SEO for Your Online Clothing Store and Apparel Company – 5 Online Marketing Tips to Try On
One of the most exciting things about the rise of the world wide web is the positive impact that it has had on the collective entrepreneurial spirit. This is especially true for the boutique clothing and apparel industry. Online shops are popping up everywhere and for good reason. Recent data shows that millennials aged 25 to 34 are more likely than any other generation to spend the bulk of their clothing budget online. There’s never been a better time to hock your t shirts, hats, hoodies, sneakers and whatever else you deem a good fit for outfitting america.
That being said, most online clothing startups fail. There are a variety of reasons for this. Among the most overlooked ones, is search engine optimization. While you need to have your functional eCommerce elements in order (product display, sizing translation, shopping cart, shipping, etc.), none of it will matter if your intended audience can’t find you online in the first place. That’s what this article is about – getting your online clothing store and apparel company to rank better on search engines. Try the following on for size and your cool new clothing brand will grow.
5 SEO Tips to Get Your Online Clothing and Apparel Brand on Google Page One
1. Own Your Theme with Longtail Keywords
Don’t try to rank for general keyword themes. While “cool t shirt company” may sum up your goals, attempting to climb up Google for that expression is as fruitless as Fruit of the Loom hoping for the same. You’re in a VERY competitive market. But since clothing and apparel is steeped in creativity, you can find your place on Google by zeroing in on your niche.
I’m going to use one of my favorite t-shirt brands, Project X, as an example. They are a San Jose CA based fitness apparel brand with some pretty random designs. One running theme, is Hawaiiana, referencing various aspects of Hawaiian culture. They have gym gear featuring pineapple, tiki, shaka, and ohana designs (among others). If you Google search “Hawaiian fitness apparel“, which is indeed searched up to one-hundred times per month, you will find them on Page One. They have nailed a very unique niche. It may not be as financially lucrative as nationally ranking for “fitness apparel”, but it’s viable (unlike the pipe dream of “fitness apparel”) because they found a niche. By embracing this unique nook in fitness fashion they have to opportunity to rank and attract VERY qualified traffic. Think about it, if someone is searching for “Hawaiian fitness apparel” they are FAR MORE LIKELY to make a purchase than someone who is searching for “fitness apparel”.
2. Watch Out for Canonical Concerns
This is one of the biggest SEO concerns for eCommerce apparel brands. The issue is commonly born from when there are many variations in sizes, colors, and designs.
For example, let’s say that you’ve optimized the page for your most popular shirt, adding a product description, title tag, and h1 tag (the technical meta-data used for your keyword targets). Now let’s say that your most popular shirt comes in blue, green, and gray. Your eCommerce plugin will generate a unique URL for each version (blue, green, and gray). The problem when this happens, is that each URL will carry the exact same product description, title tag, and h1 tag. This creates duplicate content. Duplicate content, is frowned upon by Google and can result in a drop in search engine rank via an algorithm penalty, even if unfairly so (as you are doing nothing malicious).
While this can be addressed manually when you only sell a few items, the issue is compounded exponentially with each product variation in your apparel eStore. If your fashion line is a big one, the technical labor required to fix this will have you dipping into hourly resources you may not have. Thankfully, there is a solution. Canonicalization.
Implement canonical tags to indicate which product pages you want indexed by Google. In the example above, you may choose your best seller, the blue shirt, and use the canonical tag to tell Google that the URL with the blue shirt is the only one among the three that they should pay attention to. You can indicate the preferred URL using what is known as the
rel="canonical" link element.
Suppose you want
https://coolsurfshirts.com/tshirts/hawaiian/blue/ (and not https://coolsurfshirts.com/tshirts/hawaiian/green/ or /gray/) to be the preferred URL. Your developer can demonstrate this to Google via the following:
- Add a
<link>element with the attribute
<head>section of each of these pages: <link rel=”canonical” href=”https://coolsurfshirts.com/tshirts/hawaiian/blue” />
This dictates the preferred URL to use to access the blue shirt, so that the search results will be more likely to show users that URL structure. This removes the duplicate content issue.
