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Has ASOS stolen the Holy Grail of Fashion SEO?

If you are searching for the Holy Grail of Fashion SEO, you'll probably look to the big player: ASOS. So how has ASOS managed to become the most successful fashion e-tailer of our time in just a few short years? In this blog I will analyse what ASOS is doing right and share some actionable steps you can take to claim a bigger slice of the pie.

ASOS Homepage

The Fashion Keyword Universe - What is the size of the prize?

The search volumes for fashion keywords are constantly rising and the industry is not only one of the biggest but also the most diverse search landscape out there with new styles, colours and trends every month. With a keyword set of 53k high street fashion terms and over 16.1 million searches per month, every little percentage of the market share is worth fighting for. 

It comes as no surprise that over 80% of the demand is for women's clothing-related terms whereas less than 20% is for men's clothing.

The most significant characteristic of search demand for fashion is that consumers are starting their research journey with the most generic terms such as 'dresses', before narrowing it down to a particular style or brand search term. Whereas 'dresses' and 'shoes' were previously sneered at as overrated vanity terms, they are now serious contenders for the top traffic drivers. And this is exactly ASOS's strategy. It simply monopolises these head terms.

What is ASOS doing right?

First of all, we looked at ASOS's on-page factors and the website's ability to create and interlink great content, to engage with visitors and build up a relationship with them in order to become returning customers.

ASOS Overall SEO Health 2014

From a technical and accessibility point of view, their website is certainly one of the best. We just have to accept that ASOS has a good website. It could be improved further, but with Google's constant changes this is to be expected.

Google loves websites that offer great content and user-experience and have lots of endorsements on the web in a way that compels other websites to link. Consequently, we looked at content relevancy, thematic depths and the use of standard content elements such as micro formatting, URLs, metadata etc.  

 ASOS Content SEO Health

ASOS doesn't only create great fashion content but also lots of it! The sheer amount of content on the website and the cleverly created thematic depths using fashion news is difficult to replicate quick and easily. This is one of the main reasons why the fashion industry is reigned by ASOS and maybe rightly so.

What does this mean for you if you don't have the ability to create this content?

There are obvious options for you:

  1. You can engage a digital agency to develop content for you.
  2. You can use your own resources or hire experienced bloggers or fashion editors to start creating this content in-house. 

Our white paper The Holy Grail of Fashion SEO goes into more detail about our analysis of both the fashion keyword universe and ASOS' website.

Conclusion

1) Pick your battles - a clear target strategy is essential

If you can't rank for head terms such as dresses, don't waste time on these terms just now. Look at search volumes, your stock, AOV, click-throughs and where you convert best. You can take this data from your Paid Search campaigns on a keyword level. Then look at your ranks and group all attractive keywords into SEO campaigns. Once you have these clearly defined, it will be much easier to focus and you won't get lost in the jungle of 53k keywords.

2) Get the basics right - Technical SEO in your DNA

Once you know your target terms, look at your site. Can you effectively target them or are they buried in the site? Do they have categories and how are these categories, subcategories, styles, colours and sizes set up? You probably use a facet menu that enables users and hopefully Google to deep-dive into your site. Your facet menu can be the No.1 culprit for duplication. Ensure that the same URLs are generated regardless of the order of the facet selection.

Reduce irrelevant choices such as price or size. Online shoppers know that they can narrow down their search once they are on a website. Serve this with an AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) functionality (since JavaScript can be accessible these days) and don't waste valuable Google bandwidth for nothing.

If facet results return more than one page and are identical, tidy them up by using the canonical tag to show Google that there is another version of the page.

SEO technology, like OneHydra, can help large e-commerce retailers to automate their keyword management and website accessibility, delivering site-wide optimisation at the scale necessary when a site has thousands, if not tens of thousands of categories. 

3) Engage with your customers

Your customers are talking online and so should you be. Content Marketing is vital and compliments your other marketing efforts. On top of this it is important that you have access to the right influencers.

The good news is that ASOS hasn't stolen the "Holy Grail" of fashion; it simply is a good website and has a fantastic integrated online marketing strategy. Its focus is in the right areas and SEO is in its DNA.

Download our white paper The Holy Grail of Fashion SEO for the full analysis of the fashion keyword universe and ASOS' website. 

Posted by Warren Cowan at 15:30
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SEO 101: Algorithms & Indexing overview

As a new starter at OneHydra, I am learning the basics of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO is often described as complicated, so each week I will share my understanding of the beast that it is to help anyone else who is also new to search and digital marketing. In the first part of the SEO 101 series (Or SEO101Hydra as we like to call it!) I look at how search engines crawl, index and rank content.

