Is Google screwing about with UK Car Insurance Autocomplete (or Suggest as we know it) results?
Maybe. And I have data to suggest it.
In my last post, I demonstrated how it is in fact possible to Manipulate Google suggest. I also pointed out that it is possible to do this for a number of reasons, one of them being increasing conversions by driving people to the right landing page by forcing autocomplete to suggest a Brand+Long Tail Result.
This may not sound so amazing to a number of people, but those working on big brands, this may make massive changes in increase revenue from the SERPs. I know cause I consult for big brands all the time. In fact, after brand suggest results change, often the second or third keyphrase highlighted ends up becoming the biggest referrer to a site. So there is a slight importance when it comes to Google suggest results.
Let me take it to a tangent, We know that google just bought an aggregator, Beat the Quote. Then promptly banned them in the SERPs for shady SEO practices. In fact I love the fact that when beating the quote, my two fav SEOs are ranking 1st and 2nd for the brand search
Can you smell conspiracy theory cooking? Yes? Still interested? Read on.
UK Ranks for Car Insurance
Lets take the top 15 UK Results for Car Insurance. At the time of checking they were, in order:
Got that? OK. They ALL Rank for car insurance. And apart from Kwik Fit, ALL have run some seriously large TV campaigns. So all BIG brands when it comes to car insurance. I guarantee they ALL receive huge volumes of brand search AS WELL AS traffic for “Car Insurance”.
Why is that important to emphasise? Well, I am trying to build a plausible relationship between these brands and the phrase, “car insurance”.
Google Autocomplete For UK Car Insurance Brands
By now you may know what I am hinting at, but bear with me, let me explain.
Like any SEO that plays with the SERPs, I and a bunch of others keep an eye on shifting SERPs and even the smallest interesting tit bits. A couple of people in my circle pointed out that they have been looking at Google Suggest a bit more after reading my post. And that they noticed something very strange. A number of the Brands in the Car Insurance niche they were monitoring, have lost (yes LOST!) the autocomplete “car insurance” addition to their brand search.
Unfortunately none had screenshots, but all swear that it did exist. So I decided to go on an investigative journey. First I checked the brands in suggest and whether the appended phrase existed:
- www.elephant.co.uk NO
- www.moneysupermarket.com/ NO (*)
- www.co-operativeinsurance.co.uk NO
- www.morethan.com NO
- www.confused.com NO (*)
- www.admiral.com/ NO
- www.kwik-fitinsurance.com NO
- www.swiftcover.com NO (*)
- www.directline.com YES
- www.churchill.com YES
- www.sheilaswheels.com NO (*)
- www.esure.com YES
- www.gocompare.com NO
- www.uswitch.com NO (*)
- www.privilege.com NO
Before you go off and verify, wait for me to finish. Only 3 of the 15 have the words “Car insurance” appended to the brand – instead ALL have the words “insurance” appended.
The (*) notes are certain special cases which I will come back to.
So Where’s the Proof of Removal of “Car Insurance”?
Well I ignored “Elephant” as I saw it as too generic, and could have a genuine reason for non appendage. Similarly More Than and Compare the market run TV campaigns that translate their brands into different names, “More Than Freeman” and Compare the Meerkat”. Confused is also a generic that may have variations. However, I did use publicly available data to look at search volumes for two variants of each:
Brand + Insurance
See how both phrases follow the same trend up to the poinnt I have indicated with the arrow – which now shows variance in behaviour – that one is moving up, while the other isnt.
The variance indicated may be the date from when the “Car insurance” appendages were taken out. These variances in volume suggest to me that the search volume for the brand that see it, have dropped volume for “Brand + Car Insurance”. Why would this sudden dip be?
I propose that my mad hat theory of dropping the appendage from Google Autocomplete play a big role.
So I pinged some people. Asked them to look into Hitwise data for the sites I noticed the dips for. As far as we can see, the change happened between 15th Feb to 18th Feb. About TWO WEEKS before the official announcement of the purchase of Beat the Quote. This is the timeframe potentially when the decision to buy them happened.
Proof – The Data Charts below are ALL from Hitwise for the volume of traffic to these brands for the term “Brand + Car Insurance”:
How cool is that? Still think that Google Suggest / Autocomplete isnt a big deal?
Lets look at Go Compare, whose data variance I showed to you via Google trends.
See the fall in volume of traffic for “go compare car insurance” and the sudden increase of traffic for “go compare insurance”? This my friends is the power of Google Suggest.
The Special Cases Marked (*)
I haven’t forgotten those. They may or may not add to my theory that these appendages have been somehow manually been taken off.
Let’s look at Money Supermarket:
So type in two words Money Supermarket, and NO Car Insurance. Type in three words, Money Super Market, and you get Car Insurance. Looks like someone forgot to take THAT out of the mix .
Now Swift Cover:
If you add a space to Swift Cover (indictating that the results shown arent enough) THEN you get the car insurance appended.
Interesting right? In this case two words AND a space triggers the car insurance phrase.
Now let’s look at Confused:
Van Insurance? How popular is that for confused? It’s so low that Google trends does NOT show it.
What does this all mean?
Well I dont know. Make your own conclusions. Does it prove some sort of intervention? Yes. Oh and check this out:
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Rishi Lakhani is an independent Online Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media. Explicitly.Me is his Blog. Google Profile