Eighty percent of retailers plan to spend more on search this year and 85% find search engine marketing to be the most effective tool for customer acquisition. The proclivity towards SEM is even more evident in the Specialty Retail category, where 92% of brands in L2’s Index return sponsored results for their individual brand terms.

Brands have proven to be especially adept at maximizing search. They customize paid search results to direct to e-commerce sites. 82% of brands have a “Buy Now” call to action with a link, and 55% link to sales and clearance.

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Even organic results are not left to chance. Specialty retailers are customizing results to direct brands to results. 93% are deep linking to product pages, and 11% are linking to geolocal results.

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Specialty retail brand pages own 61% of first page organic search results for brand terms. Even in this SEM and SEO-savvy category, certain brands are ahead of others. Sephora controls 51% of 160 beauty-related search terms. Forever 21 leads in Apparel. Aldo leads in Accessories and Shoes, and Crate and Barrel leads in Home & Gift.

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