Buying Links for Car Insurance

May 12, 2011 // Search Engines, seo

Those that read my blog regularly will know I’ve long ranted about how Google can be so hard line in some areas and yet let obvious link buying go unpunished. I’ve highlighted quite clearly in a previous post about paid link methods that still work and still in the UK anyway there has been little if any big smack downs for big brands that don’t follow the guidelines.

One of the areas I work in is Car Insurance, notoriously difficult to do well in “ethically” and full of paid link profiles like you wouldn’t believe and a super costly scale. Those that also work in this sector will have noticed that there are always those sites that are seen as “authorities” and very rarely move rankings and then there are those that come from no-where and suddenly take all the glory.

One such site is a company called Hastings Direct – now I’m not saying “these guys buy links” however if you look at a recent track of rankings for the keyword “car insurance” versus 2 stable brands such as and comparethemarket you’ll notice what it might look like:

The 2 faint lines are those of the other brands and the orange line is that of Hastings Direct, they actually moved to #2 in Google for about a week before moving to mid page 2 today. This increase and decrease “could” be for a number of other SEO reasons but if anyone was to do a quick 2 minute analysis of their backlinks you’d probably make up your mind quickly on this. I also considered this might be due to increased performance by those around this site and in turn push a few down so I did another comparison for “Cheap Car Insurance” versus the same 2 brands:

Again in the chart above you can see they’ve been significantly moved to a much lower position, this is the same for a number of other keywords. This movement  is actually quite common in highly competitive industries such as car, home and travel insurance, websites will move from mid second page into a very high position and eventually get moved back down.

It goes to show to some degree that buying links for the keyword car insurance is not a worthwhile long term solution for SEO as well as holding a great deal of risk for those that do carry it out – Google turns a blind eye many times to big brands that buy links – potentially this is the start of something new?

Matt Ridout

About the author

My name is Matt Ridout, I've been working in digital marketing for 9 years; worked for agencies and currently Head of SEO at fashion startup called Farfetch. Try to test my own theories.


  1. How did you get this data?

  2. Used AWR for the benchmarking and Majestic for the backlink analysis 🙂

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