In its latest Home Furnishings Insight Report, digital marketing specialist Inside Online ranks 52 of the sector’s leading websites according to their online performance. Inside Online’s Ric Waters shares some of the report’s key findings …

Our annual study reveals the successes and shortcomings of each of the website’s top sectors, highlighting where there is room for improvement.

With a +67% increase in their visibility over the past year, Wayfair has moved to the top of the market.Other stand-out results in terms of visibility include Dunelm (+62%) and Made (+53%) recording large increases among the top 10. Six of the top 10 saw a YoY rise in their visibility – while Laura Ashley saw a -36% drop on the previous year, but remained in the top 10.

When it comes to social media performance, Ikea tops the chart, with by far the highest number of brand searches and the biggest owned social score due to their worldwide standing – which was boosted thanks to the launch of a pet furniture range which gained thousands of social interactions.

The social score considers followers and engaged conversations on all major social platforms. The top five social scorers were: Ikea at the top, with an owned social score of 52,721 and 2,740,000 monthly searches; Dunelm came second for monthly searches with 1,500,000, but came in outside the top five for owned social; then Laura Ashley, Wayfair and DFS round out the top five for social searches.

Furniture Village has a high brand search with 201,000 – but this hasn’t translated to their owned social score (72). Similarly, Oak Furniture Land has a high brand search (301,000), but recorded an owned score of just 102.

Next are links, which have always been a massive ranking factor and can make all the difference to how far up a brand appears on Google. Consistently gaining new high quality links can be great for business – but high link volumes without the quality could spell trouble ahead.

Ikea leads in links, with most going to product images and high quality links to their ideas section, while a holiday decorating article of theirs featured in Elle Décor, Contemporist and Apartment Therapy.

There are several sites with high quality, low volume links, including Furniture Village, Made In Design, Made, The White Company and Loaf.

Conversely, there are also sites with a high volume of poor quality links, such as Furniture in Fashion, Worldstores, Leekes and Danetti. Consistently gaining a high quantity of low-authority links highlights an urgent need to address your off-site reputation.

My colleague Gemma Curtis had a few thoughts on the report – she comments: “It’s been a successful year for the home furnishings market, with a majority improvement over the top 10 retailers. Wayfair is the biggest winner this year after racing into the lead following a +67% increase in visibility – just 0.78% between them and Ikea in second place.

“In this age of constant connectivity, social presence continues to be important, despite the latest news headlines. Although Ikea tops our social charts, they could be more engaging, and may potentially see themselves being overtaken by Wayfair in this category, who are working hard to keep their social audience interested.

“Overall, while the brand searches are extremely high for a lot of these brands, owned social score rarely scales up in comparison. Brands should work harder to produce varied, attractive content for their social channels, to build up their owned audiences.”

Ric Waters is the sales & marketing director at Inside Online, an award-winning agency that specialises in integrated search marketing.