Everyone at the moment seems to be screaming about watches – at least in the sense of so-called “smart watches” like Apple’s new iWatch, even if these gadgets seem to have a lot of real-life functionality troubles, like not being able to fulfill one of their principle selling points if you happen to have a tattoo.

Secondhand Luxury Watches

Being somewhat more attached to my Argos-bought Casio than all this fancy electronic stuff, I decided to turn the clock back (don’t get up – there are more terrible puns coming) on the industry and head over to investigate how people go about purchasing genuine but discounted luxury watches through that somewhat unusual market of pre-used watch selling.

Luxury Secondhand Watches VisibilityTo start with, I picked three of the biggest marketplaces known for offering this service – Crown & Caliber, WatchFinder and David Duggan – and did a little old-fashioned keyword research to find some likely terms for the sector. Into the ranking sampler they went for a quick and dirty on-the-spot visibility estimate. Results were…well, pretty decisive to say the least. I did hop into SearchMetrics for some additional collateral but the comparison graph bordered on hilariously obvious in support of the same sort of message so I haven’t bothered to include it here.

Preowned Watches Sample Rankings

Onsite SEO Analysis

WatchFinder are clearly dominating the secondhand luxury watches market by a considerable margin! Naturally I had to go and have a poke around their website to see what makes this organic search powerhouse tick (I warned you, didn’t I).

First off is cross device setup – all three sites have gone down the select serve route of differently styled content on the same URL, which is pretty sound, and it is refreshing to see a whole trio of sites in the same vertical actually thinking about their users enough to offer a halfway decent mobile experience.

In terms of getting that “luxury” feel across in visuals I think I’m torn between Crown & Caliber and WatchFinder – both are clean and streamlined where David Duggan just looks a bit old-fashioned (and not in a good way), and make excellent use of aspirational lifestyle images to sell their service as well as the product which it drives.

To business then – let’s grab a landing page and open up the source. It’s pretty immediately clear that the clean coding prize goes to WatchFinder, although I would have thought that source-ordering the menus to below the main content to speed things up and prioritise the most user-critical content would have been a worthwhile exercise.

WatchFinderLandingPage

WatchFinder are clearly the only ones who paid attention in SEO 101 as well, making sure they have a single and relevant H1 on their landing page, a nice little bit of copy which is properly integrated into the user experience (rather than being an “SEO afterthought, as is so often the case with online stores) and image alts that are pretty much perfect.

WatchFinder Rolex Page

What really got my cogs turning, though, was the use of semantic markup on WatchFinder – remarkably forward-thinking for such a traditional-styled brand, and this type of dedication to search is clearly paying off for them since they’re leaving other competitors pretty much in the dust. It isn’t perfect, alas – of course few things in life are – and they’re missing a trick by not making more of Products as well as Offer and AggregateOffer markup, but just seeing those itemprops in there at all frankly made me go all tingly, especially with compared to C&C and DD who have clearly not really made much effort in terms of their organic search visibility potential at all.

Conclusion

What’s to be learned here? No matter how old or traditionally-minded your sector may be, even in the luxury end of the spectrum, embracing digital and making a real effort to maximise your search footprint is worth it, especially if your competitors are ignoring the opportunities. WatchFinder clearly haven’t just settled on “what our competitors are doing, but a bit better”, they’ve really gone all-out on it, and the results speak for themselves.

Well done and kudos, ladies and gents. Definitely a brand to watch!

(I’ll stop now).

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