The car rental industry is big business in the UK, serving people in a wide variety of situations from travelers on a road trip to individuals needing a temporary vehicle during maintenance.

With so many rental companies available for customers to choose from, it is important to make sure that a website is highly visible and constantly competitive within the online search space. With this in mind, 4Ps Marketing has had a look at three of the car rental companies operating in the UK, in order to review their onsite SEO and see how visible they are.

The Companies

We have chosen to look at Europcar (www.europcar.co.uk) – a global car rental business headquartered in France; Sixt (www.sixt.co.uk) – a German family-owned business specialising in BMW rentals; and Avis Europe (www.avis.co.uk) – a UK-based company that is part of the American Avis Budget Group. All three are among the biggest car rental companies worldwide. But how do they compare?

SERP Rankings

Thanks to the many algorithm updates, the introduction of personalised search, and the constant fluctuations within the SERPs, rankings are no longer a reasonable measurement of how a company is doing online. However, it can help to give a very basic idea of visibility.

Using 20 popular keywords and phrases that these companies would want to be associated with, we can see that Avis is faring slightly better than the others, with Sixt appearing least often in the SERPs:

Car Rental Companies
Of the three companies we have compared, currently Avis is the only one that is able to take the top spot for any of these high volume keywords – while Europcar does fairly well and Sixt struggles to reach the top 10.

This is reflected when looking at UK Alexa – while not relying on the tool for accuracy, it does provide a good guide to popularity as it ranks sites by combining average daily visits and pageviews. In the UK, Avis is ranked at 4,190, much higher than Sixt, which is ranked at 5,316.

What are they doing and what could they improve?

Europcar

The first thing that is noticeable from the start, is that they aren’t utilising their <h1> to <h6> tags correctly – with the most important <h1> missing from a large number of pages including, most worryingly, the homepage. In addition, there are multiple pages in which the <h1> tag does appear – but appears more than once.

Unless using HTML5, it is strongly recommended that each page has one <h1> that accurately describes the content on the page, with content under subheadings organised under the <h2> to <h6> tags. This is so that crawlers can determine the content and relevance of a page.

In addition, there a variety of relatively simple onsite technical issues that should be covered; such as missing ALT tags, broken hyperlinks, redirection response chains, and incorrect Meta Data; in order to keep Europcar competitive.

Avis

The site seems to have the same issue as Europcar with regards to improperly used <h1> tags (with it also being missing from the homepage); however, to a much lesser scale across the site as a whole. The basic onsite SEO elements are all in place for Avis – but, looking at their offsite visibility, they appear to have focused a lot of their activity around Google Plus and neglected other areas.

While they have managed to create an active community within Google Plus, there is little sign of recent content and information being shared and talked about across other sites. They seem to be missing a real opportunity when it comes to forming relationships with airports and other partner companies. Additionally, they could do with talking to local websites, travel blogs, and other sites that would be interested in sharing their content.

Sixt

What is most noticeable for Sixt is their internal content and, along with this, their internal linking structure. While they have some pages providing useful information, these are difficult to find and in some cases are serving unrelated meta data, titles, and tags. The content that is available onsite is generally only covering the basic information, and there are many areas in which Sixt could be bringing in traffic through longer tail phrases.

It is likely that this lack of content is leading to their struggle to reach the first page for a number of relevant keywords – and a content plan structured around converting keywords would be a good place to start in this instance.

While this is only a very quick look at the surface issues that the three companies are facing, it is obvious that all three sites could benefit from some work. There are some very simple mistakes that are being made. For Europcar, it’s their basic onsite technical issues; for Avis it’s more their offsite presence, and Sixt need to look at the relevance of their onsite content, as well as a number of technical issues.

4Ps isn’t just another SEO agency. To discuss how SEO, content and PR are evolving together to meet the demands of both users and brands, give us a call on +44 (0)207 607 5650 for a no-obligation coffee and chat about data, marketing and technology across all inbound channels.