The Q3 2023 benchmarking report for UK home improvement brands has just been published. Learn how the top 12 UK home improvement brands perform across the digital space.
The latest Q3 2023 benchmarking report for UK Home improvement brands has just been published. It covers the largest 12 national home improvement brands, including Travis Perkins, Plumbworld, Screwfix, Tool Station, Wickes, Selco Builders, B&Q, City Plumbing, Homebase, Bradfords, Jewson, and Wolseley.
The research gives an inside track on who is winning the biggest share of voice online, and quantifies the gaps, risks and missed opportunities for other home improvement brands to win brand exposure, and drive both online traffic & in-store footfall. The report highlights quick wins that will improve enquiries from your online strategy and identifies the barriers that may be reducing your site’s ability to optimise digital performance.
To see a preview and contents page of the Q3 report, click here. To get a copy of the full report and the key takeaways, please complete the enquiry form or schedule a call.
What The Industry Research Report Covers
The 70+ pages of research benchmarks each retailer based on 50+ metrics and indicators of successful digital strategy, including organic visibility, domain authority, paid media ads, conversion performance, technical performance, site speed, universal search, content, social ads, accessibility, and mobile performance.
Driving Optimal ROAS from Paid Media Channels
Some of the leading players in the space are high spenders on paid media channels such as Google, Bing & Facebook - but have a poor or sub-optimal conversion improvement strategy. Without an optimised, sophisticated conversion strategy that maximises the conversion rate, the return on investment is unsustainable or will underperform. Scaling spend on paid media is not achievable unless the conversion rate delivers optimal performance in the sector. Some in the space have paid media spend levels from 30k+ per month but dedicate minimal resources and budgets to conversion testing. Given the cost per clicks on ad networks will continue to rise, we recommend spending at least 10% of your paid media budget on ongoing conversion optimisation testing schedules to ensure your paid media ROI maintains long-term viability, competitive advantage, and sustainability.
Technical Website Compliance
Savvy digital marketers know that having a technically sound website is an essential component of a successful fully integrated digital strategy - plus a site capable of maximising conversion performance. For brands within the home improvement and DIY space, they'll often be supporting large websites hosting a huge range of products that regularly changes. Retailers will need to ensure that product and stock updates are well-considered within their internal linking strategy and that any changes do not impact the customer experience.
Nine out of our twelve home improvement brands have very minimal levels of technical errors, following a gradual reduction seen through all our reports in this sector. B&Q, which saw 9,041 5xx errors in Q2, has reduced this figure to 6,603 in Q3 - though this is a significant reduction, B&Q should still be reviewing its servers to ensure they can handle the size of the site and reduce the risk of errors for visitors. The most 4xx errors was seen by Wickes, with 1,688. Wickes must ensure key product lines are not being blocked by broken links and dead ends.
Site Speed & Conversion Rate Performance
When 62% of consumers are less likely to convert if they have a negative mobile site experience, ensuring that your site is quick and easy to load makes a significant improvement on your overall conversion rates. DIY and home improvement sites should be well-equipped to handle last-minute, or on-the-go mobile searches from any customers searching for supplies mid-project.
We have seen universal falls in mobile page speed across all sectors we specialise in, so expected to see a reduction in scores for home improvement brands. Scores now range from 11 to 56, with Jewson now achieving the highest score. Screwfix, which had achieved the second highest score of 73 in Q2, has fallen to 28 points, placing it 7th in our table. Though we expect to see falls in mobile page speed score, it remains a useful way to gauge performance compared to competitors.
Building Competitive Advantage with Domain Authority
Domain authority is an essential metric for measuring the effectiveness of SEO performance, and helps create a reliable overall gauge of how effective your site is at achieving organic traffic, i.e. ‘free’ traffic that isn’t gained through sponsored ads. Home improvement brands can look to collaborate with online trade publications or interior design bloggers in order to improve their DA, and ensure they're being linked to from high-authority sites.
A ‘good’ DA really comes down to how your competitors are performing, however it’s generally considered average between 40 and 50, good between 50 and 60, and excellent above 60. As all our DIY and home improvement brands are long-standing companies, DAs are (unsurprisingly) high compared to brands in some of the more emerging sectors we work with. B&Q and Screwfix have the highest domain authorities, with a score of 77 each.
Organic Performance – Mobile & Desktop
A strong organic performance is strategically important as it ensures your site ranks above competitors for key, transactional keywords. When 93% of your customers won’t go past the first page of Google, your absence or lack of targeting for essential keywords will cost you conversions. With our DIY and home improvement brands selling similar stock (with brand loyalty only going so far), strategic keyword optimisation is key to ensuring visibility is strong on high-conversion products and leading items.
