During recent weeks I have been doing some link analyis of certain verticals (what some may call spectral link analysis ), something which has been extremely interesting (for a geek like me). In particular, car insurance has stuck out as a particularly interesting case in question, as this has been extremely volatile of late with a number of high profile organisations seeing significant flux, despite having been very solid in terms of visibility for a number of months.
During this time we have seen a number of interesting observations:
- Moneysupermarket having dominated a number of insurance related terms have dropped from 1st pre September to 8th at the present moment
- Asda Finance have bounced around quite a lot, including a very brief stint in first position at the beginning of September
- Go Compare having spent some considerable time in the past in the SERP wilderness have now firmly entrenched themselves in at number 1
- Very little consistency in any positions. Flux pre: September was generally one or two positional changes in the top twenty per day. Its about 12-14 at the moment.
Further analysis of their link acquisition highlights some interesting trends:
Not suprisingly, Moneysupermarket led the way by a considerable margin, however it must be caveated that many of these were not keyword anchored references, but also included a reasonable proportion of brand and secondary product linkage. What was interesting was the scale at which they appear to have increased significantly the throughput of links during the last three or four months – dwarfing many of the competitors who themselves are building high end links at a not-too-shabby rate.
|Domains Acquisiton by Brand||Jan||Feb||Mar||Apr||May||Jun||Jul||Aug||Sep|
This thus begs the question, to compete in such a space you need to be making enough noise with your link building both in terms of quality and quantity of links. You can bet your bottom dollar, if your not your competitor is – and thus you are already starting on the long slippery slope towards mid serp obscurity – magnified in such competitive sectors such as car insurance.
This is where your link tactics come into play. Networks offer scale, but many with high risks to the ‘purchaser’, paid links offer a more manageable framework – however again this is not without risk and are far more time consuming to generate. As such many organisations utilise more ethical approaches to link building such as Online PR, Content Spinning, Social Search tactics – such as blogger relations and social bookmarking and directory submissions. Many of these allow scalability however are far more long term in many cases in terms of producing tangible results.
Further to this and perhaps controversially I would suggest it is becoming increasingly difficult to operate effectively in these sectors without employing some form of paid link strategy as part of the overall link acquisition mix. This would seem to be a sentiment shared by many of those who took part in our recent poll with results currently 50/50 (27 votes apiece) at the time of writing:
One thing is for sure. In mature markets such as car insurance, gaming and travel you need to be maximising your link acquisition resource in order to compete. One thing the likes of Moneysupermarket do very very well is integrate SEO into their very fabric whether that be their integrated search approach (ie how they operate SEO and PPC in conjunction with each other), utilisation of as much PR as possible through the online channels or merely a ruthless approach to link building and acquisition. If you therefore want to play in these spaces, and play with the big boys, prepare to play hard