FTD.com And ProFlowers.com Capitalize On Mothers Day Search Engine Marketing

    May 9, 2005

On the heels of Mother’s Day, WebTrends Inc., the web analytics market share leader, today unveiled results from its WebPosition Ranking study of how five “grower fresh” flower sites are using Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing strategies to attract visitors who were looking for Mother’s Day gifts.

WebPosition top-level findings indicate that FTD.com takes the top spot in natural search visibility, while Proflowers.com leads the pack when both paid and natural search results are considered.

Just days before Mother’s Day, most sites grew visibility in both paid and natural search engine listings with FTD.com and ProFlowers.com cultivating the largest gains, increasing their overall Visibility Percentages* by 8.33% and 6.75%.

1800Flowers.com, the original overall visibility leader, was the only site to experience slight decreases in both its overall and natural Visibililty Percentages between WebPosition’s data snapshots taken on April 26, 2005 and May 3, 2005.

And it wasn’t just a timely ramping up of paid search campaigns that increased visibility between these snapshots, as FTD.com and JustFlowers.com also grew their natural visibility by 1.92% and 2.25%.

The search positions of 1800Flowers.com, ProFlowers.com, FTD.com, JustFlowers.com and one other flower site were analyzed using WebPosition. WebPosition examined the visibility each web site achieved in both natural and paid search results on Ask Jeeves, Google, MSN and Yahoo! Web Results for the category’s most popular terms, as identified by Wordtracker, including:

“flower arrangement,”
“fresh flowers,”
“flower delivery,”
“wedding bouquets,”
and “send flowers.”

In examining how these sites incorporated Mother’s Day-specific keywords into their SEM and SEO efforts, WebPosition found that no site had optimized is pages to naturally rank high for “Mothers Day” and “Mother’s Day,” but ProFlowers.com, FTD.com and 1800Flowers.com have included those keywords in paid search campaigns, achieving seasonal visibilities of 59.58%, 33.75% and 29.58%.

Visibility Grows by Balancing Paid with Natural Search Strategies

Data from WebPosition shows that the “grower fresh” flower sites overall are focusing more on paid vs. natural search, with visibility nearly doubling when analysis included sponsored listings. As a group, the sites have a natural Visibility Percentage of 46% but when analysis also includes paid listings that visibility rises to 83.5%. This indicates a strong presence for these sites within the first three pages of search results, particularly if paid listings are included.

FTD.com was the most visible site in natural search listings with a natural Visibility Percentage of 31.67%.

The next most visible sites in natural search listings were 1800Flowers.com at 27%, ProFlowers.com at 26.08%, and JustFlowers.com at 3.83%.

ProFlowers.com was the most visible site when analysis included both paid and natural search listings coming in at 73.25%.

The next most visible sites when analysis included both paid and natural search listings were 1800Flowers.com at 68.42%, FTD.com at 62.08%, and JustFlowers.com at 2.92%.

“Like many other verticals, flower sites are aggressively using paid search to attract visitors and with this Mother’s Day, we saw significant activity within a week of the big day that closed the gap between the top three most visible sites and also unseated the original overall visibility leader, said Jason Palmer, vice president of products, WebTrends.

“Just as important, most of the sites achieved natural visibility improvements between our analyses, just in time to reach more Mother’s Day shoppers. While natural search listings are more of a long-term effort, research has shown that most commercial search engine referrals come from these listings and they don’t have the out-of-pocket expense of paid search campaigns.”

Ramping Up Search Engine Marketing

Two sites researched by WebPosition have low search engine visibility compared to the other sites. JustFlowers.com is just barely visible, with no top 10 positions and only three natural listings in the top 30 search results. One possible reason for this low visibility is that the site’s homepage employs a redirect, which, depending on the type, could cause a site to be penalized by certain search engines. In addition, there is very little contextual content on the home page, which gives search engines very little content to index.

The fifth site examined has an overall and natural Visibility Percentage of zero, precluding its mention in this study. While there are a variety of factors that may impact search engine visibility, this site also lacks significant textual content on its homepage and appears to have some problems with HTML coding, including duplicated <html>, <head> and <meta> tags, which detracts from search engines’ ability to fully index its pages.

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