Editor’s Note: The comments at the end of this article have indicated one of the companies mentioned in this post may not be as “white hat” as the author assumed in her research. We appreciate our readers’ feedback and comments on this! -Kelsey
There has been a monstrous wave riding through Europe’s search market and it’s crushing the competitors with the force of Poseidon’s trident. The brilliant search marketing conducted by companies like Zalando in Germany and ASOS in the UK reveals strategies to be mirrored, no matter what industry or market you are in.
These two domains have taken the Clothing & Accessories industry as their own and what’s even more amazing is their share of search. Inspiration from these companies can put you on the right path to great visibility in the SERPs. Just wait ‘til you see the tremendous advantage that these guys have over the mere fish in the sea!
ASOS and Zalando: Search Marketing
Let’s take a quick look at the search marketing situation in the Clothing & Accessories Industry in Germany and the UK.
This data refers to the share of search of each domain on January 20, 2014. Asos.com and zalando.de are showing incredible search visibility in several Clothing & Accessories categories in the UK and Germany, respectively. The percentages in the infographic are based on the top 100 most visible domains in each category and the visibility of these domains derives from the top 20-25 most searched and competitive generic keywords per category.
These two domains take the #1 position in the categories above and what’s even more amazing is the share of search of the next ranking domain. The graph below shows the search market situation for Boots in Germany and the difference between zalando.de and the #2 domain (which varies over time) is almost constantly about 30 percent. Do you think Zalando is lonely up there?
So who are these guys and why are they so good at being seen? Maybe we can get some tips to increase our own visibility and rise above the tide? Let’s take a closer look.
ASOS Reinvents Themselves
ASOS, originally As Seen on Screen Ltd., is a UK-based online fashion and beauty retailer that was established in 2000. They sell branded and own-brand fashion items almost all over the world. In 2008, they received high acclaim for their online store from famous magazines like Cosmopolitan, In Style and Maxim. In 2010, ASOS received e-commerce Awards for both Best Direct Retailer and Best Use of Social Media. I could go on about their awards and recognition online and off, but I won’t. The fact is, in almost 14 years of service, they have become UK’s largest online fashion and beauty retailer and Google doesn’t mind at all.
What Google is really happy about, is the augmentation of search engine marketing that ASOS underwent last year to make their website even more retail savvy. SEM is important for any company that plans to convert traffic into revenue, regardless of whether they are actually selling products online or not. According to Marketing Week, ASOS increased their digital marketing efforts in 2013, focusing on country-specific campaigns. Gemma Lovelock, Director of promotions marketing agency Lock-In Marketing, also said that ASOS made sure that their online store was accessible to customers from anywhere and with any device. You can find details about the search marketing strategies of ASOS in recent a blog post by Lara Vogel that compares brands and retailers online. They’re not doing so bad on social media either which supports their organic visibility with social linking.
Large e-commerce sites may find it challenging to implement good SEO, but ASOS has managed brilliantly. According to Ruth Attwood, SEO Manager at 4Ps Marketing, large e-commerce websites should “[c]ome up with a process for optimization, train [their] staff to do it properly, put quality procedures in place, measure the result of those changes, then rinse and repeat.” As someone who monitors share of search results on a daily basis, I can tell you that finding the right service to measure the results can be tricky, but it is definitely an important step. Apparently ASOS has done a great job and even managed the rinse and repeat with the unveiling of a new design for it’s men’s and women’s category pages, focusing strongly on product ideas and good content.
Zalando’s SEO Excellence
Zalando.de success all started in October 2008, with a small range of products from selected brands. Now, Zalando is live in 14 European countries and offers thousands of different brands. It won the 2012 German Marketing Prize for outstanding marketing performance and the 2012 European e-commerce award for best transnational online shop at the Global e-commerce Summit.
Zalando has excelled in many ways as far as marketing. They have poked around in social media, fancy TV ads, Google ads, and with the use of good content and linking, they have managed to optimize their page emphatically. I guess their idea was “go big or go home!” But it worked for them and it’s very likely that it would work for all kinds of industries. In 2011, Sebastian S. Vlasich of Business Development Strategies told us that Zalando uses social media to get potential customers to interact with them. He also talked about how they launched a new business concept, selling their own brand in a Pop-up store in Berlin, while offline, as an inaugural event for the brand. Although this doesn’t really have an effect on share of search, it definitely affects the brand’s recognition.
In an interview by State of Digital in June 2012, Alessio Madeyski, the SEO Manager of Zalando at the time, states that Zalando practices only white hat SEO as it is not a matter of the color of the hat, but what the user gains. “I strongly believe that the brand belongs to the user, not to the company. So we, as Zalando, are trying to do all we can to listen to what the user wants.” He prefers the term “idea building” instead of link building, as he believes in developing authentic relationships brought on by good content and creativity.
Now you know more about the monstrous waves in European search marketing and as you can see, there was no Greek God behind their amazing share of search. They simply followed the rules that we all know and aim to master. Of course, there was a bit of creativity in the mix and that should always be welcome. Gain inspiration from the success stories like these and use them as a guide for your own success, regardless of your industry or market. It might even be an opportunity for a little fish to grab a trident of their own!