Beauty Brands Losing Organic Search Traffic To Publishers, Informational Websites

Beauty brands and retailers are losing out on a large share of the organic search market, because publishers and informational websites steal the organic share on Google.

Take skincare and haircare, for example. Terakeet analyzed 2,213,240 skincare monthly searches across 915 keywords. Six of the seven top markets that took top share were publications that do not even sell skincare products.

For the study, Terakeet analyzed 3,168 high-value, non-branded beauty industry terms that account for 9,393,580 monthly Google searches.

The sectors analyzed for this study include skincare like cleansers, moisturizers, and anti-aging creams; haircare treatments, styling, and tools; and makeup for the face, eyes, and lips.

Within the nine markets, Terakeet segmented keywords into two categories based on search intent: product, and informational.



The research found if Google determines that users prefer informational content when they search certain keywords, its algorithm returns educational pages such as beauty guides, tutorials, and best of makeup tips.

If Google finds users want to purchase something when they search specific queries, its algorithm will prioritize the category or the product pages.

Beauty brands and retailers are being outperformed by publishers and informational websites when it comes to search.

In fact, four of the top five brands within the skincare market are publishers and hold more than 36% of the market share.

Among the top 22 market share holders in skincare, 17 are publishers or informational websites, capturing 62.34% of available search traffic.

Beauty brands and retailers that once held a high Google organic market share are at risk of being outranked. In February 2019, Sephora had the second-highest market share for the Skincare terms at 7.7%.

Two years later, in February 2021, Sephora’s market share declined to 4.7%, and the company dropped to fifth overall in skincare market share.

When analyzing the 957,010 monthly Google searches on 296 keywords that consumers search on in the cleanser market, outperforms every major beauty brand and retailer. It holds 12.39% market share.

Byrdie holds 10.63% market share, and New York magazine holds 6.82%. All have a wealth of content on their sites.

Of the 296 keywords examined in the cleanser sector, 232 keywords or 78.38% were identified as informational and 64 were product-related at 21.62%. The informational keywords similarly represent 739,740 or 77.30% of the 957,010 monthly Google searches.

The top 10 keywords with the highest Google monthly search volumes in the cleansers sector break down as follows for products vs. informational intent:

  • cleanser                           60,500 
  • toner                               49,500
  • face wash                        49,500
  • cleansing oil                    40,500
  • face cleanser                   40,500
  • face scrub                       33,100
  • face toner                       33,100
  • best face wash                27,100
  • best facial cleanser          22,200
  • makeup remover             18,100

Which brands capture the largest share of searches with informational search intent?

It’s not that different from who is winning overall in the cleanser sector. Allure leads the way with 15.67% market share, followed by with 13.68%, with 7.69%, with 5.62%, and Sephora with 4.24%. Out of the top 20 market shareholders, non-retailers have 63.09% of the organic market share for informational keywords. See the data below for additional details:

Seven of the top 10 market shareholders are non-beauty brands and non-beauty retailers.

Organic search represents a significant business opportunity for beauty brands.

Why the major change? Prior to the pandemic, 85% of beauty products were purchased in person.

Since then, online cosmetic sales continue to rise 10% month by month. Identifying how consumers search online is essential for brands to enhance their digital marketing efforts.

Understanding the search intent for relevant keywords, especially when consumers want information and open to discovering new brands can help marketers improve brand visibility and enhance the journey for their audience.

One of the reasons beauty brands underperform in Google’s organic results is a lack of understanding of what consumers and Google want.

How can beauty brands position themselves to increase organic traffic when online search behavior is rapidly evolving? They must understand the behavior shifts by consumers that occur through the funnel.

What does the biggest mistake brands make?

Too many beauty brands focus content on marketing around selling products rather than informing consumers, so they only capture a small slice of the market opportunity.

Google rewards content at the top and in the middle of the funnel, not just lower-funnel information.

The upstream connection to the audience leads to brand affinity, loyalty, and repeat business, and we suspect also leads to a higher customer lifetime value (CLV).

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