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Comparing aggregators - two

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The UK this autumn has been witness to an epic marketing battle between nine different online insurance aggregators (comparison websites).  The online insurance sector is extremely competitive.  Indeed in Paid Search the popular insurance keywords are some of the most expensive keywords bought on Google Adwords.  Both Gocompare and Comparethemarket have spent approximately £25M each over the last 12 months on their marketing efforts.  The majority of which has been spent in TV advertising.  The seven other aggregators all have marketing budgets of around £10m each.  That means that the nine aggregators involved in this marketing battle are spending around £120M trying to capture UK online insurance customers. This chart shows the results in number of visitors to their websites for the two aggregators who are spending the most money. Comparethemarket’s highly original Meerkat campaign has provided a very solid uplift of around three times the number of visitors for the last ten months.  By any measure an incredible result.  But this success has masked what has been happening to Gocompare.  Their marketing should be an object lesson for everybody involved in any promotional activity. Above all one lesson can be learned from Gocompare;  however much money you spend on TV advertising, if your company isn’t shown in the first page of Google’s natural search results when a potential customer goes shopping online for insurance, then much of that money will be wasted.  Comparethemarket’s Meerkat campaign started in early January and has driven a consistent number of visitors throughout the year.  Gocompare meanwhile was being very successful at driving visitors as a result of not only their TV advertising but also by the very sharp practice of touting for backlinks (links from other websites that go to Gocompare).  Included on the chart is an example of the kind of message that Gocaompare was sending out to other websites.  As so much money is involved in selling online car insurance Google manually monitors their results from time to time.  This monitoring spotted that some the backlinks into Gocompare were coming from some very inappropriate websites.  As a resulted Google penalised Gocompare and significantly downgraded their position in “car insurance” search results.  This wasn’t the first time that Gocompare has been penalised by Google.  They should have learnt the lesson from their experience back in 2008 when Gocompare came under a similar Google action.  Obviously they must have made a conscious decision to take a risk because the rewards for the number one spot on Google for the term “car insurance” are just too great.  As you can see on the chart this had an immediate effect on the number of visitors to their website, nearly halving the number of visitors throughout 2009.  By the end of October 2009 Gocompare was at position 28 in natural search for the important term “car insurance.”  The majority of consumers don’t alter their Google search settings from the default of displaying ten results per page.  So this means that Gocompare appears at the moment at the bottom of page three of the search results.  This is a position where only a tiny number of people look.  The irony is that an obvious result of this downgrading is that Gocompare has to spend more money on buying Paid Search terms with Google.  Surely the key learning besides not pushing the boundaries on search engine optimisation is how important those Google natural search results actually are.  Even if you are spending £25M and the bulk is TV advertising then a lot of that spending is wasted if at the point when consumers embark on a purchase journey you are not visible. To make matters worse during this period Gocompare received negative publicity when their TV ads claiming they compared more results than anyone else were banned.  On the chart you can see a further dip in their visitor numbers and a narrowing of the gap compared to Comparethemarket. This is one of the clearest examples I have seen of the importance of keeping within the boundaries set by Google when optimising a website for natural search.  Not only that but Gocompare’s situation clearly shows the cost to the business if you are not on the first page of Google’s natural search results... and by the way, don’t tell porkies. November 2009
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Comparing aggregators

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The UK this autumn has been witness to an epic marketing battle between nine different online insurance aggregators (comparison websites).  The online insurance sector is extremely competitive.  Indeed in Paid Search the popular insurance keywords are some of the most expensive keywords bought on Google Adwords.  Both Gocompare and Comparethemarket have spent approximately £25M each over the last 12 months on their marketing efforts.  The majority of which has been spent in TV advertising.  The seven other aggregators all have marketing budgets of around £10m each.  That means that the nine aggregators involved in this marketing battle are spending around £120M trying to capture UK online insurance customers. This chart shows the results in number of visitors to their websites for the two aggregators who are spending the most money. Comparethemarket’s highly original Meerkat campaign has provided a very solid uplift of around three times the number of visitors for the last ten months.  By any measure an incredible result.  But this success has masked what has been happening to Gocompare.  Their marketing should be an object lesson for everybody involved in any promotional activity. Above all one lesson can be learned from Gocompare;  however much money you spend on TV advertising, if your company isn’t shown in the first page of Google’s natural search results when a potential customer goes shopping online for insurance, then much of that money will be wasted.  Comparethemarket’s Meerkat campaign started in early January and has driven a consistent number of visitors throughout the year.  Gocompare meanwhile was being very successful at driving visitors as a result of not only their TV advertising but also by the very sharp practice of touting for backlinks (links from other websites that go to Gocompare).  Included on the chart is an example of the kind of message that Gocaompare was sending out to other websites.  As so much money is involved in selling online car insurance Google manually monitors their results from time to time.  This monitoring spotted that some the backlinks into Gocompare were coming from some very inappropriate websites.  As a resulted Google penalised Gocompare and significantly downgraded their position in “car insurance” search results.  This wasn’t the first time that Gocompare has been penalised by Google.  They should have learnt the lesson from their experience back in 2008 when Gocompare came under a similar Google action.  Obviously they must have made a conscious decision to take a risk because the rewards for the number one spot on Google for the term “car insurance” are just too great.  As you can see on the chart this had an immediate effect on the number of visitors to their website, nearly halving the number of visitors throughout 2009.  By the end of October 2009 Gocompare was at position 28 in natural search for the important term “car insurance.”  The majority of consumers don’t alter their Google search settings from the default of displaying ten results per page.  So this means that Gocompare appears at the moment at the bottom of page three of the search results.  This is a position where only a tiny number of people look.  The irony is that an obvious result of this downgrading is that Gocompare has to spend more money on buying Paid Search terms with Google.  Surely the key learning besides not pushing the boundaries on search engine optimisation is how important those Google natural search results actually are.  Even if you are spending £25M and the bulk is TV advertising then a lot of that spending is wasted if at the point when consumers embark on a purchase journey you are not visible. To make matters worse during this period Gocompare received negative publicity when their TV ads claiming they compared more results than anyone else were banned.  On the chart you can see a further dip in their visitor numbers and a narrowing of the gap compared to Comparethemarket. This is one of the clearest examples I have seen of the importance of keeping within the boundaries set by Google when optimising a website for natural search.  Not only that but Gocompare’s situation clearly shows the cost to the business if you are not on the first page of Google’s natural search results... and by the way, don’t tell porkies. November 2009
Click to return to page Click here to download the PowerPoint chart: Click here to download the PowerPoint chart: