A spokesperson for DFS, the largest furniture manufacturer in Britain, once joked that they only had two sales every year…… but each of these sales lasted 6 months. It’s a sector that has historically seen large offline campaigns that have been deal driven with a big push made in the lead up to specific times of year, Christmas being the most obvious.
TV has, and still is, a brand builder and a chance to make a big push on their sales message as target consumers are, invariably, sat on the very item these retailers are trying to get them interested in.
However, with mobile browsing no longer being seen as an emerging medium and more of a staple platform it’s the perfect chance to demonstrate the symbiotic relationship that can be exploited through a well-executed, integrated marketing strategy and ecommerce SEO is a big part of that.
In October 2017 DFS announced a 22% fall in profits and firmly placed the blame at the hands of economic uncertainly fuelled by Brexit. On the other hand rival retailer SCS announced a rise in sales and profit for the same period. Throw in the fact that DFS went on to buy Sofology in November 2017 and you’ve got an interesting mix.
Each of these sofa giants has their own approach and style of advertising.
DFS in this year’s summer campaign has gone down an animated route, Sofology has replaced Neil the Sloth with Owen Wilson and for quite some time SCS ran with a somewhat divisive female lead that certainly made their commercials “memorable”.
Inevitably they have all lost some market share to cheaper online options, alternative retailers and peer to peer selling but nonetheless it’s still a hugely competitive market.
But who ranks and who tanks when it comes to organic rankings? Here we take a look down the back of the SEO sofa to see who is sitting comfortably and who may well need their proverbial cushions plumping.
Top Level Analysis. Trust, Traffic & Authority.
Using 3rd Party tools and their respective metrics when analysing and comparing sites always has a degree of “finger in the air” associated with it. Ultimately, only Google knows what Google knows, and that’s why for exercises such as this we look at a variety of indicative metrics to give us a decent (although not 100% accurate) view of the playing field.
Without the privilege of accessing each sites analytics platforms we’ve used, MOZ, MajesticSEO and SEMRush to get a reasonable view of how and what they rank for.
If we look at Domain Authority, Citation Flow, Trust Flow and Referring Domains as reference points for ranking signals then, as expected, the behemoth of DFS rules supreme.
Trust Flow for SCS and Sofology are both surprisingly low and could indicate a lack of authoritative backlinks within their respective profiles. However, this is where reliance on such 3rd party metrics can be our undoing as each of these sites ranks for a considerable number of phrases in position 1 to 10. In fact, a brief look at www.furniturevillage.co.uk and you can see that their Trust flow sits at a respectable 53.
As expected, DFS is way ahead in terms of estimated SEMRush traffic and volume of keywords with SEMRush estimating they receive over 1.6m visits each month (based on the number and position of their ranking keywords).
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When it comes to specific keywords and their respective search volume it’s instantly obvious that brand recognition falls firmly in favour of DFS. With over half a million searches each month just for “DFS” it is double the total number of searches for both “SCS” and “Sofology” when added together. This indicates a strong brand presence across a wide range of media.
Famed for their consistent press and TV coverage it’s a good indicator of why marketers should never underestimate the value of brand within search.
Search in Sofas
Looking at some of the major search terms such as “Sofa”, SCS has some making up to do with a position of 6. Perhaps the “carpet” side of their offering demotes their standing for this term in the eyes of Google’s algorithm but when you consider DFS ranks 2nd for the huge term “beds” it shows the strength that the brand and website holds.
When looking at types of sofa (corner, leather and fabric + sofa) all three sites rank well. As would be expected, much will come down to the journey that each site takes the prospective customer on when the inevitable comparisons take place.
The importance of UX and CRO is key when working in a market where punters will inevitably compare and contrast products and this will definitely be the case here.
One of the interesting findings we made was that SCS only rank in position 22 for the phrase “cheap sofas” whereas Sofology sits in the top spot and DFS a placed a little lower around the position of 3 or 4.
SCS with their deal driven approach and lower product pricing would be expected to rank far higher then Sofology who provide a higher price point. Clearly there has been some strong SEO work by Sofology to attract this ranking and it would be interesting to see how much of this actually converts when taking to account that they aren’t offering a cheaper product when compared to SCS.
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Big ticket retail is a cut throat world and with the ease of comparison available to prospective buyers it’s integral that operators have a well rounded approach to marketing that seamlessly integrates on and offline messaging.
Inevitably the sheer reputation and scale of DFS was always going to mean they ranked extremely well.
However, their challenge moving forward is how to best fend off the advances being made by their immediate rivals as well as the likes of Ikea, Made, Furniture Village and Harveys (to name but a few) who will no doubt continue to bite at their heals for the foreseeable future.