The green energy PPC market is set for growth, and careful timing and keyword planning will prove indispensable as competition increases.
As I reported in our previous article on the Government’s GoGreen policies, the PPC market for green energy systems is still small, but indicative of how things will look when the sector gets more competitive. As the larger providers begin to dip their toes in this PPC pool, a good keyword spread and seasonal planning are solid strategies for when the water heats up.
A Volatile Market
Our data shows the domestic green energy market to be very volatile, with major changes in the share of voice (SOV) rankings occurring rapidly. With close attention to keyword choices and the all-important seasonal factor, it should be possible for any energy provider to get a steady hold on this PPC sector.
As you can see from the graph above, Npower, British Gas, and SSE are the major players in terms of SOV – they also have large and well-chosen keyword portfolios. The choice of keyword is fundamentally important in this market, as each keyword’s value can fluctuate drastically, causing the different competitors to plummet or soar according to their bidding.
The most important thing to note in the graph above is that Npower’s SOV dropped to nothing in February for green energy search terms, but in July, it soared again, taking British Gas’ SOV down considerably.
The government announced it was going to revamp the Green Deal in June, but it seems only Npower decided to hold back on spend until the new cashback deal hit. The Guardian reports that applications for deals on green energy were tiny before July, but experienced a massive surge the month the new deal was announced, which sits inline with Npower’s radical increase in SOV.
Additionally, in July, Npower’s SOV increased for the keyword string British Gas Green Deal, taking away a lot of British Gas’ share. Although the company’s SOV dropped for the term in September, British Gas also stopped spending on the term, allowing Npower to ride the wave and start bidding on Green Deal Boiler too, to strengthen its position at the top.
The reason for this could be that they knew they needed to reduce spend after being hit with an £11m bill from Ofgem for failing to meet efficiency targets, as the The Guardian reports, or it could be that they decided to capture new customers rather than ranking for British Gas brand terms.
With Adthena, you can keep track of how much your competitors are spending and take a cautious approach, keeping hold of your SOV when the competition pulls back.
Head to Head
The graph above compares the keywords on which the top three energy companies are bidding. As you can see, British Gas has the largest and arguably the most effective keyword portfolio.
According to Adthena’s data, the keywords green deal scotland and green deal new boiler were the top two keywords for 2014 – and British Gas was the only company that bid on them.
Green Deal Scotland was re-launched in December and this is illustrated by a big spike search term, but even before, it was ranking much higher than the UK equivalent. This specific keyword, rather than using more generic keywords is lower-cost and less generic than some of the competing terms, meaning British Gas was able to take all market share.
This is turning out to be a great keyword for British Gas, but wide as its keyword portfolio may be, it should seek some other terms that can provide more stability. For instance, SSE was the only competitor for solar heating systems. While not as dramatically beneficial as British Gas’ choices, this keyword definitely offered an advantage to its sole bidder of the big six.
Seasonality and PR
The PPC market for this sector is highly sensitive to the season: for example, green deal scotland launches upward from November onwards, while green deal boiler emerges from nothing in October.
As I observed in our previous article on the subject, homeowners start to feel the chill in the autumn months and head to Google to look for the best deals available for new boilers. Meanwhile, the keyword solar heating systems emerges around August, as the warmth and sun resolve many to harness them for energy.
In addition to seasonality, energy competitors also have to deal with a lively perception equation, as oil prices, global warming, and geopolitics affect how people feel about their products.
As green energy becomes more and more popular, especially with the help of government initiatives, PPC will become of greater import for all competitors. And of all markets, energy may be one of the most sensitive, meaning that companies need a competitive intelligence for search solution to tell them what the competition is doing, what keywords they’re using, and how to rise to the top of the search rankings.
(Main image credit: David TREBOSC/flickr)