Great Marketing Often Misses the Mark on SEO

Dove Real Beauty Sketches YouTube Page

Traditional Marketing and SEO have often been on the opposite ends of the marketing spectrum. Content Marketing is the vehicle in which SEOs are dipping their toes into the Traditional Marketing realm.  As SEOs, our goal for Content Marketing is to gain links, search share and visibility through the great content we put out.  But traditional marketers often still are not leveraging SEO as well as they could.

Case in Point: Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches

Today, let’s take a look at the Real Beauty Sketches campaign that just launched from Dove on April 14th, 2013.  This campaign featured a criminal sketch artist who drew two sketches of the same woman.  In the first sketch, the woman described herself.  In the second sketch, a stranger described the woman. The campaign sought to show women that they are more beautiful than they think.

When I first started to look at this campaign, I was not 100% sure what to type into the search bar.  I started with the search “real beauty” since I knew it was a part of the Real Beauty campaign.

Real Beauty Google SERP

From here I could see that the mentions for what I wanted to find all encompassed the words “real beauty sketches”. So that was my next search query .

(Please note: if you are doing these searches along with me you will see different results due to personalization and the QDF algorithum update)

Real Beauty Sketches Google SERP

It was here that I noticed the URL of the campaign for the first time.  As you can see, it is a paid ad and the URL is no where to be found in organic search.  I searched the first four pages of the search results to see where the organic listing was, but was unable to find a listing.  (This was on Friday April 19th which is the 5th day of the campaign.)

What is going wrong here?  There are clearly online mentions, but the site is not ranking.  After spending some time looking at the campaign, I found three fixable problems that would better allow this content piece to be leveraged for search.

Problem #1

As you saw in the paid ad, the URL for the campaign is realbeautysketches.dove.us.  I plugged that URL into the Open Site Explorer tool from SEOmoz to look at the links coming to the page.

I tabbed over to the “Just Discovered” tab and was able to see that the site did have 139 links coming from external domains.

Just Discovered Links

After looking over the developing backlink profile, I went back to the “real beauty sketches” search query because the page was not generating the types of links that the content should have been getting.

(Please note: this was taken on April 25th, a few days after the original screen grab)

real beauty sketches Google Search

The reason why there are so few “Just Discovered” links is because there are very few webmasters who are putting a direct link to the original source.  All of the listings on the first page either embed the YouTube video or mention the campaign in text only.

This got me thinking, “How many websites have actually picked up this piece of content?” I did a specialized search starting April 14th (the day the campaign launched) to April 25th (the day I grabbed this image).

Real Beauty Sketches Google SERP

There are at least 512 search results about this campaign spread out on the internet but very few direct links to the site.

Which begs the question: who is getting the online credit for this campaign?

The short answer: YouTube.

Yes, if you scroll up you will see various news sources also getting SERP real estate over the original source; however, you will also see that YouTube is the first organic listing.

This makes sense since almost all of the websites on the first page have embedded that YouTube video.

Let us now take a look at Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches YouTube page.

Dove Real Beauty Sketches YouTube Page

It is wildly successful with over twenty eight million views and over eight thousand comments.  But there is a huge problem with this page and it is underlined in red.

Problem #2

The URL in the description is dove.com/realbeautysketches; however, it resolves to realbeautysketches.dove.us.  Though this is not where the content is located when you go to the site, if it is correctly implemented through 301 redirects this would not have any SEO issues.

To verify the 301 implementation, I turned to my coworker and this is what we found:

Dove Redirects

Basically, dove.com/realbeautysketches gets 301 redirected to www.dove.com/realbeautysketches which gets 301 redirected to realbeautysketches.dove.com which then gets 302 redirected to where the campaign actually lives. Here is another visual to better see what happens when you go to dove.com/realbeautysketches.

Dove Redirects

When you use a 302 redirect it passes none of the link value goes to the site you are redirecting.

Though YouTube links are nofollowed, users can still see the URL and potential link to it without ever knowing that it resolves to realbeautysketches.dove.us.

