25 July 2024, 10:39
By Natalie Took Aug 28, 2019

The online sofa sector refuses to sit still

It’s never easy to please Google – especially as the goalposts are constantly moving, writes Salience’s Natalie Took. Each year, the search engine’s algorithm updates cause significant changes, and 2019 has been no exception, with major shifts in the levels of visibility and ranking of brands in the online sofa industry. In this article, Natalie shares some of the findings of Salience’s recently updated Performance Insight Report for the sector …

What is online visibility?

Before we look into the report’s insights, let’s take a moment to understand organic visibility, and its importance.

Visibility is a metric taken from Search Metrics. This tool measures how visible a website is across millions of keywords tracked in its database. Assuming that a website and its competitors share the majority of the same keywords, then comparing visibility across peers can give an idea of market position.

This visibility directly affects a company’s ranking on search engines. The better a company’s website ranks, the more potential customers see them. When a potential customer searches for a keyword – let’s say, “red three-seat sofas” – it is unlikely that they will scroll through pages and pages of results, but instead, just click on the first few. Therefore, companies whose websites sit at the top of search results for more keywords (and so have a low-rank score) are likely to see more organic traffic than their competitors.

Peaks and troughs

There have been some impressive movements in the online sofa industry this year – some good, some bad, with some brands climbing the rankings and others diving. 

DFS still has a clear lead in visibility score, despite a -28% drop. On the other hand, ScS has gained +30% visibility but is still far behind its rival’s visibility score, in second place.

In the top 20, the losses haven’t been so bad. The worst two are The Sofa King, with a -24% visibility decrease causing a four-place drop in ranking, and Natuzzi, which dropped six places due to a visibility decrease of -19%.

Those that have seen increases, though, have seen impressive growth. Take M Sofas, for example, who have seen their visibility increase by +213%, taking them from 23 in the rankings to 10. The biggest increase, though, is Love Sofas, who have seen an incredible +873% visibility increase. Obviously, this has had a massive effect on where they rank, jumping them from a rank of 43 all the way to 15 – quite the impressive climb. Close behind is Duresta, now ranking at 17 from 40 thanks to their visibility increasing by +679%.

It seems the algorithm updates have been particularly kind to the sofa industry, with only small movements down, and some big jumps up.

Can the fallen bounce back?

Of course they can! The only issue is, no-one knows when the next algorithm update will be, or how it may affect websites. We can only work with what we know. Recently, Google updates have had a focus on E-A-T (Expertise, Authority and Trust). If a website is able to prove to Google that it has these three things, it is likely to do well in the next update.

Each brand will have its own unique issues – there is no one-size-fits-all cure. However, focusing on three ranking factors is likely to help in the future: ensuring your site is mobile-first with fast site speed; high-quality content; and good-quality backlinks showing your expertise.

In more detail, this means that a fast site, with logical internal links and well-organised categories, that is built mobile-first, is something Google looks for. 

Also, even though Google is trying to make images readable, it is not there yet, so the written word is important. Because of this, if a site has low-quality, light content, it is unlikely to rank well. Authority and trust are becoming more and more important in this age of fake news and poor marketing. To prove that a site is trustworthy, it needs high-quality, noteworthy sites linking to it. This shows that the company is a good source of information. The website must also show expertise by giving advice on their products, while referencing other good sources.

Keeping a good online presence is easier said than done, with algorithm updates constantly moving everything around. No-one knows when the next update will hit, or what it will focus on, but it’s important to focus on what we do know – which is that Google is currently looking for trustworthy websites that have expertise. A good online presence is important in this digital age, and, consequently, should be a focus of overall marketing.

Natalie Took is the PR and outreach executive at search marketing service specialist Salience. Since 2009, Salience has worked with household names, challenger brands and start-ups across the retail, lead generation, finance and charity sectors. Contact Salience to find out where your business ranks and how to improve its position.

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