By Jonathan Moore, Head of SEO at equimedia
Every business wants to make it easy for new customers to find them online, but this is particularly challenging for insurance companies and as a whole the financial sector. When a potential new customer searches for a relevant term (like ‘car insurance’) it is difficult get your website to appear high up in the search results. New research by equimediahas found that 40 per cent of the top five rankings on Google for financial services markets are aggregators and consumer advice sites. The insurance product category is the most heavily dominated by aggregators such as Compare the Market, Money Supermarket and Go Compare with an average 3 out of 5 insurance search results coming from them.
The research looked at 3,000 of the most popular financial services search keywords, to examine just how much share of voice brands have across insurance and the other main financial services markets. The findings are part of equimedia latest whitepaper report ‘Is SEO dead for the Financial Service Sector?’.
This chart shows the ranking score, high to low in the insurance market for the top 20 websites:
The dominance of aggregators and consumer advice sites means that insurance brands are unlikely to have any organic search results visible in the top half of the first page in Google Search. Listings at the top of search results pages naturally get the lion’s share of click-throughs. The high number of aggregators and consumer advice sites in the top search positions increase competition and drive up AdWords spend.
The rising cost of “Googleflation” in the financial services paid search market is, thanks to the entry of the aggregator brands to new markets,pushing up competition for the primary natural search spots. This has been compounded further by Google’s latest changes toits Search Engine Results Page(SERP) layouts, where more adverts now appear above organic search results on the home page. Financial and particularly insurance brands have been left fighting in a saturated market.
To compete in this highly competitive space, it is crucial to know exactly what makes your brand stand out, and play to those strengths.
Even if you have the best website in the world, if search engines can’t find it, you don’t stand a chance of being returned on the SERP for relevant queries. Good technical SEO ensures search engines can crawl and interpret your website correctly.In such a highly competitive market, technical fitness is a massive factor that companies must address in order to be able to claim their share of visibility on the SERP for relevant product terms.
Before you can conduct on-page optimisations, you need to have a clear idea ofhow your target audience search. Although it is important to identify what you want to be visible for, you need to be realistic; a top 5 ranking for the generic term “car insurance” would be a tough ask given what the research uncovered about aggregator dominance.
Therefore researching the keywords that customers are using at every stage of their research to purchase journey is vital to understand where you could make content improvements that would deliver value.
Is the content you have fit for purpose?
Having taken time to understand your customers, their needs and the keyword search terms relevant to your products and brand, you can review your existing content with this knowledge in mind. This will allow you to identify content gaps and reflect on whether the current site content and structure pushes the customer through the site in a way that will provide a positive user experience and maximise conversion.
Once you have researched the market, assessed your own website and developed a roadmap of content creation that meets your business and customers’ needs, you will need to prioritise. Identifying key market events, business events, product launches and seasonality helps to align relevant content to key periods across the year, and will allow you to map out what needs to be created by and when. Content creation can then be scheduled and deployment planned over the year, including a balance ofcontent types which can target specific audience interests.
There are a multitude of tools available to track content performance such as Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager – the key is to ensure you are doing it.
The ethos of control, test and learn still applies to content marketing. Understanding content performance allows insights to be built around your audience and how they are engaging with your content, and informs your future content strategy.
With this in mind, insurers can make sure they get the most from the Google search market, keeping their brand front of mind for enquiring consumers.