The Top Domains and Content for Women’s Sport Shoes

As part of our deep dive into the Visibility Leaders for women’s fashion, SectorWatch is looking to get in shape and look good doing it as we examine the UK search market for women’s sports shoes. We’ll find examples of winning domains and high-performing content so that you can see who is winning and what works. Who is helping searchers exercise in style?

Over 60% of women over 16 years are classed as physically active, and we’ve seen in previous SectorWath articles a growing demand for home fitness equipment and fitness trackers.

As a key part of the growing UK market for sportswear, demand for sports shoes is increasing. Some studies estimate the sports footwear category will be worth £5 billion by 2025, with women’s footwear sales expected to grow more than 3% a year.

And with such demand, the search market for sports shoes is fierce.

As well as key sportswear manufacturers like Adidas, Nike, New Balance and Puma we have specialist running brands, sports retailers (such as Decathlon and Sports Direct), shoe retailers, general online retailers and a host of online specialist stores, all competing for your visit.

Top 3 domains for women’s sports shoe searches:

The extended top 25 lists are shown below, along with keyword research information.


What’s trending in the women’s sports shoe search market?

By analysing our keyword list and our TrendWatch data, we can spot some topics that are currently spiking in popularity:

  • womens trainers
  • asics womens trainers / asics trainers womens (and subtopics like black asics womens trainers)
  • nike dunk low womens
  • on trainers womens
  • hoka trainers womens / hoka womens trainers
  • new balance womens trainers 327
  • womens beige trainers

If you’d like insight into even more search trends, and the back-story of those rising keyword searches, subscribe to TrendWatch, the monthly newsletter from the SISTRIX Data Journalism Team.

The top URLs for women’s sport shoes

Another useful option when using the keyword lists feature is the ability to pinpoint the best-performing individual URLs in addition to the top competitors. Here’s a list of the most popular pages to offer some insight into what works well and perhaps inspiration for your sites. If you click on the domain name the URL in question will open in a new tab.

Top 25 URLS for women's sport shoes. SISTRIX Visibility Leaders April 2024
URLTop Keyword trainers womens women trainers trainers women trainers women trainers running trainers trainers womens running trainers trainers trainers trainers women trainers trainers womens trainers sale trainers trainers womens,175.endnike trainers womens trainers trainers trainers trainers trainers sale trainers women trainers women

The top domains in the UK for women’s sports shoes

We’ve already had a sneak peek of our top three domains in this search market and the most popular URLs, but to see a bigger picture of the types of domains that are ranking we need to zoom out a little. To show what types of sites rank, here are the top 50 domains for our keyword set:

Top 50 domains for women's sport shoes. SISTRIX Visibility Leaders April 2024
DomainKeywords in Top 10

Content examples: What type of content is performing?

Looking at our list of winning domains, we immediately learn some important factors about what Google thinks our audience wants when it comes to buying some new sports shoes.

  • There’s great diversity in the business types ranking in our top 20 domains. While they are all places where you can buy clothes, we find a range of business models:
    • There are a couple of sports retailers such as Sports Direct and JD Sports
    • E-commerce giants, from Amazon and eBay to online fashion e-commerce brands like Very, ASOS and Lyst
    • We have shoe retailers such as Office and Schuh
    • Big high-street retailers with strong online propositions such as Next and John Lewis
    • And finally manufacturers including Nike, Adidas and New Balance
  • These are some of the biggest domains in the UK search market (as measured by Visibility Index). Six of our top twenty domains are in the 100 most-visible domains and another at 102 (Sports Direct)
  • While we have a range of business types raking well, what we don’t have is a range of content types – all our top-ranking domains offer an e-commerce shopping experience
    • Only one domain in our top 50 – – isn’t an e-commerce store
    • While many of our top sites do offer guidance content (all the better to target different parts of the buying cycle and try and keep users on-site no matter what next step they need), it is e-commerce content that ranks well
    • Google has decided that our ‘do’ keyword set has a transactional intent and that searchers want to see pages where they can buy some women’s sports shoes
    • All of the top 100 performing URLs are e-commerce pages, and nearly all of them are product listing pages (PLPs, or category pages). Google believes users want a page where they can see rows of potential products to choose from
  • Backing this up, 1,526 of our 1,546 keywords (98.7%) have Google’s product listings in the results, and 196 of the more popular ones (12.7%) have panels with paid Google Shopping ads
  • If we zoom out a little and consider the whole Visibility Leaders project, it is interesting that many of the UK’s biggest women’s fashion e-commerce sites are doing well for this specific subtopic. Brand names like ASOS, John Lewis, Next and Lyst doing well here tells us that a reputation for a wider topic (women’s fashion) can propel you to success for more niche subtopics, even against more dedicated brand names

