August 25, 2010, 2:42 PM

Fossil tops the list of paid search rankings for accessories

Fossil and Zappos.com led in paid search for accessories in the new Search Marketing Guide.

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Fossil Inc. held the top position in the paid search rankings among Accessories merchants in Internet Retailer’s new 2011 Search Marketing Guidegarnering 102 total points. Zappos.com Inc. came in second with 97 points, with The Neiman Marcus Group (87) and Oakley Inc. and Ashford.com (50 each) rounding out the top five.

Fossil topped the list by outbidding other retailers for the keywords: Belts, Wallets and Watches. Those keywords were among 16 in the Accessories category that were tested over nine weeks from late 2009 to early 2010. When those terms were searched again this week, Fossil came up within the top three paid positions for the three terms.

Fossil, a consumer brand manufacturer that’s No. 226 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, might be best known for its watches, but the company’s investment in that term and the other keywords indicates it is converting clicks into sales and using category-specific paid search terms to diversify its merchandising base and reach a broader audience of apparel shoppers, says George Aspland, president of eVision, a search engine marketing services provider.

Companies such as Fossil can consistently bid for high positions on Google’s search engine if they can manage shoppers’ click-through rates to hold down costs, Aspland says. “In a search on wallets, Fossil is number one but the headline comes up as Fossil Wallets and has a product listing,” he explains. Even though Fossil could attract consumers in large numbers searching on such a broad keyword, the product list can keep those who aren’t interested in Fossil wallets from clicking through to the web site, Aspland says.

Fossil did not respond to a request for comment on its paid keyword strategy.

Zappos.com Inc., a unit of Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, also held the top position for three paid keywords in the Accessories category of the Search Marketing Guide, including Purses, Socks and Shoes, and held the second position for Belts. The company’s product line expansion in recent years and the size of its inventory suggests a different strategy for consistently high bids on those keywords. Zappos carried 900,000 SKUs two years ago, according to Internet Retailer’s 2009 Top 500 Guide in its last listing before being acquired by Amazon. That number likely hasn’t shrunk, so Zappos has the inventory to back up its high search positions, says Aspland.

“If you click through to Zappos.com, you see a wide range of belts, with lots of links to different styles of belts,” Aspland says. “You couldn’t do this with limited belt stock, and a site has to convert well to do this.”

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