While many beauty brands use artistic videos, celebrity partnerships, and creative social media campaigns to make a splash, others quietly leverage digital algorithms to gain visibility. e.l.f Cosmetics – whose SEO earned it a Flash of Genius spot in L2’s 2015 Digital IQ Index: Beauty – is one of the latter. It is the most visible brand in Google searches for color cosmetics terms, surpassing even buzzy brands like NYX, MAC, Maybelline, Make Up Forever, and CoverGirl. Without an over-the-top ad budget, e.l.f relies on the building blocks of SEO: clean product pages with clean HTML syntax that makes them easy to crawl, and search data.

What pushes e.l.f Cosmetics ahead of the pack is its integration of SEO data from user review vendor BazaarVoice into its SEO text, a tactic only 14% of color cosmetics brands implement. BazaarVoice reviews are parsed into machine-readable text invisible to the user, and semantic web concepts are used to add meaning to the page and increase page authority. Semantic markups significantly enhance a brand’s rank in the Google algorithm, and 62% of brands in the study use the technology to make their reviews more SEO friendly. e.l.f. employs other SEO-friendly tactics as well: Graphics are made with plain text and Alt tags are used across all product images to guarantee pickup by search engine crawlers.

However, none of these tactics would work without consistency. L2 research finds that all of the product pages analyzed on the e.l.f site implement these tactics.


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