A couple embraces in front of a Tiffany & Co. store in New York, U.S., on Thursday, March 15, 2012. Tiffany & Co., the world's second-largest luxury jewelry retailer, is expected to release earnings next week. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg
Jewellers say ‘yes’ to finding new ways to boost their search rankings © Bloomberg

Jewellery houses are upping their game in the unceasing battle to boost their visibility in online searches for engagement rings — the most searched-for jewellery term.

The rewards on offer are huge. The highly competitive bridal segment accounts for 27 per cent of diamond sales by value across the US, China and Japan, according to De Beers — a combined market worth $58bn.

For many prospective spouses, an engagement ring will be their first ever — and sometimes only — meaningful jewellery purchase (a wedding ring too, if the proposal goes well).

The average price of an engagement ring in the US is more than $6,000, according to The Knot, a wedding planning website. The UK figure is closer to £1,500, according to insurer Aviva.

Few wannabe fiancés would commit to spending such an amount without first researching the basics. Search engines are often the first port of call for those hunting for the perfect ring to seal the deal, making the likes of Google and Bing battlegrounds on which jewellers fight for eyeballs.

Blue Nile engagement ring

The term “engagement ring” tops the list of 700 of the most searched jewellery terms online, according to a 2018 study by L2Inc (now Gartner), a data provider. And according to The Knot’s study, 90 per cent of US buyers use mobile devices for wedding-related tasks such as buying a ring. Consumers search for an average of 3.5 months and look at 26 potential rings.

To climb up the rankings, jewellery houses strategically invest in things like search engine optimisation (SEO) and auction-style bids for advertising slots, to be positioned among Google’s paid-for results for highly searched terms. Coveted search terms cannot be bought by just anyone, however. The search engine’s auction system emphasises the relevance of that organisation to certain words or phrases.

Optimisation aims to make a website easy to find, explains Edward Cowell, partner, SEO and performance content manager of MediaCom, a communications agency. “Improving technical performance, such as load speed, the organisation of the content, structure of the website, and the choice and location of words within the pages” also make a site easier to use and more likely to rank higher in search, he adds.

Bulgari engagement ring

Google’s latest algorithm, rolled out last summer, gives precedence to websites that are quick to load and easy to navigate on mobile devices, where the majority of searches now take place. “When companies invest in making their web pages faster and more user-friendly, this better serves our users,” a Google spokesperson says.

Relevance is key, and search results change according to a user’s location. A buyer in New York searching for engagement rings, for example, will be shown paid-for advertisements, followed by a list of retailers available in the city.

These ads are becoming more prolific — more than 60 per cent of all global watches and jewellery search results are now paid for, according to Gartner data — making it harder for brands to gain prominence in search results organically.

SEO is a “central part” of the strategy of US-based online jewellery retailer Blue Nile, which launched in 2000. Jon Sainsbury, chief strategy officer, says his site commands an “approximately 4 per cent share of the highly fragmented US diamond engagement ring market”.

Blue Nile’s content — which includes consumer guides about jewellery and precious stones — is peppered with popular search terms, designed to resonate well with search engines’ algorithms.

Tiffany engagement ring
Tiffany engagement ring

Bigger jewellery houses fare well with branded keywords and phrases like “Bulgari engagement ring”, but they receive less than 1 per cent of visibility for the generic term “engagement ring”. The only exception is Tiffany & Co, which is “visible for 22 per cent of unbranded jewellery search keywords and it is the only luxury brand able to compete head-to-head with a site like Blue Nile”, according to Brian Lee, senior principal at Gartner.

Jewellery’s best digital performers, such as Tiffany, Cartier and Bulgari have also invested in the creation of content for YouTube — the video sharing site owned by Google — to draw customers’ attention to their bridal collections. This further boosts traction online, says MediaCom’s Mr Cowell.

The average global conversion rate for online sales hovers at 2-5 per cent, says Tobias Kormind, managing director of 77diamonds.com. “We convert less than 1 per cent of our visitors,” he says, adding that marketing further up the “decision-making funnel” — that is, improving its showing in search results — is crucial to improving performance.

Jewellers know that to sell engagement rings, they have to start courting customers online wherever their search begins.

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