Ghd has reported success in improving its search engine optimisation (SEO) for competitive generic online search terms.

The haircare products manufacturer says it has performed well in its key UK and Australia markets, maintaining a UK ranking of #2 and #3 for “hair straighteners” – a considerable jump from #5 and #6 one year ago.

In Australia the company consistently held position #3 for that term, but it now ranks in first position in that market.

Rob Pye, global eCommerce director for Ghd, said much of the rise up the rankings can be attributed to work it has done with tech solutions provider Bazaarvoice. Although acknowledging that no solution provides an SEO “magic bullet”, Pye credits Bazaarvoice’s Spotlights tool with contributing to the brand’s recent online success in a competitive market.

“A lot of factors influence search rankings, and Spotlights isn’t a magic bullet to make you #1 forever,” he said.

“But it is a tremendous complement to overall SEO strategy that’s given us a massive boost.”

The decision to use Spotlights came after the brand reached a point where it ranked #1 in multiple page search listings for the majority of its brand keywords in all its geographical markets. Attention then naturally turned to the high-value generic terms.

Ghd used the Bazaarvoice tool to improve the quality and volume of search-friendly content on category-level pages, in conjunction with key on-site technical optimisations. Specifically, it used keyword-rich, consumer-generated reviews to achieve this goal.

“After building up review volume over several years of using Bazaarvoice Conversations Ratings & Reviews, showcasing review content on category pages to boost organic search rankings seemed like a natural next step,” explained Pye.

Taking on the big guns

Ghd believes sophisticated search marketing using customer reviews can help it compete with retailers who sell more haircare ranges online.

“One thing we looked at was putting an introductory paragraph on each category page as a way to compensate for not having dozens and dozens of products and SKUs on category pages the way large retailers like Amazon and Boots do,” explained Pye.

He also argued that using review content in search marketing was more appropriate than pay per click (PPC).

“Using paid search, it’s three to four times the cost to acquire traffic from more-generic search terms rather than branded terms,” Pye explained.

“And then once you do, it converts at a rate that’s three to four times lower than branded search.”

Ghd also realised that using customer review content to drive traffic on category pages helped the company establish an extended keyword footprint. It said this approach helped improve its ranking for terms it already ranked for, as well as for new terms.

Other eCommerce technology partners Ghd works alongside to support it growing online business include Rackspace and NCC for infrastructure and website performance support respectively.

The brand also uses an SAP Hybris platform as the backbone for its emerging B2B sales channel, which handles orders from salons operating in multiple countries across the globe.