Link Building in competitive verticals – are you scaling enough

by Peter Young on October 1, 2010 · 8 comments

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
Swiftcover
61
51
47
32
34
50
56
55
65
Elephant
109
76
74
58
34
35
53
113
76
Swinton
86
75
70
40
57
52
134
99
65
KwikFit Insurance
92
79
92
38
57
40
131
78
60
GoCompare
138
119
118
73
109
137
413
282
308
Autonet Insurance
46
40
36
21
29
42
99
68
30
Morethan
92
75
75
46
50
65
130
102
93
Asda Finance
81
66
74
55
56
65
180
114
128
Confused
251
262
245
136
153
158
435
294
295
MoneySupermarket
567
845
763
494
597
678
1569
1404
1110

 

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:

[poll id=8]

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

Google+ Comments

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Freelance SEO Consultant October 1, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Link Builidng in such a a competetive vertical requires a structured approach as you mentioned as opposed to smaller verticals which are less competetive. Also quite a few brands have become aware of using anchor text within their link building even in PR’s; which had been ignored before. Just today Rand Fish talked about how to post tweets on twitter to drive maximum benefit.

OSCAR CARRERAS October 1, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Nice post Peter. Quick question, which tool did you use to make the comparison? Majestic, Linkscape, none of them?

Thanks

Jonathan Walker October 1, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Hi

Interesting article, now it may be because its a Friday afternoon, but could you clarify what you mean by “Domains Acquisiton by Brand”?

Is it reffering to the amount of new domains (websites) linking to the site? or is it refering to the amount of domains the companies purchased in order to essentially link to themselves?

Thanks :)

Peter Young October 1, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Thanks for the replies

@Oscar The tool used was Majestic SEO which used a number of self build tools to then interogate the different reports.

@Jonathan Merely referencing the number of domains acquired by brand rather than individual links, which could include in-house sites (extensive use by sites such as Asda), directories, paid links etc.

Paul Spreadbury October 6, 2010 at 11:12 am

To compete in such competitive markets you need to ensure you have a well structured and thought out campaign. Most larger companies have become aware that they need to build a more diverse link profile to compete, using their brand and services terms where applicable.

This has led to a more natural approach such as guest blogs, article submissions and even directory submissions to vary their portfolio

Peter Young October 6, 2010 at 11:19 am

I dont necessarily agree with you there Paul, if you take a look at a number of the sites, the percentage of directory submissions / guest posts is fairly low. I would agree Article submissions is used on a number but there is a reliance on partnered sites in whatever format those come in – paid or otherwise (ie sidebar, footer based links rather than contextual in content links)

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