GoCompare at Number 1 for Car Insurance

After a shaky (and some say, shady) start, GoCompare are now top of [car insurance] on Google. As you can see from the graph below, GoCompare have slowly made it. (Note this data is for the Google.com domain but the trends are similar). GoCompare Google Search Rankings for car insurance

Have they done this using white-hat techniques? Hmmm. Let’s look at a few Google queries.

Would it be cruel to say that they are using Paid Reviews on Blogs as a successful SEO marketing technique when Google have advised against this? I’ll let the reader decide…

Matt Cutts:

It should be clear from Google’s stance on paid text links, but if you are blogging and being paid by services like Pay Per Post, ReviewMe, or SponsoredReviews, links in those paid-for posts should be made in a way that doesn’t affect search engines. The rel=”nofollow” attribute is one way, but there are numerous other ways to do paid links that won’t affect search engines, e.g. doing an internal redirect through a url that is forbidden from crawling by robots.txt.

What this means?

Acording to the leaked AOL data, GoCompare should be enjoying a fifteen fold increase on their traffic based on their position in early November. They should also be improving their share of the market from the reported 16% by Response Source reported in October.

Top Aggregators by Market Share

AggregatorMarket Share
Confused71.1%
MSM18.8%
GoCompare15.6%
Compare the market13.5%
TescoCompare12.7%

What do you think?

What do our readers think about the techniques used – perhaps GoCompare would like to offer an official verdict (Kevin?)?
What do the Hitwise stats show? (If you send them to us, we’ll print them anonymously).

UPDATE 20080129: GoCompare Banned from Google

{ 31 comments }

Ernest January 2, 2008 at 11:23 pm

…and of course they’ll be benefiting from the previously paid for links from domains such as watchingamerica.com (if memory serves me right) – a hangover from the previous SEO regime.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens in 2008 on these popular terms. 2007 gave us a few exclusions from Google of some of the biggest players. Could this be the year The Big G releases an update which recognises the link buyers and punishes acordingly?

…will it f***!

George January 3, 2008 at 1:21 pm
Ernest January 3, 2008 at 3:02 pm

@George

After such a long absense plotting and failing in our attempt at world domination, do you think anyone reads our blog anymore??!!

Kevin January 3, 2008 at 4:01 pm

Ernest & George, Happy New Year !!

I’m surprised it’s taken you so long to notice. It’s good to have you back!

As I’ve said in the past, we’re here for the long term with a product that adds real value to those searching for insurance products.

We have invested heavily in offline and online media and firmly believe that we have a product and brand that is worthy of being one of the top search results for the car insurance term.

We have been patient in our approach and have risen steadily over the last 12 months. I must admit though, we have been pleasantly surprised by the speed that we have risen of late, which is ahead of expectations, but you know Google works in mysterious ways!

George January 3, 2008 at 4:57 pm

How diplomatic Kevin is!
Perhaps this will cheer up some of the other readers:
http://tvs-worst-adverts.co.uk/gocomparecom-why-gocompare-anywhere-else/

Ernest January 3, 2008 at 9:55 pm

Long term? Paid for posts? Que?

Perhaps it’s not quite as bad as Text Link Ads as it requires a little bit more thought than that but still, it’s the better of two evils.

Insurance insider January 4, 2008 at 1:09 pm

I would be very suprised if any successful SEO campaign in the car insuarnce marketplace used one technique only.

I would also state I cannot find any company within the top 10 in car insurance that doesn’t show some signs of artifical link building techniques.

The agency that used to have a grip on most of the top 10 positions, always had a very agressive link building stratergy, and the link profiles of the top 10 sights show this.

As far as increase in traffic goes, the 14 fold increase relates to one term only, as brand accounts for a large and increasing percentage of the car insuarnce search marketplace, the increase may not be as dramatic as thought.

But I still wouldnt mind having the traffic :)

George January 4, 2008 at 2:10 pm

@Insurance insider
I whole heartedly agree with your comments about artificial link building. Everyone does it and to get in the top ten you need to have a good mix of that and other techniques. But should we not all be on an even playing field? Should we allow those with the most cash to buy links and not the others?
Or should we give Google the bird: http://www.wolf-howl.com/google/google-needs-to-stop-being-a-crybaby-about-paid-links/

The AOL data definitely needs to be taken with a pinch of salt and can be interpreted very differently but I’d sure like to see the difference in traffic GoCompare are seeing. Hitwise anyone? Who’s got access to the GoCompare indextools account?

Insurance insider January 4, 2008 at 2:36 pm

We could be here to talk about what could be or should be, but in reality we need to deal with what is.

If Google has created a situation where you need to artifically link build to rank for your product, people will feel compelled to do so.

For us to criticise those who gain success, doing it, when anybody with any degree of sucessful in the industry does it is illogical.

I am sure if i had achieved those rankings I would be telling no one how it was done.

What is of interest to me is to see what I thought was an unassailable position moneysupermarket had at No 1 lost.

It would seem after there brush with Google earleier in the year. they moved to ethicla only tecvhniques and have now paid the price for ‘drinking the Google cool aid’.

Clive January 4, 2008 at 3:15 pm

Interesting looking back at this thread http://www.insiders-view.co.uk/date/2007/01/ and who was where in the top 10 in Jan 2007 – esure in particular have really dropped off the pace in 2007 haven’t they, elephant as well.

Slef Employed Insurance January 4, 2008 at 10:43 pm

I was reading on Matt Cutts blog that Google was going to be penalizing the sites that are selling links such as Text Link Ads. I guess since Google is the largest tool on the internet that they think they own it. Google doesn’t want the advertising competition for their Adwords programs.

