ICICI Prulife Case Study

How Infidigit helped ICICI Overcome the Change in SERP Intent & Cannibalisation to
Regain Featured Snippet

There have been numerous instances where Google Search adapted to changing searcher intents and showcased results accordingly. This is majorly done to cater to user requests. Such shifts can at times lead to changing the entire strategy and way you target keywords. Below is a twitter conversation where John Mueller explains the reason for such shifts.

A similar situation was faced by us which had a major impact on the business. Below is the behind the scenes of how we approached the situation and regained our position over a period of one  year.
This means I’m going to be honest about the:

  • Challenge
  • Objective 
  • Limits
  • Timeframe

 

A Little Background

In the Indian life insurance sector, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance has consistently ranked among the top policies for many years. We maintained the top position as a featured snippet for the term ‘life insurance’ for our category page for close to a year before the doomsday in May 2021. We never saw that coming and had a major hit on the business as this was one of our top priority keywords.

Before going any further let me explain the terminologies I’ll be using for the two pages:

  • Category Page: https://www.iciciprulife.com/life-insurance.html
  • Home Page: https://www.iciciprulife.com/

    Getting back to the topic, below is a snapshot of Google SERP from April 2021. Out of the total real estate on the SERP the first fold was dominated by the featured snippet gained by ICICI Prudential followed by Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) and then SBI Life. Nearly 40 % of the SERP was shared by People Also Ask, Local Listing & Top Stories.


    Apart from LIC & SBI Life all the other listed websites have their category pages listed on the SERP so as ICICI Prulife.

The twist

This is the fun part. Towards the end of April, we started noticing major ranking fluctuations of the keyword ‘life insurance’.

On good days we maintained the featured snippet whereas on bad days we ranked at #5 with two pages ranking on the SERP. Yes! You heard that right. This was alarming.
We started observing the ranking very closely and noticed a few things:

  • On days when we ranked #1, we had our category page ranking
  • On days when we tanked, our home page & category pages were ranking. While the category page ranked at #5 and the home page ranked on #6. During this time the no. 1 position was occupied by LIC, a well know website with a high authority that seemed difficult to beat back then. 
  • We also noticed during this time, the competitors had their home pages ranking on the SERP which was not the case a fortnight ago. Unfortunately, we do not have a screenshot of the SERP from back then so you will have to go by our word

    In the below screenshot we can see the rank drop in the month of May 2021 from #1 position to #5 position for the Home Page and also the Category Page appearing at #6.

As mentioned above, due to ranking fluctuations the ranks for both pages also kept shuffling between the 5th & 6th positions. The below screenshot is from the month of June 2021.

Now if you ask us, a home page ranking for the keyword ‘life insurance’ made sense but we also had to beat keyword cannibalisation that was puzzling Google from ranking the most relevant page on the SERP. 

What did we do?

Step 1

As the initially targeted page was a category page, we had a bunch of internal links with the targeted keyword ‘life insurance’ used as an anchor text from our topical pages. The first step we took was to change the targeted URL from the category page to the home page across all the topical pages.

As we all are aware, anchor text is a major ranking factor and also a part of best practices listed in Google’s SEO Starter Guide. This helped us sending out a big clue to search engines about the content of the linked page and the page we would like to rank for the desired keyword. 

Alongside we also started deoptimising the content on our category page for the keyword ‘life insurance’ and further optimised it for terms like ‘life insurance policy’ and ‘life insurance plans’.

The primary objective here was to convey to Google that the term ‘life insurance’ needs to be targeted strictly towards the home page as the user intent is not very clear. The user might be looking to understand what life insurance is, what are the various life insurance plans, or even what companies are offering life insurance. Whereas for the term ‘life insurance policy, the search is more intent driven where the user has an idea about the policies offered by us.

Results:

We took nearly 20 days to re-work internal linking and another 40 days for the content to go live. There were a few challenges that we will talk about later in the case study. Post all the implementations were made live we started noticing some positive signs by the month of September 2021. The cannibalisation issue had been resolved and improved our ranking for the home page to the 4th position. It’s a small victory but definitely worth it!

