In our market report for the women’s online fashion sector, we put the top 50 sites head to head on a range of metrics. From visibility to brand reach, opportunity keywords to online reviews, we presented you with a breakdown of the industry. We identify those owning the red carpet and those not worth a second glance.

But we thought we’d go one step further and explore the strategies behind some of those smaller brands. What it kicked up was surprising. Normally, we find middle performers in the industry looking to new techniques to compete. But it seems that with women’s fashion, the middle ground has gone back to basics. And it’s something you can learn from – whatever your industry.

Put simply, the teenagers of the women’s fashion industry have gone full smash n’ grab with old but reliable weaponry. They’ve doubled down on the keywords the bigger fish have let slide. Take brands like Silkfred, Quiz Clothing and NastyGal for example. They have all entered the scene through a back door and don’t look like they’re leaving.

Which back door you ask?

The one titled occasionwear.

The Quiet Yet Fruitful Path into The Search Landscape of Women’s Fashion

In terms of search, occasionwear refers to any clothing-based keyword prefaced or suffixed by an event. Think prom dresses, wedding guest outfits, festival dresses and more. They may not be the keywords you’re going to turn into revenue while the UK is locked down. But this is exactly why it’s an opportunity.

While most brands are focusing their attention elsewhere – lounge and homewear specifically – you could benefit from this page 1 backdoor and be ready to take on the world when it reopens.

To help you out, we’ve taken a look at Silkfred, Quiz Clothing and NastyGal who are all doing well in this sphere. First, let’s take a look at some of the keyword they’ve been successful with:

Keyword Monthly Volume
wedding guest dresses 67,000
bridesmaid dresses 57,000
prom dresses 56,000
occasion dresses 26,000
party dresses 29,000
festival outfits 16,000

Quiz Clothing and Silkfred are really the ones to watch here. They’ve both absolutely blasted up the SERPs and are sitting strong in the top 5, above competitors with greater domain authorities. Nastygal aren’t quite knocking it out the park on all occasionwear but they’ve gone to town on festival outfits and could be one to emulate if you fancy a piece of that pie.

So, what are these brands doing to succeed beyond their means?

Surprisingly its back to basics, which means there’s absolutely no reason you can’t emulate these strategies and see similar success.

The Back to Basics Approach to Women’s Fashion SEO

It’s always been a rule of SEO that content depth and product depth are a great route to success. It’s also a rule that if you want to start ranking, building up a head of steam on less competitive areas of your industry is a good place to start.

Quiz Clothing and Silkfred have done exactly this with their approach to breaking the stranglehold of the top players in women’s fashion.

Take a look to the likes of New Look and you’ll notice that it’s difficult to find any type of occasion wear when accessing through their website. And if it’s tough for users, it’s probably tough for Google too.

We’d assume the SEO guys over at Silkfred and Quiz Clothing probably noticed this too and decided that was where they’d focus their efforts.

In the case of Silkfred, they now have a whole category dedicated to weddings. It’s accessible via their meganav too. And when you land on that category, you’ll notice a H1, a small amount of copy and then links through to 12 subcategories – all centred around weddings.

Presenting these links before anything else is a masterstroke for proving you have depth. Dig into those subcategories and you’ll see links through to even more subcategories. The below is just a snapshot:

  • Wedding guest dresses
    • Summer wedding guest dresses
    • Spring wedding guest dresses
    • Maxi wedding guest dresses
  • Bridesmaid dresses
    • Red bridesmaid dresses
    • Blue bridesmaid dresses
    • Summer bridesmaid dresses
  • Mother of the bride dresses
    • Long mother of the bride dresses
    • Plus size mother of the bride dresses
    • Pink mother of the bride dresses

Interestingly, their meganav only points to the priority pages – 5 top of funnel pages.

  • Wedding guest dresses
  • Bridesmaid dresses
  • Mother of the bride dresses
  • Bridal and wedding accessories
  • Engagement party dresses

These look to have been chosen on the basis of search volume and wide intent. This allows crawl budget to be utilised as efficiently as possible, with weight given to the highest volume terms. Additionally, this strategy still allows the site to present a wide array of relevant subcategories of each of these landing pages. In terms of signals to Google, there are lessons to be learned here.

  1. Identify high volume categories which are difficult to find on competitor sites
  2. Use your meganav to boost the importance of those categories
  3. Start broad and then create subcategories to capture long-tail

Put simply, this results in a hyper relevant and extensive network of landing pages, all centred around one key theme and five key pages. It’s easy to see why Google love it.

And this isn’t an anomaly either, Quiz Clothing have done similar.

Take a look at the dropdown for dresses in their meganav. You’ll see a focus on occasionwear above and beyond all other dress types. Here’s a snapshot:

  • Party dresses
  • Summer dresses
  • Bridesmaid dresses
  • Evening dresses
  • Occasion dresses

Dig into those pages and lo and behold, we’re presented with further links through to subcategories and other relevant categories. Again, hyper relevant and extensive, offering way more than any of the bigger brands present.

Jump into Nasty Gal and you’ll see a link in their Summer meganav dropdown for festivals. We won’t go into the detail again, but they follow a similar strategy. All this goes to show how smaller sites can compete on big volume terms.

Go One Step Further with Supporting Content

It’s not all about landing pages and meganav placement either. Each of these sites are using blog content to push these categories that one step further. Silkfred use awareness content in the form of blog posts such as what to wear for a wedding. With these posts, they rank for a huge amount of low intent keywords, such as:

  • Dress ideas for a wedding
  • Wedding guest outfit ideas
  • Wedding guest outfit ideas trousers
  • Tops to wear to a wedding

By focusing on these low hanging keywords, they build solid foundations for their categories to jump up the SERPs. Within the first two paragraphs, they include a link back to their wedding category and show Google which is the most important page and which is supplementary. With this range, they promote the idea that they have expertise, authority, and trust within this subsector of the industry.

And there’s a hidden bonus here too: huge results on image search.

Image Search in the Women’s Fashion Industry

Blog posts such as the above are the key to using image search to your brand’s advantage. The what to wear to a wedding blog post ranks for 137 different image keywords. These range in volume from  15k monthly searches for wedding guest outfits, through to 80 searches for high intent long-tail keywords such as ‘navy dress for wedding guest’.

What’s more, these images link through to products too. So, they offer a whole user journey from Google’s image search right through to a conversion page. To ensure they rank, they use optimised captions describing the colour and style of the dress. At the same time, they allow their header tags to target the wedding part of the keywords.


Quite simply, the basics are working in the women’s fashion industry. While plenty are focusing on new search trends and getting lost in the midst of advanced strategy, there are those who are spying opportunities and taking them with ease.

Look to do similar – especially on categories where product depth won’t be an issue. You aren’t limited to what you put into a wedding outfit category and can therefore bulk out product depth. Of course, you’ll want your products to stay relevant, but you’re afforded more leniency with what’s deemed appropriate.

Finally, take advantage of image search too. There’s plenty of research into how image search is a route to market. And with simple optimisations of awareness content, using your own product imagery, you can create quick funnels from the SERP straight to conversion.

Fancy a quick run through of similar opportunities and strategies for success? Get in touch and we’ll complete a free audit identifying your biggest quick win opportunities.