All home improvement brands are still seeing a reduction in organic traffic year on year. Bradfords, which had seen the largest drop in traffic in our Q4 2022 report, has steadily reduced this figure to just -9%, making them the retailer closest to maintaining year-on-year performance. Though universal falls in traffic point to a reduced pool of customers, other home improvement retailers must ensure that they are not losing ground to competitors.
Universal Search Opportunity
Google Universal Search Results is an evolving opportunity to make your pages visible on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Universal results often appear before traditional listings and are eye-catching for users. Universal search results refer to rankings on a SERP that are not the traditional ‘blue line’ Google link, and a retailer can appear for universal search results without being strong in standard rankings. For any e-commerce brand, 'reviews' are a useful way of building trust with prospective customers, and boosting visibility on products. For home improvement brands, 'people also ask' provides an opportunity to rank for any DIY or construction queries too.
'Reviews' and 'people also ask' results are still making up the majority of Universal Search appearances for home improvement retailers. Screwfix has secured the most 'people also ask results', growing its Q2 figure to 20,400 results. Other home improvement brands can improve their appearance rate for Universal Search results by expanding their onsite copy and ensuring they are hosting high-quality content. This will also help boost performance in DA, organic social shares, and longtail keyword performance.
The Longtail Keyword Opportunity
Longtail keywords are often considered high intent and potentially more likely to convert as a searcher is being more specific. Optimising for longtail keywords also puts your content strategy in a strong position to rank for retailer new search terms as they enter Google’s index. As we've mentioned, longtail keyword rankings put brands in good stead for appearing in 'people also ask' search results, so have the added benefit of boosting Universal Search visibility too.
As expected from their performance in Universal Search, Screwfix is appearing in the top 3 results for the most longtail keywords across all our home improvement brands, with a total of 111,832. However, B&Q are ranking for more longtail keywords overall, with far more appearing in positions 4-10. While this shows Screwfix's longtail keyword strategy prioritises quality over quantity, B&Q are in a strong position to overtake Screwfix to reach first place, should they optimise content for their lower-ranking keywords.
With the number of Facebook users in the United Kingdom (UK) forecast to hit over 42 million users by 2022, it is not surprising that companies have jumped at the opportunity to advertise on the social media platform. Facebook’s UK digital advertising revenue has been estimated to have breached 2.6b GB pounds in 2019.
B&Q are using Facebook ads to focus on seasonal, gardening content, tapping into current trends and ensuring their ads are topical and more likely to engage their audience. They've also used vertical video to seamlessly fit into Reels activity, and satisfy an increasingly mobile-first audience.
Top Social Shares & Content
When it comes to social media and on-site content strategies, it is important to release content that has a longer shelf life. An article is considered 'Evergreen' if it has maintained its relevancy to an audience for longer. It's great for your retailer engagement, but great for Google too, who will recognise content which achieves traffic over a long period of time. For DIY and home improvement stores, they'll have two audiences - at-home DIYers and trade professionals. This presents the opportunity to create two distinct content plans, that can appeal to a wide range of potential customers.
Wickes and B&Q are both using Pinterest to share their content (most predominantly). Pinterest is a brilliant platform for targeting at-home DIYers who are looking for inspiration on home improvement projects and interior design. Pinterest's in-built shoppability feature also helps funnel users directly from the inspiration and consideration phases, down through the funnel to ultimately converting. These two brands are well-placed to be front-of-mind for their customers' entire buying journey.
Website Readability & Accessibility
20% of people in the UK have a disability – 2 million of which are people living with sight loss. In addition, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have some degree of colour vision deficiency. When websites are not designed to meet these needs, retailers lose customer interest as they turn elsewhere. As with ensuring their sites are technically compliant, large e-commerce brands, such as those in the home improvement sector, should ensure that their site is simple to read and digest, as well as navigate.
Plumbworld is still yet to make any progress on the accessibility errors we discovered in Q4, with our audits currently flagging 567 alerts on the site. Many of these alerts relate to redundant links, alt text, and title text - though these may seem like small issues, these can cause barriers for any visitors using screen readers to navigate the site.
Q3 2023 WINNERS LEADERBOARD
For a glance into just 6 of the metrics, we evaluated these top 12 home improvement brands on, check out our quick-look table below;
GET THE FULL 79-PAGE Q3 2023 REPORT
To get a copy of the full report, please complete the enquiry form. If you want to talk to us about accelerating your digital performance, please call us on 01543 410014 or schedule a call with Mike Movassaghi.