The jewellery sector is one of the most hotly contested and complex markets within the UK with a whole host of competitors fighting against each other to take up more and more SERP real estate. The most complex of problems for this market is having individual brands, such as Armani, sold in almost every online brick and mortar store, the main question is how do you stand out from your competitors when selling largely the same catalogue?
Well, that’s what we're going to attempt to answer.
First, we need to understand who the big players are in the market, how much traffic they’re driving and how much they’re dominating the SERP. To identify who’s taking up the most SERP real estate we’ve taken 150 terms from five different high search volume categories within the jewellery sector, these are:
We often run these metrics for pitches here at Zazzle Media and also feed a lot into our client’s strategies. Data is at the heart of what we do, and we always back up everything we do with it. We conduct in depth competitor analysis whenever we develop a strategy and that’s exactly what we’re going to do with the marketing activity in the jewellery sector.
We’ll look at the following areas to understand who the winners are in each strategic element, in an attempt to understand who really dominates this market share:
This post was written before the algorithm update that we saw at the beginning of June, in which, as is the nature of search, we’ve seen movement across some big players. Ernest Jones and H. Samuel have seen a slight increase from an initial significant decrease in March. Although they are nowhere near back to their original visibility, they are still climbing
Bubble chart explained
Above is the market share for the jewellery sector, our bubble charts are a great way to visualise how competitors are doing. We use our in-house bespoke tool ‘ORT’ (Organic Ranking Tool) to scrape the top 100 results for each keyword entered and then it gives you all the results. We then pivot and categorise that data, which tells us all the domains ranking, how many terms they’re ranking for and how much traffic, using a standard CTR model, they are receiving. It’s pretty nifty.
For those interested in the actual numbers:
So, from the graph we can identify that Goldsmiths is getting the most amount of traffic, while H. Samuel actually ranks for the greatest number of keywords from the set. It’s really good to be able to see this data and understand who are doing better than the rest in a very competitive market, but we need to dive deeper to be understand the ‘why’ and the ‘how’.
If we take a look at overall visibility using Sistrix, it tells a slightly different story; that there’s been a lot of turbulence in the market in the past few months, going from two clear market leaders to a hotly contested market with the ‘leader’ changing hands often. The March algorithm updates clearly had a huge impact on both H. Samuel and Ernest Jones, which potentially goes a long way to explaining why H. Samuel is ranking for so many keywords but third in traffic received.
That’s how everyone is performing, now we can dig deeper and find out why and how.
We break down our competitor analysis into four separate strategic elements, all of which have separate metrics we use to measure the ‘success’ of that element. These are:
We try to visualise this mammoth amount of data in a single graph, which some people find more useful than others. Mostly it’s showing us by each strategic element how well competitors are performing, for example if we look at UX (the light green) we can see that Pandora is performing the best and so on and so forth until the bar is fully stacked.
Don’t worry though, let's dive into each of these elements and break them down.
Within each section we’ll discuss the ‘winner’ of each element and how that seems to factor into visibility and rankings. This methodology should prove how important each ranking factor is.
How people interact with a website is becoming a growing factor in rankings. User experience is incredibly important to all websites now, but just how important is it within the jewellery sector?
Our UX section is made up of three separate metrics with a focus on how users interact with the site. We have market engagement, which is comprised of average time spent on site, bounce rate and speed score which is the time to first bite. The highest bounce rate of all the sites was Beaverbrooks with 47%, although there are three competitors within 3% difference. The ‘winner’ of this section would go to H. Samuel with a bounce rate of only 36% which is very good for an eCommerce site and a full 8% better than the closest rival. H. Samuel also excels when it comes to time on site, with users averaging 3:53 on the site, a full 39 seconds more than Goldsmiths, its closest competitor. So, in terms of engaging its users, H. Samuel is doing this the best in the jewellery sector, by some way.
With the rapidly emerging mobile first indexation of sites, it’s now more important than ever that brands get site speed right. Users are getting increasingly used to having instant answers at their fingertips. In 2018, 58% of site visits were from mobile phone, according to Stone Temple. It was also confirmed by big Google that page speed will become a ranking factor.
H. Samuel has ‘won’ this race as well, with a low load time of 0.2 seconds. This is really interesting in terms of market share, as all UX tests have been dominated by H. Samuel, who were the dominant force in the market until the March algorithm hit it hard. So, the main question: is H. Samuel so dominant now, as a reaction to the loss of visibility, or is it being penalised for site issues elsewhere? We’ll try to find out.
Links, links, links – you talk to any digital marketer today about digital strategy and chances are one of the top priorities will be links and authority. Although the shift is becoming more towards user experience and how users interact with and treat your site and content, links is still a huge factor in how Google determines how ‘trustworthy’ and ‘authoritative’ the site is on a subject.
