Marketplace Eats Away At Our Clients Branded Clicks

Posted 3 months ago by @jessethanley


When you hit a certain size conversations about SEO move far, far away from ranking keywords and slinging links towards making real, impactful business decisions and partnerships.

This week, we had one of these conversations with one of our clients.

Since April, their traffic had taken a nose dive.
When digging in we noticed that non-branded traffic, keywords that didn't contain our clients name, seemed to have held fine over the months but branded clicks took a hit — whilst impressions stayed static.

So people were searching for the brand, but not clicking?

Odd.

We scanned our AdWords campaigns to see if we had been a little too aggressive on branded campaigns (we mainly use these campaigns to show timely offers).

Nothing out of the ordinary there. 

If anything, we'd drastically dropped spend in this area over the year — as we do with most clients.

I actually would have expected clicks to have increased.

I then looked at the search results and scanned the websites listed.

Right in the second position was a new marketplace my client had partnered with to sell their products on behalf of them. The marketplace / eCommerce retailer was huge, and apparently through content alone had slotted itself right under us. Not a single link built.

Looking at Ahrefs.com historic data I was able to pin point that the site had, indeed, popped up ranking around April which correlates to the click and sales drop we initially came across.

Next, I went into web.archive.org to see when the marketplace optimised their page with more words to help them rank — all they really did was add a big block at the bottom of the page — and it turns out they added it at the start of the year. Given it would have taken a month or two for it to kick in and help, this all starts making sense.

They optimised their category page to rank for our branded terms. 

So what was the impact to our client? 

Well, in November sales decreased on owned channels and increased on this marketplace. When compared to last year, we're up in total but making less profit given the marketplace takes a cut from every sale. 

And that's the thing. 

So many partners, affiliates, marketplaces are hungry leeches ready to gobble up your profit at any chance they get. 

They rank for your brand name.

They rank for your name plus "reviews".

They rank for your name plus "coupons".

But what value are they really providing? 

Are they driving top of the funnel, new, cold traffic to your site? 

Probably not, so why are you partnering with them?

We're still talking to this client about next steps and digging through the data but I just wanted to share this while it was still something I was thinking about.