On May 11, 2016, Google announced an update to its Adwords policy on loan products.
This introduced the no ads policy for payday loans and certain related products on all Google advertising systems as of July 13, 2016.
On top of that, Google is also banning ads for loans with an APR of 36% or more in the US only. Ads directing you to products for which reimbursement is due within 60 days of the date of issue are also prohibited.
(UPDATE: As of early August 2016, Google’s payday loan ban still hasn’t been implemented. There hasn’t been an official word on why.)
This ban was introduced because research has shown Google that these loans can lead to “unaffordable payments and high default rates”, leading users into a dangerous spiral of non-repayable debt.
So what does this mean for websites and brands that rely solely on paid ads to acquire business in this space?
This niche has been one of the most fiercely fought SERPs in recent years, historically dominated by black hat SEOs.
For this reason and the “spam nature” of the queries, payday loans also saw the introduction of its own algorithm in 2013 to help improve the results provided by Google.
To analyze the paid space, we have a proprietary tool called Market Defender which evaluates the current bidding strategy based on positions / impression share and generates your “digital market share” based on total auction volume. impressions available from keyword positions.
Below is the share of voice within the payday lending space:
By directly comparing this to the top performing websites in the payday loan organic research niche, we can then begin our analysis.
To perform this analysis, we compiled 508 of the most competitive keywords in the space that has an estimated return of 403,857 visits if you were to rank first for each individual term.
We have removed all aggregator websites such as uSwitch to focus only on the lenders themselves.
The table below shows who these websites are:
In detail, we can see how each of the top performing organic search websites is doing:
Now, by overlaying the top performing paid websites over the organic ones, we are able to identify the performance of the top performing paid websites on both channels:
You can quickly identify that 11 of the 20 websites don’t have more than 100 organic search visibility.
This must be a major concern for these websites once Google’s new policy is finally implemented.
By looking at two important organic metrics – domain authority and number of referring domains – we can dig a little deeper into how these websites hold up.
The authority of the top 10 paid websites and the number of referring domains can be seen below:
From this research, it’s clear that quickquid.co.uk has been both paid and organic.
In organic terms, the site does not have the highest authority, but has the highest number of referring domains.
QuickQuid is poised to be the market leader in paid ads and the clear leader in the organic search market. So let’s see what elements it works well.
QuickQuid performance analysis
QuickQuid’s link acquisition strategy works well with links from websites such as inhabitant.com, lifehacker.com, lifehack.org, buzzfeed.com, etc.
It is generally believed that delivering payday loan content is difficult, but with the right strategy it can be simple.
QuickQuid isn’t just about payday loans, but the everyday facts that people care about, that are shareable, and most importantly, related!
The method QuickQuid has used most often is creating infographics on topics of enormous human interest; lifestyle and environment.
An infographic on “Could the whole world really run on solar power” seems to have worked very well – its placement on inhabitant.com gained 9,900 likes on Facebook alone, as well as 31 referral domains in the placement, which in turn are linked to QuickQuid.
Another infographic on “How to Create a Home Spa Day” was included in a Buzzfeed article on Becoming a Happier Person.
Finally, there is an infographic on “How many calories can you burn in 10 minutes,” which was placed on lifehack.org and drew 273 shares.
This method works impressively and helps put the QuickQuid website into a tough niche.
Following what clearly works for QuickQuid, I organized a mini ideation session to better understand how the content strategy might work for QuickQuid.
Here is an overview of our ideation:
Instead of veering too far to the left, we tried to keep our ideas about finance to some extent.
Below are the ideas, as well as the types of content we have created.
Content campaign plan
Below is a potential content distribution plan that would run over three months. It shows the different teams needed to make it happen, while ensuring a good flow of content.
Constantly posting infographics can become tiring for your audience, so it’s important to mix up content formats. It varies from short blogs to quizzes.
Analysis shows that 12 of the 20 websites will fight in massive numbers once the ban is in place due to near zero visibility in organic search.
If this was a quick way to make money through a paid acquisition, that’s okay, but if these websites want longevity, they’re going to have to start considering an organic strategy, and quick.