thousand errors but it could be that they’ve just got other more important things like link building on their hands. They have plenty of nofollows within the code so they’re hemorrhaging page rank as fast as they can. The URL’s are an optimisers nightmare. All sorts of special characters and ID’s.

They have over 35,000 incoming links at the moment. A pretty good amount and when you look at the competition for the search term “kids clothing” it looks like enough to get them a page one position on Google. But they’re not in the top 500 sites in the U.K. for the term. They are however running an adwords campaign for that term among others.

They have the keyword in their titles. They have a good number of links and they also have a universally recognised brand name in the U.K.  With Googles shift towards favouring popular brands they should be ranking in the top 50 search results at least for the term “kids clothing”.  So why aren’t they? They’re spending a fortune on billboards across the country when they could be utilising the strength of their site to pick up a lot of traffic that’s well within their reach.  For some reason they seem to be ignoring all that organic traffic that they could be pulling in.

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2 Comments
    • euan
    • 10th July 2009

    Good post; its nice to see something rising from the ashes of Woolworths, even if its not quite Phoenix like…

    The no-follow discussion has been done to death recently but I’ve seen some elegant solutions for the more common usages such as about us / legal / privacy etc on SEOmoz, rationalising the whole lot into one page and using anchors to direct people to the relevant sections.

    Would you actually recommend Woolworths continue in sculpting PR through more technical workarounds, iFrames for example or just forget about it and concentrate on other things, such as rewriting URLS into something more accessible?

    • Hi Euan, I haven’t tested it but the idea of conserving page rank through iframes seems like a pretty good way to go. If I was Woolworths i’d just get rid of their nofollows and concentrate on those URL’s for starters.