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How Hiscox navigated a perfect storm of Google updates

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By The Drum | Editorial

December 6, 2023 | 7 min read

Hiscox and Reprise have won the Agency/Client Partnership category at The Drum Awards for Content. Here is the award-winning case study.

We started working with Hiscox in February 2020. Within weeks, the world of business insurance was rocked by Covid-19, and in 2022, the market was still weak as it grappled with the aftereffects.

Hiscox was no exception. After two years of reduced marketing activities, it faced a lack of brand awareness. Then came the 2022 Google Core Algorithm update, which had a big impact on Hiscox's organic search performance, particularly for key commercial search terms like “business insurance” and “public liability insurance”.

We needed to collaborate with Hiscox on a more comprehensive content strategy to:

Minimize the impact on commercial performance, including organic traffic and conversion numbers (Start Quotes, Quotes, and Sales)

Identify why Hiscox was so heavily impacted and discover which of its competitors were facing a similar situation

Recover rankings of commercial head terms “public liability insurance” and “business insurance” from lower page 1 to upper page 1

Strategy

We investigated the post-Update search content landscape and from our detailed content audit and competitor analysis, we identified two main challenges:

Niche customer base Hiscox has a smaller customer base than other major insurers due to business priority professions. However, lower search demand for these professions (in technology and management) and increased demand for others (tradespeople and retailers predominantly) meant Hiscox’s website felt less relevant. Google Analytics conversion data confirmed this theory, so we reviewed top-performing competitor sites to see how other insurers embedded different profession types into their content.

We worked with Hiscox to better understand their business-wide priorities – collaborating with underwriters and brand teams to find compromises for on-site content. The aim? To capture search demand and match users’ needs when they land on commercial pages. We also expanded our content across the user funnel, creating new profession pages and FAQ pages – all targeting terms that customers in those areas we’d failed to reach previously were searching. We focused tightly on search intent – what did these potential customers want when they tapped those words into Google? From ‘I want to know’ queries, like whether a certain profession needs public liability insurance, to ‘I want to buy’ moments where consumers are ready to convert – we went on to create content to match these different moments in the funnel.

For nearly four years, we’ve been the Hiscox CMS champions, uploading new content and optimizing existing pages – for the wider business as well as SEO. To ensure content accuracy, our content is reviewed by underwriters, brand, and conduct professionals at Hiscox. This complex and collaborative approval process takes time and effort but it’s key to serving best-in-class content to potential customers. Recently, we used our content expertise to help revise key commercial pages ahead of FCA Consumer Duty regulations. And when their cyber product changed, we rolled out new policy wording across all relevant pages. In both cases, we worked in lockstep with compliance and underwriting experts. Every year, we partner with Hiscox’s marketing team on their Cyber Readiness Report – a global survey that highlights different sectors and business sizes and their awareness and preparation for cyber threats. With every report, we find different ways to keep the links coming in through digital outreach. This year our ‘The changing face of cyber’ campaign demonstrated how the landscape has changed and secured 35 links, boosting brand awareness and authority.

Brand awareness and brand search demand drop YoY across keywords

“Hiscox insurance” monthly search volume dropped 17% YoY

“Hiscox business insurance” monthly search volume dropped 91% YoY

Through keyword research and comparing YoY data, we found that Hiscox brand search had dropped significantly. A decline in awareness and reputation can erode consumer trust – which is an important ranking factor for YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) content.

We raised these findings to the wider business in our September Quarterly Business Review. This proved important. Now, Hiscox is tackling brand awareness through above the line media campaigns. From a search perspective, we knew our best approach was to boost E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trust). These ranking signals outlined by Google are crucial for financial companies like Hiscox. We expanded our content plans to include more informational blogs and claims stories to showcase Hiscox’s expertise in the field, showcasing authority signals for Google.

We had two goals:

Boost E-E-A-T by showcasing the brand’s expertise in topics relevant to business insurance and business owners.

Boost brand awareness to customers in the upper conversion funnel, by ensuring Hiscox is visible in Google’s Search Engine Result Pages for search terms they use.

All informational content is reviewed and approved by insurance experts. For claims stories, we interviewed Hiscox claims handlers to share real customer experiences – a core part of Google’s E-E-A-T expectations. We also worked on improving conversion journeys, by adding price points and trust-boosting reviews on commercial pages. Alongside on-site optimization, we actioned an outreach plan to gain links to the Hiscox domain – a surefire signal to Google that Hiscox is an authoritative on business insurance. Our Risk Readiness Report compiled survey data from 1,500 business leaders to demonstrate current attitudes towards health and safety – considering whether businesses have public liability or health and safety risk assessments in place. We gained 17 pieces of digital coverage, from hyper-relevant press. Alongside these campaigns, we run reactive workstreams, working with PR and senior Hiscox colleagues to offer expert commentary to press on request – putting the brand in front of more people and demonstrating their leadership in the field.

Results

Key statistics:

Product pages sales up +19% YoY

52 new outreach links

Close to a fivefold increase in blog sessions

Hiscox has broken their historical ranking record: In November 2022, the public liability product page took several coveted Google positions:

Position #1 for the term “what is public liability insurance”.

Position #2 for the commercially vital “public liability insurance” keyword – up from Position 7 previously. It was no flash in the pan, either. Hiscox has held onto these positions ever since. This broke their historical ranking record of ranking in the top three over six months.

Hiscox’s expert content is algorithm-update-proof: Our optimizations were rooted in E-E-A-T . This depth of expertise and relevance has insulated these pages from recent Google algorithm updates. Hiscox retained its top positions through the:

December 2022 Link Spam Update

Helpful Content Update

March 2023 Core Update

April 2023 Reviews Update

Engaged audiences act: Hiscox’s business is selling business insurance, and our enhancements have contributed to an increase in start quotes and overall sales. The updated pages have also driven a significant YoY increase in sales.

We went beyond the typical client and agency relationship to pinpoint the root causes for Hiscox’s underperformance. We took the initiative to understand the bigger picture for the business and to collaborate further with Hiscox to find solutions. This led us not just to performance recovery, but to breaking records, staying ahead of the competition, and working better together than ever.

Client quote: “Reprise’s content team is hands down the most organized and responsive agency team I have worked with. As a reputable insurer, we operate in a heavily regulated marketplace and have demanding content approval processes in place. The Reprise team have never been fazed by the complicated workflows and their project management chops delivered efficiency, value and organisation from day one.” Cem Ernaz, Senior Manager, Search Engine Marketing, Hiscox

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