Truelogic Episode 30 Recap: Battle of the Online Fashion Stores: Zalora vs Shein

seo analysis of ecommerce industry

The evolution of shopping from conventional stores shifted to online shopping, paving the way for the growth of the e-commerce industry. One can now explore almost all types of products online, from electronics to home essentials, from groceries to fashion.

While there is a growing number of online shopping sites available, Zalora and Shein stand head and shoulders above the rest. Who do you think would win in this SEO battle?

Episode Transcription

Berns San Juan: Thank you for joining us for another episode of Truelogic DX. Today, we’re going to do another head-to-head battle of online fashion stores. And we’re thinking about Zalora versus Shein. So, online shopping from conventional stores shifted to online shopping paving the way for a lot of growth in the e-commerce industry, specifically in 2020.

Now everybody can explore almost all types of products online from electronics to home essentials, to groceries, and most importantly to fashion, which was one of the highest-grossing merchandise values that saw an increase throughout 2020. Don’t ask me why people were working from home. I don’t know what they were dressing up for.

But, Zalora and Shein are the top-of-mind online fashion brands in the Philippines. But, you know, we wanted to see if we put each one up pound for pound against each other who performs better in terms of SEO, specifically SEO. And because we’re talking SEO, I’ve got a guest in this conversation. Please welcome back, Timo.

Timothy Uichico: So obviously I’ve been doing something right. That you keep inviting me back. And we have other SEOs as well. So hopefully we can hear from them soon, but for now, you’re stuck with me.

Berns San Juan: So let’s start the tear down before we make a quick tear down, we are going to be looking at some history between the two brands, right? So let’s start with the basics, right? Like, so who is Zalora and who is Shein?

What is Zalora?

Berns San Juan: Zalora in essence is one of those rocket internet-founded companies, way, way, back. I think that was 2011, probably more 2012. They operate in eight countries, the Philippines and Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Vietnam. And they offer a wide collection of more than 500 national and international designers and brands. I think Zalora actually enjoys a lot of loyalty from the Filipino audience, specifically 59 million users per month.

Timothy Uichico: I think also they were one of the first or if not the first eCommerce that was really specific to fashion. Getting multiple brands.

What is Shein?

Berns San Juan: Now let’s talk about Shein’s history. It’s you know, and I think you can tell from the way we pronounce it, right? It’s a Chinese online, fast fashion retailer. They were founded in 2008. They didn’t actually start becoming mainstream up until what? A couple of years ago.

Timothy Uichico: I think the advent of like social media really helped them when TikTok got popular when Reels got popular because then everyone was really posting their OOTDS, what was on sale and that’s of them because. They were really undercutting prices for other brands with similar designs.

Berns San Juan: Just as a tidbit, like as a piece of trivia, a lot of people may not know that Chris Xu, the, founder of Shein is actually CEO or, you know, I’m not sure if it was, or is an SEO. He might still be like the way I am not a was SEO in its early stages Shein, started off in dropshipping. And today what they do is take white-labeled products and then market them with their own brand. In 2014, they became a fully integrated retailer where they utilize a network of manufacturing partners, and suppliers to deliver their products. And they boast 43 million active users per month.

Zalora vs Shein: SEO Analysis

Berns San Juan: Now, so let’s start taking a look at them. And so I think for most of you, you already know we like Semrush as a tool, right? So Timo why don’t you walk us through what we found on Semrush for Zalora first?

Zalora SEO Analysis

Timothy Uichico:  So we isolated data for the Philippine market as is relevant for us. And then we actually noticed that Zalora has 2.3 million users month on month on month, which is really good. And they have been trending upwards, especially towards the end of the year. So they are doing something right aside from that majority of their traffic does come from the Philippines for all these reasons. They have an authority score of 66, which is pretty good for those of you who may have listened to us for the first time. Anything above 30 is already decent for me, but it’s actually 35. So they’re at a decent score. And they have, you know, over 250,000 backlinks.

Berns San Juan: I’ll have something to say about that later, right? Because there’s something to contrast when it comes to Shein, but I think more important than that, like aside from just, and I always say it’s not just really the sheer number of backlinks that you have a lot of it has to do with the number of C classes or the number of unique websites that talk about you. How many does Zalora have?

Timothy Uichico: They have 5,500, which is also right.