The 7 stage process

The phrase "Google it" when someone doesn't know the answer to a question or wants to research something, has now become common-place in the English language. In fact it's hard to remember life before we had access to unlimited, free information! But how do search engines (such as Google) choose which website ranks where in the search results we see? This post will explain how search engines crawl and index the web using a 7 stage process, and how this effects what we, the user sees:

  1. Crawling - Spiders or bots following links on pages
  2. Caching - Capturing an image or snapshot of the page
  3. Indexing - Storing the important information on the page
  4. Searching - The user typing a search query into the search engine
  5. Retrieving - Finding the best matches from the search engines database
  6. Ranking - Using a complicated algorithm and filters to determine a rank for each match
  7. Results - The search engine results page (SERP) as we see it

Crawling

The first part of any search engine's process is to crawl through the web. Imagine a robotic spider or bot, which simply follows all of the links it can find on a page to make up a 'web' such as the diagram below:

 Web Crawl

 

All search engines use bots or spiders to navigate around the web, and use internal pages and site maps to help with this process. Google uses a bot adequately named "Google bot" (Googlebot-mobile for mobile sites). With Google having around 68% of the market share globally they are by far the biggest player in search. However Yandex is the biggest search engine in Russia (their bot is simply named Yandex), Baidu is the largest in China (Baidu) and Bing also has a considerable chunk of market share in the US with around 19% (Bingbot).

Caching

Now that these bots have found all of the links on a page, the search engine now goes through the process of caching. Caching is where search engines take a copy of a page; in essence, an image or snapshot in time. TIP You can look at when any page was last cached by simply typing the website into Google and right clicking on the green arrow next to the URL in the search results and clicking "cached".

Indexing

Still with me? Okay, so the next step is indexing. The important information on the page is understood and stored by the search engine. It builds out a database of everything on that page; imagine an excel spreadsheet counting the words on the page, excluding the less important words such as "is" and "there" etc. There are 2 indexes, the main index and the supplemental index. Important pages are stored in the main index, with lower ranked pages (such as duplicates) being stored in the supplemental index.

Searching & Retrieving

So now comes the part we all know and love - searching! The search engine retrieves every piece of information they have in their index about our 'search query' and retrieves the best matches from their database.

Ranking

So how does a search engine decide where to rank a website? With all of that information in their index, why does a certain page get the privilege of ranking first? It's fair to say it's complicated. Google uses a long and complex algorithm with over 200 elements which can be seen below:

Overview Of Google 's Infrastructure 2 

As well as Google's algorithm there are also filters which help to determine ranking. QDF (Query deserves freshness) is one such filter which favours fresh content. QDD (query deserves diversity) is another which ensures there is a diversity of results on a SERP (type Hummingbird into Google as an example to see the range of results available).

Results

So the final stage is for the search engine to show the user a search engine results page (SERP), where we can see our ranked results from our search query, along with paid advertisements, images, shopping, videos etc. To put this into perspective, this whole process was completed in less than a second. Clever eh!

Posted by Jamie Carpenter at 11:00
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Closing the Gap on (Not Provided)

Long gone are the days of having transparency in our search query reports. Unknown (not provided) terms have been steadily rising since it was introduced - for most of our clients (not provided) now accounts from a range of around 76% - 85% as sites using Google Adwords continue to receive full keyword data (not for long though - read more on change to paid clicks).

According to recent research, (not provided) is now the second biggest problem preventing companies from being successful at SEO as they would like, just behind a lack of internal resource.

What is (not provided)?

On the 18th October 2011, Google announced a monumental move for website owners.  When a search is made on a secure Google Webpage (Https) and a result is clicked, the search term is no longer passed to the destination website, meaning these visits are simply grouped together under the term (not provided).

Google Analytics Not Provided

So, if we were to take a retailer - we'll say Currys - who (for simplicity in this example) received 100 clicks a month to their laptops page and Google withheld 80% of their data, they would only know what keywords drove 20 of these clicks.

Currys Keyword Data

Without this missing data, web marketers have been left with many questions……….Who are these people? Are they people I should care about? What are these search queries? Are these terms rising trends? Are they Brand or Non Brand? What am I missing?

After hours of trying to group data, setting up conversion paths/ looking into drop offs in goals, creating buckets or looking into attribution paths, still we are left none the wiser.

So what can be done to close the gap on (not provided)?

Using the keyword data we know, it's possible to calculate traffic attribution using a simple mathematical formula based on probability, attribution and estimation. The clicks we know about to a given page are added up, then the probability of each known keyword is then calculated by taking the actual number of clicks per keyword and this is attributed to the number of unknown (not provided) terms and finally this figure is added to the actual figure to arrive at the estimated number, totalling 100. I've used the keyword data from the Currys example above to illustrate how this work:

Currys Simple Keyword Probability Solution

The science bit

While this solution can help fill in some of gaps, it's not exactly a scientific approach. To validate these figures, it's important to also consider keyword volume, keyword visibility and long tail aggregation in order to weight and validate the probability approach.

