Daily Insights

The Conditions of Search

By: Alizah Asif Farooqi | Aug 09, 2019

In styling, tutorial-focused, upper-funnel keywords are underutilized by brands.

Year over year, from December 2017 to March 2018 versus December 2018 to March 2019, average monthly search volumes for tutorial-focused styling terms like “how to style short hair” or “cute and easy hairstyles” grew by 6% according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Hair Care & Color. However, average brand paid visibility on these very terms decreased by 5% in the same time period. On these queries, Google’s search algorithm increasingly prioritized organic content. 95% of the search results on these terms were organic listings—up 13% year over year. Instead of doubling down on brand-owned SEM efforts in the styling category, brands should consider partnering with editorial sites to showcase their styling products. On these tutorial keywords, editorial sites like Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan accounted for 72% of total search results.

Brands have an opportunity to partner with editorial sites, as they often feature how-to content and articles with styling products. For example, a top search result for “how to curl short hair” on Google links to a video tutorial on Elle. com. Underneath the tutorial, Elle links to tools for creating the look featured in the video.

While brands cannot win on these terms themselves without building out expensive editorial content, they can partner with magazines, editorial sites and blogs to showcase their styling products. Editorials, eager to drive monetization in the flatlining journalism industry, increasingly offer paid placement opportunities to brands, with paid placements growing 13.7% in 2017 to a $8.78 billion industry.