Walmart's SEO strategy to get $43B in online sales!

In 2021, Walmart managed to get $43B USD in online sales - all thanks to this SEO strategy. Read on to know more!

25th January 2022
4 min read

In a nutshell

Walmart gets 250M+ monthly traffic via SEO! Of course, they ace many areas in marketing. But, their SEO strategy powers $43B in online sales. Let's learn about it!

Their SEO strategy emerged from a crisis.
You see, in any online store, items are organised into different categories.
Categories -> Sub-categories -> Products

Now a category can have many different products
For example:
- Category = Computers
- Sub-category = Computer Accessories
- Then, Product = Keyboard, camera, mice, etc

But if you optimise product pages for keywords like 'camera', 'keyboard', 'mouse', etc.
Then every page will rank for the same keyword, which will result in them competing with each other.
For a website like Walmart that has millions of product pages, this is a huge problem.

So, to solve this problem, Walmart uses the taxonomy principle!
Taxonomy is simply classifying items in a structured way.
It is an SEO technique used to organise pages into categories with help of tags.

Now, Walmarts pages are organized in the structure:
Domain -> Walmart .com
Department -> Electronics
Category -> Computers
Sub-category -> Laptop

Each stage in this structure has a unique URL structure & every page is also optimized for a unique keyword! With this strategy, Walmart gets 252 million monthly organic traffic! So, its an absolute success :)


Whether it operates in your country or not, you've heard of Walmart — it's simply that famous.

Walmart is world's largest company by revenue ($559B USD), and they've established themselves as a retail giant. In recent years, Walmart has successfully taken that fame online.

To make it big in the online world, well, you need to get in Google's good books. Even when you're as big and popular as Walmart, SEO isn't something you can ignore.

Of course, to keep up with the times, they've adopted many amazing SEO strategies. I've picked one of Walmart's strategies to tackle today — read on!

What was the issue that needed solving?

When it comes to retail, items are split into categories. Categories are further divided into sub-categories. The sub-category then has a list of products.

So, Categories → Sub-categories → Products.

While this means that you have an extensive product catalog, it could be disastrous, SEO-wise.

Let's break this down:

  1. You have a product 'A', under sub-category 'Y', under category 'X' (X → Y → A)
  2. But, A is not the only product you have under this sub-category. There could be any number of products here:
    • Suppose you're an electronic store and your category is Computers. A sub-category under this is Computer Accessories.
    • Then, you would have keyboards, mice, cameras and other accessories under this sub-category.
  3. If you now optimise the product pages for the keyword 'Computer Accessories', every page will rank for the same keyword.
    • They would in turn end up competing against each other on Google.

For Walmart, a gigantic store, the negative impact of doing this is multiplied exponentially. Millions of product pages would compete against each other and end up driving away users.

Got it, but is there a solution to this?

Are you familiar with the term 'taxonomy'? It means classifying things in a structured fashion. Eukaryota, Animalia till Homo sapiens in Science, for example, where each word gives more specific details than the previous.

Taxonomy is also an SEO technique, where pages on the websites are made based on the structure of the content. Categories, tags and other such divisions impart this structure.

If there's a good SEO taxonomy strategy in place, the content is clear to search engines. As a result, visitors are led to very specific pages on the website depending on their search query.

Okay, but what did Walmart do with this knowledge?

Every product page on Walmart is created using a parent-child structure — a perfect example of a great taxonomy.

Page structure

The main site, Walmart.com, has over 50 million pages - we'll call Walmart.com our domain.

There are two kingdoms in this domain, our main categories:

  1. Departments — for everything you can buy, like a shoe.
  2. Services — for services you can utilise, like those of an auto care center.
Walmart SEO case study

There are Departments such as Grocery, Electronics, Toys & Video Games and others. The case with Services is similar, they are split into types.

Walmart SEO case study

These Departments are further divided into Categories.

Under the department Electronics, we have the categories TV & Video, Tablets & Accessories, and Computers, among others.

Walmart SEO case study

Still not done — Walmart further divides these Categories into more focused sub-categories. You'll find laptops, PC Gaming, desktops under the category Computers.

Walmart SEO case study

Now, if I click on Laptops, I end up on a landing page which shows me a collection of laptops.

Walmart SEO case study

Finally, clicking on any one laptop takes you to a dedicated landing page for that product.

Walmart SEO case study

So far, we've traversed:

The domain, Walmart.com → the department, Electronics → the category, Computers → the sub-category, Laptops → the product.

Here, each term to the left of the arrow is the 'parent' of the term to the right — the 'child'. Also, each page is optimised for a different keyword.

Deep navigation in some departments would show even broader pathways to get to the product page.

You must be saying, "Wow. That's a really neat navigation & structure!"

URL structure

Following the page structure Walmart has used, the URL should have been: walmart.com/electronics/computers/laptops/[product-name].

But, as a rule of thumb in SEO, URLs should be short — and Walmart wasn't losing out on anything.

The URL of the Laptop page we arrived at above is https://www.walmart.com/ip/HP-15-6-Athlon-N3050-4GB-RAM-128GB-SSD-Rose-Gold-Wireless-Mouse-Sleeve-Windows-10-Home-in-S-mode-with-Microsoft-365-15-ef1073wm/476752892

While it's still big, the case is such because of the product name and not any unnecessary extension Walmart has applied to the URL.

This is a common pattern followed across product page URLs - walmart.com/ip/[product-name]

Walmart also has lading pages for the category and sub-categories. These have 'cp' instead of 'ip' — 'https://www.walmart.com/cp/computers/3951' and 'https://www.walmart.com/cp/laptops/1089430', for example.

Amazing! But did it help Walmart?

Thanks to a detailed taxonomy strategy, it is easier for Walmart to target relevant keywords. Users are directed to very specific landing pages — no two pages are optimised for the exact same keyword.

No kidding here, Walmart's SEO stats speak for themselves. According to Ahrefs, they get a monthly organic traffic of 252 million!

Walmart SEO case study

Combined with Walmart's other SEO & marketing efforts, the taxonomy strategy acts as a major booster to their sales. In 2021 itself, Walmart reached $43B USD in online sales, a more than 70% increase year-over-year!

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