Site authority is a key metric used to evaluate the impact a website has on Google. In most cases, the authority can be correlated with the effectiveness of the overall SEO campaign.
However, if the site has some major tech problems, you’re unlikely to see it budge. Even with a large authority metric!
This is sometimes the case with what we call “sleeping giants”.
And believe me, there are some whoppers in the stationery and notebook space.
But what is a sleeping giant? What happens if one exists in my industry?
What is a Sleeping Giant?
A sleeping giant, in a nutshell, is a site which has a good level of authority but, for whatever reason, refuses to rank well in Google.
The reasons can be vast. But in most cases, the issues remain technical.
With a solid backlink profile, good content, and a good site structure, a site can still fail if Google isn’t able to understand it or crawl it.
Sometimes the problems lie in the more complicated side of coding.
If you’re also wondering what we mean by ‘authority’, we’re referring to the general scores provided by tools like Ahrefs and Moz.
A good authority score depends on the industry. However, anything over 50 can be considered good.
101 Problems but Authority Ain’t One…
With the authority being fine, what issues are common among sleeping giants?
Fortunately for us, we had a sleeping giant under our book when we were working on Laura Ashley’s site.
So, we know the potential problems lying under the hood.
Problems that commonly arise in these sites include indexation, accessibility, page speed, and much more.
In fact, it’s the large sites with tons of parameters and products that suffer. If the site isn’t laid out properly, Google will have a hard time finding everything.
The Biggest Giant in the Stationery and Notebook Industry
When going through the report we performed on the stationery and notebook industry, we include an interesting snippet looking at the site with large authority and low visibility.
The sites that make it into this section of the report usually sell one product or are incredibly specialist.
For example, Bullet Journal makes it into this list. They have one core product, a lot of authority, but don’t have a whole lot of visibility.
As they’re only selling one product, it makes sense they’d have these kinds of metrics.
However, sometimes, you can find a sleeping giant… just like we did.
Cross.com…. An Industry Behemoth Ready to be Woken
One brand that stood out was Cross.
They had a good level of authority but next to nothing in terms of visibility.
Take a look for yourself:
They have close to 70 DR but aren’t even touching 1000 in visibility. What on earth is going on?
With a large, international site, you would suspect they would be crushing the competition.
But low and behold, they’re not doing very well. Something serious is wrong with this site.
Diving into the Techy Stuff…
As previously mentioned, when we come across these sites, it is normally a tech issue. So, starting with the tech side of SEO is helpful.
The first thing I wanted to look at was their indexation. So, I put the UK site through Screaming frog.
I had no idea there were so many variations of pen!
Look at all those parameters!
Now, the good thing is that they’re all blocked by Robot.txt – this is correct. You don’t want Google crawling all these variations, creating bloat.
So, on face value, it doesn’t look like the size of the site is impacting the visibility.
(of course, we don’t have access to their Google Search Console, so we can never know for sure).
What About Speed?
Page speed is an essential element for SEO. In fact, it has been stated as a ranking factor for some time now.
So, how are Cross doing on the page speed side of things?
On mobile, they’re doing pretty bad. They have a score of 36 on their UK site.
Their desktop is a little better with a score of 61. However, that still isn’t great.
As you can see from both screenshots, Google has informed us that they haven’t passed the Core Web Vitals tests either.
Not a great sign indeed.
However, a poor page speed isn’t likely to cause a visibility score of below 1000. So, what could be the main problem?
Being an international brand that has the gTLD set in the US, making sure the international set up is right is very important.
If not, it causes a whole host of problems…
However, in the case of Cross.com, they’ve made a serious boo-boo. One that could be the reason they’re not performing as well as they should be.
Check this out:
For whatever reason, they’ve setup their Hreflang to point at their staging site. Dear oh dear.
In my eyes, something like this could be seriously hurting their international SEO, particularly in the UK market.
There is further evidence to back this up. Mostly coming from the fact their gTLD is outranking their ccTLD in a lot of keywords.
From that screenshot, you can see the US and UK sites are battling it out for terms in the UK market.
On a side note, there also appears to be some cannibalisation, but that’s a topic for another time.
From all of this, it is clear they have some important work to be doing with their international SEO. If they don’t get their staging site taken off their Hreflang tags, they’re going to struggle improving their UK site’s visibility.
It’s Not All Doom and Gloom
At this point, it might look like there are a whole host of technical problems with this site. So much so that recovery can seem bleak.
However, aside from the obvious tech problems, this site isn’t too bad from a UX POV.
Small things, such as having full fleshed out mega menus can be a huge booster in accessibility and UX.
The menu is aesthetically pleasing and gives the viewer clear choices in where they can go next.
Additionally, once this site has fixed its technical problems and figured out what exactly is going wrong, it will start to soar.
With an authority as high as theirs, they won’t have a problem getting to the top results in Google.
That’s All Folks
As you can see, Cross.com is definitely a sleeping giant in the stationery industry. They have an incredibly high domain authority but have a lot of trouble even getting past the 1000 visibility mark.
Something needs to be fixed asap.
As I detailed above, that hreflang implementation has to be causing some major issues. Fix that and I’m sure there’ll be a cascade of success to follow.