Having worked at a J.Crew store awhile back and now working as a project manager at a reputable SEO firm, I want to shine some light on how heavily branded and well-recognized retail shopping sites can benefit from SEO.
I know I have spent a fair amount of time (and money) shopping online, and usually, because of heavy advertising and branding, I choose a few recognizable retailers and go directly to their websites. But now I’m curious. I need a new suit for an upcoming meeting – so let’s see if any of those well-known retailers know how to get me through the virtual front door. I search for “women’s business suits” and “women’s suiting” on Google. To keep this study relatively simple, I only consider the top ten results for my searches.
For the term “women’s business suits” I get some recognizable name brands in the paid results, including Ann Taylor and Liz Claiborne. But on the natural side, I get some interesting results. The first natural listing for “women’s business suits” is www.vintagevixen.com, which seems to specialize in vintage clothing for women. Not what I am looking for when meeting potential clients. The second result seems to be a sort of online department store: www.nextag.com. Again, I am WAY to impatient to even physically shop in a department store; I’m not interested in shopping online in one either.
The rest of the results include information about how to shop for women’s business suits, and plenty of price comparison sites and such. Exploring the natural listings is like walking a shopping mall that’s missing the popular anchor stores. Not interested. Sorry. I apologize for the inability to widen my perspective on brands, but where are J.Crew, Banana Republic, and other mid-priced brands? I know I will like these suits, I know they fit me, and I know their quality.
Frustrated with these results, I search “women’s suiting” (Actually, I’m cheating because I know this is what J.Crew calls its women’s suits – I am testing them). Okay, they pass – J.Crew is the first natural result – although I am sure this has nothing to do with SEO. Looking down my list of natural results, I see JCPenny, Blue Fly (seller of overstocked and outdated designer threads), some comparison shopping sites, and a little further down the list, Target. My paid results include, who else but Ann Taylor – and another site called Ladies Church Suits.
Now, my only problem with this is that the term “women’s business suits” is searched almost 100% more often than “women’s suiting“!
Again, branding is an important consideration when speaking of online shopping sites, however, it’s not the complete picture. Many, many retail firms do have good branding and recognition within their industry, but also would like to increase their customer base. SEO can do this!
I am confident in J.Crew’s ability to increase its online recognition. After a quick analysis of J.Crew’s site, I find that basic, common knowledge SEO tips could help the situation. The site has technical issues that could hinder a proper site crawl, but I say there is potential. Regardless, my first suggestion would be a simple investigation into what keyword terms people are actually searching and go from there.
Until then J.Crew, please, please keep making jeans that fit me.