February 14, 2005

WebPosition Finds Blue Nile Tops the Search Engines among Major Retailers for Valentine's Day

Online Jewelry Retailers Found to Rely More on Sponsored Search than Organic Search


Press Release

SAN JOSE, Calif.

WebTrends, the web analytics market share leader and a business unit of NetIQ Corporation (NASDAQ: NTIQ), today unveiled results from its WebPosition® Search Ranking study of how major jewelry retailers are prepping their web sites for Valentine's Day by using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) strategies to attract online visitors.

Top-level findings indicate that Blue Nile, a leading jewelry company, has a more balanced Search strategy, achieving high search positions in both organic and paid search listings. Blue Nile enjoys an overall Visibility Percentage* almost double that of the second most visible site, Diamond.com.

The search positions of BestGem.com, BlueNile.com, Diamond.com, Ice.com, JewelryTelevision.com, Mondera.com, Tiffany.com, Zales.com and two other jewelry retailing web sites were analyzed using WebPosition® Gold. WebPosition examined the visibility each web site has achieved in both organic and paid search results on Google, MSN, Ask Jeeves, and Yahoo! Web Results for a sampling of keywords identified by Wordtracker as popular terms for the category, including: "jewelry," "jewellery," "diamond," "diamonds," "diamond rings," "earrings," "rings," "engagement rings," "necklaces," "bracelets" and "watches."

Organic Search Remains an Opportunity Area for Jewelry Retailers

Data from WebPosition shows that online retailers are leveraging both SEM and SEO to achieve greater search engine visibility, but paid search is typically relied upon more to achieve higher positions within search engine results pages.

  • When WebPosition analysis included paid search listings in addition to organic listings, the overall Visibility Percentage for the entire group of sites nearly doubled, indicating they are relying more on paid search strategies.
  • The most visible site in organic search listings for the targeted keywords was Blue Nile with an organic Visibility Percentage of 23.79%.
  • The next most visible site in organic search listings was Zales at 16.89%, with Diamond.com at 14.77%, BestGem.com at 9.17% and Ice.com at 7.73%, rounding out the top five.
  • While Diamond.com had the most first place positions, Blue Nile had nearly twice as many top-20 and top-30 paid and organic search positions than all other sites examined, resulting in an overall Visibility Percentage of 79.09%.
  • Diamond.com was the second most visible site when analysis included both paid and organic search listings, coming in at 45.08%, followed by Tiffany & Co. at 32.58%, Zales at 16.52% and Jewelry Television at 10.61%.

While leading jewelry sites are aggressively using paid search to improve visibility, recent research from JupiterResearch estimates that 87 percent of commercial search engine referrals come through organic search listings (Search Engine Optimization: Taking Advantage of Organic Search, December 2004)-highlighting a significant opportunity for jewelry sites to obtain more customers from search engines.

Additionally, when WebPosition analysis included key search terms for Valentine's Day such as "valentine's day," "valentine day," "valentine jewelry," "valentine," and "valentines", visibility for the group of sites dropped, indicating an opportunity for retailers to target seasonal or cyclical terms for which paid search strategies are particularly suited.

"Most retailers experience seasonal or cyclical spikes in their business, which can represent a significant percentage of revenue," said Jason Palmer, vice president of products, WebTrends. "By incorporating these events into web site landing pages, merchandising efforts and paid search campaigns, which can be turned on and off at the marketer's discretion, retailers can significantly boost their search visibility during these critical times and improve their ROI."

Two out of the ten web sites examined have an overall Visibility Percentage of zero, precluding their mention in this study. While there are a variety of factors that may impact search engine visibility, these sites were using quite a bit of JavaScript, which tends to push the main content lower on the page reducing its relevancy for the targeted keywords. These sites also have an opportunity to increase search visibility by optimizing their HTML tag structure with appropriate tags, as well as by acquiring related external links.

Methodology

This study shows how leading jewelry retailing web sites are using SEO and SEM techniques for 10 popular keywords identified using Wordtracker, the leading keyword research service integrated with WebPosition Gold 3. WebPosition produced search rankings for the 10 keywords for each of the sites examined using the manual query setting in its Reporter module.
*Visibility Percentage reflects a site's visibility within the first three pages of search results for all the keywords and search engines examined, providing a higher-level understanding of search effectiveness than search rankings alone. A data snapshot was taken on February 7, 2005 to compile these findings.

About WebPosition Gold

WebPosition Gold 3 optimizes a web site's relevancy, visibility and overall performance with search engines, by enabling businesses to understand how their sites perform for various keywords and what they can do to achieve higher search positions on each of the major search engines. With WebPosition Gold 3, WebTrends offers organizations solutions for managing the entire Search Engine Optimization (SEO) process: organizations can conduct keyword research through the integrated Wordtracker service, increase visibility and improve search engine positions with WebPosition Gold, and understand conversions and revenue from paid and organic search terms with WebTrends® On Demand and software solutions.

About WebTrends

As the worldwide leader and trusted standard for web analytics, WebTrends delivers award-winning solutions that help marketing executives improve their return on investment. From campaign performance and search engine marketing to web site conversion and customer retention, WebTrends provides marketers a complete solution to accelerate their web results. Thousands of organizations worldwide, including more than half of the Fortune and Global 500 companies, rely on WebTrends everyday to measure and optimize their results. Offering both an On Demand service and software solutions, WebTrends uniquely provides customers with complete choice and control to ensure the solution can adapt with their dynamic business needs. WebTrends is a business unit of NetIQ Corporation. For more information, visit www.webtrends.com.

About NetIQ

NetIQ Corp. (NASDAQ: NTIQ) is a leading provider of Systems & Security Management and Web Analytics solutions. In addition to managing Windows-based applications, NetIQ delivers cross-platform solutions that enhance business performance resulting in higher returns on infrastructure and Web investments. NetIQ products are sold worldwide, directly and through a network of authorized NetIQ distributors and resellers. The company is headquartered in San Jose, Calif., with development and operational personnel in Houston, Texas; Portland, Ore; Raleigh, N.C.; Bellevue, Wash.; and Galway, Ireland. For more information, please visit the company's web site at www.netiq.com or call (888) 323-6768.

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