Search Optimisation For Luxury Brands


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A presentation given the the Sheerluxe Retailer conference in June 2008.

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  • (read the stats) The internet has had a democratising effect on brands – you no longer need to travel to have access to upmarket stores. And rightly so, London’s west end is not the sole habitat of buyers of luxury goods. What it does mean is that the level of ‘noise’ you need to get through to be noticed is far higher than on a walk down Bond street.
  • Luxury brands are by their nature accessible to a smaller audience Few if any ‘luxury’ sites do not command a price premium over their competition. A smaller audience means fewer people talking about you, fewer links to your site and lower visibility by the search engines. A trawl of websites in the sheerluxe directory also shows many sites that are very heavy on images and not in ‘content’ – this means that there is less on your site that Google can use to ‘understand’ what you are about. The exclusive nature of many of the brands mean that they are less happy actively approaching sites such as forums, facebook or bloggers to get onine attention for their brands, also a history of traditional PR and advertising techniques mean that many brands that have been built on a long heritage are struggling to keep up with newer online startups. Overall this means you have fewer opportunities for the search engines to find you and discover your importance, so quality is paramount.
  • As mentioned before, links from other important sites are important and high-end brands will be actively courted by many sites as you make THEM look good. A luxury product by definition has something that its competition does not and that lends itself to great editorial opportunities from other sites.
  • 3 factors add up to whether Google can find, understand, and rate your website versus your competitors Visibility is largely about how your site is built and should not be an issue these days. It is now perfectly possible to guild good-looking sites which are also accessible by search engines. This is the most ‘techy’ part of SEO and not something to go into today, we provide an audit service which can look at anyone’s site outside this event and give feedback if needed.
  • 3 factors add up to whether Google can find, understand, and rate your website versus your competitors Visibility is largely about how your site is built and should not be an issue these days. It is now perfectly possible to guild good-looking sites which are also accessible by search engines. This is the most ‘techy’ part of SEO and not something to go into today
  • Flashmenus – Graphic text – Forms –
  • An ‘invisible’ site Google is very poor at reading anything but plain text and links Nice looking photo, but no substance at all to speak of
  • Much better a text description of what the store is about that is useful to both search engines and readers: “ Luxurious. Beautiful. Natural. Romantic. Quality Products with Exquisite Packaging. From the range of luxury products, at Kuati, you can build gift sets, whatever the occasion. Create unique gift boxes from the best selection of boutique products from around the world. Kuati products include women’s jewellery and lingerie, men’s grooming products and shaving sets, baby booties and baby bath products, bath & body products, home comforts, candles and party products. With the prearranged gift sets, things have been made simple for those who need a little help finding something special. From a single item, to a combination of complementary items, with our unique gift boxes and beautiful packaging, Kuati allows you to create the ultimate gift for yourself or someone you love.”
  • Relevance: You won’t get a #1 slot in google for ‘bespoke tailored suits’ unless you have content on your site about ‘bespoke tailored suits’. This is one area where luxury sites should really be able to stand out. Luxury products should mean quality and strong unique selling points. Make sure your site is forward about these and you’ll be on track.
  • Incidentally, you should be clear about exactly what phrases you want to rank well for, and be sure also that these phrases are searched for frequently and are likely to turn into sales. Do your research before you even begin writing for your site.
  • The major search engines provide tools to see what people are actually looking for, not what you think they are looking for It can be a painful experience to realise that no-one is looking for ‘luxury handbags’ but they are looking for ‘designer handbags’ after you have spent ages writing your site copy
  • More people look for ‘womens evening dresses than for ladies evening dresses’ However, look also at the level of competition, you may be able to win a smaller battle here
  • Aspinals of London ranks #2 for ‘mens leather wallets’ How do they do this?
  • Look at the bottom of the page On each page is about 350 words of content about why their wallets are worth £75 each “ All Leather wallets from Aspinal of London are individually handmade by our leather master craftsmen using age old traditional skills handed down through generations. Every Aspinal leather wallet is handmade in our workshops using only the finest leather, hand-dyed and hand waxed to a superb finish. Each wallet is first hand cut and then hand sewn with meticulous detail to strengthening the corners to avoid future tearing and to achieve the definable luxury quality and the perfect look and feel of every Aspinal leather wallet . Etc etc etc” Quite why they hide this at the bottom of the page I don’t know, it’s exacvtly what I want to know when I buy from a brand like this.
  • Content usually means copy. Google is still quite bad at recognising the importance or relevance of images and video, except by using the text that surrounds them. Images and video are useful, but more from the point of view of gaining links to your site. Some approaches which work well - Pictures & video of celebrities touting your product, fashion shows etc etc - New product previews - ‘Behind the scenes’ videos Interviews with key brand characters There is a strong correlation between the amount of written content and the number of search terms you will be found under. The average number of words in a search phrase is now close to 4 – this means that you are much more likely to be the only one appearing for a longer phrase. Lots of strong copy like the one on Aspinals shows knowledge and expertise in your subject which will help persuade dithering buyers.
  • Adding ‘magazine’ style content about your brand like the above from French connection gives the opportunity to get much more written content in front of Google. People are much more likely to respond and reference these opinion pieces than a bit of copy on a product page.
  • Popularity : Google counts and scores links from other sites to yours as a measure of popularity and authority. It is getting much better at measuring quality. i.e. that a link from Vogues’s website carries more weight than one from
  • Link building for SEO is all about getting well regarded and busy websites to talk about you in a positive manner (how many employ a PR agency or have significant PR resource in-house?) This should be second nature to PR professionals but few agencies have grasped the fine detail yet.
  • The sites which are influential online are often very different from their print counterparts.Not many print publishers ‘get-it’ yet and still view the web as a threat rather than an opportunity. You need a process for understanding who are the key players in your online sector but measures of readership and influence in online publishing are still in their infancy.
  • Search is a strategic activity It takes as much time to develop and implement as your brand does. Before you can succeed you need to know who you are, why people buy from you, and be prepared to stick to that route for at least the next couple of years PR – integrate the process of creating good editorial into your own site and your approaches to other Advertising – try to avoid ‘campiagn’ mico sites as these just water down the attention your own site gets Affiliates – Train your affiliates in your USP’s so that you can own the search results for those terms. Work with content affiliates and help them with content for their own sites PPC – often a similar approach in that you want more of the same search results, but use your PPC to test phrases which are worth putting long term effort into. See what converts in PPC, then develop search optimised pages around those terms
  • Search Optimisation For Luxury Brands

