With Google never revealing how to rank highly in its search results, it's tough for insurers, brokers and aggregators to appear on the first page.
This is particularly the case when Google is always tweaking how it ranks results - already seven times in 2012 - as it strives to improve the quality of results for its users.
Also, it takes time. In most cases it takes one to two years of commitment to investing in optimising your website, as well as in delivering a strong social media presence, before you appear near or at the top.
However, if you are not on the first page of results, usually the top 10, it can be argued that in today's increasingly fickle digital age you might as well not exist.
This is backed up by research from Chitika which sampled eight million clicks. It revealed that over 94% of users clicked on a first page result and less than 6% to a result on the second page.
One of the biggest drop offs is between the 10 spot (bottom of the first page) and the 11 spot (top of the second page) which experienced a 143% dip from one position to the next.
So who are the winners and losers in the insurance sector when it come to making that all important first page?
From a study we carried out analysing changes to natural search rankings on Google for searches across car, home and travel insurance between 1 November 2011 and 1 February 2012, Money Supermarket was top across all three sectors.
In fact aggregators held the top two spots in car and travel. Only Tesco Bank broke the aggregator duopoly coming second in home insurance.
The research revealed that Confused is another price comparison site doing well - moving from outside the top 10 to be placed seventh in the rankings for car, up from seventh to sixth in travel and retaining fourth spot in home insurance.
The aggregators that have struggled recently include Compare the Market, slipping from second to sixth in car and from second to third in home insurance.
Although it has increased two places from 10th to eighth in the travel insurance rankings, it's a big surprise not to see Go Compare feature in the top 10 listings for car and home insurance, despite its big marketing spend.
This might be because it dips in and out of investing in natural search: never a good approach when longevity and consistency of investment is the key to success.
Brand success in the top 10 leagues is led by More Than, LV and Sainsbury's Bank, all of which have a solid mid-table presence in at least two of the three key sectors. However, no one brand has a presence across all three.
So for those serious about driving success in search rankings on Google, as well as optimising their site for natural search and making a long-term commitment to the process, always listen out to clues from Google on changes it plans to make to improve the search process. At present this means focusing on quality content, a strong social media presence and natural links.
Also, as I've already covered, there's no quick fix to rank strongly in natural search. However, for insurers, brokers and aggregators looking for a faster route up the rankings, focusing on ranking for niche search terms like caravan insurance is one answer. Although, obviously, the target market will be considerably smaller than for home, car and travel.
With various marketing activity planned by those in the insurance marketplace over the next few months, it will be interesting to see how the rankings will change over the next quarter as the battle continues to be in the highest position possible on the first page of Google's results.
Kevin Taylor, chief executive, Gravytrain
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