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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Luxury Brands


Search Engine Optimization for Luxury Brands

Search engine optimization for websites is certainly not a new concept.  It has become the mainstay of most online marketing programs and likely never to go away.  Where do luxury brands fit into this equation?  How valuable is SEO for a luxury brand?

Luxury brands have a unique selling position in the market whether they opt to use online media channels or not.  Their uniqueness comes from their pricing and overall positioning against lower priced goods as well as other factors.

Now, let’s assume you have a luxury brand and you hope to climb to the top of Google.

Consider two product types:

1) Unique products that buyers may not even know exist.

Let’s use the example of the Cayago Sea Toys company.  Take one look at their product and I would venture to say that many of us never knew such a product was in existence.  Based on the price of a few thousand dollars per unit, it is a safe bet that this is a luxury brand –using price as the unique identifier even though there are others.  It’s even coined as “The Luxury Sea Toy” on various websites.

When was the last time you wandered onto Google and typed in “luxury sea toy” as a search term?  It’s likely that you haven’t seeing that Google doesn’t even have enough data to show this term being used for searches on a global level.  Now, let’s trim that phrase down to “sea toy” and consider the commercial intent of the searcher.  Are they expecting to find a $4,000 item or perhaps a water raft from Walmart for their upcoming vacation?  It’s tough to say, but when considering search volume you must be aware that most of the searches for the general, shorter terms are not your audience.  They are also much harder to obtain high positions on the SERPS (search engine results page).  They are most often going to be price shoppers looking for more day to day items, not higher priced luxury goods.

On the other hand, if you type in a few terms relating to the actual brand name you will find it covers the first page of Google.  It is not likely that it was incredibly difficult or expensive to obtain premium positions on Google for their own brand name.  Therefore, the competitive landscape for the term is wide open for opportunities, thus lowering the cost of acquisition for searchers who buy through this channel.

2) More common items we have heard of and interact with on a regular basis such as a watches, cars, etc.

For this example, let’s consider a Louis Vuitton handbag.  This is not a product that no one has heard of.  One trip to the mall and you are hard pressed to see a single woman without one.  Most women looking for such a bag are certainly aware of the utilitarian aspects of a handbag, but those looking for a Louis Vuitton are looking for something specific.  If a potential buyer of a Louis Vuitton handbag was to do a search on Google, what terms would they use?  Would they simply type in “handbag”?  Not likely.  It goes without saying that they are most likely to search for the product by way of the brand name itself and the product type they desire.

What does this all mean?

It boils down to weighing the benefits of your SEO efforts and resources against the possible outcomes.  When users search for terms related to your brand name it is not typically going to be very difficult to obtain first page positions (disclaimer: this isn’t always true for all brands).  However, it is much more difficult to obtain first page positions for general terms to describe your product.  You will be up against the 800 lb. gorillas of shopping sites like Amazon and you aren’t like to beat them with ease, if at all.

In closing, understand the value of SEO for your brand by understanding the appropriate terms to target.  Being on the first page of Google for all the terms in your market would be great, but you must consider the cost of doing so against the benefit.  Focusing on placing your brand in the sandbox where your audience is engaged is critical.  SEO may certainly be a candidate, but don’t assume it is the easy route, nor the most fruitful.

February 1, 2011
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