High-performance content examples

With such a diverse set of business types ranking for our keywords, we can see it is the shopping experience that forms the consistent thread among our winners.

With that in mind, we know that e-commerce and shopping pages are the winning formats for our keyword set. So, what can we learn from a closer look at the strongest domains with content that consistently ranks well?

We’re in the game for high-performing content formats – directories and templates that are consistently successful at ranking for their target keyword topics.

At the top of the podium is Sports Direct, owned by the UK’s largest sports goods retailer.

This familiar high-street name matches its offline ubiquity with a powerful online presence. As one of the UK’s biggest e-commerce domains, it is in a prime position to rank well for its core categories. ranks in the top 100 results for a whopping 94.76% of our keyword set (that’s 1,466 keywords), and page one for 58% (989) of them.

We can find high-performing content all over the site, but in our keyword set, we see that the running, ladies and fitness and training directories all do very well. These are three of the top five performing directories for the site overall.

Let’s take the /fitness-and-training/ directory. It ranks for 23,974 keywords in the UK at the time of writing, with 36.9% of the most important keywords ranking on page one.

Graph with ranking distribution of fitness & training, most keywords are on page one.

Together, these keywords bring in an estimated 198,064 organic visits a month, worth £155k. Within the directory, there are multiple different sub-directories, focussed on different fitness kit. This includes gym equipment, a relatively new directory for exercise machines and the main source for our keyword set, gym trainers.

Line graph with different pages from Sports Direct.

Within the directory, 71 different pages are currently ranking for at least one keyword in the UK, and the page dedicated to women’s trainers is one of the most successful.

It’s not only this directory of course. We have a lot of keywords in our set on the topic of running shoes, and Sports Direct have a dedicated top-level directory on this sport, just as they do for gym kit and other sports such as football, golf and swimming, as well as directories dedicated to brands and demographics.

The running directory ranks for 20,588 keywords in the UK, less than the gym directory but bringing in more estimated organic visits (213,156 per month). 47.4% of those rankings are on page one and the directory’s traffic is worth an estimated £119k.

Graph with ranking keywords of "running" category, most being on page one.

So, what makes these pages so successful?

Clearly, huge brand factors are at play, with a domain that gets plenty of links and other powerful signals that it is a popular, trusted store in the UK.

We saw in our keyword research there are plenty of [sports direct] + [keyword] searches. For example, ‘sports direct womens trainers’ gets searched for 2,900 times a month on average. This brand connection to the category no doubt pushes Google to also show this domain for non-navigational searches.

But, we shouldn’t dismiss the page experience itself. Sports Direct offers a strong, modern e-commerce shopping experience with many on-page factors that Google might notice. Let’s take the PLP for women’s running shoes as an example:

