Comparing quotes from financial services is a big market in the UK, as sites which deliver quotes from unsecured loan, car insurance and even pet insurance providers battle for top rankings in both paid search and organic search on Google UK. For an example, search on Google UK for secured loans.
Back in May, Google.co.uk stepped in and started serving its own quote comparisons, above the normal Google AdWords results, which bypass the paid search and organic market, sending the user to Google Merchant Search (beta).
On Google Merchant Search, Google UK is making the referral affiliate revenue direct, serving click thrus for lead generation and trackable toll free phone numbers. With Google owning the top spot and sending traffic directly to their own quotes system, how are the sites like MoneySuperMarket.com, QuoteZone.co.uk and Accepted.co.uk supposed to compete with big G?
I spoke with Greg Wilson, the Director of Seopa Ltd, the company that runs QuoteZone.co.uk, a UK quotes comparison site, who had this to say :
I think Google needs to consider what it is trying to be.
If Google decides to be less of a search engine and more of a comparison site, then will people continue to use Google and see it as an unbiased search tool? Im not so sure.
Now, Google UK has announced that it will be extending its beta trial, “We have decided to extend the Merchant Search test so that we can capture more results,” he said. “We have not begun our evaluation yet.”
In the US, I’d expect advertisers to be up in arms about Google serving direct quotes above the sites of AdWords advertisers like Progressive or other lead generation and comparison sites. In the UK, given that the market for these services seems to be much larger, there does not seem to be much protest.
We’ll see what happens if Google UK expands Merchant Search into the credit card comparison and insurance comparison niches.