My primary job at comparenow.com was to write website content. A lot of it. I was responsible for planning the content, creating and managing the brand voice, testing out types of content (lists vs. informative content), and writing content that was optimized for search (SEO).
Starting Content for comparenow.com
With the guidance of local SEO firm RVA Media, a site structure was agreed upon and my content strategy was approved/verified. I began by laying a base of content similar to what you might see on the websites of large insurance brands. There was a homepage and the requisite hub pages (about us, contact us, etc.), but we also had an area that explained all the different auto insurance jargon (roughly 25 pages of content 600-1000 words each, optimized for search). While not exactly excited, it was absolutely necessary in order to build a site that would be competitive in search in what is both the most competitive industry within the organic search space–and also the spammiest.
Evolving Website Content
Fortunately, once a base was established, the fun could begin. I started out simple, with 600-ish word articles about obvious and easy to cover topics (e.g., “Why Should I Compare Car Insurance”). I evolved the content over time, but didn’t get the buy-in for more time-consuming, brand journalism style content until more recently. I started with two articles:
It took a little bit of time, but they got traction sooner than expected. Once we began using content marketing tools like Outbrain, these became the top two converting articles on the comparenow.com website. I continued investing more time in brand journalism style articles (with content like this) and we began to see an increase in content as a conversion driving channel.
Evolving Content Strategy
As a new company in a highly competitive industry odds were not good that we’d get a perfect content strategy out of the gate. I started with what seemed obvious, you know, the low-hanging fruit principle. Once it was fleshed out, I knew that we had to start a new branch of content and so began a process of developing multiple content types simultaneously.
I’ve talked about two types of content that I implemented, but there were others. It wouldn’t be much of a content strategy to rely on a single type of content. One of the greatest strengths our competitors had was branded search queries. People search more for branded terms than they do for generic phrases like “car insurance”. So we had to find a way to cut in.
Branded search proved to be a dream in terms of capturing search traffic and that was particularly true of brands that utilized well-known spokespeople (or lizards, ahem). Once we realized how well this worked, we shaped a new funnel using these branded search landing pages as a starting point. It was a slightly longer path to conversion and conversion rates were lower (user intent with some of these searches was incredibly muddled), but it still worked.
Offsite Content Strategy
There’s a lot more to content strategy than just the content on your site. We needed to market the content as well and we needed a plan and a purpose. The ultimate goal was to establish the comparenow.com brand as a consumer friendly entity. To have customers feel that comparenow.com was acting in their interest and not its own.
In working to achieve this image PR, site content, television ads, and guest posts all came back to a single message: comparenow.com is here to put buying power back into the hands of the consumer and to level the playing field. The elements, or supporting angles of these various content elements delivered the following messages to support the idea that comparenow.com is intended to help consumers:
- Insurance is confusing, but we understand it. We can help you understand it too.
- Insurance price comparison is time consuming, but we’ve found a way to reduce the amount of time required to find the best price.
- You can’t trust price comparison on an insurance company’s website, you should rely on a neutral 3rd party.
All of the elements of the central story tied together quite neatly and consumer polling showed that, while the average consumer was relatively new to this product, they believed that it was a service similar to Consumer Reports.
Which was exactly what we wanted to hear.