  • Sports Direct are known for carrying a lot of shoes. There are 762 (at the time of writing) options listed, meaning there’s likely something to satisfy most tastes and requirements
  • The title tag – “Womens Running Shoes & Trainers | Sports Direct” – is clear, concise and makes it clear what you’ll find on the page
  • There’s also a well-crafted meta description with plenty of eye-catching language and a CTA (“Go the extra mile – and fast – in a new pair of Women’s Running shoes from Sports Direct. Find the best brands in running to take you to the next level”)
  • Sports Direct use a pretty massive mega-menu, which includes two main links to this page:
    • Womens > Running Shoes
    • Sports > Running (tabbed) > Women’s running shoes
    • This means this PLP, despite being a subcategory, gets sitewide internal links
  • The site also offers a further opportunity for users to find exactly what they want through child sub-pages
    • There are pages for specific types of running shoes, including Everyday, Fast, Road and Off-road (three of which also appear in the mega menu)
    • There are also more specific use/discipline subcategories such as women’s trail running shoes
    • And there are brand options, such as women’s Nike running shoes and other brands like Adidas, Asics and New Balance
    • Sports Direct has created a host of specific, indexable PLPs for popular combinations, something they repeat across many categories. They do this up and down each vertical. It’s a tactic that works – 17 of the top 100 pages for our keyword set are on, one of the largest such ratios we’ve ever seen
  • Breadcrumb links (“Home / Running / Running Shoes / Ladies Running Shoe”)  show the position of the page within the site hierarchy and offer internal links to parent pages
  • The PLP itself includes some intro copy. Nothing revolutionary, but enough to help both users and search engines alike confirm what the page is about and the types of products listed
  • Below the introductory copy is a sub-menu, packed with useful options:
    • There are links to related pages, including the various child PLPs
    • Plus cross-merchandising opportunities for related subcategories such as women’s running clothes
    • The sub-menu appears on all PLPs. This means there are other on-page links from related pages, such as the main running shoe page, directly pointing to this URL, providing further evidence of its importance and opportunities to have Googlebot crawl the page
  • There is also a link to a Running shoe finder – an interactive tool that helps you find the type of running shoe you are after. It goes through a range of important criteria such as support type, running goals, price range and more
    • Not only is this a good shopping/conversion tool, but it is also going to keep visitors on the site for longer
  • And finally, we have a variety of filters, including by brand, available size, colour, type, support, surface, collection, price and review score. These use a combination of hashtags, parameters and canonical tags to prevent Google from indexing near-duplicate versions of the same content, with dedicated PLPs for major sub-topics (as we’ve seen)

Together these not only equate to the modern shopping experience Google expects, but also loads of options encouraging visitors to stay on the page as well as good on-page optimisation.

Scaled up over all the categories Sports Direct offers, and we have a strong e-commerce proposition to match the brand popularity.

High-performance manufacturer content

Another big winner in our analysis is Nike.

Now, at first, this success might seem obvious. Nike clearly has an advantage in ranking for various ‘Nike’ searches.

And we found 251 ‘Nike’ queries for our keyword set, including highly popular queries like ‘nike trainers womens’ which is searched for 16,800 times a month.

But, interestingly, to get to third in our pantheon of winning domains, Nike is also able to rank for generic queries as a popular retailer in its own right.

If we look at one of the most successful pages in our keyword set, Nike’s page for women’s running trainers, as an example.

It ranks for 220 of our keywords, 49 of which are on page one. The page isn’t just a Nike brand search page either as there are significant non-brand keyword rankings. Position 3 and 4 for “women[s] sneakers”, for example, are noteworthy.

List of ranking page one keywords with a total of 28.

As arguably the most famous trainer/sneaker brand, it shouldn’t surprise us that Google wants to show the Nike store for general trainers, running shoes and gym shoe searches.

Overall, Nike ranks for 957 of the 1,546 keywords in our sample set, and on page one for 366 of them (23.7%).

The Nike site doesn’t use a tiered hierarchy for its PLPs. Instead, it has a directory for women’s kit (/gb/w/) and individual PLPs below that. Nike’s women’s directory has over 27.8k URLs ranking for at least one keyword (all seemingly at the same level!) Together they rank for 451,442, with 23.65% of the most important on page one – a highly impressive piece of content performance.

Graph with keyword distribution, most being on page one.

These keywords bring in over half a million organic visits each month, worth £2.5m. If we look at the Visibility Index score for the directory, it is bigger than many competing total domains. Since its launch in 2019, the page has consistently grown its organic footprint, including some big gains in 2024.

Although there isn’t a defined URL hierarchy, Nike does make good use of its PLPs. with more granular PLPs based on different running trainer criteria. For example, there are PLPs for women’s road running trainers, women’s road racing shoes, women’s athletic shoes and more, linking to all these in a sub-menu of the women’s running trainers page. 

Could they go further and offer a better breakdown via more PLPs? Possibly, if they have the range and desire to do more keyword-targeted options.

Shoe retailers

Another business type we see ranking is shoe retailers, including Office and Schuh in fifth and sixth place respectively.

Schuh is a well-known high-street retailer that has also managed to build a good online presence. Its website ranks for 1,291 of our keyword set, including 457 (29.5%) on page one.

