In these Big Leap Marketing Takedown, our marketing experts choose a company from a particular industry and conduct a full-service SEO marketing audit. We take a look at everything from their visible SEO strategies to the code that dictates how their website functions.
In today’s Marketing Takedown, our experts took a look at Stance. Stance is an apparel brand that primarily focuses on socks, underwear, and T-shirts. Formerly the official sock on NBA players, Stance offers self-expression and optimal performance to the sports apparel industry. And while they’re doing a number of things well to keep their digital marketing presence fresh, we discovered four ways they could improve.
Let’s get into it…
With every audit we conduct, we look at nine key categories to build holistic SEO health and a digital marketing strategy. We’ll get into those nine points in more detail, but let’s first give a quick overview of what we found:
Stance has its keyword focus in the right place, prioritizing rankings for men’s, women’s, and children’s socks. They’ve also expertly captured high-search volume keywords. However, an analysis through Ahrefs reveals the number of keywords Stance ranks for has decreased over the last few months.
Ahrefs also reveals that Stance’s website traffic is also decreasing. This is probably due to a loss in keyword rankings over the previous few months.
Stance could also do more to take rankings from the competition—its competitors currently capture 22,000 keywords that Stance does not rank for.
Now, let’s take a look at the more minute details of their website.
1. Strategies and Goals
Stance’s website is highly optimized for conversions, encouraging transactions, and increasing overall revenue. They primarily do this through their CTAs and email submitters.
Their eCommerce SEO strategy seems to cover the basics, with keyword implementation found in their metadata and title tags. However, they are not writing content for ranking purposes. They mostly rely on their athlete-focused web pages to garner traffic.
2. Site Architecture
The website’s architecture and navigation are top-of-the-line: URL structure is laid out perfectly and subpage URLs are descriptive and easy to understand. They also have no dynamic URLs, which is refreshing to see.
We do think they could improve their internal link-building strategy and tweak their navigation to be even more optimized, but we’ll talk about those suggestions later in the Takedown.
3. Crawling and Indexation
Overall, Stance’s site is well-optimized for crawling and indexation:
- Robots.txt files are without error.
- Sitemap is correctly organized.
- Site is secure.
- There are no duplicate versions of the site.
However, there are some errors we came across. For starters, there are close to 100 4xx errors. Additionally, they have 800 page URLs that end with a “?” which can lead to indexing issues and a wasted crawl budget.
4. Content Optimization
Stance’s use of keywords in their metadata and titles make their content well-optimized. They also do a good job of structuring their content with descriptive and organized headings. Thanks to the plethora of athlete pages, their general page quality meets Google’s E-A-T principle (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness).
Their biggest problem with content is they have so little of it, especially for an eCommerce company. Additionally, some of their content and pages could be built out more to be more informative and helpful to their customers.
5. On-Page User Experience
Stance’s user experience seems to be well-optimized:
- Structured data is established for schema targeting.
- Canonicals are set up on the site.
- URL redirects are set up properly.
- External links look good.
- The site is optimized for mobile and maintains a quality user experience.
- It passes the Core Web Vitals assessment.
One minor problem for Stance is page cannibalization. This is when multiple pages from the same company compete for the same keywords. However, since Stance only sells so few products, this was bound to happen.
The biggest problem with Stance’s on-page user experience is their site-speed, which currently scores a 22/100. For context, an optimal site speed score is between 90-100, while passable site speed ranges from 50-89. They will need to fix multiple things to improve their site speed.
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6. Off-Page User Experience
Luckily for Stance, they are an incredibly well-known brand. That means they’ve garnered a wide variety of credible and relevant backlinks.
They’ve also established themselves as an authority in the industry with great reviews and engaging social profiles—not much can currently be done to improve their off-page user experience.
7. Local SEO
Stance’s website has a web page that lists all of its retail and outlet locations, including links that map visitors to the address on Google Maps. Each of their stores has positive reviews, so no online reputation problems exist.
