Podcast | Luxury retail SEO strategies with Alina Ghost

Emily Hogarth, 4 Apr 2019

Luxury retail SEO strategies with Alina Ghost

As its BrightonSEO this month we’re talking to an SEO expert – Alina Ghost. Alina works for luxury homeware retailer Amara, which has been operating digitally since 2005. So, Amara was one of the ‘First to market’ online in UK homeware.

Alina gives us the lowdown on using search strategies for luxury retail.

We explore:

  • The challenges for luxury retailers online in the current retail climate
  • Using the power of search when unable to compromise on pricing
  • Understanding the value of search throughout the whole business
  • Takeaways for efficient strategies in luxury retail

If you’d like even more search goodness before BrightonSEO, come along to Elevate Brighton at Komedia on the 11th April, get free ticket with code: ElevateVIP.

Listen on Apple podcasts and Spotify.

AI Transcription

This podcast has been transcribed using an AI transcriber. There may be some errors and this is not a substitute for listening to the episode.

Louise Linehan 0:03
Hi, you’re listening to Elevate Search podcast from Pi Datametrics.

Emily Hogarth  0:07
As it’s Brighton SEO this month, we’re talking to an SEO expert Alina Ghost

LL  0:11
Alina works for luxury home where retail Amara, which has been operating digitally since 2005. So Amara was one of the first to market online in UK homework.

EH  0:24
Hi, Alina. Thanks for coming in.

Alina Ghost  0:25
Thanks so much for having me. It’s a real pleasure. So I’m Alina Ghost. I am SEO manager, at Amara. And I’m really excited to be here.

LL  0:33
So today we’re talking strategies for luxury retail and Alina is going to be giving us the lowdown on using search in this niche industry.

EH  0:41
Yeah, so in the current gloomy retail climate, more and more physical stores are closing down and some once big name retailers going into administration.

LL  0:50
Yeah, it’s a really difficult time and search is more important now than it’s ever been. So we’ve seen well known retailers investing huge sums in each digital recently. Search has been used in novel ways inform wider strategy or give indications of a brand’s overall value.

EH  1:05
Yeah, because if you’re doing well online regardless of what you’re doing elsewhere, you’re likely to weather the current storm in retail.

LL  1:12
Alina, you’ve got experience across mainstream and luxury retail working at Debenhams, Tesco. And now, Amara, so What challenges do you see specifically for luxury retailers online in the current climate?

Alina Ghost 1:25
Yeah, I think it’s quite interesting. The industry is definitely changing. The High Street is somewhat dying, as we know. But essentially every industry has its challenges. For luxury specifically, I’d say it’s probably twofold. So firstly, it’s about those big brands, Amazon, and like John Lewis, and Next like, those big brands who have a wide range of products ready from fashion to homeware. So it’s a matter of trying to compete with such large brands who might not necessarily be experts in their field. And so the second one, I’d say, is probably actually competing with the design brands themselves. So especially recently, in the last month or so, we’ve noticed that the brand themselves are showing up two or three times in the search engine result pages. So for example, one domain, let’s say Versace shows up two or three times above us. So how we able to compete around their own products, because Google is offering them more priority on the setup. So I guess from our point of view, is just seeing how Google is developing and how users actually interacting. It’s about offering them something a bit more.

EH  2:44
So Amara, how are using search to tackle those challenges that you’ve just mentioned?

AG  2:49
Yeah. So let’s start with like the whole delivery options, pricing, customer service, and ensuring that our products are still competitive, in a sense, a high quality product, we’re ensuring that we’ve got great product descriptions and offering buying guides and inspirational content at the same time,

LL  3:11
correct me if I’m wrong, but as I understand it search have huge value to luxury retailers. Because since pricing is almost non negotiable, like you can’t budge on it, it’s tied up in your brand’s identity. So it’s gives you the opportunity to add value from a content perspective, Would you say that’s the case?

AG  3:28
Oh, yeah, million times. So basically, it’s a great opportunity. And it’s a matter of just finding those low hanging fruit. So your rankings down the page one, and then rankings on page two, and actually finding those opportunities that you could be ranking for, even though you can’t let say compete with the whole pricing thing. It’s funny, because there’s a lot of designer products and designers who don’t actually won’t budge on any product pricing sets around making sure that you can offer them something else. And like you mentioned just now, it’s about having those buying guides and offering them something throughout that whole purchase journey and not just about buying the product. That’s where we want to be in the forefront of their mind really, before they even make that purchase.

LL  4:17
Yeah. And like you said, it’s like pushing them into that convergence zone of page one. And you can do that really easily. If you focus on those quick wins on like page two that with a slight push can kind of make it there.

AG  4:30
Yes. So literally about going.

AG  4:33
Even on Pi Datametric Search Console, you can see like, what search terms, you’re actually appearing for already, and you just need to do like a little nudge. So in terms of adding content onto those pages, so even a sentence or two we we’ve seen that works, adding a bit of internal linking, or potentially actually working with influencers to get that social boost. So there’s definitely things that you can do for that low hanging fruit.

LL  4:59
So can you give an example of when the value of search wasn’t fully understood across your wider business Alina?

AG  5:07
Yeah. So I think throughout, like, everywhere that I’ve worked always, a lot of people might not even understand SEO, and it can be quite tricky. So one example a couple of years ago, like from no fault of their own, the merchandising team made some changes. By just literally spitting up a category not realizing that actually, it no index is a whole complete category of our brand plus category pages. So the way our website works, unfortunately, it meant that we lost visibility for about two months for that particular product range. So it’s not ideal, but at the same time, I think we’ve started putting processes in place where we’ve got upscaling. And it’s a matter of actually getting people to understand the technical side of things that usually only web developers would know. And actually making sure that everybody is aware of the things that will like because of that actions, what will happen. So

LL  6:08
yeah, like commercial implications. And the essential like value that search brings, like in monetary value is kind of not necessarily realized in teams that don’t do on a day to day basis with SEO and search and digital.