Problem #3

Also, the 302ed page is also being indexed in search as seen below.

realbeautysketches.dove.com   Google Search

The URL that is linked in the YouTube page is also being indexed:

dove.com/realbeautysketches Google Search

This raised some questions for me as I was writing this (feel free to leave your thoughts on these in the comment section).

  1. Should Dove had placed the video on their site?
  2. Would that have crashed their site?
  3. Does putting the video on YouTube because it will rank offer more value than putting it on their site and getting links?
  4. Why market Dove.com if it 301s to Dove.us?

What to do to fix these three problems

Problem #1: Lots of mentions, but few links

Solution #1: Ask for a link

It’s a pretty simple solution that tends to get left behind by a lot of content marketers.  In many cases, we work hard to get the desired placement for our content but drop the ball when it comes to checking up on it weeks later.

A best practice is to build into every content marketing project set times that you will go back and see if there were any organic pick-ups.  If webmasters use your content but don’t link to you, then send them a quick email.

email template

A best practice is to add the page you found the content on and the URL of the link you want the webmaster to use.  Making it as easy as possible for the webmaster will help your chances of getting them to add the link.  Also, you will find that some webmasters will email you back telling you they have done it.  Send a thank you back so that if you ever want placement on their site again, they will remember you.

In Dove’s case, since there are a lot of mentions and not a lot of links, I would prioritize the list based on:

  1. Site Authority
  2. Social Signals (are people going to that site and sharing on their social networks)
  3. Comments (are people talking on this page)

Then put that into a spread sheet and start finding a way to contact the webmaster or author of the post.

Problem #2: Link Value stops at realbeautysketches.dove.com

Solution #2: Implement 301 redirect to realbeautysketches.dove.com so that it passes link value to realbeautysketches.dove.us

Problem #3: Multiple URLs ranking for the same content

Solution #3: Put a noindex meta tag on dove.com/realbeautysketches and realbeautysketches.dove.com.

There are things that both sides of the marketing spectrum do well.  Traditional marketers can create these amazing campaigns that go viral on the internet and SEOs can leverage their technical knowledge and make sure their work is getting the credit.  Imagine what would happen if you married these two sides of marketing together towards one brand.

Great Marketing Often Misses the Mark on SEO, 5.0 out of 5 based on 4 ratings

Comments

  1. Laura Lippay

    Love this dig & cant wait to see more. Even big Ad/Marketing agencies that buy up SEO companies still *quite often* fail to integrate SEO into overall campaigns. Boo.
    Looking forward to a world when…

  2. Kate

    LOVE how thorough and clear this article is — just sent out to the SEO team at our agency. Thanks, guys!

  3. RB

    That is a really detailed review of their SEO and marketing campaign, thanks for sharing the info. Your article drew attention because I cannot get my marketing department to spend money on SEO, although they are willing to spend thousands of dollars on print ads that people don’t even look. Unbelievable …

  4. Phil Nottingham

    Awesome analysis Jenneva,

    I just discovered this campaign and Hannah (who sits next to me) suggested I have a look at your post.

    There’s no excuse for the redirect chain, that’s just bad – but I find myself conflicted concerning what the appropriate action should have been here in terms of video hosting. While keeping the content secured to their site, rather than YouTube may have got more links – this video was just made to fly socially and for that, the branding benefits of seeding through YouTube probably outweigh the potential link equity that could have been generated if they’d secured it. The PR agency clearly failed at not getting links with the media coverage secured, but I wonder how many more links they would have been able to acquire with a different hosting strategy? I think… probably not that many. While the content is awesome for social and PR, I’m struggling to think off-hand about many authoritative sites who would embed it otherwise and for the social traction gained by using YouTube (where stuff is much more sharable vs a page on their site) it’s probably a reasonable trade-off.

    Food for thought though!

    Cheers,
    Phil

  5. Danny Howard

    Hi Jenneva,

    Great post, really interesting data… Nicely in depth walkthrough of how to do it.

    It’s amazing how making a simple 301 redirect can have a huge impact on the SEO.

    Cheers

    Danny