The Q4 2023 benchmarking report for UK childcare providers has just been published. Learn how the top 10 UK childcare providers perform across the digital space.
The latest Q4 2023 benchmarking report for UK Childcare providers has just been published. It covers the largest 10 national childcare providers, including Bright Horizons, Childbase, Thrive Childcare and Education, Kids Planet, Monkey Puzzle Day Nurseries, Little Pioneers, Busy Bees, Just Childcare, All About Children, and The Old Station Nursery Group.
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 Q4 report, click here. To get a copy of the full report and the key takeaways, please complete the enquiry form or schedule a call.
Q4 2023 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.
Though brands in this sector should face minimal challenges in website maintenance, many childcare brands in our report are still battling 4xx error codes. In our last report, we noted that Monkey Puzzle Nurseries was showing the most technical errors, with 151 4xx errors. In Q4, Monkey Puzzle Nurseries has reduced this figure slightly to 99 4xx errors, showing steps towards improvement. All About Children, meanwhile, returned 363 5xx error codes in our crawls, indicating trouble with the site's server.
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.
Childbase and All About Children have the quickest mobile page speed scores for childcare providers, each recording scores of 54. Kids Planet has improved its mobile page speed score from a score of 14 in Q2, to a score of 22 in Q4, now placing it 8th overall. Bright Horizons now has the lowest mobile page speed score of 18.
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. DAs for childcare providers now range from 63 to 19, with Monkey Puzzle Day nurseries remaining on top.
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.
Despite the ongoing need for childcare, only half of the childcare providers in our report have seen improvements in organic mobile activity, the biggest gain of 173% being seen by Thrive Childcare. The biggest fall has come from Just Childcare, which has lost 43% of digital footfall year on year.
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.
As in our last report, 'image pack' remains the most broadly used Universal Search feature, with all providers capitalising on the opportunity here. Busy Bees is making the most appearances for Universal Search results overall, with 5,400 appearances for 'review' results - helping build trust with prospective parents before they have even visited the site.
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 is ranking for the most longtail keywords, with 19% of ranking longtail keywords appearing for positions 1-3. Four childcare providers are ranking for fewer than 1,000 longtail keywords overall, with positions weighted towards 11-20 rather than the top end of the scale. These providers will want to ensure their on-site content is well-optimised, and able to scoop up traffic for these high-conversion potential keywords and phrases.
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.
We've included examples of Thrive Childcare's recent Facebook ads below. Thrive has used video creative to engage with the intended audience, and show what daily life is like at the nurseries. To take this further, Thrive could consider using vertical format, 'Reels' style videos that will sit within organic reels content and capture a heavily engaged audience.
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.
Facebook is the preferred platform for eight childcare providers. Busy Bees has secured both the highest volume of Facebook likes (with 51,200) and Instagram followers (14,000) representing a readily engaged audience they can quickly reach with new content and information. With a strong organic presence meaning less potential investment needed on paid channels, it's in any brand's interests to improve visibility through their organic social media.
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 report we noted that Thrive Childcare and Education was seeing the worst amount of alerts, hitting 108. Thrive has still not improved on this figure, still recording 108. We would expect all the childcare providers that are seeing issues to be reviewing and optimising their sites to remove barriers to accessibility.
GET THE FULL 79-PAGE Q4 2023 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.