8. Conversion Rate Optimization
Stance’s CTAs are engaging enough to stand out to the average reader. Additionally, their customer journey is well mapped-out and caters to each of their demographics.
The only problem we see with Stance’s conversion rate optimization is their lack of using nurture processes. Those should be implemented to create a truly optimized sales funnel.
9. International Optimization
While Stance does offer international shipping, they do not have any websites that cater to non-English speaking customers. This isn’t necessarily an issue, but Stance could consider making non-English websites to appease their international customers.
Four Top-Priority Takeaways
Stance has done a good job of avoiding critical coding errors and sticking to SEO essentials when optimizing their content. However, here are the four tasks we believe they should consider if they wish to improve their keyword rankings and traffic rates.
1. Turn the Blog into a More Valuable Resource
Stance’s most critical problem right now is their blog and general lack of content. Stance does not have a dedicated blog their customers can turn to as an informative resource. They’re missing out on a big opportunity—one study found that blogs can increase indexed pages by over 434%.
So what content could Stance make to attract more customers? Let’s take a look at Nike for some guidance.
Nike currently curates content for their Nike Coaching blog, a resource dedicated to offering insightful and motivational tips and information to its readers. And their topics don’t just cover exercise—Nike produces articles that cover better life habits and how to achieve them, as well as advice from experts in the sports industry.
How can Stance replicate such a powerful resource? We suggest a couple of things:
- Leverage their relationships with athletes and artists. These sponsored artists and athletes, or “Punks and Poets” as Stance refers to them, can become helpful influencer personas for their brand. Then they can produce content that includes these influencer endorsements.
- Capitalize on their brand recognition. Most companies will start a blog to get noticed. Since Stance is already a dominant force in their industry, the company has to focus on creating valuable content—content that people will rely on as a key resource.
- Target long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords, or phrases that are more specific and likely to be searched, account for about 70% of all searches. They are also more commonly used by customers who are closer to the point-of-purchase. Stance could benefit from using more of these keywords to target their lower-funnel leads.
2. Improve Email Listings with Optimized Pop-ups
While we do not have the numbers of Stance’s exact conversion rates, we can infer that their rates could improve if they implemented nurture campaigns.
We recommend they use a pop-up on their website to grow their email list. This may seem counterintuitive for nurturing leads since most people find pop-ups incredibly annoying—and they’re right. But when executed right (like adding in a 30-second delay timer), pop-ups can be very effective in gathering emails.
Email marketing generally has a high ROI, around $42 for every $1 spent. And when combined with a nurturing campaign, Stance could see serious returns.
3. Improve Site Speed
Another jarring finding was Stance’s 22/100 site speed score. This is a relatively easy fix, but it will take some time to address all the issues. Here are some suggestions on where to start:
- Optimize image sizes.
- Address any long redirect chains (Google PageSpeed insight found 3).
For a more in-depth look at what Stance should change, they should complete a site speed audit.
4. Fix Coding Errors
Stance’s two biggest coding errors were their 4xx errors and 800 parameter URLs.
The nearly 100 4xx error codes we found, which indicate an error in a request, should be fixed as soon as possible to ensure an optimal user experience.
To address 4xx errors, Stance just needs to adjust the request being made. For example, the infamous 404 error occurs when what the user is looking for can no longer be found. To fix this, one would simply have to change the URL to redirect a request to a related web page.
Meanwhile, to fix their URL parameters, Stance should establish canonicals to point search engine crawlers to the pages they should index.
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Sports apparel is an ever-growing industry. Since 2012, total revenue from the global sports apparel industry grew from $135 to $191.96 billion. That’s expected to continue up to $207.79 billion in 2025.
With such steady and impressive growth, Stance needs to hold its ground as an authoritative figure.
For companies who are just getting started in the sports apparel industry, now is the time to optimize your eCommerce marketing strategies so you can be a part of this growth. And when you’re new to the digital landscape, it helps to work alongside a company that knows what they’re doing.
Contact Big Leap today to get an analysis as thorough as this Marketing Takedown. Once we know what you need to improve, then our experts will execute your strategy for you.