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A Guide To SEO For Sustainable Brands

by Ella Kynge | 25.10.2021

Over the last 20 years, environmental awareness and interest in sustainable living has increased exponentially in response to the growing anxiety around climate change. According to the Independent, 81% of British consumers are concerned about environmental issues since the pandemic hit. As people become more aware of the impacts of their consumption habits on the environment, consumer trends and behaviors, from what we eat to how we shop and travel, are subsequently adapting to integrate forms of sustainability. 

According to Exploding Topics, online search trends for terms such as sustainable fashion and sustainable packaging have seen a 210% and 123% increase respectively, over the last five years. As a result of this, brands must adapt to keep up with the demand for eco-friendly products, packaging and sustainable supply chains.

Identifying Sustainability and Eco Trends in Search

 In previous decades, marketing has focused on convincing people to buy what you make, rather than making what the market wants to buy. Today, businesses are beginning to see the value of being led by demand, and are spending more time and money on learning what consumers want in order to drive their product development. This is where SEO keyword research can be incredibly valuable, by showing changes in search volumes around different topics or verticals. Our retail survey backs up these search trends, suggesting that 67% of Brits pay attention to the sustainability and environmental efforts of retail brands. This highlights the importance of ensuring your brand is not only eco-conscious but also targeting the search terms in the right way. 

Using Keyword Research to get to know your audience

As well as helping to identify emerging or growing trends, keyword research helps you to identify exactly what terms resonate best with different audiences. One product could be wanted across multiple audiences with different needs and interests, so there could be many different search journeys to one product. On the other hand, a product may be of more interest to one audience over another. This is true within sustainability. 

There is a noticeable generational difference in the percentage of people who pay attention to a brands’ sustainability claims. Around 93% of Gen-Z and 90% of millennials actively research a brands’ sustainability, compared to around 65% for baby boomers and the silent generation. It’s not only the age that affects the way people’s search habits differ when it comes to sustainability but the platform people use to search and find out more about the brand’s credentials. Across all generations, online search was the most widely used source of information when researching sustainability of brands at 37%, with younger people, especially Gen Z, turning to Instagram and TikTok to find out more about a brand’s credentials. 

Graph to show % of participants most used sources of information to find out about retail brands sustainability credentials. 

SEO for Sustainable Brands

Whilst Gen Z are leading the way, it’s clear that across the generations, people are becoming more interested in ethical consumption and want to buy from companies that are genuinely protecting our future on this planet rather than greenwashing or making unsubstantiated claims. If you want to effectively communicate your sustainability credentials, further SEO tactics can be employed. Although keyword inclusion in copy is important, if you are just planning on trying to rank for keywords such as ‘eco-friendly’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘green’ then major corporations have a huge advantage over your new green company as they have a much larger number of backlinks. You will need to consider offsite work and technical SEO as well as content.

So here are some tips to ensure you take an integrated approach when building out your SEO strategy for your sustainable brand: 

Build Trust and Transparency (EAT)

Building trust as a sustainable brand is essential. According to FEDMA, 90% of consumers say transparency is one of the most important ways a company can earn their trust. A successful SEO strategy will help ensure that your website has signals of Expertise, Authority and Trust (EAT) relating to how your company is sustainable.

DON’T Greenwash

Be careful of greenwashing. Make sure any claims you make about your environmental sustainability can be backed up. Creating relevant content that highlights your industry expertise and being as specific as possible about what makes your product or brand sustainable is a good tip.

Create a Specific Landing Page

By creating a landing page dedicated to the sustainability of your brand it will highlight to both Google and your readers that your company is committed to protecting the planet, helping to build that all important trust between consumers and brands. 

Think about Search Intent

Do some research and analysis into the types of pages that are appearing in the search results for your chosen keywords and see whether the content matches the content you are trying to optimise. Using tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner (free) or SEMrush (paid) can help you get started.

Choose the right green keyword 

There are various different keywords and phrases that people search for in the sustainability space. Make sure that you are optimising, not just for the keyword that has the highest search volume as major corporations will have a huge advantage over your new green company as they have a much larger number of backlinks than you but also focusing on the one that best fits what you are trying to sell. Choose from high search volume terms such as ‘eco-friendly’, ‘reusable’, ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ and pair them with key products, pages and services.