At MediaVision we specialise in helping brands develop or improve their digital presence, and we partner with high-end fashion brands regularly. With that in mind, we thought it would be a good idea to create a blog devoted to how different Google algorithms affect fashion brands and their digital platforms.
Google recently released an abundance of information regarding Google Panda, which contains excellent advice that SEO specialists and digital marketers can put into practise immediately. Whether the goal is to make a site Panda-friendly or to fix a site that has failed the test, the crux of the matter is that if a website is filled with high-level, good quality content, Panda will be satisfied.
What’s this I hear about a Panda?
Simply put, it’s a search engine algorithm that demands quality content. Google Panda is a ranking filter that aims to penalise pages deemed to be of a lower quality, and it doesn’t take links, mobile-friendliness or HTTPs into account. Sites with better quality and more valuable content will therefore rank higher in the search results. Thus, complying with best practice guidelines for Google Panda is crucial when it comes to search engine results.
How does Google Panda impact high-end fashion sites?
The overarching goal with Panda is to create unique content for your chosen target audience, and content on a site has to be high quality and specific for luxury fashion brands to rank. It has to be the sort of content an audience will enjoy, find compelling or might see in a magazine. Hopefully they’ll also share it among friends and potential clients too. Webmasters, especially those dealing with fashion ecommerce sites, need to realise that even if only some of the site contains low quality content, the entire site’s ranking will be impacted negatively. However, depending on the amount of original content, authority and backlinks the site has, it will not necessarily rank lower.
The latest Google Panda update, together with the news that the algorithm is now part of the Core ranking algo, will have a tremendous impact on fashion sites. Websites containing lots of similar content, copied content from other sites and pages that are generally of a lower value compared to the competition, will have a hard time recovering from a Panda hit.
Do keep in mind that while Google Panda is all about creating valuable content that contains both text and rich media like imagery and video, luxury fashion sites are all about look & feel, often making use of photography and illustrations to graphically describe their products without including appropriate text-based content. In order for Google to effectively read and interpret any graphical content it has to be tagged correctly, which isn’t always the case when it comes to high-end fashion sites.
To make life as we know it a little easier, we’ve grouped together some of the most important things you should know about Panda and how it affects luxury fashion websites, especially in terms of ecommerce sites.
Content, content and did I mention content?
Google Panda could have some severe consequences for small and large ecommerce sites that haven’t been paying close enough attention to their SEO. Ecommerce sites with a large amount of products without accompanying copy will struggle to get the initial Panda stamp of approval. The quality of the site is hugely impacted by its content, and there are many different forms of low quality content, some of which will be discussed below.
In order to improve rankings, you will have to filter out and improve on any pages containing thin content. This is aimed at websites that have little or no product copy descriptions. Take a look at the Sacai oversized cardigan on the Farfetch site, for example, where the product description is minimal in comparison to Daisy London, which has excellent detailed product descriptions and is likely to rank higher.
Definitely another cringe-worthy concern. When page after page on a fashion site has similar content, Google will simply pick one of them to rank. For instance, if you have 10 shopping widgets on your fashion site displaying an item of clothing in different sizes, but with the same descriptions, you will have duplicate content problems. This kind of content won’t hurt the site’s ranking, but it’s likely that only one of those duplicate pages will rank. For a quick fix, use canonical tags. Google deems it best practice to fix these kind of content problems by varying all product and category descriptions, including meta titles and descriptions.
Copied duplicate content
Copied duplicate content revolves around the concept that the content displayed on the website is directly copied from other third party websites. This can happen when, for example, Net-a-Porter sells the same Roland Mouret items featured on the Roland Mouret website, and uses the product titles and descriptions directly from the original website.
In such cases, the duplicate content could hurt the rankings of the site that copied the content – even if only a small amount of pages on the site are using that copied duplicate content. An easy way to rectify this is by tweaking or adding a few descriptions that match the tone that the other website is going for. In the example below, Net-a-Porter gave a more detailed description, changed the title name and description slightly, and used a tone that fits their website and brand better.
Very similar to duplicate content, overlapping content occurs when different webpages on the same domain feature the same content in different forms. For instance, if a blog post regarding Roland Mouret’s new SS16 line is published, along with an article and gallery photos, all with duplicate text, headlines and title tags, removing or customising the text for each instance may very well be considered.
Deleting vs. fixing low quality content
A major issue SEO specialists face is deciding when to keep and fix content, and when to remove it all together. Many specialists do not realise that they could very well be shooting themselves in the foot by deleting older, less creative content without doing the proper research in terms of rankings. Webmaster Trend Analysists, John Mueller and Gary Illyes are both pro fixing content. In a Google hangout, John Mueller said:
“Overall, the quality of the site should be significantly improved so we can trust the content. Sometimes what we see with a site like that is that it will have a lot of thin content, maybe there’s content you are aggregating from other sources, maybe there’s user-generated content where people are submitting articles that are kind of low quality, and those are all the things you might want to look at and say what can I do; on the one hand, hand if I want to keep these articles, maybe prevent these from appearing in search.”
Of course, there will always be exceptions to any rule. The trick is to realise what will be valuable to the user if improved on, and what will stay spam even if amendments were to be made. If there’s thin content on your site that you want to keep, a quick fix can be to noindex it until you have time to fix it. However, if you are still serious about removing lower quality content, Gary Illyes has some suggestions on the subject.
Your content needs to match the search queries of your target audience
Satisfying the content expectations of a target audience plays a substantial role when it comes to providing quality content. Thus, if the target audience repeatedly searches for “Galaxy dresses”, and clicks on the link Google search provides, your responsibility will be to make sure that the page delivers the promised content.
Pages need to be identified where the search query doesn’t quite match the delivered content. With Search Console’s Search Analytics feature, you’re able to identify queries that lead to pages that provide overly vague or incorrect information.
A quick-ish Panda fix is to simply ensure that the site content matches the search queries. Start matching up popular queries with their pages to ensure that your site is delivering on those content query expectations. Although, you’ll need to put in a few hours to spot those under-delivering query types. Fashion websites have to ensure they deliver content on a landing page that encourages visitors to view more content, browse a little longer and buy a little more.
Any last thoughts on Panda content queries?
High-end fashion sites that are pro-SEO should embrace Google Panda. The algorithm will give these sites a running start, since numerous fashion sites are likely to be impacted by the thin and duplicate content they provide, and will drop in rankings. This will make the ones that do have good SEO practices in place rise to the top.
Feel free to contact us for more information on our award-winning SEO services.