Car sharing club Zipcar wanted to meet a variety of travel needs through smarter search. In September 2019, it enlisted the services of digital performance marketing agency Tug to create a search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy focused on boosting its content and rankings for diverse travel moments, from planned beach trips to unplanned tube disruption. After the pandemic hit, this flexible approach proved even more important as Covid-19’s impact on travel patterns required maximum agility.
Tug adapted to changing consumer behaviour and government restrictions by aligning search efforts with the latest topics, trends and Covid-19 guidance. Activity included weekly organic blogs and updating featured snippets.
As the first lockdown eased, Zipcar’s site saw a 200% uplift in organic traffic, as well as increased new customer sign-ups, keyword positioning, customer usage and revenue, and improved visibility.
Objectives & Aims
Car sharing and car hire are competitive search areas, even for well-known market players. While Zipcar had aggressive pay-per-click operations in place, complementary SEO activity was essential, both to compete on search engine results pages and to improve rankings, enabling recovery from an inefficient site migration.
As a result, the initial partnership with Tug centred on several short- and long-term objectives, which included:
- Increase the number of featured website snippets to 50
- Double the top 10 visibility for ‘car rental’ and ‘car hire’ key phrases, bolstering its previous benchmark of 23 to 46
- Become the top-ranked company online for the phrase ‘car sharing’
- Grow blog traffic to 1,000 monthly organic users
- Increase position one keywords by 100%.
During the global Covid-19 pandemic, Zipcar realised it needed to adjust its approach. As such, Tug expanded its goals to include maintaining brand awareness, loyalty and a strong online presence, and growing organic traffic by 60% once lockdown relaxed.
Implementation, Execution & Tactics
Addressing technical issues within three months laid the foundations for Tug to apply a robust SEO strategy in January 2020. Work began with building links to Zipcar’s website and blog content for its target audience, which showcased service flexibility and increased rankings for varied moments.
During lockdown, Tug wrote weekly blog posts that tapped into the interests of Zipcar members (typically those who are very active, involved in sports, culture and socialising), which had to evolve within the shifting climate. The blog content focused on trending interest topics – such as ‘wild swimming’ and ‘weekend breaks’ – and targeted key search terms, tapping into less competitive keyword opportunities and extending content reach via social media, all while remaining sensitive to government stipulations. After restrictions eased, Covid-19 messaging was reduced to place more focus on evergreen topics and reopened venues, meaning further engagement with featured locations secured valuable backlinks.
Throughout the initiative, Tug improved onsite content; filling gaps for brand questions, optimising pandemic-related and core keywords and tailoring content for featured snippets. The team also updated FAQs to match search demand and offered useful situational information to make for a complete SEO programme.
Tug’s nimble SEO execution allowed Zipcar to emerge from lockdown with loyal followers, an elevated online standing and the means to capture a wider market.
- Organic blog traffic grew from almost zero, beating monthly targets by 50% between January and August 2020
- Organic traffic increased by 200% for the UK website between the first and last week of May 2020, achieving a 20% rise year-on-year in weekly users in May alone
- Monthly organic traffic for the UK website increased by 118% between June 2019 and 2020.
- The number of keywords for which the UK website achieved featured snippets rose by 160%
- The UK website achieved 102 top 10 rankings for priority category keywords
- The number of organic top 10 rankings for keywords related to ‘car sharing’ increased by 241% for the UK website
- Position one keywords increased by 214% from September 2019 to September 2020 for the UK website.