September 8, 2010, 3:12 PM

Lowe’s spins into top spot in paid search rankings for appliances

Lowe’s held the top appliance spot in the new Search Marketing Guide.

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Lowe’s Cos. Inc. held the top position in the paid search rankings among Appliances merchants in Internet Retailer’s new 2011 Search Marketing Guide, amassing 347 total points. Sears Holdings Corp. came in second with 329 points. The Home Depot Inc. (191 points), Oreck Direct LLC (48) and AJ Madison (45) rounded out the top five.

Lowe’s, No. 81 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, headed the list by taking the top position among Appliances retailers for the keywords Dehumidifiers, Freezers, Refrigerators and Washing Machines and holding the second position for the terms Dryers (Best Buy Co. held the top position), Fans (after Global Equipment Co.) and Microwaves (after The Home Depot) which contributed to the retailer’s cumulative point total. Those keywords were among 15 in the Appliances category that were tested on Google’s search engine over nine weeks from late 2009 to early 2010. To determine the rankings, Internet Retailer assigned points for the top five paid results in each of 20 merchandising categories.

Sears, No. 8, held the top position for the keywords Disposals, Grills and Ovens in the Search Marketing Guide. Sears also held the second position for five other keywords: Freezers, Refrigerators, Vacuum Cleaners (Oreck was the leader), Washing Machines and Water Heaters (after The Home Depot).

Companies like Lowe’s and Sears that consistently bid on specific paid keywords and phrases related to appliances on Google’s search engine can have several goals in mind, says Jamie Smith, CEO at Engine Ready, a search marketing services and software provider. Because appliance shoppers often search for such generic keywords when they are in the earliest stage of shopping, those terms can produce a lot of volume, but not always a meaningful return on ad spend, he says.

But placing consistently at or near the top for generic keywords could be part of a branding strategy for a particular category such as appliances. “Lowe’s might want to be number one or two for ‘dehumidifiers’ because those types of terms are converting and providing return on ad spend, or it could be as an introduction to a customer,” Smith says. “Or they might be driving call-in orders or visits to a physical location.”

Some companies that aim for high paid search positions might also find themselves stuck with the practice once they’ve completed their initial test for broad keywords. “When they get rid of the generic keywords the costs come way down, but revenue could too,” Smith says.

Lowe’s declined to comment on its paid keyword strategy.

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