Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for Fashion Brands

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In our next industry focused guide, we are going to look at the fashion niche. It is an industry with a LOT of search volume, a LOT of sub-niches and a LOT of authority websites. Just where we like to play 😉

What is SEO for fashion?

As you will likely know, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the study of on-site and off-site best practice techniques designed to increase visibility across Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Fashion SEO is an industry specific set of optimisation practices that can be implemented to leverage complementary elements of SEO (e.g. code optimisation, content strategies, outreach) to boost organic traffic to your brand catalogue and ecommerce store.

Why is it important for online fashion retailers to invest in SEO?

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A successful SEO campaign can bring multiple benefits to online fashion retailers. Chiefly it will deliver an increased level of organic traffic that should in turn boost sales revenue (usually at an unrivalled level of ROI when compared with paid search traffic). In addition, SEO can also help to build an online audience and engage existing as well as potential customers, thus widening the awareness of your company online.

The opportunity for online growth from brands who succeed at SEO is vast, with the fashion industry presenting additional traffic opportunities from both seasonal and evergreen content, meaning a perennial SEO strategy is required to truly dominate SERPs.

Moreover, retailers can benefit from publishing different content types for users at different stages of the purchase cycle, thus expanding the opportunity for gain even further.

On-page SEO for fashion websites

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Important on-page SEO requirements for fashion retailers include:

  • Ensuring their site loads quickly
  • Ensuring their site is fully responsive
  • Ensuring their site is easy to navigate
  • Ensuring their site has a clear URL structure
  • Ensuring their site has optimised content and imagery and
  • Ensuring their site is exploiting all the schema markup opportunities available.

Due to the inherently visual nature of fashion and the high number of images required, creating a fast loading and responsive website is critical when it comes to selling apparel online.

Essential elements of website structure include:

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Load speed

A technical audit of your site may reveal areas of improvement that can increase page load timings (unusually slow load speeds are known to increase bounce rate – which could see your visitors ‘bouncing’ from your fashion site back to the SERPs). Common errors include cumbersome or lengthy code, failure to enable caching, lack of CDN and/or low-quality hosting.

Fully responsive design

Fully responsive design takes user behaviour into account regarding screen-size, screen orientation, and choice of device/platform. The exponential growth in non-desktop device usage means that it is imperative that fashion retailers create a site that performs and loads perfectly on all devices.

Schema markup

Schema markup is code used to inform search engines on how to return relevant results matched more closely to user intent. Rich snippets are a good example of schema markup. In terms of SEO for fashion, schema markup for ecommerce includes product schema that can direct search engines to display product information in SERPs, such as price, in stock, reviews etc.

Image alt tags

Image alt tags are an important part of optimising a fashion e-commerce site for organic traffic. The addition of image alt tags helps search engines identify the nature of an image so they can better match results to relevant search queries. There is a wealth of potential traffic for fashion brands purely from image searches alone, so it’s well worth the effort of populating images with alt tags.

Metadata

Populating metadata with relevant, compelling and enticing words is an important part of ranking well as well as attracting a high click through rate. In a nutshell, metadata helps search engine’s know how to begin classifying your pages, as well as providing a snippet to display in SERPs. Optimising the title tag, H1, H2 and meta description of each page is an intrinsic part of basic on-page SEO optimisation.

Internal links

Having a strong site architecture where your pages are well interlinked to one another will help search engines to establish a hierarchy of your site. Pages with a higher number of internal links (such as top level category pages) will be deemed as having a higher degree of value/importance compared to pages with fewer internal links (such as individual product pages). Thus, internal links are a vital part of funneling link equity (as well as users) towards your money pages (usually category and product pages). Extensive and detailed keyword research should be undertaken before creating a website’s taxonomy as this will inform the proposed site hierarchy of pages (including which categories and subcategories should be included in a navigation and faceted menus).

