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What do Wilko and Quora share in common?

Budget hardware and homeware store Wilko and questions and answers platform Quora may at first glance be lightyears apart, but they do have one thing in common – their websites saw massive growth in search engine visibility through 2015, so much so that they came first and second place respectively in IndexWatch 2015.

IndexWatch, created by Sistrix, is a country-specific tally of websites ranked according to their search engine performance. It’s interesting for businesses, because it offers a glimpse into the big brands (and sometimes the small brands) that are killing it in search. And it’s interesting for marketers, because it shows when these websites first saw improved growth, and those dates can be tied in with (most of the time at least) Google’s algorithmic updates.

Take Wilko’s website for example, with a +298.21% improvement. According to Sistrix data, it was the 11th May 2015 when significant search visibility improvements started to emerge. This was just after Google’s Core Algorithm update, or the Phantom Update as it has become known because nobody really knows what it did, came into effect. Also interesting is the pages that saw visibility improvements – 1/3 of Wilko’s visibility in search was for their directory. Curiously, if you visit www.wilko.com/icat/ now, the page no longer exists.

Or how about another website in the top 10, Mentalfloss.com with a +152.56% visibility improvement. The owners of this website decided to change the domain name from www.mentalfloss.com to simply mentalfloss.com, and immediately an upward trend in search engine visibility in the middle of 2015 emerged. We find that data really interesting.

Also interesting is that when looking at the top 100 websites in the UK, 14 of them showed a positive jump after the Phantom Update. In Spain, a similar jump was seen (18). So we can establish that the Phantom Update was a worldwide one, not a UK-specific one.

Here’s the top 10 UK websites ranked in the IndexWatch report:

  • 1.Quora.com
  • 2.Wilko.com
  • 3.Mentalfloss.com
  • 4.Zomato.com
  • 5.Wayfair.com
  • 6.Avcclub.com
  • 7.Encyclopedia.com
  • 8.Spotify.com
  • 9.Slate.com
  • 10.Grammarist.com

As you can see, they are all fairly well-known websites. The top 100 list offers better information, with websites like savethestudent.org (100) and whattoexpect.com (99) making the list. There’s other well-known sites too, like Natwest (95) and DFS (96).

A quick analyses of these websites, mainly the more well-known ones, shows a significant amount of fresh content being added internally through 2015. Natwest for instance added no less than 100 high quality pages to their Support Centre database, which is a common theme with banking websites where RBS and Halifax did the same.

You can check out the full top 100 list here.

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