The group continues to be affected by changes to Google’s natural search algorithms

Aggregator Moneysupermarket’s insurance revenues were flat in the first quarter of 2014 and visitor volumes 4% lower when compared with Q1 2013.

In its interim management statement released today, the group said it continued to be affected by lower natural search positions in certain Google search terms, which had reduced visitor volumes and revenues.

In June last year, changes to Google’s natural search algorithms altered the way in which it ranked websites.

Moneysupermarket said it was notified by Google in March that it had taken sufficient steps to have the natural search penalty that was applied by Google lifted.

“As a result the group has seen meaningful improvements across a number of key search terms in its financial services business since late March,” the company said.

Group revenues and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the first quarter were up 8% and 5% respectively, compared with the same period last year.

Administrative costs were in line with the same period last year, while offline marketing costs were around 20% higher. And at 31 March 2014 the group had a net debt of £13.4m.


Confident outlook

The board said it remains confident in the outlook and added that its expectations for the year remain unchanged.

Group revenues in the first few weeks of the second quarter are flat compared with last year and trading trends largely in line with the first quarter of 2014.

Revenues in home services and travel continue to trade ahead while insurance remains in line with last year.

Additionally, revenues in the money division are fractionally behind the same period last year, driven by lower cash ISA volumes.

Moneysupermarket chief executive Peter Plumb said: “Helped by our increasingly diversified business, this was a good first quarter given the headwinds we’ve faced since last year.

“Our investment programme is on track, including the delivery later this year of the best shopping experience for insurance customers, on mobile or desktop.

“The investment we are making in technology for the money business is beginning to work well.”