An SEO Evaluation of UrbanOutfitters.com

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Urban Outfitters got its start in 1970 as part of a project for an entrepreneur workshop—the original idea was to establish a place for college and graduate students to buy inexpensive clothing and other items. The idea became a reality when the Free People Store opened in 1972 with a $5,000 investment by the owners, and in 1976 the name was changed to Urban Outfitters.

Fast-forward to the present day and the company is spending $110 million on a 200,000-square-foot facility in Pennsylvania to help fulfill the demand for e-commerce orders. Considering that they made such a large investment in e-commerce, we were interested in checking out their site and seeing how it stacks up in regards to SEO, user experience, and social media.
 

SEO

The first thing that stands out is that the site’s current title tags are not optimized to include keywords and other commonly used search terms; instead, they simply use category names (New Arrivals, Vintage, etc.). Because title tags are arguably one of the most important SEO factors on a website, this is a relatively high-priority item.

Next, we noticed that their URL structure could use some work. As is, Urban Outfitters’ URLs contain dynamic elements (for example: http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/category.jsp?id=BRANDS&brand=adidas), and everything after the question mark is not search-engine friendly. By simplifying their URLs to read more like www.urbanoutfitters.com/brands/adidas, they would allow Google crawlers to more easily pick them up and help them rank.
 

User Experience

First things first, on the current homepage the “Big Deals” banner is cut off by the rest of the page elements. While this may seem like a small issue since it is only a temporary deal, it is the first thing a customer sees when arriving at their website. Therefore, the odd cut-off when the customer scrolls down could contribute to a higher bounce rate.

Scrolling down does not reveal the bottom half of those circles.

Scrolling down does not reveal the bottom half of those circles.
Note: Urban Outfitters seems to have fixed this problem since this post was written. Kudos to them.

The Urban Outfitters site has a lot of character, which makes it interesting to click around on. One thing we like is that it appears they have photos for every color option for their products—giving the customer the ability to view each color on a model before they buy is important, and it’s not a feature all e-commerce sites have.

Reviews are important in establishing trust with a potential customer online. When a site has reviews it is estimated that 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase. Urban Outfitters’ reviews are somewhat hidden when you first land on the page, but once you expand them they let users upload pictures, which is a nice feature that contributes to the review experience.

Additionally, the overall checkout process can be optimized to better improve the customer experience by including a trustmark (signifying that it is a secure checkout) and better form field placements. According to an e-commerce case study in which the only change made to a site over 30 days was the addition of a trustmark, its presence led to a 14% increase in sales.
 

Social

We were impressed with both the size of their following and their active presence on Google+, as it is not all too common for brands to pay attention to this social network. We love the images they choose and how frequently they post on Facebook, however it appears the brand is simply “talking at” their audience rather than engaging with them and addressing customer service issues. Since social networks provide an excellent opportunity for brands to engage with their customers, this is an opportunity that Urban Outfitters is missing out on. Instagram is an important network for fashion brands, and they do a fantastic job of not only updating but also posting engaging content on this social platform.

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