6 Ways NerdWallet Uses Search To Dominate The U.S. Personal Finance Market

Here are six rea­sons why Nerd­Wal­let has effec­tive­ly cap­i­tal­ized on its organ­ic search oppor­tu­ni­ties and is reap­ing the ben­e­fits as a result.

Pat Hong By Pat Hong from Linkdex. Join the discussion » 0 comments

A new report by Linkdex has revealed that Nerd­Wal­let, a per­son­al finance infor­ma­tion web­site, out­per­forms all major finan­cial insti­tu­tions and pub­lish­ers when it comes to answer­ing con­sumer queries in organ­ic search results. Here’s a clos­er look at what makes them such a great suc­cess.

Accord­ing to Linkdex’s report Mar­ket Analy­sis: US Per­son­al Finance, 2016, Nerd­Wal­let cap­tured a 22.3 per­cent share of all per­son­al finance relat­ed queries in the US, with long-tail blog con­tent mak­ing a con­sid­er­able con­tri­bu­tion (81.5 per­cent of their media val­ue from all organ­ic search con­tent) to their over­all suc­cess. As the report iden­ti­fies, long-tail con­sumer search­es have proved incred­i­bly valu­able for Nerd­Wal­let, and has been one of the most impor­tant fac­tors in help­ing them gain a mar­ket-lead­ing share of search in their indus­try. So why haven’t more brands lever­aged long-tail oppor­tu­ni­ties to win much cov­et­ed organ­ic search share? The like­ly answer is that it is no easy feat to iden­ti­fy, resource for, and then cre­ate and scale the qual­i­ty con­tent which can sat­is­fy demand for large num­ber of low vol­ume key­words, while man­ag­ing all the nec­es­sary oper­a­tions to form a sus­tained rev­enue-gen­er­at­ing chan­nel. When it comes to resources, how­ev­er, Nerd­Wal­let are well posi­tioned. In 2015, they raised an incred­i­ble $64 mil­lion in their first round of fund­ing – just the ninth U.S. start­up to raise more than $50 mil­lion at the ini­tial round since 2014. As revealed on Inc.com, the com­pa­ny have also man­aged to attract an impres­sive selec­tion of Sil­i­con Val­ley tal­ent, recruit­ing prod­uct man­agers and engi­neers from the likes of LinkedIn and Twit­ter. Per­son­al finance is a high­ly lucra­tive indus­try, with high vol­ume search terms around “cred­it” often demand­ing noto­ri­ous­ly high CPC val­ues, and as a result there has nat­u­ral­ly been pres­sure mount­ing for brands to seek a more cost-effec­tive way to reach con­sumers. Nerd­Wal­let have clear­ly cap­i­tal­ized most effec­tive­ly on the organ­ic search oppor­tu­ni­ties, and are reap­ing the ben­e­fits as a result. Here are six rea­sons why Nerd­Wal­let have risen above their com­peti­tors and rules the U.S. per­son­al finance mar­ket.

1. They Capitalize On Small Opportunities At Scale

Nerd­Wal­let’s long tail includes all man­ner of keyphras­es, terms such as “high­est inter­est rate sav­ings account”, “best mon­ey back cred­it cards” or “top online sav­ings accounts”. Sin­gu­lar­ly, these terms may not elic­it the high­est search vol­umes, but togeth­er they rep­re­sent a num­ber of moments at which con­sumers are search­ing for answers. As the fol­low­ing chart shows, the cumu­la­tive val­ue of all these small oppor­tu­ni­ties can have a huge impact on a domains over­all media val­ue. In total pages cater­ing for long-tail search­es have an esti­mat­ed val­ue of $2.45 mil­lion; 65.7 per­cent of the total esti­mat­ed val­ue of pages serv­ing Nerd­Wal­let’s entire key­word set ($3.73 mil­lion). nerdwallet-longtail

(From Linkdex’s Mar­ket Analy­sis: US Per­son­al Finance, 2016)

2. Focusing On & Understanding Consumer Intent

Nerd­Wal­let have an extreme­ly suc­cess­ful USP in which they allow con­sumers to freely com­pare finan­cial prod­ucts, and in many cas­es end up direct­ly con­nect­ing them with a cho­sen finan­cial provider. Where Nerd­Wal­let real­ly excels is in inter­pret­ing intent. When a con­sumer search­es for “best cred­it cards” it rep­re­sents a desire to research and com­pare dif­fer­ent prod­ucts, and Nerd­Wal­let pages are opti­mized to ful­fill this need. nerdwallet-best-cc

Nerd­Wal­let’s pages allows users to com­pare both types of, and ranges of cred­it cards with­in a par­tic­u­lar cat­e­go­ry.

Under­stand­ing and inter­pret­ing the nuance in search lan­guage is impor­tant. It allows brands to tune into and pro­vide for these needs. Con­sumers’ needs can vary and often require spe­cif­ic answers. For exam­ple, a search for “no for­eign trans­ac­tion fee cred­it cards” may indi­cate a desire to learn about the ben­e­fits and poten­tial charges that can be incurred by those cards. Ulti­mate­ly, pro­vid­ing the best con­tent and answers for these queries will be reward­ed by high vis­i­bil­i­ty in the search engines.

