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Delta vs. Kohler: How Delta is Winning the SEO War

Good news! You might not be the number one brand in your market, but you can still rank #1.

by Zach Williams

Kohler has amazing trade show displays, really creative print ads and they are well-known to consumers. Delta isn’t as big as Kohler but is still well-known and sells quality products that are similar to many of their competitor’s.

Just for fun I decided to compare these two building materials brands that are popular in the kitchen and bath industry. (Yep, I am a total nerd.) Since both companies offer a wide variety of products I decided to focus only on faucets for my searches.

I assumed that because Kohler has more U.S. market share and brand recognition they would have higher search results than Delta. But surprisingly, when I searched for products that they both offered I found that a majority of the time Delta had search results that were higher than Kohler’s. Here’s a breakdown of 15 terms I searched for and how both brands ranked:

Kohler Delta SERP chart

I decided to check out some basic SEO elements to see if they were contributing to Delta’s success. Here’s what I found:

1. Delta’s page titles are shown as “Page Title: Brand Name” instead of Kohler’s “Brand Name | Page Title”

Why This Matters: Google gives more weight to keywords in the beginning of your title tag, so a page title like "Kitchen Faucets : Delta Faucet" tells Google immediately that this page is about kitchen faucets.

Page title delta

2. Page load time for Delta’s homepage is MUCH faster. (2.378 vs. 7.329 seconds)

Why This Matters: Google has publicly stated that speed is a big factor in page rankings. If a user has to wait for your content to load they’ll most likely leave and get their info somewhere else.

3. Even though Delta has fewer links to their homepage, they come from more domains.

Why This Matters: According to Open Site Explorer, Kohler has over 48,000 links to their homepage, but those links came from less than 3,000 domains. Delta had approximately 40,000 links from 4,502 domains. I can’t speak to the quality of these links, but I can say that the number of linking domains is a more important ranking factor for Google than the number of links alone. (Translation: one link from 10 different relevant sites is better than 10 links from one site.)

4. Delta ranks for how-to videos.

Why This Matters: When DIYers are looking to do a project themselves, they often turn to Google for help. A company that provides helpful tips on how to install their products establishes a positive connection with consumers before they buy. If they’ve seen how to install Delta’s product and feel confident enough to do it themselves, they might be more likely to seek out that brand when they’re in the store.

Kohler delta faucet installation SERP

As you can see from the above image, Delta is the second result for “how to install a kitchen faucet” and that page contains a how-to video. (Kohler isn’t even on the page.)

One way that Delta could improve on this further would be to optimize their video descriptions on YouTube so they are easier to find in Google’s video search results. They can do this by adding to their video description and maybe changing their video title. (“How to install a bathroom faucet” has more monthly searches than “Installing a bathroom faucet” so they might want to try using that instead.)

How delta is beating kohler in search rankings howtovideo

YouTube has an easy-to read guide for video optimization if you are interested in learning how to optimize your own videos.

Delta could also incorporate rich snippets into their page so that a thumbnail of their video shows up in search results.

5. Delta has shorter URLs.

How delta is beating kohler in search rankings url

Why This Matters: Shorter URLs are more likely to be shared. Also, a URL that contains words rather than numbers is another way to tell Google what your page is about. Kohler does a good job of putting relevant keywords in their URLs, but all the other information doesn’t help.

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Well, when it comes to clicks the answer is yes. According to Search Engine Watch:

  • 53% of organic search clicks go to the first listed result.
  • 15% of clicks go to the second result,
  • 9% for the third and even less as you go down the list.

So, having your page appear above your competitor in search results is a huge advantage.

To be fair, I must point out that Kohler has a gorgeous, well-designed site. I’d argue that users would probably prefer it over Delta’s once they got there, but the big question is: are they actually getting there or is Delta getting those clicks instead?

Since I don’t have access to their analytics data I can’t tell for sure. What I can say from previous experience is that having a gorgeous website doesn’t help attract new visitors if it isn’t optimized for search engines.

I should also point out that Kohler’s Google Ads often appeared above the organic search results, so optimizing for organic search may not be their top priority. If you don’t have a huge AdWords budget you are probably going to care more about getting organic search results, though. Plus, there is evidence that even though paid search results are higher in listings, users are still more likely to click on organic search results.

Take some time to look at your competitors’ websites. Identify their strengths and weaknesses.

Are their sites mobile friendly? Do they have unique page titles? Do they offer videos or downloadable resources? If not, you’ve just identified ways that you can improve your site in order to beat them!

If you’d like to know more about how to get started with optimizing your site, check out this article I wrote about 5 quick tips for getting started with SEO.

And as always, if you would like to receive more digital marketing strategies from the Venveo team, please add yourself to our mailing list!

Please note that I have no access to either company’s analytics data and I don’t know how much traffic they are getting or what their conversion rates are. I am only looking at the publicly available information in order to make some educated guesses as to what is contributing to Delta’s higher rankings. All the data that I am referring to was current as of May 5, 2015 - rankings and statistics are subject to change.

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