Step 2

We were ofcourse not satisfied. From here on we decided to push some more content on the home page to further improve our rankings. For this we analysed the current content, conducted competitor analysis and targeted a few long tail keywords to improve its semantic relevance for the content.

Alongside, we also compiled a list of websites with good authority that had previously linked our category page targeting the term ‘life insurance’. Once we had the list, we created a plan basis the websites authority we reached out to them, requesting them to link our home page or change the anchor text.

Below is glimpse of the content update :

Before

After

Also sharing a glimpse of the change in anchor text from relevant bloggers: :

Before

After

Apologies for not an appealing screenshot. This is the best I could gather from https://web.archive.org/

Challenges:

One of the primary challenges was getting the content updates live. As mentioned already, our client falls in the BFSI space and has strict compliance regulatory to follow before taking any piece of content live. The content had to vetted by the internal teams ranging from the content to the product owners. And secondly, reaching out to the website owners for changing the links/anchor text was a hassle. It took us a while to get them implemented.

Once we got these implemented, we waited for a while to see the results. However, there were no movements at all! Here’s where things get serious. By now you’re probably having quite serious conversations with your client about performance. We had spent a lot of time working on the website with very little to show for it.

Below is a screenshot from December 2021 where the page continued to remain at #4

There were two things:

  • Even after Google crawls and indexes your pages it would not shoot up the rankings overnight
  • Neither do links start working the next

I explained the same to the client. We had been working with the client for a very long time they understood us. This was a big relief as we had some more time to wait around to see the results.

Another long wait

We waited for another 2 months but saw no results. By now I had been questioning myself as to where did I go wrong. 

[Screenshot life ins Feb 2022]

But I did not give up. I started doing some more research and that’s when I saw a ray of hope. Our ranking jumped two spots up! Yes, you heard that right!

[Screenshot life ins Mar 2022]

This is where I knew we would see some more good results the next month. Once we saw the jump, we did nothing, we literally did nothing and you’d be surprised what came in the next month.

Victory

After 6 months of nearly no movement, Google finally decided to recognise our efforts and decided to reward us with the Number 1 position.

Here’s a screenshot from the SERPs. 

[Featured snippet Screenshot]

Now I’m not sure, how long this will last, but if I see a drop I will work on it again and will bring it back at #1.

There’s more to this story…

We were very happy about the ranking improvement for the keyword ‘life insurance’, but what’s more exciting was it also accompanied improvement in ranking for the keyword ‘life insurance policy’. 

This was the ranking back in May 2021. The rankings were super volatile.

[Screenshot life policy May 2021]

The ranking for ‘life insurance policy’ popped up 5 spots in May. It dropped a position or two between September & December.

[Screenshot life policy September 2021]

[Screenshot life policy December 2021]

Remember the efforts we put in, to de-optimize the category page for the term ‘life insurance’ and further optimize it for ‘life insurance policy’? And the change of anchor texts/URLs for the links we built in the past? Fortunately, that started showing its effects. Apart from the two actions mentioned we also upgraded the UI UX. Furthermore, we enhanced the content further to make it more appealing to the end-users.

[Before UI Screenshot]

[After UI Screenshot]

All these efforts finally started showing results. With a rise in ranking for our top keyword life insurance in the month of May 2022, we also saw an improvement in ranking for life insurance policy.

[Screenshot life policy May 2021]

Final Thoughts

As said by Ryan Darani, “SEO isn’t about your graph being bigger than mine. It’s being able to execute and get results even with constraints and limitations. No matter what form they come in.”

He continued, ”It’s been a year-long hustle. This was indeed a challenging job but we managed to achieve it. I’m definitely gonna remember this for years to come.”

Get in touch with us

We have grown online traffic and sales for multiple businesses. We would love to do it for you too.

There have been numerous instances where Google Search adapted to changing searcher intents and showcased results accordingly. This is majorly done to cater to user requests. Such shifts can at times lead to changing the entire strategy and way you target keywords. Below is a twitter conversation where John Mueller explains the reason for such shifts.

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