Consumer search for mortgage-related products nosedives by 63%

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Key players lose visibility online as UK consumer search for mortgage-related products drops dramatically

Key players in the mortgage sector lose visibility in Greenlight’s league table charting the most visible retail banking websites in integrated search as searches for mortgage-related terms fall

March and April saw a marked increase in ISA-related searches online as UK consumers reassessed their saving options before and after the April Tax year deadline, reveals research published today by the UK’s leading independent specialist search engine optimization (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) consulting firm, Greenlight. By contrast, online searches for credit and debit cards, loans and mortgages all decreased in search volume. According to the report, ‘Retail Banking April 2010’, searches for mortgage-related terms fell the most - by 63%, since January, decreasing from 3.2 million to 1.2 million in April. This has seen some key players in the mortgage sector lose visibility in Greenlight’s league table charting the most visible retail banking websites in integrated search.

Greenlight used industry data to classify 700 of the most popular search terms used by UK consumers when they used Google to look for providers of bank accounts, credit and debit cards, mortgages and loans. Greenlight also analysed natural search* rankings on Google to assess which banks, building societies and aggregator sites were positioned on page one for each term to produce a ranking of the top 60 most commonly appearing and prominent websites. For paid search**, Greenlight monitored the advertisers appearing in the sponsored links for the top 120 of the 700 terms analysed.

Some key findings reveal:

  •     There were 4.3 million searches performed in April for retail banking-related keywords. This was a decrease since Greenlight’s last report in January 2010, when 5.6 million searches were made;
  •     Bank account-related terms (which included current accounts, savings accounts and ISAs), were the most searched for, with over 1.3 million searches (31% of the total search volume) made in April. The terms ‘Cash ISAs’, ‘ISA savings’ and ‘Online banking’ accounted for 15%, 12% and 6% share of bank account-related searches, respectively;
  •     Loans, Mortgages and Debit Cards and Credit Cards accounted for 29%, 28% and 13% share of retail banking-related product searches;
  •     The majority of the top mortgage-related terms saw search volumes decrease, month-on-month;
  •     Whilst the number of searches for ‘Buy to let mortgages’ in April 2010 were up on 2009 levels, they dropped dramatically (87%) between January 2010 and April 2010, from 301,000 to 40,500 in April;
  •     Searches for the term ‘second mortgages’ fell 99% from 246,000 in January 2010 to 1,900 in April 2010 whilst those for ‘Fixed mortgages’ were down 98% over the same period;
  •     Searches for ‘Mortgage calculator’ also decreased considerably over the course of Q1 2010 from 637,000 in January to 301,000 in April;
  •     Queries for ‘Cash ISA’ increased from 6,600 searches in January to 201,000 in April as consumers looked to research the market for lucrative savings schemes;
  •     MoneySupermarket was the most visible website for retail banking-related products, in natural search. It achieved 73% visibility through ranking at position one on Google 280 of 700 keywords analysed. By contrast, MoneySavingExpert achieved 36% share of voice through ranking at position one for just 74 of the keywords analysed. Since January, its visibility increased 20% which saw it replace Halifax at position two in Greenlight’s league table;
  •     Given that mortgage-related keyword searches decreased considerably since January, both Halifax and Woolwich lost 11% visibility in natural search as this is the segment both websites attained most of their overall share of voice;
  •     Despite a marked decrease in search volume for mortgage-related keywords in April, 10 of the top ad creatives were mortgage-related, whilst four advertised loans and one promoted savings accounts;
  •     Of the top 10 advertisers in paid search, seven were direct providers and three were aggregators.

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– Ends –
Notes to Editors:

Greenlight is an independent specialist SEO and PPC consulting and technology firm, the largest of its kind in Europe and the fastest growing. With over 100 blue-chip clients including Vodafone UK, Thomas Cook, Santander, New Look, Interflora, Co-operative Financial Services and ghd, and a multitude of awards to its name, Greenlight is a leader in the search marketing space, and is recognised worldwide for its commitment to delivering record ROI for its clients and investing in the future of search.

In addition, Greenlight is considered the premier thought leader in the sector, publishing widely read industry reports, original research, speaking at most trade events, and delivering a highly respected search training programme in conjunction with the IDM. Greenlight was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in London, with offices in New York.


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