How Site Structure is Failing Footlocker Running Shoes

nike running shoes

My wife is constantly nagging me to hit the gym. The problem is that I love my food too much and I hate going to the gym. But in the end, as usual, she won and I buckled. But to head back to the gym I needed some new running shoes. The current pair were falling to bits (even though no running ever took place in them). It was time…..

I’m very impatient. I knew that if my running shoes didn’t arrive soon, then there’s a strong possibility that I would change my mind and forget doing any exercise at all. I jumped on the computer, and ordered a pair very quickly. They were in budget and didn’t look terrible. I starred at the screen, click click, ordered, paid, Boom!

For the life of me I couldn’t actually remember who I ordered from. In fact if you had caught me later that day and asked me which company my trainers were from, I’d have probably said:

I can’t remember. All I know is that it wasn’t Amazon.

The next day, a Sports Direct box arrived with my trainers.


Ahhhh so that’s who I ordered them from. 

sports direct

Why though?

Why did I order from Sports Direct? Because they were at the top of google and at the time, I would have thought to myself:

oh I know this company. Sports Direct is a household name. 

Doing a little digging around, the stats for their site were super impressive but moreso than that, the structure of the site in many ways was textbook. 

By that I mean for the phrase running shoes, their site structure had been divided and subdivided in a way that was google friendly.

It started off with the following url:


As you can see from there, it was easy enough to navigate for men’s running shoes, women’s trainers and kid’s shoes.

Easy Peasy lemon squeezy.

If I was the google bot, I’d be making love to Sports Direct Site’s Structure. If that’s even possible? 

But who else was on page 1. Well other than the usual suspects there were a few people that I didn’t recognise. In the fitness world they may be famous but I’d never heard of them. 

running shoes seo


Enter Footlocker 

They kept flitting between the bottom of page 1 and top of page 2.

But what was going on.

Everyone knows Footlocker. In fact the last time I walked past one, it was totally packed; much like the likes of Monmouth Coffee and Dishoom. 

So why were they ranking on page 2? Why weren’t they at the top of google? Why wasn’t the google bot doing the dirty dance with Footlocker’s site? 

Afterall, they sold plenty of running shoes, didn’t they?

Before I go on, I just want to point out that from an SEO point of view, ranking takes time. Doing it methodically and slowly is a long process and even after all that, there’s no getting round the reality that competing with the likes of Sports Direct, Wiggle, Nike, Adidas, etc for the term RUNNING SHOES.. is no easy feat.

So anyone on the first 2 pages, bravo.

But I hadn’t heard of Run4It, but I had heard of Footlocker. Perhaps the focus was more on the retail side? Perhaps selling online wasn’t the main goal for the company?

The more I looked, the more I just saw bizarre practices, that very much go against the grain of good google SEO practices. 

But as much as I’d like to spill my guts and list the dozen or so things Footlocker needs to do to be on the middle of page 1 – I noticed one glaring error that just brought tears to my eyes. If you’re not aware of my fits of shouting and crying at bad organic SEO, please read more about it in our article on HMV. 

But when I searched for running shoes, all the sites pointed to a main page for running shoes, whilst the google listing for Footlocker took me straight to a page of men’s running shoes. Not the page for all running shoes, but just specifically men’s running shoes. 



That was strange? I would have expected that Footlocker would have been in line with their competitors. By that I mean each page is connected to a parent keyword. Why were they connecting running shoes to their men’s page.

It dawned on me. With just that one simple error, and despite selling women’s and kids shoes also, the above listing was enough to dissuade women and kids from even clicking through.

I was in utter shock. For a moment my wife nearly called the police as I was shouting at my laptop screen in anger. Again revert to the HMV article for a better explanation of the mood swings. 

I wanted to know how much traffic Footlocker we’re turning away? 

As you can see below, it’s a fair old chunk. 

Does site structure matter that much? 

In this instance as you can see it really does. Google will effectively serve up the results for keywords you are trying to rank for. 

For some reason Footlocker are making their page for men’s shoes the parent page. 

Sports Direct have taken the more logical approach.

Ahh you want running shoes. Well here’s a page, tell me more. Oh you want women’s running shoes, no problem here you are. You want outdoors shoes, here you go..

Very straightforward.

So yes, this very much makes a difference as it affects the click through rate from searcher to site visitor, and then if categorised in a structured way, chances are they’re like to spend more time on the site, they’re less likely to bounce off and look elsewhere and more importantly there’s a greater chance that they’ll buy. 

Easy peas you lemon squeezy. 

So now what? 

Now nothing. Until Footlocker address this,  they’re always going to be turning away 25% of online visitors. And that’s heart breaking for such a cool and well known brand. 

Whilst of course we’d need to be retained to give away the whole enchilada, maybe with just this little bit of information FootLocker may even put a picture of the whole Outrank Online team in all their stores.

Boom! Small ask I think….

So what did I personally learn from this? Well, I learnt that I like Footlocker a lot they’re a cool brand and they really ought to hire us.

But on a serious note what I learnt is being weak online right now is a bad idea. With a looming Brexit and a weak high street, companies need to have the strongest possible online presence. Now more than ever!!

We’ve sadly seen enough household brands disappear. Woolworths, blockbusters etc. We knew them all but just we as the public just weren’t spending enough money there. 

Site structure is often overlooked because it’s not sexy. But when it leads to a drop in traffic and therefore a drop in money – then hey, that’s not sexy either.

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