AG 6:22
I think I’m quite lucky has been just an online retailer, like compared to the other mammoth brands that I’ve been to this brand is so conscious about SEO and recently been brought into projects that I didn’t expect to so yes, I’m definitely lucky.

EH  6:41
So are there any processes in place to ensure the value of searches always understood?

AG  6:46
Yeah. So there are tons of things that you can do. So firstly, it’s about communication actually relationship building internally. I’d say that people, as I mentioned before, people do need to be upscaled, understand a bit more. But what’s also great is as you get people to actually even be interested in this kind of stuff, you end up being their point of call. So recently, we’ve actually been the first people that that ask advice for even if it’s something like creating a new category, or even filter options. So that’s something that you wouldn’t necessarily say that is an SEO thing. But they’re asking us how would they name it? Where would they put it on the page? How can that help you and then indirectly help SEO? So I definitely say that it’s a matter of upscaling making sure that there’s always people in your team who they can contact and that you’re always there to help them

EH  7:42
Yes, sounds like they’re really on board now.

LL  7:44
Yeah, it’s like optimization to the nth degree. And also, we’re always saying like in the SEO industry, you can’t just SEO it and do everything retrospectively. So it’s so good that you’ve got it from the from the initial kind of from the outset.

EH  7:58
So something we’ve noticed and the luxury sector is we don’t want to have to compromise on like your brand and your brand tone. So is that something you’ve had any experience with using the tone and language of a luxury brand?

AG  8:12
Yeah, definitely, I’d say it’s definitely a sore point, in the sense that, obviously, each brand has their tone of voice. And recently, we went through like a whole re shift of how we speak, which is fantastic and great. But obviously, for such a lot of the time, there’s people who don’t care about a particular language, and they still use a particular way of searching things. So we need to include those on our pages. So I’ll give you an example. About a year or two ago, I noticed that there were low, more people searching for kids rather than children’s, obviously, from our point of view, where luxury brand we can’t be calling children, kids.

AG  8:58
So it’s a matter of getting around it in other ways. And something that we did really well. And actually, we use Pi Datametrics to show the effects of this growing is by adding kids into places that won’t necessarily be customer facing. So one of those things was image alt tags, how do we add kids without actually customers seeing that, and that was a great way of actually contextualizing the page with kids terms without it being intrusive, let’s say. But then we also added kids to the footer copy. And obviously, as it’s quite at the bottom, we’ve known from testing that not a lot of people interact with footers. So we were been a bit more lenient into actually adding that word in there. And we’ve noticed that not only were we do we start showing up for kids terms, but we also started ranking better for children’s terms. So it’s interesting how that whole rank brain developed in the sense that it’s contextualizing not just one key word. It’s about seeing the bigger picture.

LL  10:03
Yeah, that’s really interesting. So you’ve managed to satisfy both brand, and search teams. And you’ve also managed to improve your performance as well. Great. So what would you say is your secret weapon in search for from a luxury retail perspective? Do you have any tips or takeaways for efficient strategies that our listeners can replicate?

AG 10:22
Yeah, so I’ll definitely give you a couple without getting like my arms, cut off some thing.

AG  10:29
Um, so firstly, it’s a matter of using your PPC data and actually leveraging this somebody in SEO industry who taught me this is actually announced, I’m not going to be taking any credit for that. But essentially, it’s a matter of using your PPC data. So make sure that you create, let’s say, two snippets that are similar. But play around with the messaging, especially the call to actions. That way you can find out actually what makes your customer tick. Do they want to get like that free return? Or is price really important? Do they want that Versace at the lowest price possible? Or is that a customer more looking at the free returns great delivery, and the perfect customer service. So it’s something that you can actually test within days of a PPC campaign, and it should be relatively cheap as well. And then the second thing I’d say is from an SEO world, you wouldn’t actually take on sale messaging. But I’d say that this works really well, if you’ve got a sale that is at least four days old. So if you have, let’s say, Black Friday week, I would recommend taking around a handful of pages. Personally, I tried about 20 and would update the metadata for those pages. So it will be the titles, the meta descriptions, and adding those call to actions like up to 50% off of this particular brand, or some brand like designer brand that never gets any sale or pricing discounts. So it’s a matter of actually getting them to notice that actually, you’ve got something new and it’s only limited. So you need to ensure that Google indexes there so you need to make sure that it’s

AG  12:20
in inputted into search console and to make sure that the messaging doesn’t show up after yourself. I would just recommend doing it on the day of when it’s finishing or the day before just to make sure that no angry customers come your way

LL  12:38
so that your contents always relevant and fresh and then when it needs to be a not when it doesn’t need to be

AG  12:45
Exactly.

LL
That’s really really good tips.

EH
Thanks coming in Alina, it was great talking to you.

AG  12:50
Thank you so much real pleasure if you want any advice or anything I’m on Twitter at Mrs. Alina Ghost. So let me know.

EH
Great, thank you

LL  13:02
have a great Brighton SEO And if you want even more search goodness, and you’re around the day before on April the 11th come along to Elevate Brighton at Komedia.

EH  13:10
Use the code elevate VIP with no spaces for free tickets. The link for that is in the description below.

LL  13:16
Thanks for listening and have a great week.

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