Berns San Juan:  That’s tremendous. So that’s just a quick overview of Zalora’s general broad strokes metrics, walk us through Shein’s, Timo.

Shein SEO Analysis

Timothy Uichico: Shein isolated the Philippine market. They only have around 19,000 users for their first Philippine website, which is very pale in comparison.

Berns San Juan: Right and that’s also considering they did something in 2021 that got them somewhere 70,000 visitors on a monthly basis.

Timothy Uichico: So there is a drop that, you know, they were not able to assess or able to maintain, which is quite sad. Cause they were, they are becoming a really popular player in the local market.  If you’re looking at their backlinks, they only have 8,000 backlinks. So even if you’re comparing it to referring domains of Zalora. They’re not actually that far behind. Zalora already has 5,000 backlinks or 5,000 referring domains.

Berns San Juan: Right, and in their case, they’ve got like 800 referring domains.  Zalora has 5,000 referring domains. And the number of backlinks is 250 versus 8,000.

Timothy Uichico: But the interesting part of this is their authority score is actually higher than Zalora, primarily because they are borrowing authority from the parent domains. They’re found in more countries than Zalora. Internationally, more brands or websites are linking to them compared to Zalora.

Berns San Juan: I actually found this very interesting. Which sort of shows you the background that the founder has. But there are a couple of other metrics that we looked at. If you guys have ever shopped at both. I think you’ll realize. Page speeds are good for both. For both brands, the mobile compatibility is good for both brands, but there are a couple of things that we did do comparisons on. So I’ll take us through and remember, like the last tear down, we attribute points, right? To whoever does really well on one versus the other.

And so clearly for authority score. Shein gets the point for C classes. Zalora gets the point because we’ve got more C classes for a total number of links. Zalora also wins that score. I think a lot of it, by the way, a lot of the performance of Zalora is being driven by that. So let’s talk about some on-page metrics and we had a look at some category pages.

On-page Metrics Analysis between Zalora and Shein

Berns San Juan: We had a look at some random product pages just to make sure, you know, Whether it was consistent like is the SEO consistent across multiple pages. Timo tell them what we found.

Timothy Uichico: So URL-wise both of them do really, really well. For us, it’s really that they have a readable URL. User-friendly URL and they also have the keyword in the URL. So that’s found in all their product in category pages, or at least the ones we did check. And the majority of their URLs are optimized.

So structure-wise, when you’re looking at the URL of their website, It’s so easy to see where you are. And so easy to go up to a previous category, which goes into the next portion. Both of them do have a very optimized breadcrumb.

So breadcrumbs are basically like Hansel and Gretel, it sort of allows the user to navigate to upward levels. So if you’re looking for something that’s very specific and that’s not the product you’re looking for, you’re able to go back to the category page.

We also saw a good amount of H1 optimizations. Here’s the caveat though. Zalora has a number of H1 tags that aren’t optimized on pages that don’t have H1 tags. And that’s very problematic, as we all know. And as we have discussed over and over again, the H1 tag is your strongest on-page element.

It’s something that you can utilize to out-optimize your competitors while Shein has very optimized H1 tags.

Berns San Juan: And I think where we give props to, for the H1 audit really is more to Shein versus Zalora. Not to say that Zalora doesn’t use it. It’s just that Shein seems to be more consistent at using it right there. There wasn’t a single page we found that didn’t use an H1, right?  Whereas in Zalora, there are sections where we found nothing, and then there are sections where the product name is in the H2. Sometimes in the H3. So, Zalora is not as consistent at utilizing the power of the H1 as Shein is. The other thing that we started took look at was, are they missing any titles.

Timothy Uichico: So for both of them, in fairness, both of them they aren’t. Their titles are pretty optimized as well. And their titles aren’t the same as their H1.

Berns San Juan: In terms of keyword utilization, who does a better job?

Timothy Uichico: So I would say they’re roughly the same, however, Zalora because of how their products are mentioned, their category pages perform better.  Because when you search for something that’s really descriptive, let’s say pink dresses or something that has color and product. Most of the products that Zalora will show you will have that in their product name. Therefore, naturally, Zalora increased its keyword density on the page.

Berns San Juan:  Yeah. And then as expected, we also inspect the product schema. You know, both of them utilize it really well. They do a really good job, but talk to us about content. This is actually where they have pretty different approaches, right?

