Why Searching for Jewelry on Google Uncovers Some Ugly Stuff

Last week, The New
York Times
, in a
fascinating article
, charged that JCPenney had improved its rankings in search
engines like Google by engaging in “black hat” Search Engine
Optimization (SEO) tactics, such as having pages of spam links. In response, the company
fired its SEO firm, and Penney’s ranking was reduced on the search engine.

But it got me thinking: What happens when popular jewelry
terms are Googled? 

I started with Pandora.
According to Google, “Pandora charms” and “Pandora jewelry” are among the most frequently
searched jewelry terms
 for Valentine’s Day.

And yet, when an SEO blogger Googled “Pandora
jewelry
” a few weeks back in a well-worth-reading article, he received mostly spam links. Perhaps Google took action, because my recent search found slightly better results, at least on the first page. Still, at
least one link didn’t seem to sell beads, and the second and third search pages
are mostly spam, including several links for Pandora-like beads, and one page
devoted to hair restoration. The “Pandora
charms
” search yielded similar results. Considering those are among the
most searched-for terms in our industry, that is not great.

(Among the signs of a bogus site: poor spelling/grammar, an
emphasis on discounts and sales, and the absence of a physical address. Most
of these sites are apparently based overseas.)

The SEO blogger also turned up mostly spam when he Googled Thomas
Sabo
. Most of the online U.K. stores the blogger complained about now
seem gone, but there was at least one replica site among the first listings.   

David
Yurman
was one of the worst searches I did, yielding a scary amount
of bogus sites on the first page of listings.

Googling Tiffany &
Co.,
” another leading search
term, turns up a mix of the valuable and the dubious, including one sale and another replica site. Tiffany has always been vigilant about
protecting its intellectual property, and it recently sued a
bunch of soundalike sites
. Let’s just say, sadly, it seems like its work is not
done. Cartier has a similar
problem
.

The search results for synthetic
diamonds
have always been an issue, since they show mostly companies
that primarily sell diamond simulants, or a combination of “genuine synthetic” stones (if
that’s even a term) and simulants. And one pretty
bad article
. What’s worse, Gemesis—the biggest
synthetic producer, which says
it will begin targeting online consumers—doesn’t even show up until
page 3. Even more embarrassing, some of those CZ links show up on Google AdWords. Another weak showing.

Now, this isn’t a problem just for the jewelry business.
It apparently impacts just about every known brand name. And while Google is aware of these issues, they are not so
easy to fix, the blogger notes:

It’s not like Google is not
penalizing or de-indexing any of these sites. I see them come and go on a daily
basis (although some actually seem to stick for weeks or even months).

However, these people (or rather
organizations) push such huge amounts of these sites into the web that Google –
obviously – is having quite a hard time catching up. 

But, regarding jewelry, the industry needs to invest in
better SEO and become more search engine–savvy. It also should communicate more
with Google about some of these misleading searches. Because, right now, it
seems the “black hats” are winning.  

JCK News Director