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How are British fast fashion retailers building links to their websites?

Good SEO is crucial for fast fashion retailers. 

Many are based solely online meaning that getting traffic to the website is the only way to make sales. And with lockdown further fueling an eCommerce revolution, it’s more important than ever to rank well on Google to steer customers towards your website. 

In the SEO world, it’s undisputed that building high-quality links to your site is a proven way to improve your website’s position in the search engine results (read more on this here). It’s also widely accepted that the best way to earn links is through online PR, more commonly referred to as Digital PR.

So how are fast fashion retailers earning high-quality links? We investigated four online-only brands to get the lowdown.

The four brands investigated are: 

  • In The Style
  • Missguided
  • Boohoo
  • Sosander 

Product placement is key 

Fast fashion brands have one huge benefit when it comes to link building – the product. Ecommerce stores have the opportunity to offer product reviews and feature in gift guides, both of which are published frequently in online newspapers, magazines and blogs alike.

What are the benefits of link building through product placements?

The benefits of landing product placements are threefold:

  1. They get your product and brand seen by a focused audience which can lead to sales.
  2. They usually only cost the amount of product being gifted to the publication.
  3. A link is guaranteed. Journalists know that readers want to click through the article to buy the product they’ve just been sold. 


*Link Building Tip: When pushing out products to journalists, be sure to send them everything they need in your initial email. This includes correct pricing, timescales on deals, and hi-res images in a Dropbox link.

Gift guides 

Gift guides are a fast fashion retailer’s bread and butter. They are easy for brands to capitalise on and they’re predictable. Retailers should have gift guides prepared for all annual buying holidays – Christmas, Father’s Day, festival season, you name it. 

*Link Building Tip: Create a PR calendar for the year to make sure you’re capitalising on key retail dates. 

As fast fashion retailers can quickly turn around new products in light of seasonal events, it makes it even easier for them to provide relevant products to journalists. We saw this trend in many fast fashion retailers – for example, In The Style who landed coverage in numerous seasonal gift guides for their Halloween pyjamas (Source).

Fast fashion brands can also quickly and easily create new ranges to target different audiences and use this as a way to generate links. For example, Boohoo launched a maternity range which opened up opportunities to gain links from completely new domains in a new industry – parenting publications (Source). 

*Link Building Fact: Getting links from domains that you haven’t ranked on before is excellent for your website’s rankings. Your website will rank better if you have one link per website on a variety of websites, rather than lots of links from three select websites.

Tapping into popular culture 

When it comes to link building, you need to know about popular culture trends as soon as they’re on the rise and use them to your advantage. Journalists will want to weigh in on them to create current and shareable content – so if you can provide them with a new angle on a trend, you’ve hit the jackpot.

Fast fashion retailers use this technique, and use it well. 

One successful example was from Missguided. They saw memes about “jeans and a nice top” becoming the default answer when women ask each other what they’re wearing, and used this to create a new product page for the phenomenon (Source).

The brilliant thing about this link building stunt was the simplicity. All it needed was a category page built into the site, but made waves in the media as it put a new twist on a viral trend.

*Link Building Tip: Social media is a great place to find rising trends. Particularly keep an eye out for anything that you can tie your product into (think H&M and Joe Black’s Drag Race dress  – if you know, you know).

TV, specifically Netflix, is also a very newsworthy topic that fast fashion retailers use to promote their products. For example, when the hit show Emily In Paris sparked discussion about her impressive wardrobe, In The Style were quick to promote clothes to replicate her looks (Source).  

Deals for days 

Outreaching deals, particularly around Black Friday, is a staple link building technique for fast fashion retailers.

Customers are hungry for deals, and journalists are keen to provide. Therefore it’s crucial to get your discounts seen and included in round-ups which will earn some great links. We have seen this mirrored across all fast fashion and eCommerce businesses (Source), and more so each year as the demand for amazing deals around Black Friday increases.

PR stunts

PR stunts are a high-risk, high-reward technique for gaining press coverage. 

We know that fast fashion retailers can turn around a product quickly, and Boohoo used this to their advantage when creating miniature Christmas wreaths for your nipples. This stunt successfully coupled sex with a seasonal slant to create a product that earnt them a lot of links (Source). 

The expression doesn’t lie – sex sells. 

Celebrity promotions

Many media outlets have a team of journalists dedicated to reporting on celebrity news.

Fast fashion retailers capitalise on this demand for celebrity news in two ways:

1. Celebrity partnerships
Launching a clothing line with a celebrity will not only lead to sales from fans, but earn lots of media attention about the launch – including those important links. In The Style introducing an edit with a Love Island star is a perfect example of this, and one which is very on-brand for their customers (Source). 

2. Steal their style
Retailers can capitalise on press coverage of celebrities’ fabulous outfits by offering suggestions to journalists of how to steal their style – whether that’s with the exact piece of clothing or a duplicate. Sosander has mastered this technique incredibly well, focusing on celebs who are aspirational to their demographic, such as Holly Willoughby, Amanda Holden and Kate Middleton (Source).

Karma-based link building

Gaining links as a result of promoting your company’s charitable work is called karma-based link building. 

Fast fashion retailers don’t always have the best reputation when it comes to corporate responsibility. Therefore charity partnerships and products which fundraise will earn you some positive press whilst giving back. For example, Boohoo released a hoodie with all proceeds from the sale donated to Manchester Foundation Trust Charity’s NHS Staff Appeal (Source) which earned them some positive press and great links.

However fast fashion retailers must tread carefully. On the contrary, Boohoo was slammed for their “For the future campaign” (Source) which many argued contradicted their business model and got press coverage for all the wrong reasons. 

Conclusions

From our investigation, it’s clear that fast fashion retailer’s link building strategies have a heavy product focus. This is no surprise given the threefold benefits listed earlier, as well as the fact that these brands can have new and topical products made up for PR purposes at the drop of a hat. Though not all companies have this at their disposal, there are still many techniques here that can inspire link building strategies for eCommerce clients of all natures.

For more inspiration, check out our blog post ‘Backlinks and Brainteasers: a marriage made in SEO’ about one of our top-performing Christmas campaigns. 

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