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A content delivery network (CDN) is a group of servers that are distributed across multiple geographic locations. A CDN allows for the fast loading of HTML pages, javascript files, stylesheets, images, and videos – something that is vitally important for image-heavy online fashion retailers. Research has repeatedly shown that slow loading pages convert less well and increase bounce rates.

Link building for fashion brands

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The most common methods for fashion retailers to improve their link profile are blogger outreach, product gifting, digital PR and event sponsorship. Given the size and general interest in fashion itself, the opportunities in the aforementioned activities are huge.

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Digital PR For Fashion Brands

Digital PR in basic terms is pitching high quality original content (or research) as part of an outreach campaign to national and trade press, influencers, journalists, and other media in order to earn backlinks and coverage. Examples of how to gain links back to your fashion site through digital PR include creating outreach campaigns that promote ‘how to’ style blog posts or guides, infographics, original research, videos and niche-specific interviews. One thing worth noting is that fashion PR is extremely competitive with hundreds of different brands and agencies bombaring journo’s daily with ideas, stories, pranks and events etc . This means that your idea or piece of research needs to be super interesting in order to gain attention.

Tips on how to create a Digital PR campaign in fashion

  • Consider the publications you would like to get your site featured in.
  • Find the key journalists you need to contact, if possible establish contact before you pitch your first story.
  • What kind of content do they publish?
  • Which content has been popular over the past 12 months?
  • Brainstorm and come up with original ideas, consider seasonality.
  • Decide on the content format that will work best
  • Build a media list, create a launch strategy.
  • Prioritise important publications, offer exclusivity to national press first

We can handle all this activity for you – Get in touch here – Digital PR Campaigns

Blogger Outreach

Blogger outreach can deliver several benefits for retailers including the creation of new relationships with relevant influencers, a higher brand awareness, higher levels of referral website traffic plus and an increased number of backlinks. Although blogger outreach is important and effective in many online industries, there is a particular pertinence with regard to fashion due to the sheer number of fashion related blogs on the web.

Tips to develop an outreach strategy for fashion

  • Analyse factors such as the audience profile of a blog, the domain metrics, the regularity and quality of content (including social media activity)
  • Look at the types of frequently posted content and look for similarities in your outreach aims – does the blog look like a good fit for your brand?
  • Research which kind of campaigns each blogger has worked on for other brands, was it paid promotion, gifting, event attendance or as a brand ambassador etc
  • Prioritise the the most important bloggers and focus your time of working out how you should best engage with them
  • Make contact expressing your interest in their work and your intention to form a partnership.
  • Be clear about why you are contacting them and why your brand would be a good fit for their audience

We can handle all this activity for you – Get in touch here – Blogger Outreach

Product Gifting

Gifting involves posting out a product to a blogger in exchange for them publishing a review on their website which then links back to the retailer. The nature of the review and whether the link is follow is no follow etc is down to the blogger and the retailer. Gifting can be an effective way to earn backlinks as well as to increase awareness of a particular brand or product. It can also be more cost effective than paid promotion or PR, as the brand generally only has to incur the direct wholesale cost of product and the postage.

Tips to develop a gifting strategy for fashion

  • Find potential bloggers for gifting by using competitor link mining or using advance search engine queries
  • Ask for links back to your category pages not just the individual product page
  • Prioritise bloggers with the best domain metrics and traffic scores. Whilst social amplification can help brand awareness, it does nothing for organic rankings and traffic
  • Make sure the dispatch process is fast and efficient.
  • Be prepared for some churn and the odd blogger to go AWOL with your products!

Event sponsorship

Event sponsorship is a great way to retailers to promote themselves as well as to earn social media amplification and backlinks. There are several options available, such as being an official event sponsor, hosting your own event or just sending bloggers to attend events on your behalf.

