January 31, 2006, 12:00 AM

The icing on Ice.com’s cake

When Ice.com developed a new series of weblogs last year, it was only trying to provide an informational service to build relationships with its customers. But in a surprising development, the blogs are creating a 15-30% boost in natural search traffic to Ice.com itself.

Sometimes it just pays to be nice. When Ice.com developed a new series of weblogs last year, it was only trying to provide an informational service to build relationships with its customers. “We wanted to do something to increase service, and each blog talks to a different kind of customer,” says Pinny Gniwisch, executive vice president of marketing.

But in a surprising development, the blogs are creating a 15-30% boost in natural search traffic to Ice.com itself. “It’s been a blessing in disguise,” Gniwisch says. “The original intention was not to be ranked higher in natural search, that wasn’t part of the plan, but it happened.”

The blogs-SparkleLiketheStars.com, JustAskLeslie.com and Blog.Ice.com-provide information, respectively, on jewelry fashion trends among celebrities, jewelry care and press coverage of Ice.com. As people search on “Angelina Jolie” or “Reese Witherspoon,” for example, they’re likely to see links to SparkleLiketheStars.com, where they can see images and text about the jewelry that Jolie and Witherspoon wear.

Visitors to the blog can also click on links like “diamonds,” “pearls,” and “necklaces”-all key search words on Ice.com-for more information about what celebrities are wearing. As more traffic goes to those links, it raises the level of Ice.com in search indexes, placing the site higher in natural searches for jewelry items.

“We put keywords like ‘pearl necklace’ and ‘diamond earrings’ in the blog because those are keywords we want Ice.com to be associated with,” Gniwisch says. “It’s become an excellent thing for us.”

Although Ice.com hasn’t figured actual sales increases stemming from the blogs, use of the blogs has coincided with a 78% increase in holiday ’05 sales over 2004 and with an increase of word-of-mouth advertising, to which Gniwisch attributes a 30% year-to-year increase in holiday 2005 sales not tied to any particular marketing campaigns.

Ice.com has hired a full-time creative person to work on the blogs and develop new ones. The retailer already operates a fourth blog related to coupons and plans to introduce ones on jewelry-related topics like weddings and etiquette. “We’re going to be doing a lot more in this field,” Gniwisch says.

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