Timothy Uichico: Yes. Actually surprisingly, we always say content is king. In this case, Shein had beaten Zalora in almost every aspect when we’re talking about page content. But they’re performing significantly less.  If you’re looking at the number of users, we have Zalora still outperforming Shein, but this is what Shein did right? Aside from the H1, they have unique product descriptions. And they also have reviews, for they have reviews for the majority of their product.

Berns San Juan: This is actually what I was hoping you’d get into, right? Like they actually have user-generated content. Although, I think the way they publish it sort of needs work because it isn’t necessarily clear. With the way that it’s encoded there, it looks like it’s text. It doesn’t necessarily look like a user naturally encoded the review.

Timothy Uichico: They were unable to automate the review schema. So the reason why you do that is so you are dictating, well more or less. You’re informing Google that these are user-generated content. And these are reviews where you can get rich results.

Berns San Juan:  And it’s not as intuitive as like when you look at Amazon. Amazon is great. For me, they’re the peg when it comes to e-commerce user-generated content where shoppers ask previous buyers questions. The previous buyers answer the questions from the audience or answer the questions from the other customers, and existing customers leave reviews about the products.

If we scored each one and you know, right now, just for the sake of simplicity, whoever disappear gets a score of one, whoever is not, does not get a score, but it looks like the batting score between the two is 6 to Zalora and 8 to Shein, which raises the question of okay why?

Like, why would Zalora outperform a brand like Shein? If we’re saying Shein’s authority is higher. If we’re saying Shein’s content utilization is better, right? If we’re saying Shein generates user content versus Zalora, then why is Zalora winning on so many keywords? Like, I think we looked at the keyword comparison, right?

We found almost 78,000 keywords for Zalora, right? How many did we find for Shein?

Timothy Uichico: We found 9,000.

Berns San Juan: So why would that happen to more like if pound-for-pound Shein is checking more boxes? Why would Zalora outperform it?

Timothy Uichico: This is where off-page still comes into consideration.

Off-page Metrics:  Zalora vs Shein

Timothy Uichico: When we’re talking about off-page, we’re really talking about the authority score. With your website, the backlinks, and the referring domains. Zalora has been a player in the Philippines for much longer. Therefore, they have accumulated very relevant and very strong backlinks in the local industry.

Berns San Juan: Why is Zalora performing, so aside from the fact that they’re pretty legacy right in the Philippines, what else would it be attributed to?

Timothy Uichico: I think also their battling portfolio is less about branded and more about the product. That means people are talking less about their brands and more about the products that they’re selling.

Berns San Juan: One of the things that Timo said earlier was the total number of backlinks that Shein had versus the total number of backlinks that Zalora had, right? And if you look back at that, what you’ll realize is there are 8,100 backing in Shein and 250,000 Backlinks in Zalora. Let’s be generous, right? Let’s say 25% of the Shein backlinks go to the homepage. That means you’ve got thousands of products sharing.

The remaining 6,000 backlinks, right? And whereas with Zalora, because it’s 250,000 backlinks, you just have more products that get more backlinks. So it’s not just the domain itself, the pages themselves are earning authority. In Shein’s case, there are some pages that earn authority, but a majority of the pages have no authority yet, at least not locally. So a majority of the pages are not locally authoritative.

Berns San Juan: So let’s say you were, you were with Zalora, what would you do to keep your lead?

Timothy Uichico: So for me, I think I would, first off user-generated content is really great.

Berns San Juan: Right. And I think right if your competitor is doing something better than you. Don’t rest on your laurels. If your competitors are doing something that’s better than you learn from it and do it.

Timothy Uichico: Usually the reviews and the next one is I’m gonna fix my H1s because that’s a quick win for me. Because it’s already on your website, some pages have it, some pages don’t.

Berns San Juan: The technical team at Zalora is probably sophisticated enough to be able to generate autogenerate H1s where an SEO doesn’t prescribe one.  Like I don’t believe. Somebody went in and put in 400,000 H1 inside Shein. I think they are focusing on some products. We know this because we have eCommerce clients and this is what we tell them. We tell them these are the 60, 7200, and 3000 products we’re working on, but for all the rest you ought to generate the H1, you ought to generate the title or whatnot. Because having that kind of content is better than having no content at all.

