Online Tyre Market: Are Black Circles closing in on Kwik Fit in UK Google search results?

By David Watts • 26 May 2021 • minutes reading time

The online tyre market has no doubt experienced one of its most challenging periods in living memory.  After absorbing hit after hit during the pandemic and feeling the added pinch of slowed seasonal trade from a relatively mild winter, the hoped return of consumer demand cannot come soon enough. Whilst it’s been all too quiet in the wider sector, the battle to take online market share has continued to play out in the background.

Brands big and small have continued to look to maximise revenues where they can in the short term, whilst also jockeying for top position in search results, hoping to be ideally positioned to take off when the market comes back to normality.

Amongst the chaos of the bigger picture, there is some evidence that we may be witnessing the start of a long-anticipated coming of age for online-first brands and their ability to grow market share in organic search results.

Research conducted into the product-specific search visibility for the sector through the digital marketing search tool SearchMetrics shows that the gap in terms of total search visibility for all tyre traffic may now be as little as 10% between market-leading Kwik Fit and the Michelin-owned online brand, Black Circles.

This may be surprising to some, given that a cursory top-level look at overall metrics for the domains shows Kwik Fit as being significantly larger and the fact they still hold number one spots for competitive high traffic search terms like “Tyres”.

The basis of Black Circles overall growth in online search visibility has been driven by a combination of rising performance on highly searched generics, but also from a wide net of keywords around specific tyre brands and models.

This range of keywords has been further enhanced by strong performance in the Garages area of the site, targeting valuable local search traffic. In addition to their main commercial rankings, the domain has achieved notable success from their help centre area, which accounts for around 10% of their total visibility for keywords.

Investment in content has allowed them to build prominent rankings for everything from searches for “tyre sizes” to explaining how “load indexes” work. The value of this type of traffic can often be overlooked by those who see it as lacking intent to buy now. However, sites taking a more holistic view have jumped on the potential here to flip these informational search visitors to drive revenue either within their site or by using these visits to retarget audiences down the line.

Also, importantly what is often missed are the strong SEO signals that improving onsite experience in this way can have on the domain’s overall ability to rank organically for competitive commercial terms.

Within the tyres sector, search competition has been consistent if only in its tendency for volatility and change. Black Circles who now appear to be closing in on Kwik Fit in relation to tyres, previously held a far higher overall visibility score in 2016/17 but later lost around 40% of this around the time of the “Phantom” and oddly named “Fred” Google updates. The latter of these was focused on devaluing thin pages content which Google views as poor quality.

Another industry staple big brand, National Tyres, have experienced even more detrimental volatility and after a peak in their own performance back in 2017 where they themselves came within 15% of Kwik Fit, they have experienced a significant dive of approximately 50% dive in search visibility from these previous highs.

Other notable findings within this report was the emergence of and  who would be my pick for the ones to watch in the next 12 months. Although both have been in the market for some time, their progress against the market leaders has been impressive. Over this period, we can see not only rapid progress in terms of search visibility across all keywords but also notable performance landmarks in top 5 rankings for terms like “Tyres” and “Car Tyres”.

How we compared tyre specialists to multi-service garage brands

For businesses competing for search share within the tyres industry it can be difficult to get a true picture of how to rate performance. Single or even batch keyword analysis provides only a small sliver of the overall picture, whilst domain level measures can often fail to take account of the disparity in the size of service ranges, inflating the top-level results of those who also offer things like servicing, MOTs and brakes.

In order to create a more complete but representative analysis of these different models of business, we’ve gone to the lengths of extracting data from a huge number of search terms gathered by one of the search industry’s most comprehensive tracking tools, then rebuilding the data to show the true picture around their tyre sector visibility. To ensure a fair comparison, we’ve also used overall performance to model a split of each site’s brand traffic so that this can be brought into the comparison alongside specialist brands.

Does this all mean we could be seeing the emergence of new leaders within search?

The answer to this is both yes and no.

According to the data we have around visibility in the sector, Black Circles and Kwik Fit are closer than they have been for some time. This means for searches around tyres, we could conceivably see a situation soon where Black Circles are receiving more total clicks than the current market leader.

The important caveat to this is that all clicks are not created equal. Because of this, a focus on raw traffic can often serve to misrepresent the overall value of clicks a brand receives. One of the best ways to assess the market value of keywords and clicks is to look at the Google Ads CPC’s (cost per click) attached to these. CPCs are a great barometer of how the sector sees a keyword’s value, because in their campaigns each case brand tunes them to fit the historic value of customers coming to them through that search.

Once we start to look at the search market in this light, we get a very different picture. Despite the inroads made by Black Circles in terms of overall organic traffic, when it comes to the value of that traffic, it is Kwik Fit that is still the standout market leader. Kwik Fit dominates when it comes to high value commercially desirable keywords around tyres with an estimated equivalent CPC value of £977,735. This means that combined the clicks Kwik Fit receives from organic search are worth almost £1million each month, if they were to look to buy this same traffic from Google Ads.

Focusing on value, Black Circles are still the closest competitor, but it is a distant second with the current value around half of this at just under half a million per month (£487,070). This is followed in third by another strong performing online brand Asda Tyres who have reached £449,030 worth of monthly organic traffic.

An interesting side note to the current traffic value assessment of the market is around potential traffic value figures for each site. This is a measurement of the total value of all the keywords a site appears for in search results, regardless of whether it is currently in a ranking position to generate traffic.

This is important as it tells us about the range of a site to appear for available keywords and how far they could potentially cast the net. Here we can see that where Kwik Fit are in a league of their own when it comes to current results in terms of site potential, they only rank third with Black Circles and the far smaller online brand Tyre City taking the top two spots each with around £2.5 million of potential value, 25% more than Kwik Fit.

The reasons for this could be multiple, but differences in the comprehensiveness of the different sites’ menu categorisation and the variations in approaches to content are likely to play a major part in this result. A final wider trend to pick out is that where many of the other brands we looked at didn’t share anywhere near the same current traffic value as the front runners, we found 14 brands with over one million pounds in potential traffic value.

This means that with the right investment in improving SEO metrics there is a large chunk of the market positioned to tap into a huge chunk of the organic search pie.

Below are the full results of our assessment of keyword value and potential in the industry:

Sites SEO Click Value Potential SEO Click Value Achieved Potential Achieved £2,680,000 £487,070 18.17% £2,410,000 £34,837 1.45% £2,018,339 £977,735 48.44% £1,860,000 £151,930 8.17% £1,750,000 £220,480 12.60% £1,740,000 £24,810 1.43% £1,740,000 £11,446 0.66% £1,710,074 £541,167 31.65% £1,690,000 £217,230 12.85% £1,650,000 £449,030 27.21% £1,360,000 £181,270 13.33% £1,188,023 £223,471 18.81% £1,100,000 £28,226 2.57% £1,030,000 £190,420 18.49% £957,040 £65,232 6.82% £798,070 £51,149 6.41% £691,030 £6,234 0.90% £655,270 £22,353 3.41% £612,310 £27,195 4.44% £401,510 £65,874 16.41% £225,830 £3,635 1.61% £115,560 £288 0.25% £58,678 £496 0.84%

If you want to discover more about the Online Tyre Market or need a helping hand, give us a shout to discover how we might be able to help.

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