The Drum Search Awards Awards Case Studies Technology

How Verve used good content to grow an online mortgage client's marketshare


By The Drum, Editorial

November 28, 2023 | 7 min read

Online Mortgage Advisor and Verve Search won the Creativity category at The Drum Awards for Search. Here is the award-winning case study.

An example of strong performing editorial

We were engaged by Online Mortgage Advisor to grow organic traffic and rankings by creating compelling content that would generate high authority, editorial links to their site. Our secondary objective was to grow their brand awareness and give them visibility in the most authoritative publications around the world. We set the following objectives for a series of 3 campaigns:

Achieve a minimum of 50 pieces of linked coverage

A minimum LinkScore* of 3,000 points (1,000 per campaign)

Achieve 50% of the links as follow links

A minimum of 5,000 social media shares

To make sure that this activity directly contributed to revenue, we set combined targets across the campaigns:

Increase the number of high-competition, high-value keywords in position 1-3

Increase organic traffic to the site YoY

Increase the number of leads via the website

Significantly improve rankings for top-focus keywords: “mortgage broker”, “mortgage advice”, “bad credit mortgage”, and “mortgage advisor” *LinkScore is our proprietary algorithm-based tool that estimates link value. It combines a few key SEO metrics (e.g. follow/nofollow, content and language relevancy, website authority, etc.), to measure the true SEO value of a link.

Targeting and implementation: With the goal for Online Mortgage Advisor being to improve rankings and target their ‘search audience’, this content was not built primarily to convert, but to attract links, grow domain authority, and improve SERP visibility. As such, we targeted top-tier journalists in the most respected English-language property and personal finance publications to give our content highly-credible exposure.

Online Mortgage Advisor provides a modern and accessible way to get a mortgage quote as well as expert advice. Therefore, they target a young audience (starting from mid-20s) who trust online services and want quick information. They also target people who have already taken on a mortgage and know what they are looking for so don’t want to pay commission to a mortgage advisor.

As their product is centered around money, the client based their whole SEO strategy around E-A-T, making sure their on-site content was optimized to be as useful as possible while we took care of the offsite authority. Our goal was, therefore, to get top-tier and relevant publications to quote Online Mortgage Advisor as experts in their field.

To increase brand mentions for such a large audience and competitive landscape, we decided to also target more light-hearted publications touching on different topics like lifestyle and homes. We achieved this by putting extra effort in at the ideation stage and developing a proofing process that ensured all content would only benefit our client’s authority.

With this in mind, we defined three key metrics for our content:

Authority: Presenting Online Mortgage Advisor as experts in their field and producing thoroughly researched and useful content.

Relevancy: Focusing on topics that their audience would be interested in and that would encourage engagement.

Global Reach: Even though they are a UK-based company, the client wanted to get coverage in top-tier publications all around the world to diversify their backlink profile (to boost organic performance) and obtain more follow links.

To get the journalists’ attention on widely talked-about topics, our priority was to produce high-quality content, based on in-depth research and using original approaches. It took several weeks for each campaign to define the methodologies and collect, analyze, and clean the data; this then had to be visualized in the most clear and digestible way for outreach.

Campaign 1: Priced Out Property For Priced Out Property, we used house prices and local salary data to analyze the historical change in property affordability in cities around the world, discovering where locals have been priced out of the housing market the fastest since 2012. The study included 218 cities around the world in our purchase analysis, and 345 cities in our rent analysis.

Campaign 2: Eye-Catching Architecture For Eye-Catching Architecture, we analyzed thousands of photos of buildings worldwide using a famous mathematical concept, the golden ratio, to find out which major city is home to the most beautiful buildings. Our ranking of cities considers 450 streets and more than 2,400 buildings in 45 historical cities famed for their architecture. The challenge for this was collecting images manually as no bank of such images existed!

Campaign 3: [Happiest New Homeowners in the UK]( homeowners-in-the-uk/) Inspired by the number of articles about the happiest places to live, we wanted to give a twist to the story and created Happiest Homebuyers. Using an AI tool called Microsoft Azure we analyzed thousands of photos posted on social media by locals and recent homebuyers in various locations around the world to find out where the happiest places to live and buy a property are. The facial recognition tool gave us a score for each emotion displayed in the faces in every photo to discover the most dominant ones.

Outreach to journalists: We personalized our outreach approach with prospects in the most authoritative property and personal finance publications but also lifestyle, travel, and architecture.

Expert commentary: In line with the E-A-T approach, every campaign produced was accompanied by expert comments for journalists to use in their articles and position our client as an authority on the real estate and home topics.

Links Results: We delivered results above and beyond the objectives set for us and on a truly global scale.

Linkscore of 13,838 which is more than 300% above target (see appendix for coverage)

306 linked pieces of coverage in Europe inc. The Daily Mail, ABC (Spain), The Times, WELT (Germany), Vanity Fair Italy, Elle (Spain), Punkufer (Croatia) and worldwide: New York Times, Bloomberg Línea, Travel and Leisure India, Cronista (Argentina).

160 additional pieces of coverage (print and unlinked), inc. India Times, Belfast Telegraph, Marca (Spain), (China).

In total, we got coverage in more than 20 different countries from the UK to Thailand and Colombia.

The content has been recognized by authoritative academic sites such as The University of Chester.

More than 40,000 coverage shares on social media.

Performance Results: We started working with Online Mortgage Advisor in September 2021 and have since seen a steady increase in organic traffic and referring domains for Results were particularly impressive after Eye-Catching Architecture picked up a lot of authoritative coverage from publications around the world.

YoY keyword ranking increases for UK SERPS (source Ahrefs):

mortgage advisor: from position 14 to 3

mortgage broker: from position 26 to 16

mortgage advice: from position >100 to 13

mortgage brokers near me: from position >100 to 10

bad credit mortgage: from position 6 to 2

online mortgage broker (1.6k monthly search volume): from position 5 to 2

The client's leads through the website have doubled.

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