A couple of weeks ago, Google introduced its own insurance comparison functionality direct within the SERPs, a move that was probably inevitable since their purchase of the aggregator Beat That Quote last year.
The insurance marketplace, especially car insurance, is extremely competitive and this move by Google has seen them increase their visibility for car insurance related terms in the SERPS from 0-75%, according to the most recent study by Greenlight.
So is the new service any good? And what impact will this have on the already competitive insurance market?
If we look at this from the consumer perspective, it could be argued that being able to get a quote straight from the SERPS is making their journey quicker. However, it’s arguable that it’s the most relevant content.
The argument is the same for any comparison site, in that nobody compares quotes from all insurers, as some of the big providers including Direct Line and Aviva don’t work with comparison sites. So, if Google isn’t able to provide customers with a full range of potential insurance quotes, is it really fulfilling its lofty ideals of being ‘the perfect search engine’? Or is it merely enabling customers to get what they can already get from the likes of Moneysupermarket or Go Compare but giving it to them one step faster and earning a commission at the same time?
In terms of the actual application process, it is in essence very similar to the other aggregators such as Go Compare and Moneysupermarket. The application form is self-explanatory and easy to complete, although once adding an additional driver it was quite hard to remove them.
In terms of the results provided, they were also similar to the other price comparison sites in terms of the information provided. Results were listed in price order and included details such as policy details, voluntary excess, monthly and annual prices and the ability to compare various quotes.
Moneysupermarket has spent years investing in its SEO to maintain its top position in the natural rankings on Google for key terms such as ‘car insurance’ and you can bet they won’t be too pleased that they’ve been bumped down to position 2 overnight by Google’s new offering.
Will the insurance companies themselves care? I’m guessing this will very much depend on whether or not they currently work with comparison sites. If they do, then this is simply another lead generation mechanism. As to whether or not this is as beneficial as it seems on face value, this will depend on the commercial deal that they have with Google.
Is it really ethical for Google to take money from insurance companies and comparison sites in a highly competitive marketplace such as car insurance? Does it truly fit with their “Don’t be evil” motto?
Within the paid search space, the main players are always jostling for position, constantly helping to inflate the CPC. Likewise in the in natural listings there is a continual bun fight for position and those that are in the key positions invest heavily in their SEO. So Google to gaining position 1 in the natural search listings overnight seems to have created a rather uneven playing field….
At the end of the day, the insurance companies need to make profit and any increase in their costs could result in them passing on some of this cost back to the customer. It has been well noted over the last couple of years that the cost of insurance is sky rocketing and there is the potential that this new move by Google could exacerbate this situation further depending upon the financial agreements that it has struck with the relevant insurance companies to appear on their comparison table.