ASOS: A New Strategy for E-Commerce SEO
A £220bn industry worldwide, fashion is a fast moving, infinitely varied and highly competitive landscape for SEO agencies and professionals alike. A data-led strategy and effective implementation can help companies from small high street boutiques to online giants to pioneer and maintain pole position in the E-commerce market, this can lead to an increase in rankings, users and total revenue.
ASOS, a Leader in Fashion Innovation
Certainly, for many, ASOS and more importantly its free returns policy has been a way of life for the busy young professional. The appetite to shop for new and favourite brands, signature pieces and all from the comfort of the sofa has proved very enticing. Users are increasingly opting for a fulfilling and evolving digital experience whereby high-quality images, interactive features and style guides along with many other cutting-edge features* take the place of visiting shops to fulfil our retail requirements. The dual wielding culture of browsing our favourite items whilst watching the latest TV fad or scrolling through Instagram has become a normality for many of us.
* Meet the Team – E-Commerce profiling, turning their staff and collaborators into body type and segmented style case studies, allowing users to align themselves with real case studies and buy the products that their fashion counterparts recommend and promote.
Despite these shopping habits for much of the nation, it isn’t all plain sailing for ASOS.
The company is planning to make some major changes to its Marketing Strategy after an 87% profit plunge in their last financial year. ASOS has commented that ‘marketing changes’ have resulted in a steep fall in visitors to the website and dropping search engine rankings. This statement immediately begs the question, what came first the chicken or the egg (or in this case do rankings effect visitors or do less visitors effect rankings) and is one more important than the other?
Have ASOS deprioritised SEO and are they now feeling the effects?
Well, yes and no. ASOS have seemingly tried to be all things to all people. As part of their 2018 marketing strategy they developed over 200 microsites in order to respond to customer queries through search engines in a more specific and targeted manner. However, this strategy has seemingly backfired as search engine rankings and sessions on the main site have fallen sharply.
As the microsites became more powerful, they damaged rankings of the main site as they cannibalise their shared keywords. In an effort to remedy the falling rankings ASOS has tried to implement quick UX fixes including; overhauling their menu navigation highlighting new products and releases as the point of focus for the user:
"We now have the tech platform, the infrastructure, a constant conversation with our growing customer base who love our own great product and the constantly evolving edit of brands we present to them," - Mr Beighton, CEO of ASOS on BBC News 10th April 2019
E-commerce SEO represents a diverse and infinitely varied, fast moving, segment of SEO, which is adaptive and constantly changing to appease users insatiable appetite for products and associate content.
|ASOS was able to segment its customer base with more personalised messaging and product recommendations based on shopping habits||Microsites cannibalized keywords for the main site on SERPS|
|The microsites acted as effective localised platforms on which to build ego-bait content in order to acquire links and referrals from key influencers about a brand or product||Search engine rankings dropped for the main site as microsites were remarketed to existing customers and socially shared more aggressively, allowing them to take the top positions and pushing the main site further down SERPS|
|Increases brand exposure and reach into fashion niche markets outside of the current ‘mainstream’ demographic||Microsites were constructed around singular brands or product types, therefore time on site and interaction rates would reduce along with exposure to suggested content or products, thus harming the E-commerce potential of the site|
|Authority is reduced on the main site as multiple low-quality sites send referral traffic to the main site|
|When linking through to the main site from microsites hosted on the same domain there is potential to create doorway sites which makes the site look spammy and untrustworthy to crawlers and is penalizable by Google|
Will ASOS live on?
In a word, yes. However, it is clear that having a powerful and well-developed site is not the be all and end all, even for a site as prevailing as ASOS. This is particularly pertinent for sites that thrive on digital culture and generate revenue solely through the web, SEO and an informed, adaptive strategy are paramount.
Despite these problems that the brand is facing the share prices are reportedly up 13%, investors in the retail giant believe that the brand will recover and surpass expectations swiftly following their setbacks. This confidence in the brand seems well placed as, on the same day (10/04/19) the high street department store Debenhams had been announced as going into administration marking the ending of an era of the high street giants.
We will likely see a lot of digital innovation coming out of the company and prioritisation of aligning of SEO goals with their general Marketing strategy over the coming year.