How Sports Authority Outranks Amazon

Even powerful companies find themselves vying for a spot in the SERPs against mammoth retailers like Amazon and Walmart. Sports Authority is no exception.

It’s natural to assume that Amazon dominates everywhere for e-commerce terms. But when I searched for a specific shoe, [Adidas Men’s F30], a coveted conversion-centric term, it was Sports Authority that outranked Amazon. The Sports Authority result also has a video snippet and starred rating, bound to catch eyes and clicks.

sports authority outranks amazon in serp

This is no fluke. What we’re seeing isthat Sports Authority outranks Amazon by strategically capturing the universal search opportunity for video.

Step back and remember that even though universal results (video and otherwise) aren’t the traditional ten blue links, they’re still ‘natural’ results—won by factors of relevance and quality. Universal search elements have different algorithms and ranking triggers than traditional organic search, but the best practices of both types of search results are similar and their strategies are complimentary.

How does Sports Authority outrank Amazon and get those great rich features like the video excerpt & the starred rating? One of the major factors is structured data.

Sports Authority Outranks Amazon with Detailed Structured Data

As a brief refresher on structured data: search engines recommend that you use rule-based html tags that convey meaning about your site content.

For that reason, good structured data often helps you rank better for more relevant queries. (If you want to read more about structured data and its costs and benefits, check out this excellent post by Kara Alcamo.)

Take a look at how thorough Sport’s Authority’s markup is for this query. Below is the video sitemap. Hat tip to the video service, Invodo, for the impressive detail here.

sports authority video schema

Just a few of the details the markup includes:

  • Whether the video is family friendly
  • How long it is
  • View count
  • Publication date

All this goes a long ways towards getting Sports Authority’s videos in the valuable universal search real estate. Anecdotally, we’ve seen schema vastly improve video rankings in both natural and universal search.

Sports Authority Outranks Amazon with Unique Video Content

Another way Sports Authority manages to outrank Amazon is by creating unique video content. More than ever, Google is doing an excellent job of seeing what content is unique.

The ranking video is unique; it has Sports Authority’s branding and messaging. The video also works hard to be extremely useful to the consumer, showing the shoe’s features, scale, and different angles.

Another interesting tactic: After the video has been watched, viewers are prompted to rate it for usefulness…what better way to ensure that you’re giving Google a high-quality, relevant results that will satisfy their searchers?

sports authority product video

How Do You Take Advantage of Universal Search for Video?

Fortunately for marketers who want to rank for video content, there’s literally a guidebook. The YouTube playbook showcases best practices to help you surface video content in both the natural results and in the universal search results. These practices generally apply to other hosting platforms, too. (It should go without saying that SEO best practices like optimizing title tags and meta descriptions are a must as well.)

Universal search is another opportunity to get your brand out there in a competitive market. In every vertical, there are untapped niches and those who are the “first to market” will have an enormous advantage. Here, Sports Authority dominates Amazon with its unique, structured video content.

What SERPs in your vertical have a universal video spot ready for the taking?


If you liked this post, check out: How REI Outranks Wikipedia.

  • Brad Brewer

    Following a search for [Adidas Men’s F30] you will find a Sports Authority listing, but the link goes to a dead page.

    • Charity

      Hey Brad, looks like that’s a technical snafu on Sports Authority’s side since I wrote this up–luckily there’s the screen shot for posterity & perhaps you finding the broken link will be helpful for Sports Authority to fix the problem before Google demotes them too much!

      The SERPs are of course very transient but you’ll find this strategy beating out Amazon in many spots. (Zappos is another good example of a brand that follows this exact recipe and ranks highly.)

  • I performed the same search (in a private browser) and saw no structured data for SA, and saw Amazon (and outrank SA.

    • Charity

      Hey Joe–that’s true and is also what Brad, in the comment above, addressed. The thing is–this article is about a SERPs, and SERPs, by nature, change. I’m just a bit unlucky that this one changed right as I published it. 😛

      Google is trying to serve up the most relevance, and because SA now has a broken link (an internal issue) it is no longer the most relevant or helpful link. The concept (and the success shown by the screenshot) is still a valid one. And helpful to readers, I hope!

  • Tom

    Good snapshot, Charity. Just days after you posted this, Google removed video snippets for lots of results. Looks like Sports Authority will need another strategy!

    Further reading:

    • Charity

      Yep, good point Tom. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Universal elements are bound to continue to be important to SEO strategies, but what those elements are is in real flux right now.

      • Tom

        As it always is. We’d get bored if it stayed the same 😉

  • I’ve been seeing posts about using self-hosted video vs. YouTube. Any thoughts on this?