If I were Zalora, I would double down on the fact that I think one more reason why Zalora has a lot of traction locally is Google looks at the behavior of users and it realizes Zalora is a relevant result because the clickthrough rates are high. Google offers Zalora, and as a result, Google users click through to the Zalora page. And in Google’s mind that’s ‘oh, okay that’s a relevant page’, right?

Timothy Uichico: Plus I also think the behavior and both websites when we were navigating were pretty easy, We didn’t get lost.

Berns San Juan: Yes, that’s true. But I did find navigating through Shein more intuitive, more enjoyable, right? I didn’t have to scroll down to look at the category pages. Zalora is laid out like a magazine. And Shein is actually really well laid out. It’s laid out like a really well-planned out e-commerce store, right? So it’s what I would expect if I were going to do e-commerce for the first time, I think Zalora might be banking on the fact that most people that go to it are probably not gonna be there for the first time.

Unsolicited Advice for Shein and Zalora

My unsolicited piece of advice for Zalora is while you’ve got an advantage on click-through rate, while you’ve got an advantage on rankings, I would say double down.  Take a look at whatever SEO elements you’re missing. Like, take, for example, user-generated content, and auto-fill in the missing titles and H1s,  just to make sure that you keep your lead. Let’s talk about the more challenging part.  Let’s talk about Shein, if you were Shein what would you do? Like what would, if you work at Shein, what would you do? I will do a lot, right? But if you were in Shein, what would you do?

Timothy Uichico: So one, I think my primary focus would be the category pages, right? The fact is that some of my product names don’t come up with the descriptors that they’re trying to sell for. Is a big issue for me, right? Because it affects the product page and affects the category page. Second, I would like to look back on what I did right in 2021.

Berns San Juan: To get like when they were generating 70,000 visitors a month, right?

Timothy Uichico:  And then we have to get back to doing that. We can’t tell until we get into their analytics and Google Search Console, but that’s another thing we do for better or for worse. We don’t normally recommend this cause their portfolio is already there, but against their competitors, they will need some of their backlinks to go or shift towards some of their product and category pages over their brand, right? They did pretty well cornering their brand. I think when we looked at Semrush ranking for all their brand searches, even the wrong spelling one, they already are there, right? Content-wise, they’re doing pretty good. There’s nothing much you can add to it. Maybe, focus on maybe a little bit of localized content if they have. If we’re looking at ranking for the Philippines, the Zalora might be the easier aspiration, but you’ll have to actually look at some of your other local competitors.

Berns San Juan: I think Zalora’s advantage is you can search for Mango, which is a Zalora partner. And you can search a lot of brands that are Zalora partners, and they’ll be there in the store, which you cannot do Shein, or at least not yet, right? If I were working at Shein, one of the first things that I would do is I would milk that authority score for everything that it’s worth.

I would probably put in category favorites or product favorites. If that’s the inventory I wanna move and I would present it on the homepage. Cause right now they’ve got the categories. But they don’t actually have featured products. And if I wanted to move 20, 30 featured products, I might put them down there. That’s one of the things that I would do. Two is, I would take a look at my best-performing products in other countries and see if my Philippine version, my Chinese version, my French version, and whatnot. Do they cannibalize each other?

I saw the real alternate tags, which is great on Shein, but I did take a look at the other countries. And when I’m looking at the Philippine page, the Philippine page says I’m authoritative for this content. And then we go to the French page. It says I’m authoritative for this, right?

Like when you go to other countries, the other countries essentially say, I’m authoritative for this content. So I would double check their canonicals if I were them. And then I would win it product category by product category, by product category. Like I wouldn’t try to be Zalora in one goal. But for a domain with a 72 authorities score a sub-domain.

And so I, I think with that, Timo and I will close out this episode of Truelogic DX, the battle of the online fashion stores. If you guys have a different opinion, or if you guys have a similar opinion, let us know.

As we did a website tear down, it just gives you an idea of how digital marketing practitioners look at the marketing technicalities of different brands.

We hope you enjoyed the episode. I’m sure Timo will join me for a few more. And until next time, we’ll see you on the next episode of Truelogic DX. If you have comments, if you have opinions, or if you wanna share something based on the topic we talked about, these are published on YouTube, and they’re published on Facebook. Don’t forget to subscribe to our Spotify, Google, and Apple accounts and set up your alert for new episodes. and of course, they’re available wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts Truelogic DX is powered by Podmachine our loving thanks. Go to these guys. And we will see you on the next episode. Thank you very much.

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