    1. 1. Search Optimisation for Luxury Brands Stephen Pratley MD - Shine Marketing
    2. 2. Search Optimisation for Luxury Brands• The importance of search marketing for upmarket brands• Challenges facing luxury brand websites• The importance of content• Getting other sites to talk about you• Integrating search with other marketing activity
    3. 3. The importance of search marketing for upmarket brands• Over 65% of the UK population now online at home• 72% use the internet to research high value purchases regardless of where they buy them• 42% of respondents cited search engine listings as the most common way they search for products and vendors (Jupiter Media Matrix)• Put briefly, everyone in the UK who has a credit card can now find out about your brand online, and will do so.
    4. 4. The importance of search marketing for upmarket brands• Large or important purchases are more heavily researched online than impulse buys.• Online shopping no longer automatically means ‘cheap’ or ‘discount’• Increasingly, online is a way to find niche products, get faster delivery and finding more about a brand before purchasing.
    5. 5. Challenges facing luxury brand websites• Smaller potential audience• Heavy reliance on image over content• Less willingness to engage with social media sites, forums, facebook etc etc.• Overall fewer appropriate opportunities than for mass-market brands• However – quality should be easier
    6. 6. Opportunities for luxury brands• Fewer opportunities, but easier to leverage them• Recognise your USP’s• Create editorial opportunities• Back them up with strong images that other sites will WANT to use• Remember it is the knock-on effect of the links you want, readership is of secondary importance.
    7. 7. How do you achieve good search rankings?• Visibility• Relevance• Popularity
    8. 8. Visibility
    9. 9. How do you achieve good search rankings?• Visibility – A site that search engines can read and understand
    10. 10. Basic Visibility• Obstacles to Google – Flash menus – Text written as graphics – Forms• Google can only read text & links• – This shows what your page looks like to Google If it can’t read your site, neither can Google
    11. 11. Relevance
    12. 12. How do you achieve good search rankings?• Relevance – Content on your site that relates to the search terms you want to appear on Google for.
    13. 13. What phrases do you want to rank for?• What phrases are people actually using to find you and your competitors?• ‘Luxury’ is actually not used by consumers very often except in travel & property.• Will these phrases turn into sales? – ‘Luxury gifts’: probably not – ‘Buy men’s calfskin wallet online’ : probably
    14. 14. Keyword Research• Search engine tools show what people are actually searching for – – –
    15. 15. Keyword Research
    16. 16. The importance of content• What is content? – Copy – Images, and video – Interactive tools• Why is it important – More text = a ‘long tail’ of longer search terms you can be found for – Shows authority and knowledge
    17. 17. Popularity
    18. 18. How do you achieve good search rankings?• Popularity – Quality, relevant sites linking to yours shows Google you have authority in your market
    19. 19. Getting other sites to talk about you• Link building for SEO is all about getting well regarded and busy websites to talk about you in a positive manner• This should be second nature to PR professionals but few agencies have grasped the fine detail yet.
    20. 20. Getting other sites to talk about you• Step 1 – sort your site out• In order to get other people to talk about you, you need something worth talking about – Interviews – Opinions – New products – Celebrity endorsement – Event appearances
    21. 21. Getting other sites to talk about you• Step 2 - Train your PR agency – Prepare some useful editorial, include quality images that will help them. – Ask if the newspaper/ magazine has a website – Ask if you can feature on that as well – Say ‘you can buy the product / there is a list of stockists’ at our site, can you link to us? – GIVE them the link
    22. 22. A few titles your PR agency may not know about• Don’t be too concerned about location• US sites are read in the UK and vice versa• The customer base for high-end good is global
    23. 23. Finding sites that will link to you• Tools that will help you find other sites that may be suitable to approach. – Google Alerts : email alerts when your brand is mentioned – Yahoo Site Explorer: sites that link to you or your competitors – Technorati: Blogs talking about your sector – Hitwise: detailed analysis of UK traffic patterns (paid for service)
    24. 24. Getting the link (the techy bit)• This is what a link looks like – <a href=> Aspinal Leather Gifts</a>• It has 2 parts – Where it goes to: http://www.aspinal – The link text: Aspinal Leather Gifts• It appears as Aspinal Leather Gifts• The link text is VERY important in telling Google what your site is about
    25. 25. Integrating search with other marketing activity• Your overall proposition• PR• Advertising• PPC• Affiliates & Partners
    26. 26. Summary Your checklist for SEO Success• Decide on 3-4 phrases to target which will bring buyers to your site• Create content about that subject either on product pages or on a more editorial section of your site• Be forward about your heritage, expertise and other USP’s• Remember websites when you plan your PR strategy• Don’t forget to ask for links
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