Now that fashion month is over it seems like a great time to talk about SEO in the fashion e-commerce industry. Perhaps you are an online clothing retailer or a fashion boutique looking to increase your traffic and gain further exposure? You may or may not know how SEO can impact your website and how important it is, either way you are in the right place!
Just as you would expect fashion designs to stand out on the runway, the same applies to your website. There are certain ways that you can make your website stand out from the crowd and get noticed by Google and consumers, ultimately helping you to gain further exposure. Although the standard practises of SEO still stand there are specific tactics that can work significantly well.
The standardised keyword principles still apply to fashion e-commerce websites, and it’s essential that you target the right keywords so that google can lead consumers from your target market straight to your site. You’ll firstly need to understand the way users are searching, what they are searching for and their behaviours.
When searching on fashion e-commerce websites you will most often find that retailers will opt for those generic keywords like ‘Chiffon Dress’, this is great when users are simply wanting to browse ‘all’ chiffon dresses. What about returning users? Returning visitors who have previously visited your website for a browse will most often than not search for specific product names. When naming products, it is crucial that you are specific, for example if I am searching for a “Midi Dress” I may not find your “Ivana Dress”. Instead consider calling it “Ivana Midi Dress”. Boohoo is a great example of a brand that is doing this right.
Having unique meta data on every page is important for any site, for fashion e-commerce websites it is a very common issue to have duplicate meta data across product level pages. This could be because the meta data is automatically generated by the CMS. Ensuring your site has unique meta titles and descriptions enables you to ‘stand out from the crowd’ in search results, helping to enhance click through rates and conversions.
Particularly for fashion e-commerce websites a faceted navigation is vital. It is an important part of the user journey and is therefore a key part of your site you should consider. If you are new to the idea of faceted navigation, it is simply a form of navigation (usually on the left hand side of the page) that allows you to filter the results you see on the page.
When looking for particular items whether it be clothing/shoes or accessories the user will likely want internal search functions to narrow down their search. By doing so this will make it easier for consumers to find what they are looking for, increasing the chances of a conversion. When implementing faceted navigation you should also be careful not to generate duplicate content, instead offer a simple front-end solution to searching a page; ie. don’t let it generate loads of URLs which use parameters!
Site structure is also a key element to consider for any website helping to create a better user journey. I would recommend that you consider having categories based on your collections and trends in conjunction with product type. New Look is a fantastic example of this:
As you can see New Look manages to fit a lot into their navigation without making it look overcrowded and complicated. By doing so allows you to target trends but also related keywords and generic category terms. This will then cater for your visitors in different ways when navigating through your site.
You should make sure that within your CMS you have an automated XML sitemap function. You don’t want to be manually creating a new XML sitemap each time a product is added or goes out of stock. However, it is important that you don’t include URLs which you don’t want to be indexed e.g. URLs which are duplicates of other pages, but with products in a different order, sound confusing? see the next section on canonicals for further details.
Most fashion e-commerce websites will have the option to sort products by ‘new in’, price and other aspects of criterion. This is good for users but bad for search engines, if each time products are sorted in a different way they generate a new URL at the same time, therefore creating ‘duplicate content’.
Pagination can also create duplicate content issues which is where products are shown on one page or a number of pages. With all of this duplicate content, it can be easy to panic, but fear not, here are some best practices to help you fix them before they even happen!
The robots.txt file allows you to control what pages search engines access. You can opt you use a wildcard in your robots.txt file which will exclude all URLs with the term stated. Here’s an example:
This will ask search engines to ignore any URLs with the word ‘price’. You can do this for each level of criterion you wish to exclude. Something else to keep in mind, when there are multiple duplicate URLs, you can choose the ‘main one’ (or ‘canonical’) by looking at your Google Analytics account and identifying which version of the page receives the most traffic.
Just like you can exclude search engine access to URLs within your robots.txt you can also handle URLs with certain parameters. You can find parameter handling in the configuration section within Google Search Console. Parameters can get complicated, because depending on your CMS, they can handle different features on your website, so it is always worth consulting an expert before making changes. Either way, parameters are a common cause of duplicate content and should be addressed.
The canonical tag is a simple line of code which is placed on each version of the duplicate page. It is designed to let search engines know that you are aware of the duplication, but allows you to specify which URL you would like search engines you would like to index in place of the duplicates. The tag looks like this:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.example.com/” />
When dealing with duplication on your website, it is best practice to use a combination of the methods described here (as well as redirects) to ensure that you are leaving no room for error on your website. If your issue is caused by pagination you can try using pagination tags which work in a similar way to canonical tags.
When products go out of stock please do not direct them to another page. This is extremely frustrating when users click through from an external link, I have seen it many of times. Instead you should remove the product from your category page and amend the product page to display the product as out of stock. This applies even if you will be getting more stock back in. Although you should suggest similar products or even a link back to the category page to avoid users leaving the site.
It is important to have content on category pages as a standard practise of optimisation. This enables you to use content as a way to explain what the page is about. Miss Selfridge and Topshop are great examples of brands currently doing this:
You may sometimes look at some large e-commerce fashion websites and wonder why they haven’t included content. The fact is that big brands have enough authority so they can skip this and still perform well. For start-up websites this is a MUST!
Fashion e-commerce sites that have blogs tend to use them as a platform that is used to promote their own products. Great, but users don’t really respond well to posts that are purposely created to increase sales. Think of it like this, use your blog to provide content that you see in fashion magazines. This type of content is based around trends and ‘as seen on’ celebs, which your users will engage with. This also still allows you to provide links back to products now and again within your posts.
Please also make sure that you are linking to your blog from your homepage, it should be clearly linked to within your navigation. You should also have the same domain for your blog rather than having it on a separate sub-domain, if you want to gain the SEO benefits. Missguided is a good example of a fashion brand who is doing this well with its’ blog.
Link building for fashion e-commerce is linked in with PR practices. You’ll see that brands such as Boohoo and Missguided are keen on establishing relationships with fashion bloggers. Working with bloggers enables you as a brand to reach your target market, promote products and build links back to your site. If you haven’t read my previous post on how can bloggers help my brand? Then why not check it out and find out how working with bloggers can have a positive impact on your brand.
Social media is an important part of SEO particularly for fashion e-commerce websites. Make sure you have profiles set up across the most common social networking sites including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or maybe even Snapchat. These profiles should all be linked to your website enabling users to easily find you on your social profiles, however it is not enough to just own them; you will need to update them and make sure they are consistently used and up to date.
There are many ways that you can enhance SEO performance on your site, some of which are mentioned in this post. It is important to remember that you won’t see the benefits straight a way. It takes time, just like anything that’s worth the wait. If you are a brand looking to increase your SEO performance then why not get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.
I hope this post was beneficial and hopefully answered what you were looking for. Have questions? Then why not leave a comment I’d be more than happy to answer them.