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This week's episode of Dragons' Den featured Gloucestershire jeweller Clive Billing asking for a £255,000 investment in his website diamondgeezer.com.
Billing received an offer from three of the Dragons (the highest ever in the programme's history) but backed away due to the 40% equity the VCs were demanding. See him here via the iPlayer.
Have the Dragons missed out on a golden opportunity? Or has Billing? We have taken a look at the site to find out...
First of all, there seem to be some discrepancies around the website's search engine rankings. Asked by Peter Jones, Billing replied that his site ranked at 12 in Google for 'diamond' and nine for 'diamond engagement ring'.
I had a look, but the site is not in the top ten pages for 'diamond' while, for the supposedly higher ranking term 'diamond engagement ring' I got tired of looking after the first ten pages. Most shoppers would give up after two or three.
Perhaps he could have used some of that investment to hire an SEO agency...
Trust is crucial for online shoppers, even more so in the case of high value items like diamond rings, and people need to be reassured that their money is in good hands.
With high value items such as rings, many people would be more likely to shop from a brand they have heard of, so diamondgeezer.com is already at a disadvantage there, but what does the site do to ease shoppers' security fears?
One thing it does do correctly is to provide 3rd party logos to indicate server security:
However, these are only accessible via links at the bottom of the page, not provided on product or order pages where this reassurance would be most effective.
With the navigation diamondgeezer.com has not gone along with normal e-commerce convention, placing many of the links on the right hand side of the page.
Meanwhile, the main navigation at the top of the page is easily missed, with the links being the least visible on the page. The drop down menu isn't too impressive either:
Billing told the Dragons that he wanted to attract more impulse sales through the site, of between £25 and £500. For this the site should be as user friendly as possible, making it easy to find items and purchase them without too much friction.
For instance, the site has an 'intelligent diamond search' to help you choose the stone you want according to shape and budget. I entered £500, as this is the price range for impulse purchases, but it won't allow me to search for anything below £800.
To attract impulse purchases, the site needs to make it easy for customers to find items they want within a couple of clicks from the homepage. This is very difficult to do on diamondgeezer.com.
I could go on and find more faults with the site, but it's clear that there are plenty of improvements that need to be made, especially to the site's usability and SEO.
It's not all bad; there is a good level of detail on the site, suggesting that Billing has a good knowledge of the jewellery market.
The prominent positioning of contact numbers is also useful, and diamondgeezer may get plenty of sales in this way, rather than via the site.
I was also impressed by the fact that I was emailed soon after abandoning the checkout process, something many other firms are not doing.
I'm not sure that the Dragons have missed out too much, but Billing may come to regret not taking the £255,000 which was offered.
This could have enabled him to spend some money on increasing visibility on the Google, as well as on designing a more usable website which would be more likely to attract online shoppers.
Update: Luke from Diamond Geezer tells me that when the programme was filmed 6 months ago, those Google rankings given by Clive were correct. Since then, the website has been penalised by the search engine.
Diamondgeezer had hired an agency (It's Cold Outside) to deal with its SEO but since then it is not even listed on Google for the terms mentioned in the programme.
We have sent them a complimentary copy of our Search Engine Marketing Buyer's Guide to help them choose a search agency....