I get asked quite frequently how long it might take to rank for certain keywords. Diamonds and jewelry come up every so often. A good friend of mine reached out to me on Friday with the “how do I rank number 1 in Google for the phrase diamond rings?” I assembled an extensive response that would have wasted away and died in my Sent folder, so I decided to share my answer.

Without a doubt, diamond rings are on the top Most Competitive keyword lists with regards to search engine optimization. Amit Jhalani, VP of Search for MySolitaire.com has teams of teams working around the clock to build what has become well over 20,000 backlinks to the website, some from Google’s own Matt Cutts (on his blog no less). At one point, Amit’s efforts resulted in the number 1 spot for the keyword diamond rings.

Over the last 12 months, MySolitaire has been moving down in the search results. As of today, they hold the 38th position on my computer. Who dominates? Top brands, that’s who:

Image Showing Ranking in Google for Diamond Rings

What Happened to the Number 1 Rank?

Despite the army of linkers, Amit failed critically at competing against the brick and mortar giants in the brand marketing arena. Remember, PageRank (as much we pretend we don’t care anymore) is, as Google states, “a technology that determines the ‘importance’ of a webpage by looking at what other pages link to it, as well as other data.” Nowhere in that statement do you see the word quantity. Our friend Vikram did an excellent job with his diagram describing importance and PageRank by the quality and difficulty of acquisition:

Vikram's PageRank Chart

As you can see, all the linking in the world at a low level will have very little value, where just a small amount of linking, mentions, and discussions at a high level could make a significant difference to search ranking ranking.

Steve, How Do I Rank Number 1 for “Diamond Rings”?

First and foremost, you need to discover the traffic potential.

According to Google’s Traffic Estimator Tool for AdWords:

  • Diamond ring (exact match) has 33k searches and might produce 21 visits day (630/mo)
  • Diamond rings (exact match) has 110k searches and might produce 95 visits per day (2850/mo)

I took a look at {name removed} percentage of traffic from keywords in Google Search-only ads versus the percentage of keywords from organic search where they were ranking #1 or #2 in both. The traffic data included over 30,000 total visits for each test keyword. Based on several keywords, the average difference was right around 56% organic and 44% paid. From this, we can infer:

  • Diamond ring = 800 organic visits/mo.
  • Diamond rings = 3,627 organic visits/mo. – this would be the target keyword

The #1 search result for diamond ring and diamond rings is Zales.com. According to Open Site Explorer, Zales.com has (as of September 2011):

  • About 1,530 linking root domains
  • Many of the top links were earned from mozzilla.com, lycos.com, reuters.com, nbc.com, bloglines.com, census.gov, visa.com, newsday.com, msn.com, monster.com, ups.com, examiner.com, dallasnews.com, about.com, theknot.com, cnblogs.com, stltoday.com, bostonherald.com, etc
  • 708 Facebook shares
  • 90% of the anchor text from inbound links contain the brand name Zales, less than 3% contain a variation of diamond ring or diamond rings

Based on the data, I would say one might need 1-2 full time Public Relations (PR) firms, working for upward of $10,000 per month each to build up that much publicity from news, magazines, and the like to catch up to Zales. The Vince Update, named after the Google engineer who worked on it, continues to play a major a role in ranking, as Matt Cutts describes below:

You’d also need to influence search behavior by changing offline and online ads to include language such as “Search Google for ‘company_name Diamond Rings’ to see the new X Diamond series.” Do you recall Pontiac doing this in 2007?

It would take nearly a year to see top 5 results with the strategy above if the domain was less than a year old. You might be able to do it in 5 months if the website is for a well-established brand for over 5-6 years.

The Secret to Ranking for Diamond Rings

  1. Have an excellent product and user experience
  2. Spend thousands on PR and offline advertising
  3. Make a list of every news station with a website, call them all
  4. Make a list of every major magazine that publishes links
  5. Send the editors of the Wall Street Journal, NY Times, and USA Today some bling
  6. Throw an appreciation party in a Vegas penthouse for key people at Digg.com, Mashable, CNN, CNET (take lots of video and photos for them to link to later)
  7. Avoid any type of excessive linking (MySolitaire.com was punished for reciprocal linking)
  8. Pray to God and wait

That’s it folks. If you’re in the diamond business and want to get to the top, expect to spend $10,000 to $50,000 per month for the next 6-12 months. Don’t even bother wasting your time with traditional linking. Vince and Google made it super easy for those with big bucks and big brands to rank for whatever you like with very little effort. Lucky you.