Business Technology

5 keys to creating a top retail SEO strategy

7 min read

09 October 2014

Online shopping numbers continue to grow, but is your website up to par? Here are five top tips on SEO you can learn from the market leaders.

The digital revolution has meant big changes in every sector, but shopping is one area that has undergone a complete transformation. The Guardian reported an 18 per cent increase in online shopping in the UK this year, with shoppers of all ages making purchases on iPads and laptops rather than in store. 

With statistics such as these, it is not surprising that recent research has suggested that online-only stores such as Missguided and ASOS are significantly leading the way in SEO visibility in comparison to high street retailers. 

From May 2013-May 2014, Missguided saw an incredible 1,159 per cent increase in SEO visibility and ASOS saw a 40 per cent rise – all by correctly optimising their sites. As the world continues to adopt more and more digital practices retail success is becoming increasingly more reliant on ecommerce. 

What are some of the lessons in SEO we can learn from these successful online-only retailers?

1. Pick your battles

Retailers know that location is key. A well-placed shop on a busy street will have far greater success than a store hidden away in an alley where no one can find it. 

The same concept applies online. A low SEO ranking has the same effect as a shop hidden away off the High Street; if people can’t find your website they won’t shop there. 

When looking at how to improve your PageRanking it’s important to have a clear SEO strategy. For some online retailers this will mean picking your battles. Head terms such as ‘dresses’ or ‘boots’ are expensive and very competitive, however, with long-tail terms such as ‘black wedge ankle boots’ making up around 75% of all search queries. 

Find your niche and optimise your site for these.

2. Fast-fashion goes digital 

The majority of retailers spend significant money and time on the layout and design of their stores on the High Street. Not only does this reflect its branding and culture, it also provides customers with a positive shopping experience, which is easy to navigate. 

It is crucial online stores are given the same attention. The fashion industry introduces new designs into the market on a weekly basis, creating a new fast fashion concept. Therefore we now have 52 “micro-seasons” per year and the simple categories of Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter no longer exists. 

Spanish retailer Zara, for example, is delivering a range of new designs to their stores twice a week, while Topshop adds 400 new styles to its website every week. Customers need to access new garments quickly and easily in order to keep up with the latest fashion trends. 

With ecommerce growing every day, the state of a website is an aspect of SEO success and therefore fundamental to online sales.

3. Stay on top of the trends 

Keeping up with trends online is not just a matter of having products that are in fashion; it also involves optimising your site so that it is aligned with these trends. When a product is in style, people will be searching for it online more than ever, which opens up a huge opportunity for your business. 

Making sure you have all the necessary words optimised for this type of search means that consumers will be led directly to your website, resulting in more traffic and ultimately more sales. Keeping up with the fast-fashion culture, means being flexible with your SEO strategy, which may need to change or adapt quickly. 

Predicting what key words will be searched for will make all the difference when it comes to SEO. For example, there has been a 3,463 per cent increase in searches for “high-waisted bikini” over the past 24 months. Therefore make sure that your site doesn’t fall behind, otherwise it could end up in last season’s bin.

4. Give Google what it wants

SEO and ecommerce come hand-in-hand. Ensuring that you have great content and user experience, will inevitability increase your online visibility. 

Work with Google, not against it. Sites, such as ASOS and Missguided, were built specifically for ecommerce and search, giving them the online advantage. 

However if you’re looking to compete then you need to think like Google, this means providing quality content and gaining the consumer trust. Google’s algorithms are continually adapting to ‘how’ people search, putting more emphasis on natural language than standalone words. 

It’s looking for you to engage with your customer and create original content, rather than text written solely for search engines.

5. Embrace innovative technology

A key step to improving SEO visibility is to embrace technology. Pure-play retailers such as Amazon and ASOS are often early adopters of innovative technology, such as online fitting rooms and Prime Air and their willingness to test and invest in new technology has seen them gain the edge on competitors who wait until technology is proven before buying.

Digital innovations are shaping the future of retail and disrupting traditional processes to help retailers automate much of the grunt work involved with running a webstore. 

 SEO is the latest online process to benefit from new technology that is helping retailers to automate the delivery of SEO, enabling them to optimise for hundreds of thousands of keywords and quickly grow the taxonomy of their site. 

Retail technology is an exciting space at the moment and retailers must keep up-to-date on new developments in technology to be at the forefront of innovation.

Learning to navigate retail in the fast paced digital world is a massive undertaking, but is the way to survive in the coming years. SEO matters; currently online-only retailers are taking the reigns and are leaving high-street retailers far behind. The fastest growing retailers are those who have embraced the changing world of eCommerce. Learn from today’s leaders and reap the rewards of prioritising SEO.

Warren Cowan is CEO of OneHydra.