The Q1 2024 benchmarking report for UK childcare providers has just been published. Learn how the top 9 UK childcare providers perform across the digital space.
The latest Q1 2024 benchmarking report for UK Childcare providers has just been published. It covers the largest 9 national childcare providers, including Bright Horizons, Childbase, Thrive Childcare and Education, Kids Planet, Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries, Little Pioneers, Busy Bees, Just Childcare and All About Children.
The research gives an inside track on who is winning the biggest share of voice online, and quantifies the gaps, risks and missed opportunities for other childcare providers to win brand exposure locally, build organic visibility, and generate online enquiries. The report highlights quick wins that will improve enquiries from your online strategy and identifies the barriers that may be reducing your site’s ability to optimise digital performance.
To see a preview and contents page of the Q1 report, click here. To get a copy of the full report and the key takeaways, please complete the enquiry form or schedule a call.
Q1 2024 WINNERS LEADERBOARD
For a glance into just 6 of the metrics, we evaluated these top 10 childcare providers on, check out our quick-look table below;
Continue reading for further detail on this quarter's top and poorest-performing childcare providers, or request a copy of the report for the full review.
What The Industry Research Report Covers
The 70+ pages of research benchmarks each site based on 50+ metrics and indicators of successful digital strategy, including organic visibility, domain authority, paid media ads, conversion performance, technical performance, site speed, universal search, content, social ads, accessibility, and mobile performance.
Driving Optimal ROAS from Paid Media Channels
Some of the leading players in the space are high spenders on paid media channels such as Google, Bing & Facebook - but have a poor or sub-optimal conversion improvement strategy. Without an optimised, sophisticated conversion strategy that maximises the conversion rate, the return on investment is unsustainable or will underperform. Scaling spend on paid media is not achievable unless the conversion rate delivers optimal performance in the sector. Some in the space have paid media spend levels from 30k+ per month but dedicate minimal resources and budgets to conversion testing. Given the cost per clicks on ad networks will continue to rise, we recommend spending at least 10% of your paid media budget on ongoing conversion optimisation testing schedules to ensure your paid media ROI maintains long-term viability, competitive advantage, and sustainability.
Technical Website Compliance
Savvy digital marketers know that having a technically sound website is an essential component of a successful fully integrated digital strategy - plus a site capable of maximising conversion performance. Childcare providers won't have content which faces frequent changes, such as product pages, so brands in this sector should be able to effectively maintain technical website compliance.
In our last audit, All About Children reported 363 5xx error codes, which it’s reduced to 105 in this quarter. Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries still flags the most 4xx errors codes, with the same amount as the previous quarter (99). This provider must check for a broken internal linking structure to prevent users from becoming frustrated.
Site Speed & Conversion Rate Performance
When 62% of consumers are less likely to convert if they have a negative mobile site experience, ensuring that your site is quick and easy to load makes a significant improvement on your overall conversion rates. Building trust is crucial for brands within the childcare sector, so these providers will want to ensure their site is fast, and gives an excellent impression of their services at every touch point.
The mobile site speed for this quarter ranged between 52 and 16, and Bright Horizons has slightly increased its score from 18 in our last audit to 19 this quarter. Only one brand reached above 50% (the recommended speed), and the other brands should optimise images and reduce the amount of content on a single page to increase their scores.
Building Competitive Advantage with Domain Authority
Domain authority is an essential metric for measuring the effectiveness of SEO performance and helps create a reliable overall gauge of how effective your site is at achieving organic traffic, i.e. ‘free’ traffic that isn’t gained through sponsored ads. An effective digital PR strategy can help any childcare provider achieve high-value backlinks.
A ‘good’ DA really comes down to how your competitors are performing, however it’s generally considered average between 40 and 50, good between 50 and 60, and excellent above 60. The DA range for this quarter ranged between 63 and 23, with All About Children at the bottom of the scoreboard. This childcare provider should adopt a content strategy to actively update its blog page and provide valuable information for readers while also helping to increase it DA score.
Organic Performance – Mobile & Desktop
A strong organic performance is strategically important as it ensures your site ranks above competitors for key, transactional keywords. When 93% of your customers won’t go past the first page of Google, your absence or lack of targeting for essential keywords will cost you conversions. Though many sectors we specialise in are seeing the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, and battling for a smaller pool of potential customers, childcare is an essential service for many families, limiting the potential for users to turn elsewhere for alternative solutions.