There are two aspects to a link, one being the authority of the site that is pointing towards yours and the other being the topical relevancy of that site, e.g. how relevant is it to your space and sector? The more relevant the site, the more signals you’re giving to Google that you’re an authority in that sector and should be ranked well.
Jewellery is a highly competitive space and the authority profiles of all competitors confirm that, all domains are over 50 authority. Beaverbrooks has the most amount of unique referring domains into its site, despite this it has the fourth best authority score, with H. Samuel leading the way with a score of 61. Links changed a lot in the past ten years, going from a ‘black-hat’ quantity over quality, to a more balanced solution which considers the relevancy and quality of the links rather than just the sheer amount.
The weight of ‘brand’ is something we always try to consider, as that can have a great impact on your rankings and especially CTR. However, trying to measure brand awareness is something that can be quite difficult. In an ideal world we would also use brand and non-brand search queries from Search Console to help, but without that we use social visibility rating and monthly brand searches, both which we can grab from our in-house bespoke solution tool.
In both our awareness tests H. Samuel came out on top, with more than a quarter of a million brand searches each month, it’s not unreasonable to assume that the direct and branded traffic must be off the scale! And their social presence isn’t bad either, with on average, over a million interactions per month on its social platforms.
It’s clear that from this awareness and engagement data together, people like H. Samuel as a brand and interact with it well, which is clearly something Google holds in high regard. In terms of why H. Samuel saw a plummet in visibility in March, it’s still a mystery, as they are market leaders in engagement, authority and awareness. Next we look at content efficiency in the jewellery sector to see if that will shed some light on this...
Content efficiency has the greatest number of components making it up, with four separate metrics being measured. Content efficiency is all about how well the content on your site is functionally optimised for search. In effect, how easy the domains are making it for Google to understand what the page is about and ranking it relevantly.
Similar to authority and links, on page content has come a long way in the past ten years, from the days of blackhat ‘keyword stuffing’ to much more semantically natural conversational tone and structure. We have an in-house bespoke tool we use to measure the quality of on-page content, ‘COT’ - the Content Optimisation Tool. We can load our 750 keywords into COT and specify a domain, it will then match a keyword to its most appropriate URL from that domain and analyse how relevant the term is to be landing on that page.
For example, the keyword ‘watches’ should get mapped to the main watches landing page as that should be the most optimised. COT then provides a percentage output which defines how well optimised the site is for the keywords we loaded into it. Too high and you’re over optimised and it could be seen as keyword stuffing. Too low and you may be under optimised and missing out on traffic with poor targeting. Interestingly though, the market does play a part in this, if all of the market leaders are particularly high then that’s what’s required within this market, similarly if they are all low you wouldn’t’ want to appear ‘stuffy’. You’re really looking for anything that sticks out like a sore thumb, as that’s probably not within the market averages.
You can’t necessarily label a ‘winner’ of the jewellery sector from this section as it vastly depends on the market average. We use COT to tell us when something is either largely over or under optimised within the market and adjust content and pages accordingly. But, interestingly there does seem to be a 10% average, which all but one competitor falls within. 32% - 42% seems to be the market average, which all competitors who are ranking (and ranking well) are within. Goldsmiths, which is the largest in terms of traffic received from this set, had a score of 38% which could be an indication of how well optimised this market needs to be.
H. Samuel has lost ranking positions for such a high number of terms, but more interesting is that it hasn’t dropped out the index, it has simply dropped further down the SERP, not out of it. Below is where H. Samuel’s keywords are currently sitting, this graph would have been incredibly different in March. Of the 510 keywords it has ranking, 352 of them are still ranking on the bottom of page 1 or page 2, which demonstrates Google is treating it as a brand which still holds value, just not as high as pre-March. Being the market leaders in almost all strategic aspects, it may not be long before we see H. Samuel return to its dominance.
It was an interesting time to conduct this little experiment in the jewellery sector. With Google ever changing and mixing up the algorithm, there’s some clear ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ here. We’ve got H. Samuel, which has seemingly fallen off a cliff, leaving a big gap which Goldsmiths and Beaverbrooks seem to have filled. The most interesting part of this change is how long it will last. Despite the loss of visibility, H. Samuel still leads the way in many strategic ranking aspects, which will undoubtedly be sending good signals to Google. As with SEO and Google in general, we’ll just have to wait and see.
And the biggest question: how do you get ahead in this highly competitive market? While brand and links seem to be very big factors, it’s clear there is a big lean towards having well optimised functional content. We can see from the document, that the biggest winner of the downwards turn of H. Samuel and Ernest Jones is Beaverbrooks which was arguably the most well optimised on-page.
So, if you take away anything from this jewellery sector report, take away the fact that although the big players can push their brand weight and big link profiles around, there’s still room and reward for well optimised functional content that sits on category pages. You may have to wait until Google catches up with under optimised big brands, but when it does, you need to be ready to step in as the next best option!
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