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Price comparison sites are renowned for having some of the most high profile, and downright irritating, marketing campaigns.

And a new report from Epiphany shows that this visibility is mirrored online, where comparison sites are outperforming high street banks in SEO.

It’s a trend we’ve seen before with data which showed that Money Supermarket outperforms banks for key financial search terms, while a separate report found that CompareTheMarket is top performing financial brand on social media.

In Epiphany’s Financial Services Sector Report 2013, the visibility is calculated based on: 

  • The number of times a domain appears in the search engine results page (SERPs) across the keyword set.
  • Its prominence within those SERPs (a higher ranking equates to a higher visibility score).
  • The competitiveness of the keyword (higher search volumes equate to a higher visibility score).

These tables show the 20 most visible financial service sites for paid and organic search, according to Searchmetrics. The full report includes analysis of both tables, but here I’ll just look at what has impacted the organic search results.

More than half of the most visible brands listed are online-only brands, with comparison sites featuring prominently.

Money Supermarket is the clear leader in terms of overall visibility, being the most visible for paid search and second most for organic search.

Money Supermarket also recently acquired Money Saving Expert, so it’s dominance of this industry in terms of search is even greater than these rankings suggest.

Organic search visibility

According to the report, the financial services sector has traditionally been dominated by relatively small numbers of high-volume keywords. For example, the keyword ‘credit cards’ makes up more than 20% of all searches related to credit cards.

The following table lists the 20 most visible financial services websites in organic search (Money Saving Expert being ranked most visible, Aviva being 20th most visible) based on Searchmetrics’ ‘organic visibility score’.

It also shows the number of potentially traffic-driving keywords each website was found ranking in the top 100 for.

Money Saving Expert dominates the list both in terms of overall visibility and the number of keywords it’s visible for, however the data shouldn’t be considered in isolation.

For example, Barclay’s is the fifth most-visible yet appears on 22,000 keywords, while This Is Money is ranked sixth but appears for 63,228 keywords.

This suggests that Barclays is either targeting keywords with higher search volumes, has higher rankings overall, or both.

Domain authority

Using SEOmoz’s domain authority (DA) metric, Epiphany has worked out the DA of the most visible sites in the sector in order of organic search visibility ranking.

Overall the DA for the sites listed is generally very high, which reflects how advanced the financial services sector is when it comes to online marketing and SEO.

Also, as expected the trend shows that the sites with higher organic visibility generally have a higher DA, though there are a few notable exceptions.

Money.co.uk, Compare the Market, Tesco Bank and Gocompare.com al have relatively low DA considering their organic visibility.

It’s likely this has been overcome thanks to a combination of well-structured websites, extensive content strategies and targeting link acquisition.

Link acquisition

Link building is one of the fundamentals of an SEO strategy, and this chart shows how many new links each of the websites acquired over a 60-day period according to Majestic SEO.

For context it is set against the total number of linking domains and DA.

It shows a correlation between the visibility of a website and the number of links it has acquired in the past 60 days. The report notes that this is a correlation not causation.

The sites with the most links (both overall and newly acquired) are Money Saving Expert, Money Supermarket, Which? and This Is Money. These are all sites that are very content and/or consumer-focused. As a result, much more of their content is likely to be naturally shared and linked to.

Social media visibility

While social sharing metrics have a relatively small direct impact on organic rankings, it is an increasingly important channel for new business and can aid link acquisition.

This graph shows that relative visibility of each of the websites in key social networks using Searchmetrics’ social visibility score.

The score is calculated using metrics such as Facebook likes and share of URLs, tweets and retweets, and visibility on Google+.

Money Saving Expert and Confused.com lead the way in social visibility, with significantly higher scores than their competitors. 

Social media is obviously a valuable marketing channel for Confused.com with a very active social media strategy – particularly on Twitter and Facebook.

Money Saving Expert by its very nature has particularly ‘shareable’ content, so it isn’t a great surprise to see it featuring so highly here.

David Moth

Published 15 February, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1680 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

Carl Duncker

Carl Duncker, Digital Marketing Consultant at Maverick Digital Media

This irks a bit. The most user friendly organisation is Which. The comparison sites largely regurgitate price data. And who shares their car insurance premium? Surely someone. Just goes to show that in digital marketing, like traditional marketing, never assume your customer behaves like you :)

over 3 years ago

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Lee Branch

Would love to see some data that wasn't just pulled from Searchmetrics, SEOMoz or Majestic. Yep we got those too.

There's a big clue to the future of search that the author has missed: the low DA organic performers. Maybe it's not all about links anymore, even for insurance!

over 3 years ago

Tom Salmon

Tom Salmon, Marketing Director at Epiphany

Thanks Lee. That's something we cover in several areas within the full version of the report.

To summarise, there are still a few notable exceptions that have a relatively low DA given their organic visibility, most notably Money.co.uk,Compare the Market, Tesco Bank and Gocompare.com.

Of these, all but Tesco Bank are comparison sites that by their very nature are pure-play online businesses. As a result, SEO has most likely been a key consideration for these sites since their inception. Through a combination of well-structured websites, extensive content strategies and targeted high-quality link acquisition, they are able to achieve significant levels of organic visibility relative to their domain authority.

There are also a number of websites with relatively low visibility given their DA. Notable sites include Lloyds TSB, NatWest, RBS and Aviva.

Being more traditional ‘high-street’ financial institutions, these brands and their websites have been established for a long time with many aged, high-quality earned links resulting in the high DAs seen above. It could be argued that these sites have a narrower range of services (and therefore content) than bigger sites like Money Saving Expert and, as such, a lower visibility (because there are fewer relevant keywords for them to rank for). But as we explore in the ‘Organic Keyword Ranking Opportunities’ section of the full report, these sites don’t have a particularly high percentage of keywords ranking on page one.

This suggests they have the foundations and ability to achieve an improved organic visibility through a search engine-friendly or optimised website and a robust and comprehensive content strategy.

over 3 years ago

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