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Lush optimizes website for organic search and sees a 15% rich snippet growth

“Semrush Site Audit is the first tool you want to use to make sure your site health is consistent."
Laure Hessin, Search Marketing Specialist, Lush Cosmetics

About Lush:

Lush Cosmetics is a purveyor of good, clean fun. The brand offers luxurious and ethical skincare, haircare and bath products, as well as unique gifts. 2021 marks Lush’s 26th anniversary of creating innovative cosmetics using fresh fruits and vegetables, the finest essential oils and ingredients that are ethically and sustainably sourced. Never tested on animals, every single Lush product is vegetarian, 95% are vegan and 42% unpackaged.

Business Challenge: Optimize website for organic search

When it comes to online presence, Lush Cosmetics, a global leader in cruelty-free cosmetics, didn’t have much trouble with brand recognition. However, non-branded search remained an untapped opportunity for the company until late 2019.

In November 2019, the company’s North American division welcomed Laure Hessin, their first SEO specialist. Her primary goal was to optimize the Canadian and American websites for organic search, paying special attention to the non-brand terms

Her secondary goal was to maximize the effectiveness of paid search. Lush is a company with year-round products that runs seasonal campaigns, so it was important to test various keyword strategies in paid search for each of them. 

Laure’s tasks for the following year were to:

Analyze and fix website health;
Optimize the core website content for organic search;
Run seasonal campaign tests for both organic and paid search to assess the company’s strengths and weaknesses.

Solution:

Site Health

Laure had a large scope of work ahead: SEO fixes and processes to put in place with the copy team. 

She started with a major SEO site audit: she knew that if the site wasn’t technically solid, content creation would be a waste of time. Laure ran a Semrush Site Audit, which uncovered thousands of errors, including:

URL structures errors;
Robot.txt, Sitemap errors;
Missing page titles and descriptions, and more.
 

“The Site Audit tool is super detailed. I like the way it classifies errors, it has definitely helped us prioritize technical issues. It was easy to export the error list and pass it on to the developers team,” Laure says.

The thorough work brought expected results: Lush went from 20,000 site errors in November 2019 to under 1,000 errors by November 2020. 

Lush’s total errors trend August 4th, 2020 - May 18th, 2021
The tooltips within Site Audit have made the job easier:
“What I really appreciate about Semrush is how instructive it is. If you don’t know how to tackle a technical issue, the Site Audit tool will always have the answer,” shares Laure.
In addition, the Site Audit tool proved invaluable in progress tracking: 
“Reporting SEO progress can be tricky. It’s great that we can see the evolution of our site health within Semrush, which is great for internal reporting.”
 

Content Optimization

A year after the launch of the campaign, Lush’s website was ready for fresh content. 

As a company with a distinct brand identity, Lush uses cheeky vocabulary for its products, like “Marshmallow World” bath bomb or “Honey I Washed My Hair” shampoo. While these names build a special relationship with the customer, they are not something a potential buyer would casually Google. 

Laure’s challenge was to “marry” the playful vocabulary with real-world search queries and product categories. A big part of her work has been educating the content team on how to include functional keywords while keeping the unique brand language. 

“My goal was to not only teach our copywriters how to use keywords but also why it is necessary, showing them what the end result looks like on a SERP. Once they understood the whole user journey, it made a lot more sense for them as a team that hadn’t been familiar with SEO.”

In her keyword research, Laure starts by entering a very broad search term, like “bubble bar”, in the Semrush Keyword Magic Tool. She then looks for its most popular variations.

“I really like the Keyword Magic Tool side filter. It gives me an idea of search intent and less competitive keyword variations,” Laure explains. “For example, after digging a little more around ‘bubble bar’ I realized that the intent behind the ‘bubble bar’ search query is more related to bubble tea bar than our actual bubble bar products (https://www.lushusa.com/bath/bubble-bars/). The Keywords Magic Tool helped me understand how to target relevant bath product related search queries, including specific keywords.” 

Sometimes, narrowing down the seed keyword is a question of survival: that’s what happened to Lush’s “face mask” category. Before COVID-19, it worked well as a skincare term, but the pandemic completely overtook the keyword. Lush’s face mask category traffic plummeted as Google deprioritized it both in organic and paid search results. 

“We had to become more specific with the search term, and the Keyword Magic Tool helped us find a way around it,” says Laure. 

As a result of this research, Laure puts together detailed content briefs, making sure to include broad high-difficulty keywords, as well as long-tail niche terms. Some keyword variations give the Lush team ideas for new landing or category pages to capture the traffic. 

To tackle featured snippets, the team developed “how to use” article templates for Lush products using Google’s structured data guidelines. This proved to be a great strategy that serves customers and drives a high volume of relevant traffic to the site.

Advertising Research

While keyword research is a solid foundation for paid search campaigns, it’s always a good idea to check the direct competitors’ approach to advertising. 

“I like looking up competitors in Semrush’s Advertising Research tool to see a convenient overview of their ad copy. It gives a different view on our own advertising and it’s great for benchmarking,” says Laure. 

Keyword Tracking

As the Lush team implements all the mentioned changes to the website, it’s crucial to monitor the evolution of the domain. Laure likes to deep dive into keyword rankings every week or two using the Semrush Position Tracking tool. 

“What I really like about the Position Tracking report is the data on the keywords and the estimated traffic that we lost or gained every week,” Laure says.

Semrush Position Tracking Overview Data
The Competition Map section of the report shows who is overtaking Lush’s keywords - that’s how Laure finds unexpected new competitors. For example, a lot of small local businesses have started selling bath bombs online and Lush likes to keep an eye on them.
Position Tracking competitor discovery

Results

As Lush continues to work on its online presence, the company has seen significant improvements in its performance between February 2020 and May 2021:

Overall click-through rate improvement due to metadata optimizations +2.1pts
SERP feature improvements since February 2020:
Rich result
        +15.8% Clicks | +3.42% Impressions | +0.8pts CTR
 
Review snippet (new in 2020)
        +2086.44% Clicks | +1096.9% Impressions | +2.5pts CTR
 
Product result (new in 2020)
        +25.69% Clicks | -10.2% Impressions | +1.2pts CTR
Paid search CTR improvement +2,39pts since February 2020
After running tests and including more of Lush’s brand values (as “cruelty-free” or “fresh cosmetics”) in the Paid search copy, the team noticed an improvement in click-through rate.
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