Tips for fashion event sponsorship

  • Plan everything in advance, don’t leave things to the last minute, research relevant fashion events for the next 12 months or more
  • Find the bloggers you want to engage with and build up a relationship with them well in advance of the event – it’s unlikely you’ll be the only brand approaching them
  • Be prepared to pay either a fee for attendance and/or their expenses including entry, travel, accommodation, food etc
  • Be clear about the requirements from the blogger and what you expect in terms of covering the event, photos, links, exclusivity etc

We can handle all your outsourced link building needs – get in touch.

Website Content Optimisation

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Having optimised content serves a range of different purposes but chiefly it will help towards your pages ranking well for relevant search queries as well as satisfying the search intent of your users. The foundation of well optimised content is good keyword research, ensuring each page is as relevant as possible to the most popular search terms associated with each product, category or blog page.

This does not mean ‘stuffing’ your content with popular keywords as this is unlikely to boost site visibility. Instead, you should write naturally, taking into account your keyword research and combining it with the kind of language/tonality associated with your audience profile or persona.

Next we’ll look at which pages on your site are the most important to optimise.

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Ecommerce Category Pages

These are the pillar pages on your site and are likely to be the pages containing key terms with the highest search volume that are most often visited by your users. Thus it is vital they are well optimised for search engines as well as users. The content should describe the top product or products groups within each category whilst also making it easy to navigate to the most popular subcategories.

Ecommerce Sub-Category Pages

The next level down a website’s directory tree from categories are sub categories. Usually less important than categories themselves, they still play a role in parsing authority and funnelling users to product pages. With regard to content, use the same principles outlined above for category level copy.

Product Pages

Also referred to colloquially as “money” pages, product pages are quite obviously extremely important when it comes to content optimisation. You need to (a) rank well but also (b) sell your product using enticing and compelling language. You should consider the adage of “sell the sizzle, not the sausage” which rightly refers to the fact that you should look to sell the benefits of your products, rather than just the product per se”.

If possible, avoid boilerplate copy, particularly if you are a branded retailer as the same copy may well be published on other retailers website’s, thus diluting the value of you publishing it.

We can handle all your landing page content needs – get in touch.

Informational Blog Pages

Optimising a company blog should be done with the express aim of satisfying pre existing KPI’s / goals, rather than aimlessly churning out content for the sake of it. Goals could include hard KPI’s such as more conversions, more revenue, more traffic as well as softer KPI’s such as higher session duration, higher engagement or a lower bounce rate. The key is to put in place a holistic content strategy where your content is planned in advance and then measured against the pre existing goals. Also consider creating a content calendar and writing around key events or seasonal trends.

We can handle all your blog post content needs – get in touch.

Fashion content and the purchase funnel

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Being aware of the purchase funnel and where users are in their buying journey is vitally important if you want to fully exploit the opportunities SEO can present. A retail site is geared up for the end of funnel, ready to buy users in order to maximise conversions. However there is a wealth of traffic to be had from users who are not ready to buy but are in the awareness, interest, consideration or intent stage.Targeting users at these earlier stages is important because by creating awareness with (for example) blog content, which in turn links to a category page, which in turn links to (or ‘funnels to’) a product page / money page complete with CTA will increase the number of users you get to the final stage (product page).

Understanding the funnel:

  • Top of the Sales Funnel (TOFU)
    • Single word generic search terms (wide audience). For example “Levi’s”
  • Middle of the Sales Funnel (MOFU)
    • Consideration stage – mid tail keywords (taking ‘buyer persona’ into account) “best Levi jeans for men”
  • Bottom of Sales Funnel (BOFU)
    • Ready to buy – exact match search terms “Levi 501’s 32 x 32”

In the examples above, you can see that each query has a different buying intent, which means your content offering needs to be aligned with the kind of search results the user is looking for.

There is so much more we could cover when it comes to fashion SEO – these include things like using sensory descriptions in the sales language to publishing UGC via instagram product images and keyword cannibalisation when you sell a lot of similar products.

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What else would you like us to cover? Let us know via the usual channels.

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