What seemed like a very complicated and concerning problem can be cleaned up with well placed canonical tags.
3. Add Detailed Product Descriptions (w/Sizing Charts)
There is only one reason I don’t shop for clothing too often online – fit. I’ll froth over how awesome a t-shirt design is, but am afraid to pull the trigger because I simply can’t tell what the fit is like without a detailed description. S/M/L/XL doesn’t cut it.
But when a brand goes above and beyond with their product description, I’m in. Let me circle back to the Project X brand I addressed in item #1 (no, I don’t get free swag to promote them). They include one of the most detailed sizing charts I’ve ever come across. It provides info on the t-shirt model’s body type along with size by size dimensions including shoulder length, body length from hips, sleeve length, and every other element I could ever need to know without being there to physically try on the t-shirt. This is all in addition to high-resolution photos and background stories that inspire each design.
Include the following for each product description in your apparel eStore:
- Front, back, and side image of a typical “model” wearing the item
- Brief paragraph description of the item, including information on the fabric and how it wears on the body
- Link to a comprehensive sizing chart using a #pagejump function that takes the user to the exact spot relevant to the item they are referencing
Not only does all of the above add SEO content value, it serves the best interests of potential customers who visit your site. And since Google states that user experience should be placed above all else, they will take note and may reward you accordingly, with a boost in search engine rank.
4. Add Product Review Functionality
This brings us back to user experience. People like to see reviews. Serve them, and gain Google’s favor. Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Online review plugins are common to most eCommerce platform app stores, including Shopify. By installing a review plugin in, you add potential SEO value to each product page. Each positive review and followup engagement (user comments on reviews, etc.) sends positive signals to search engines. These signals provide extra fuel for each respective product page, and can be the difference maker when attempting to rank against a competitor who does not have the same level of positive engagement. Give satisfied customers a voice on your apparel eCommerce site and they will be heard by Google.
5. Take Advantage of Social Media Signals
Search any common hashtag on Instagram and you will find clothing and apparel brand photos in the newsfeed. They understand the value of social media as a means to spread online word of mouth, and to even make sales. But this social exposure also has an impact on your SEO.
It all really started back in 2015-16, when it was finally reported that social media had a cause and effect relationship with search engine rank. Back then, there was an estimated correlation of 3.98/10 (1 being not influential to search rank while to 10 is considered highly influential). Here in 2017-18, that number is likely greater, even if there is no hard value attributed to the combo of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram likes, comments, and/or shares. The most recent figures on local search engine ranking factors attribute 4% of rank to social media. But as an online clothing store, you’re probably more concerned about ranking nationally and/or internationally. To this I say that you should assume that social media accounts for even more, given the role of social media in branding and how branding is becoming more important to SEO.
You see, back in 2014, Google filed the Panda patent. Within the convoluted document was a clear reference to the concept of implied links, which upon dissection, would indicate the importance of online brand mentions (without links) as a ranking factor. Social exposure increases the opportunity for brand mentions and therefore search engine rank, even if indirectly. Need an example? I discovered Project X (as per item #1 above) on Instagram. Now here I am referencing them in this article, providing them with that oh-so-important brand mention.
Beyond the indirect connection of social media, brand mentions, and SEO, I firmly believe that social media has a direct impact on SEO. This is based on “all else is equal” logic. If you and a competitor are neck and neck in ranking for a lucrative keyword target, with the same technical architecture, backlink profile, and brand recognition, and yet one of you has significantly more social profile engagement (likes, comments, follows, shares) then social media may very well be the difference maker. What’s the worst that can happen even if this wasn’t the case? You will have still made a very positive leap with your overall online brand exposure.
Take the next step towards putting your online clothing store and apparel company on the top of Google. Simply contact me directly for questions regarding your website marketing plan and we’ll make it happen.
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