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Our latest market insights report reveals that the abolition of referral fees as part of the introduction of the Jackson Reforms, is dramatically reshaping the search marketing landscape within the online personal injury sector.  The report highlights that competition within the market is set to intensify, as more legal brands are focusing on search marketing, as a means of competing in the battle to generate leads.

The sector intelligence report was conducted by our Insights team and analysed the online personal injury market between March 2012 and March 2013, focusing on the top 100 keywords that were driving online consumer searches. The study also assessed the Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Paid Search (PPC), and social media strategies for the industry’s 100 leading online personal injury brands.

Our research reveals that the personal injury market, which according to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), is worth an estimated £1.8bn a year is dominated by just ten generic consumer search phrases, which accounts for 78.8% of all search impression volume including: no win no fee, personal injury claims, personal injury solicitors, no win no fee solicitors, medical negligence, personal injury, injury claims, accidents at work, whiplash claims and head injury.

Key Report Findings

Legal brands increase their share of the search market by 11%

During 2012, claims management companies started to lose ground to legal service operators and with the introduction of the Jackson Reforms, this trend is set to continue.  Where they once collectively accounted for over 54% of the click-share within the market, this has dropped to 49%, with Legal brands increasing their share from 46% to 51%.

81% of all brand search is domained by just 10 brands

Over 81% of all brand volume comes from just ten operators including Irwin Mitchell, Pannone, Minster Law, Optima Legal, National Accident Helpline, Accident Advice Helpline, Fentons, InjuryLawyers4U, Claims Direct and Thompsons Law. However, 48% of the search market is non-brand related, providing niche operators with a strong online presence with an opportunity to compete directly with the larger brands.

High volume generic personal injury keywords critical to maximising market exposure

Generic personal injury search terms account for the largest share of search impression volume with 41.56%, followed by road traffic accident with 15.09% and medical negligence with 14.96%.

Medical negligence is fast becoming one of the key sub-verticals for online personal injury brands

When compared to the period March 2011 to March 2012, search impression volume within the ‘medical negligence’ sub-vertical has increased by 37%.  This has made ‘medical negligence’ a more strategically important market for many high profile legal operators.

Road traffic accident keyword market is set to change as brands re-position their service offering in light of the Jackson reforms

While RTA has traditionally formed a key part of the online personal injury market, it is highly likely that its prominence and size within personal injury will change during 2013.  The question remains as to whether brands within this space are able to diversify their offering and expand into other keyword markets.

Localised search results is a fundamental part of the search strategy for online personal injury brands

Finding a legal operator with local offices forms a key part of the decision making process behind consumers who wish to make a personal injury claim.  With 25.94% London has the largest share of search impression for location-based personal injury terms; however this is only marginally ahead of Manchester which has 23.86%.

National Accident Helpline is the leading brand within the online personal injury market with a click-share of 18.67%

With a click-share of 18.67%, National Accident Helpline leads our search marketing leaderboard with Irwin Mitchell dropping into second place (See Figure 6a).  This ranking is underpinned by their leading position within the generic personal injury and accidents and illness sub-verticals, as well as an aggressive PPC strategy in the road traffic accidents market.


No clear leader within organic search for the ‘accidents and illness at work’ sub-vertical

Competition within this market is intense, although National Accident Helpline is leading, this is marginal with less than 1% separating the top three and they face strong competition from Claims Direct and Thompsons Law.  All three brands have seen significant gains in their rankings for all the major volume phrases.

Serious Injury Law overtakes Irwin Mitchell within Serious Injury

With a click share of over 18%, niche law firm Serious Injury Law, is now the market leader within the ‘serious injury’ sub- vertical pushing Irwin Mitchell into second place.   This can attributed to an aggressive organic and paid search strategy.

Social media still remains an underutilised marketing channel within the online personal injury market

National Accident Helpline leads our social score card index with 61.34  out of 100, which is ten points ahead of their nearest rivals Pannone and Irwin Mitchell who have 51.09 and 50.16  respectively (See Figure 27).  National Accident Helpline’s top position is underpinned by the cross-pollination and integration of their ‘Under Dog’ brand campaign with their social assets giving them the highest engagement score.

Search remains at the forefront of the online mix and continues to be the staple diet of acquisition for most personal injury brands.  There remains a divide within the online personal injury market between a small group of brands who are utilising social media to engage with their customer base verses those who are yet to embrace this as a route to market.


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