Not long-ago SEO, for independent jewelers, wasn’t often recommended or needed. This was primarily due to budget restraints and the lack of sophisticated competition (digitally speaking) on a local level. That is to say, five years ago most independent retailers had poor website experiences. So, if you were to of developed a fantastic website experience, at that time, chances are you would have been miles ahead of your competition locally. As such, getting your website to rank high in organic search results, or SERP’s (Search Engine Results Page), was fairly simple, just by virtue of having a quality built site. Fast forward to today and you’ll find the landscape has changed dramatically. The past five years have ushered in a huge tech upgrade cycle in terms of web development and digital marketing. Brought on by the saturation of mobile adaption, retailers began an online upgrade cycle starting with mobile responsive websites and entering into digital marketing initiatives such as paid search (PPC) and social marketing. And even though the jewelry industry has been extremely slow to adapt to the new digital landscape, it has indeed adapted and that easy online footprint has become much more difficult to fill.
Let’s take a look at what has happened in those past five years. A digital explosion, that’s what has happened. Where there used to be only a few players for website development in the jewelry industry, now there are many and the demand for new development is ongoing. Jewelers are finally buying into the importance of an online presence and some are hooked, constantly updating their sites with functionality and optimization. Some of these hard-core jewelers are being driven by the new generation just coming into the business. They’re all about tech, they get it. No waffling over online business decisions… just do it. Plus, it’s the one area of the business they know better than the previous generation. So, they take control and own it. Now, the local online landscape is crowded as the competition for top placement on search engines is becoming more difficult. It’s also costly to ignore as organic search drives around 51% of website traffic. All of a sudden SEO has become one of the top digital initiatives for independent retailers.
To compound matters, we now see the rise of online ecommerce retailers. With no actual showroom, they pile money into their #1 asset, their website and digital marketing. We’re talking big money here, as Signet Jewelers acquired R2Net, owner of JamesAllen.com for $328 million. A quick search for “engagement rings” will display paid ads at the top of the search results page, with a majority coming from large online players. However, running paid search ads on a national level can be a costly endeavor and as a result these online businesses have also deployed tactics that allow them to show up in local organic search results as well. All of this squeezes out the local independent jeweler. SEO helps to counter all of that. As ecommerce continues to grow at a double digit pace and people become more comfortable and confident buying online, online search is becoming the battle ground for businesses.
In terms of search, the ideal one-two punch is a combination of paid and organic efforts.
In fact, combining paid and organic SEO efforts result in a 25% increase in clicks, on average. Why? Data. Not only does a combined paid and organic effort create more opportunities for clicks per individual search, but the data from these efforts allow for modification of keyword strategy, adjusting paid search budgets to reflect more targeted/desired clicks and more qualified website traffic and, let’s not forget, in-store traffic. In addition, these efforts can also contribute to reduce media costs which, in some cases can pay for the actual cost of hiring the company doing the work. Sadly, the large majority of independent jewelers are not nearly this focused. All the while savvier retailers, online juggernauts and brands are eating everyone’s lunch.
SEO is what it says, search engine optimization… optimizing your site for the web. Makes sense, right? However, it’s much more under the surface. Other than the commonly discussed tech jargon such as alt tags, H1 tags and meta data, etc., it’s a lot about content. That’s why blogging is such a hot topic. Yet, even blogging needs to be done the correct way. Content is key to driving relevant site traffic, but understanding how that content should be dissected is just as important. Do you optimize your content based on what you are doing from a digital marketing perspective? You should. Having the right content and knowing how that content interacts with your marketing efforts only helps strengthen the effectiveness of your campaigns and can save you money. We call it Search Engine Content Marketing (SECM) because it incorporates all the objectives of SEO, but also takes it a step further by understanding and optimizing to various other marketing objectives. In short, SEO helps drive traffic, just like the location of a store can impact traffic because of visibility, SEO drives online traffic by helping you be seen.
Now, while all of this is a little complicated and may sound insurmountable, it’s not. If you’re a retailer, your focus is only on a local level, in most cases, and there are a number of factors in your favor to fight off big online retailers. If you’re a jewelry brand, there are a number of strategies you can deploy to maximize your budget and compete with others in your space. All is not lost… it’s just requires a shift in focus. Digital marketing is ever changing. In fact, Google changes it’s algorithm for online search hundreds of times per year. So, the key is to have the ability to pivot as trends and technology evolves. For the jewelry industry, there is a battle being fought online and SEO is the King… all hail the King!