Our insurance websites have gone up and down so much over the past year that we are no longer targeting Google.

Insurance is a hyper competitive field (as you all know) and sometimes the quality of the traffic can be very sketchy.

Ernest January 4, 2008 at 10:53 pm

@Self Employed

The traffic on Google is only what you target …but I can see your point about the competition for their own advertising system. Having said that, their line is that they’re reducing the competitiveness of the rich and relying more on what people do and not what they spend. It’ll just take them years to build it into the rankings ;)

Creased January 5, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Firstly welcome back Ernest and George, I thought we’d lost you for a minute!

But back to the topic – I’ve had Google Alerts activated for various insurers names for a while now, and almost daily I’ve had a alert pointing me to a GC sponsored post. One particular example is http://pjmommy.com/?p=539
where the blogger says she saved 1000 DOLLARS on the site – proving she’d never used the service.

I’m not pointing fingers and saying what is right or wrong the the SEO arena, but I have to ask Kevin at GC one question; being that Matt Cutts has recently spoken out about sponsored posts – are you or anyone at GC worried about this using approach?

MC January 5, 2008 at 5:15 pm

@ Clive

Indeed it is interesting. I’d like to see an updated site and agency chart for car insurance like the one you refer to. Interesting also that Confused and Admiral have slightly dropped of the pace, with Admiral now page 2. Is this a change in Spannerworks tactics?

George January 7, 2008 at 11:29 am

@Creased
Saving ‘thousands’. Possible but unlikely. Saving thousands of ‘dollars’. Definitely hasn’t used the service!

Surely the cost of this post isn’t $225 as it says here: http://www.sponsoredreviews.com/blog-2207.html

Creased January 8, 2008 at 1:03 am

GC off the top spot on my DC. Is this a downward spiral? In my opinion: no.

Clive January 8, 2008 at 11:48 am

ping

Tron January 8, 2008 at 11:58 am

@Creased – Yep, I have got MSM back on top.

Looks to me that there have been quite a lot of shifts across various phrases, especially in the top five. I doubt these will be permanent though. In fact, I would be surprised if everything looks the same this time tomorrow.

Ernest January 9, 2008 at 3:17 pm

Indeed, MSM are now restored to top spot. No surprises there then!

@Kevin

I’ve just spotted and dazzlingly, amazingly, brilliantly marketed new aggregator called Bull Horn. IS that one anything to do with you guys? All the products are MSM except for car insurance which has some resemblence to the GC form, validation etc.

Clive January 9, 2008 at 4:51 pm

Just to steer this away from SEO for a moment, just noticed MSM shares have taken a bit of a tumble of late – http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/fds/hi/business/market_data/shares/3/40800/three_month.stm

Currently 117.75p – didn’t they float at about 170p and hit around 220p late Oct/Early Nov.

Not sure what the underlying reason for this is, anyone else like to have a stab..

Ernest January 10, 2008 at 12:35 am

@ Clive

Possibly the impact of Tesco Compare?

Clive January 10, 2008 at 2:35 pm

As I post MSM shares are at 100p – down a whopping 13.6% today

http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/fds/hi/business/market_data/shares/3/40800/default.stm

Tron January 17, 2008 at 5:32 pm

Ok, looking at Hitwise… Go Compare had a market share of 0.007% week ending 29/12/07. If we check now, that market share is at 0.014, so in effect doubled.

It is hard to try and apply real term figures here, but I would cautiously estimate that we are look at going from 350k sessions per week up to 700k sessions per week.

That is some pretty impressive growth, but how and where was it achieved? To my mind there are three big factors that need to be considered.

1. In or around top spot of Google
2. Seasonal uplift
3. Just had some figures that would suggest a £500k TV spend for the period 01/01/08 – 08/01/08

All in all it is shaping up to be a pretty hot January for Go Compare!

An insurance seo guy January 23, 2008 at 10:16 am

I’m wondering how long term GoCompare’s strategy really is; Google have expressed their desire to penalise sites that sell rankings, although it doesn’t seem to be keeping up with its policy so far. They made the move against the directories last year, its really only a matter of time before they do the same thing with paid blog posts. Really, if its as easy as doing a Google search for “gocompare payperpost, its a matter of “when” not “if” they act. Of course, GoCompare are probably making so much money from their artificial position the money spent on the links will be money well spent.

Ernest January 24, 2008 at 3:05 pm

@An insurance seo guy

The only issue then is the long term damage to reputation in the eyes of Google – about as difficult to measure as any Google statistic!

Anon January 29, 2008 at 10:05 am

Anyone noticed that GoCompare have gone from the SERPS? Their link profile was very spammy and it comes as no surprise that Google may have pulled their site. Maybe it’s just a Google glitch and they will pop back up?

ABC January 29, 2008 at 10:10 am

Yes – noticed it this morning, they dont even rank for their name!!

Robin Goad February 14, 2008 at 2:31 pm

Here are Hitwise stats, both pre and post the recent ‘blacklisting’:

http://weblogs.hitwise.com/robin-goad/2008/02/google_blacklists_gocompare.html

Thanks, Robin

Maurice February 15, 2008 at 5:32 pm

lol nice to see the big boy swho dont play fair get hit by penalties :-)

David Crofts January 27, 2009 at 4:50 pm

SEO is such a competitive business, it not surprising a well known company has been caught, using paid for links as part of its link building campaign. I wouldn’t be surprised if other big named business have taken part in similar techniques.

Sarah Coles May 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Thanks for providing this information on Car Insurance.

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