One Hydra Keyword Probability Solution

For example, if we know that 170,000 people visited your site in May (31 days), that your average click-thru rate (CTR) is 1% and that your visibility for that keyword is 100%, then we can be more confident that 55 people arrived at your website from the search term 'laptops'.

(170,000/31) = 5,483.87 x 0.01 = 54.84

Thus giving you some confidence in the most likely keyword visits attributed to your site. You can use the same methodology for Conversions and Revenue to help calculate best guess ROI for your SEO campaigns. 

Keyword probability at scale

It's all very well calculating the probability for each keyword if you only manage a handful of keywords, but what if you manage thousands of keywords? The only way to work out this information at scale is to automate the process using technology like OneHydra that is able to derive the probability for a specific keyword to a specific page. With this information we then attribute back visits, sales and revenue to search terms, closing in on the ever increasing (not provided) gap.

Posted by Laura Goodacre at 11:47
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Is SEO just a pipedream?

If you are similar to most online retailers we speak to, you have probably been investing heavily in SEO for years, while very rarely seeing the return that SEO so often promises, but seldom delivers. 

You've spent vast sums employing countless SEO agencies, consultants and SEO specialists, so why are your natural search levels not as high as they should be, even with all the people, hard work and money allocated to optimizing your website? Is SEO in fact just a pipedream?

The team behind the development of OneHydra are SEO experts who plied SEO for years before concluding that the old process is broken. In our new paper 'The 4 key barriers to effective SEO' we delve into the four main reasons that prevent retailers from achieving successful SEO and offer new ways to ply SEO that help solve the SEO problem and finally gets SEO done - leaving you with more time and resource to focus on strategy instead of being engulfed in keyword administration. 

Posted by Sarah Ward at 12:30
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Improve the customer experience as a by-product of just doing good SEO

At the heart of any good SEO strategy should be the customer. Essentially, what Google wants is really simple: accessible and relevant websites that offer great content and an even better user-experience. In this week's blog I take a look at how user-led categorisation improves the customer experience, while being great for SEO and consider some of the challenges retailers face implementing this on their Ecommerce platform.  

When is an 'Army Jacket' not an 'Army Jacket'?

A recent fashion trend has been for Military Jackets. When we analysed consumers search behaviour we found that a range of different language is being used when searching for these kind of jackets. The two biggest terms being "Army Jacket" (880 monthly searches) and "Camo Jacket" (1,300 searches), with "Military Jacket" hitting 2,900 searches a month. 

User-led categorisation

Now imagine this is your site and your merchandiser has created a subcategory called Military Jackets as they feel that is what best describes these products and where you will get the most traction. However, you have stock in this category that could fall into all three keywords options - Army, Military, and Camo.

Creating new subcategories for both "Army Jacket" and "Camo Jacket" on your site that are all interlinked with each other, not only strengthens the theme of your Military Jacket page, but also creates thematic depth and a hub status for it. This potentially improves the natural search rankings for all three terms while allowing your customers to filter down intuitively from your Military Jacket page to the Camo Jacket page seamlessly. Not forgetting that the paid traffic you are sending to this page also benefits in the same way with the benefit of two new well-optimised, relevant landing pages for your Military/Camo/Army jacket campaigns. 

This logical approach to user-led categorisation is often ignored by large ecommerce platforms for the number of links or filers such as Star Ratings, but when was the last time you searched for a 3 Star Rated product that wasn't a hotel? They provide you with all the tools to get the content on the page, but quite often the focus is on the styling of that content with WYSIWG and page editors rather than the content itself. Clearly users engage with both style and content, but in my experience CMS's rarely allow you to improve the content to help user engagement when sourcing products or services at large website scale, without some manual effort.

Good for customers. Good for SEO. Good for you.

Now wouldn't it be great if the varying language and its identification that your customers use when searching for your products could be automated for every category you have? What if you could enable your customers to navigate around your site in a more fluid and intuitive way when browsing for your products and services, improving their user experience as a by-product of just doing good SEO?

Automating this entire process is revolutionising the way that retailers can enhance the user experience by serving visitors pages tailored according to what they are searching for, with more relevant products on these pages. Leading to new customers, better conversion rates and increased online revenue. And who doesn't love a win-win-win?

 

About OneHydra

OneHydra is an automated search marketing and merchandising engine that dynamically optimizes websites in real-time by monitoring and analysing user-generated search terms. Our technology empowers retailers to develop demand-based strategies that improve merchandising and significantly scale on-page SEO to drive more qualified traffic, increase conversions and grow revenue.

 

 

Posted by Chris Dunn at 00:00
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