A recent study found that Tesco was the most visible supermarket website in mobile searches on Google UK. 

This may come as no surprise, since Tesco dominates the grocery market in general. What is surprising though, is how much Amazon has muscled in on this market. 

Mobile visibility for UK supermarkets 

Searchmetrics' stats show that Tesco is the most 'visible' of the supermarket brands for mobile searches. 

The visibility score is taken from a combination of factors: 

  • The number of times a site appears in the SERPs. 
  • Its prominence within the SERPs. 
  • The competitiveness of keywords. 
  • Search CTRs. 

As we can see from the chart, Google's recent mobile update has had no noticeable impact on mobile visibility for these brands.

There is little difference between desktop and mobile scores here, primarily because all of these sites are 'mobile friendly' already.  

Competition for the supermarkets? 

Using data fromPi Datametrics to look at search visibility for some groups, we see other competitors to the supermarkets. 

In the baby category shown below, which includes baby food, nappies and so on, we see other sites like Boots and Mothercare muscling in. 

The biggest competitor to the supermarkets here is Amazon, which actually has a better average score than Tesco, and appears in a wider range of searches. 

 

When we search for household items such as cleaning products, toilet rolls and plugs, Amazon outperforms the rest, while sites like wilko.com appear. 

For food related items (cooking ingredients, tinned goods etc), the supermarkets have competition from other sources, and Amazon again. 

This time, various recipe sites are taking valuable space in the SERPs from the supermarkets, as is Wikipedia

Supermarket SEO  

Or any food related term. Chances are the intent is to find a recipe, or perhaps to find out more about the ingredient in question. 

Would there be an intent to purchase? Perhaps, but I think this may be more likely in the case of hard to find items, rather than the foodstuffs which anyone can find in their local shop. 

Which brings up to the point. What is the aim of supermarket SEO

It seems that, for food related searches like this, it's a carpet bombing approach. If Tesco can rank for most food and grocery related searches, then it hoovers up much of the potential sales from these searches. 

The competition from Amazon is interesting though. Amazon has the ability to rank for the same huge variety of grocery search terms as Tesco can.

Also, for one-off purchases, it has the edge. For example, a search for nappies can lead you to the following Tesco page: 

If you want to buy nappies on Tesco, you'l need to register, pick a delivery spot, and spend £25 or pay a £4 minimum basket charge. 

On Amazon however, you can buy more easily without the need to commit to a grocery shop. 

On the other hand, the shopping process on Amazon is quite disjointed if you want to do the 'big shop'. The site simply isn't geared up for it as yet. 

For example, if you arrive having searched for mustard, and select the item, Amazon doesn't lead you to other grocery items, or even promote its grocery section

As such, Amazon is not offering the same grocery shopping experience as other sites.

However, it has AmazonFresh in the US, and a UK launch of this service has been predicted. 

With millions of customer accounts complete with address and payment details, the ease of purchase on Amazon could be a powerful factor if it launched Fresh in the UK. 

It has already outperforming most of the UK's grocery retailers in many search categories (mobile and desktop), and could offer Tesco some serious competition. 

Graham Charlton

Published 17 June, 2015 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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