May 11th, 2006 by Jamie Estep
Credit Card Processing Industry Search History and Competition Analysis
I was clued into a great tool made by google in the google lab, by Rand of Seomoz. It’s called Google Trends and it is a system that will let a user view a graph of the search volume for a given search term over time.
Naturally, I wanted to see how the top terms relating to credit card processing look. I would consider the top terms to be: Merchant Account, Accept Credit Cards, Credit Card Machines, and Credit Card Processing. For this article I searched for the first three.
What I found was an extremely troubling and unexpected graph.
Not only was this line sloping in the exact opposite direction that I was expecting, but the slope is much steeper than I ever could have expected. I added the red line to show a linear path of the slope of the line.
Since the beginning of the chart (2004), until now (2006), there has been a linear 50% reduction in search traffic for terms relating to credit card processing. The beginning of 2004 is coincidentally when we started actively competing for these related terms, and we also began advertising with Google and Overture pay per click programs. Since the time we started, the average cost per click across all terms in our industry has at least doubled. Pay per click adversing costs, are also a decent indicator, of the amount of competition for natural traffic.
What this means for websites relating to credit card processing is that the potential customers are searching on the internet 50% less now than 2 years ago, and the competition has increased by 100% or a factor of 2. Putting this all together, the merchant services field on the internet is now 400% more competitive than it was 2 years.
I’m not sure how accurate this graph is from google, and it is in a testing area of their services. The data itself is against everything I have read and calculated about the trends of traffic on the internet. But, it is a very interesting look into two ways that competition increases in business. I am interested to see if other industries experience the same trend.