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Children’s Furniture Company relaunches under new ownership

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The Children’s Furniture Company website, whose founders shut up shop in the face of a Google downgrade, has been relaunched under new ownership.

Paul Hanson and his wife Clare bought the site domain from its former owners after it closed down this summer. The couple relaunched the website just two weeks ago – and say they are gradually building their position on Google search rankings.

The relaunch brings a fresh start for a name that had been trading online since 2002. The Children’s Furniture Company was originally founded by Sarah and Charlie Codrington, but closed in the summer following the Google Penguin update. The update, which took into account so-called ‘black hat’ SEO techniques such as paid-for links, automatically downgraded the site. It went from high natural search rankings in on key search terms to low positions, and at the time Sarah Codrington said the task of rebuilding the website was too great to continue the business.

Now, however, the Hansons, who have marketing and ecommerce experience working for names including Virgin and Mercedes Benz, have taken on the challenge. They had been looking to launch their own children’s furniture ecommerce business after the experience of buying furniture for their own young family.

“When we first started looking around for furniture for our daughter we were amazed at how expensive children’s furniture was and then when we had spent an arm and a leg on it we were amazed how poor the quality was,” said Paul Hanson. “We started looking online and there were not many dominant online players. We thought we had a skillset between us that we could apply online.”

He added: “As part of the diligence that we went through to launch the business, we used some key search tools just to get an idea of whether people search and research online to find kids’ beds.

“We were really surprised by the number of searches there were online, relative to some of the markets we’ve worked in. We thought there was a real opportunity here. That gave us the confidence to start speaking to a few designers we know, getting some of our ideas down on paper. Now we’re launched and are selling.”

In the research phase of planning the business, the couple had been following the Children’s Furniture Company as a potential competitor. When the business closed, they saw this as a good opportunity to develop a strong brand.

Since they bought the domain in early September, a key focus has been on working on the back links that the company was previously penalised for in order to remove them. After two or three weeks of “trawling” through all the back links, identifying and contacting media owners and web masters, prioritising web links that looked paid for, around a third of the links were removed. “I wanted to get to a position before we were live where I’d removed as many of the back links as possible,” said Hanson.

“Then as soon as we went live I was comfortable we’d done enough to warrant putting in a submission with Google. I think it took them about five days to respond and I could see they’d started reindexing at a low level and ranking us again for some of the key terms [the site had] previously been penalised against in the Penguin update earlier this year.”

While the company is still ranking relatively low on its keywords, Paul Hanson takes the view that as a new business they would rank poorly at first in any case. “We had an idea what we needed to do to improve the backlink profile and we took the perspective on it that we’re going to be no better ahead if we’d started from scratch,” said Hanson.

“Already,” he said, “we’re seeing a decent amount of traffic. It’s be early days and we’re hoping to continue some good growth in the UK over the next 12-18 months.”

He added: “Our plan is to grow from the six ranges we currently have, and hopefully in the next six months we can double the number of SKUs on the site. Then we’re looking to expand into other areas. We’re focusing on the furniture at first, but also looking at areas such as soft accessories.”

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