SEO Activism: Detox Campaign by Greenpeace

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For years I’ve been a proponent of using SEO for more than just making money. Even on the Web it’s “people before profits”. You can’t just do business as usual when the planet and humanity with it goes down the drain. Still it’s a rare occasion that you see SEO being used for activism.

Not every non-profit organization is automatically working for the greater good. There is one though that is beyond doubt in this case: Greenpeace. Also Greenpeace has used SEO for its Detox campaign in a way that inspired me to write this post.

One of the reasons I write about it is the lofty definition of SEO Greenpeace offers:

This is SEO, or “Search Engine Optimization”, and it’s one of the few fantastic activist tactics that are native to the web. It’s not the online version of something which people were doing already before the internet.

The SEO here is just a call to action to webmasters and bloggers to link back to the campaign site. This is of course the easiest and best way to do it. Also it’s quite inclusive. Not everybody can donate money or take part in actual protests on the streets. Also many people might feel that just giving money is not really activism.

Last bot not least many actions are just too far away for most people. On the Web there is no distance and attention is the currency. Links provide and channel attention. Of course I’d invite readers to share the campaign URL on social media sites as well. On the Web the people have the power to change things and to direct attention where it belongs.

The detox campaign is surely worth your attention:

Greenpeace is campaigning to stop industry poisoning waterways around the world with hazardous, persistent and hormone-disrupting chemicals. Launched in July 2011, the Detox campaign has exposed links between textile manufacturing facilities causing toxic water pollution in China, and many of the world’s top clothing brands.

I think I’m using products by at least one of the brands targeted in it:

  • H&M
  • Adidas
  • Nike
  • Puma

These are just those brands that have already reacted. Greenpeace has already forced Apple to become more environmentally friendly so I’m quite optimistic that they will be able to stop the water pollution by these and other global brands. We know they they don’t produce or even design most of their garments themselves. They are all made in

  • China
  • Bangladesh
  • Philippines

The people in the countries suffer at least twofold, by ridiculously low wages and by environmental destruction.

These global brands do not have factories themselves. They even outsource the creative process. They only thing they have is their brand image. So in case they pollute the environment we can pollute their images with news about it. It’s that simple.

What can you learn from it?

You don’t need an expensive SEO agency to use SEO for activism.

Just ask and inspire people to link to you and spread the word on social media. Of course some advice from SEO experts is also sometimes crucial. In this case Gareth aka SEO Doctor has pointed pout that the campaign URL Greenpeace requested readers to link to has been redirected by a temporary redirect aka 302 which does not work for Google. So all the links using the short URL would have been wasted.

Does it work? Yes, Greenpeace is already at #11 for the quite competitive term [detox]. Ad some more links to your sites to push it up to the top 10.

Of course SEO is more than rankings. Personally I also doubt that people who are searching for detox are actually the right audience for this kind of topic. It would be better to optimize for the brand names of the companies that are responsible for the pollution. Once potential customers find out about the toxic pollutants their brands produce they may reconsider their purchase. This way the pressure grows.

 

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