To coincide with the end of London’s AW12 Fashion Week, Epiphany has released a study that looks at the most visible fashion brands in the UK according to search results.

Using data from five sub-sectors of keywords (fashion, clothing, dresses, jeans and outerwear), the company examined link profiles and tracked which brand appeared in relation to ‘key terms’ for the industry. 

When considering PPC, it found clear evidence that fifteen of the thirty-five advertisers featured in the report were running significant campaigns that were regularly running out of budget well before the end of the day.

Epiphany operations director Andy Heaps said that as you would expect, search engine marketing is a big focus for the UK’s biggest fashion brands.

Surprisingly though, very few are utilising both paid and natural search to full effect. We found multiple instances of poor PPC budget management, limited visibility in Google Shopping results and significant natural ranking opportunities amongst the leading brands. This shows that while paid and natural search command a substantial amount of marketing budget there is still a huge opportunity for additional customer acquisition through these channels.” 

The table of visibility below, according to product and online, was based on the percentage of available clicks that an advertiser can expect to get, given their position. So 100% visibility (either on organic or paid search) would represent the top position in the appropriate set of the search results for every keyword, across the entire period considered in the analysis.

ASOS dominates the market from an online perspective (largely due to how active it is in link building activity – plus high levels of social visibility), while New Look tops the league for product due to its large catalogue.

However, objectives aren’t always so broad. The study also reveals how specific strategies result in better performance, using Diesel’s success in targeting ‘jeans’ specific keywords as an example – which isn’t neccessarily reflected overall in the table.

The clothing retail industry is incredibly competitive, with high street stores competing side-by-side with catalogue retailers and online specialists for customers.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the search engine results – there are over 1m searches in the uk each month for clothing-related terms – and the value of a high ranking in the search results (either organic or paid) is potentially huge.

As such, the overlying conclusion from the study is opportunity, as you can see from the executive summary below:

  • The lack of brands using both paid and organic strategies to their full extent means more opportunity for brand exposure, especially since many studies show that there is little cannibalisation of traffic if a website has high ranking listings for both (aside from searches for the brand’s name).
  • This also demonstrates that brands have an opportunity to integrate their thinking on both PPC and SEO. 
  • A lot can be achieved by looking at which keywords drive successful PPC campaigns and whether those keywords are integrated into a SEO strategy. 
  • Equally, there might be keywords driving a long tail SEO strategy that fashion retailers might not have thought of for PPC. 
  • Clearly, both paid and organic search have advantages and disadvantages for fashion retailers, so it’s not all that surprising that different brands have opted to put most of their effort (or in some cases, all of it) into one or the other.
  • In most cases there is a real opportunity for fashion brands to increase their organic rankings for keywords appearing on page two or three of Google.
  • All of the most visible brands are actively engaged in link building activity, with even the least active still building hundreds of new links in the 3 month period that we reviewed.
  • Social signals are slowly being brought into search results; however social visibility can also have a positive impact on link acquisition. The viral nature of social sharing often means that as a brand, or one of its initiatives becomes more and more visible through social media, the chances of websites noticing (and therefore linking) also increases 
  • There are also huge opportunities for many brands to improve their Google Shopping visibility.

A full explanation for the methodology behind these rankings, and more detailed analysis of each brand’s position is available here.

You can also review Econsultancy’s SEO best practice guide, which contains everything you need to know about search engine optimisation, whether you work for an in-house client team, independently or for an agency.