3. Amazing Author Network Of Capable Writers

One of the most impres­sive things about the Nerd­Wal­let oper­a­tion is their incred­i­ble author net­work, which enables them to scale their con­tent mar­ket­ing so well. Often com­pa­nies who attempt to scale their con­tent strat­e­gy are unable to main­tain a high stan­dard of qual­i­ty through­out all con­tent. Invari­able, to do so requires a large net­work of capa­ble writ­ers. How many? Well, here is a visu­al­iza­tion of Nerd­Wal­let’s writ­ers from Linkdex Enti­ty Search: entity-browser

Nerd­Wal­let’s writer net­work, where the size of each bub­ble rep­re­sents esti­mat­ed traf­fic for each author.

Build­ing such a net­work is no easy feat – it requires con­sid­er­able invest­ment. It’s a tes­ta­ment to Nerd­Wal­let’s com­mit­ment and belief in organ­ic con­tent to have man­aged to build such a com­mu­ni­ty. Many of these writ­ers con­tribute to the Nerd­Wal­let blog, home of the long tail con­tent, and a cur­so­ry look at the blog shows the con­sis­tent high lev­el of qual­i­ty that the authors cre­ate.

4. Grasp Of Technology & SEO Tactics

Nerd­Wal­let clear­ly has a great com­mand of organ­ic search, but and there are exam­ples of where they have real­ly opti­mized their pres­ence in the search engine. For exam­ple, there are a num­ber of queries in which Nerd­Wal­let con­tent appears promi­nent­ly in Google “quick answer-box­es”. In these cas­es the search engine rec­og­nizes that the con­tent is going to be the most infor­ma­tive for users, and increas­es the vis­i­bil­i­ty sig­nif­i­cant­ly so users can find it eas­i­er. The search “bal­ance trans­fer cred­it card” (a high­ly valu­able term!) returns the fol­low­ing result: btcc_nw That’s an awful lot of above the fold vis­i­bil­i­ty afford­ed by that quick answer-box. Inci­den­tal­ly, for the same search, a lit­tle fur­ther down the page: btcc_nw2 Nerd­Wal­let win the quick answer-box for the pop­u­lar search term, and also hap­pen to be the cur­rent fea­tured news sto­ry at time of writ­ing — all in all a pret­ty impres­sive first page pres­ence. This in par­tic­u­lar is a great exam­ple of how Nerd­Wal­let sim­ply oblit­er­ate the com­pe­ti­tion for an indi­vid­ual term.

5. Talent & Recruiting

Excelling in the above areas nat­u­ral­ly requires some seri­ous dig­i­tal tal­ent. This is one area where Nerd­Wal­let has com­mit­ted siz­able invest­ment. “I real­ly think that win­ning in this mar­ket is about attract­ing the best tal­ent out there,” CEO Tim Chen told Inc. “The more tal­ent, the bet­ter.” As with their author net­work, invest­ing in capa­ble dig­i­tal teams is cru­cial to win­ning the mar­ket.

6. Authenticity & Reputation

On a sim­ple lev­el, there is one notable dif­fer­ence between the gen­er­al expe­ri­ence a user has on Nerd­Wal­let, and that which they might have on the site of a finan­cial insti­tu­tion. As Linkdex’s report high­lights:

Any cur­so­ry look at the web­site of any major finan­cial brand reveals high­ly util­i­tar­i­an, func­tion­al pages, copy and con­tent. In con­trast, the affil­i­ate pages are much more ‘human’ – full of con­tent that is emo­tive, respon­sive, sup­port­ive, in-depth and com­pre­hen­sive in it’s cov­er­age, and also exud­ing trust and authen­tic­i­ty sig­nals that users are seek­ing.”

Authen­tic­i­ty is the key word here, and Nerd­Wal­let score much high­er than banks may do: nw_reviews User-gen­er­at­ed reviews, for exam­ple, which are eas­i­ly nav­i­ga­ble through­out the site for all the prod­ucts fea­tured are a great authen­tic­i­ty sig­nal, and add mas­sive­ly to the over­all con­tent val­ue of the site.

Final Thoughts

Undoubt­ed­ly, there are many rea­sons why Nerd­Wal­let per­forms so well. This arti­cle cov­ers just a few of them. Over­all, Nerd­Wal­let serves as a great exam­ple of the pow­er of cap­tur­ing indi­vid­ual moments. Long-tail search queries are essen­tial­ly an exam­ple of such a moment. Equal­ly, reviews rep­re­sent and ful­fill a moment in which con­sumers are seek­ing reas­sur­ance about a prod­uct. What Nerd­Wal­let shows us is that under­stand­ing and meet­ing the needs of con­sumers at these moments can be a high­ly suc­cess­ful strat­e­gy for brands.

Pat Hong

Written by Pat Hong

Editor at Linkdex/Inked, Linkdex

Pat covers the SEO industry, digital marketing trends, and anything and everything around Linkdex. He also authors Linkdex's data analysis and reports, analysing the state of search in various industries.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

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