Eight of the 9 brands saw a loss in organic mobile traffic, with Kids Planet reporting a 67% loss, compared to the 5% traffic increase in the previous year. On the other hand, Ready Steady Store encountered a 180% traffic increase — the only brand to see a benefit this quarter. Given that most brands experienced a loss in mobile traffic YoY, there must be a universal issue, which could coincide with the cost-of-living crisis, as people are looking for ways to reduce their expenses.
Universal Search Opportunity
Google Universal Search Results is an evolving opportunity to make your pages visible on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Universal results often appear before traditional listings and are eye-catching for users. Universal search results refer to rankings on a SERP that are not the traditional ‘blue line’ Google link, and a site can appear for universal search results without being strong in standard rankings. For childcare providers, who want to build trust, 'reviews' and 'image pack' results are a great way to tell (and show) parents more about their nurseries.
Busy Bees continued to land the most appearances for overall Universal Search results, with 5,500 of its impressions coming from ‘reviews’ — an increase from the previous quarter. The remaining eight providers scored zero for this category, and they should reach out to past or current customers and ask them to post feedback about their experience using their services.
The Longtail Keyword Opportunity
Longtail keywords are often considered high intent and potentially more likely to convert as a searcher is being more specific. Optimising for longtail keywords also puts your content strategy in a strong position to rank for brand new search terms as they enter Google’s index. Longtail keywords for nurseries may reflect prospective parents looking for specific details about the locations, such as for information about food menus and outdoor facilities, or they could be focused on fee information and funding.
Busy Bees had the most appearances in the top three search engine results (a total of 1,346). This provider also ranked the highest for the top 4–10 search engine pages, exemplifying that it utilises a successful keyword strategy.
With the number of Facebook users in the United Kingdom (UK) forecast to hit over 42 million users by 2022, it is not surprising that companies have jumped at the opportunity to advertise on the social media platform. Facebook’s UK digital advertising revenue has been estimated to have breached 2.6b GB pounds in 2019. Childcare providers can use Facebook ads to target specific areas where they have more places available, and advertise any upcoming open days that can provide in-person opportunities to convert.
Below, we’ve included examples of Kids Planet sponsored Facebook posts. Across two of its posts, it included emojis, demonstrating that it’s experiment with testing to see what tone of voice drives more conversions. Kids Planet also featured custom-branded imagery so that its social media content is a true extension of the brand.
Top Social Shares & Content
When it comes to social media and on-site content strategies, it is important to release content that has a longer shelf life. An article is considered 'Evergreen' if it has maintained its relevancy to an audience for longer. It's great for your brand engagement, but great for Google too, who will recognise content which achieves traffic over a long period of time. Childcare providers can look to creating shareable content about child development, nutrition, and education as a simple way to get high levels of engagement and build trust in their brand.
Most of the childcare providers favoured Facebook, and Bright Horizons secured the most total engagement — an important factor in demonstrating if your online audience are engrossed in your content. Busy Bees increased its Facebook Likes to 51,700 (an additional 200 from the previous report) and 14,400 Instagram followers (an increase of 400 from the previous quarter).
Website Readability & Accessibility
20% of people in the UK have a disability – 2 million of which are people living with sight loss. In addition, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have some degree of colour vision deficiency. When websites are not designed to meet these needs, brands lose customer interest as they turn elsewhere. For childcare providers needing to build trust, they must ensure accessibility is one of their foremost considerations when developing their site.
In our last audit, Thrive reported 108 alerts, which it’s decreased to only 2 in Q1 2024. Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries is currently the provider with the most alerts — 80, which it must reduce to improve its accessibility for consumers with a colour deficiency. This provider also reported the most contrast errors — 55 — a factor that’s crucial in improving readability for all audiences and must be addressed.
GET THE FULL 70-PAGE Q1 2024 REPORT
To get a copy of the full report, please complete the enquiry form. If you want to talk to us about accelerating your digital performance, please call us on 01543 410014 or schedule a call with Mike Movassaghi.