The site ranks with a variety of URLs across multiple directories, but the most popular URL is its women’s trainers page. This directory ranks for 2,077 keywords, bringing in an estimated 38k organic visits a month.

Graph with keywords distribution, the large majority being on page one.

60% of its rankings are on page one, so Schuh might do well to find more ways of turning this selection into more child pages for subcategories. The page offers 1,133 products and a host of filtering options, so there is definitely scope for subdivision and more granular landing pages! We can also see that Google has been showing the page more often in the search results over the past year.

Keyword research in the sports shoe sector

To analyse the search market for women’s sports shoes, we’ve curated a comprehensive list of keywords, designed to be a representative sample of the common searches we make when buying a new set of shoes for running, walking, sports or the gym.

We categorise our keyword lists by the search intent to find the best-performing content by comparing the sites competing for the same types of searches.

In this case, we’re looking at ‘do’ keywords, where someone is looking to buy, hire, download or purchase in some way. These are high-conversion-intent keywords, often called ‘bottom-of-the-funnel’ (BOFU) searches or ‘transactional’ intent queries.

For our representative keyword set, we’ve included more generic searches such as womens trainers (searched for 50,700 times a month on average in the UK), and a series of more specific searches with modifiers based on popular subtopics.

For example, we have searches by colour such as black trainers women (14,600 searches a month on average), searches by brand like nike trainers womens (16,800) and searches by use including womens running trainers (5,550 and gym trainers women (3,450). We also have research queries such as best running shoes for women (2,950 searches a month).

Together, our keyword set represents over a million searches a month in the UK.

We’ve excluded more navigational searches which include a retailer name, searches for kids’ shoes, and ‘designer’ brands. We found a lot of potential options for our keyword set, so we also excluded some generic queries that could mean either men’s or women’s shoes and Google mostly showed pages for men’s sports shoes, keeping our focus on results for women’s listings. Whether Google favours men’s results because sites have more pages/products or because their research has found more men search for the generic query than women, we can’t be sure.

You can find out more about our lists (including links to the full lists) and search intent at the end of this article. We also have a detailed step-by-step article on doing keyword research with SISTRIX tools and data where you can learn more about our process.


  • For a clearly defined ‘transactionaldo intent keyword topic, commercial, e-commerce content completely dominates
  • We also see lots of evidence of Google bringing in the popular Shopping ads and Products panels. 98.7% of our keywords had panels from the Products search vertical, offering multiple opportunities to rank, and potentially giving smaller retailers a chance to compete for visibility
  • However, it doesn’t matter what type of retailer you are – as long as you sell sports shoes, you have the chance to compete for these keywords
  • Building just top-level PLPs isn’t enough. You need a smart search-informed strategy building more focused PLPs for all the popular sub-topics within a wider e-commerce category
  • And finally, a strong shopping experience is vital. Combine that with brand recognition for the category, and you are on the path to success

Our SectorWatch process

Graph explaining the process of getting results for SectorWatch.
Above: The SectorWatch research process

For this SectorWatch, we used relevant keywords from a selection of CRM keyword discovery tables.

We chose a selection of highly targeted keywords with a ‘do‘ or ‘know‘ intent. From these, we harvest all the ranking keywords for the URLs in the SERPs. We call this the Keyword Environment. Most SERPs will have some mixed intent so we re-filter the list for the correct intents and sanitise it by hand to leave a smaller, highly-relevant set of searches made by the UK public broken down by searcher journey. The results are based only on organic result rankings.

Graph showing types of intent.
More information on search intent

Curated keyword set and sector click potential

Core keywords: womens trainers, womens nike trainers, womens running trainers, womens gym trainers, white trainers.

The full keyword set and domain list is available as a Google Sheet and further analysis can be done in the SISTRIX keyword lists feature, including competitor analysis, SERP feature analysis, questions, keyword clusters and the traffic forecast shown below.

Traffic forecast for women's sports shoes.
Potential traffic for ‘do’ keywords and click total for position #1

SectorWatch is a monthly publication from the SISTRIX data journalism team. All SectorWatch articles can be found here. Related analyses can be found in the TrendWatch newsletter, IndexWatch analysis along with specific case studies in our blog. New article notifications are available through X (Twitter) and Facebook.