what happened to wonga

Who Benefited from Wonga Closing?

Stuart Shaw 2 years ago

For years, payday lender Wonga has dominated the high APR, short term lending market, however earlier this year they announced that they would be closing their doors. This collapse came about due to a number of factors, however the complaints and compensation around the lender’s practices were a large part of the issue.

Wonga isn’t alone with these poor practices and so any additional traffic competing sites can acquire is vital. The manner in which search engines respond to businesses closing varies, however in this case Wonga expedited the process by deleting many of their commercial pages and redirecting them to the home page where users could read any details around the administration process.

In the presentation below we have investigated who saw the greatest benefit from Wonga’s closure - be sure to watch full screen for all the info, and check out the quick tool to see how your domain was affected by Wonga closing.

The following article summarises the data in the presentation.

Our Approach

“Market share over time”

On hearing that Wonga would likely be forced to close we used Ahrefs to extract around 1,500 keywords that provided Wonga with a substantial amount of traffic. The site ranked first for many commercial terms, however we also included a scant handful of branded terms for both Wonga and their competitors as the short term lending market is quite cannibalistic and targeting other brands is very common.

We then used one of our proprietary tools to acquire the top 30 rankings across the keyword set each week. This provided us with 60,000 rows of data each week for 12 weeks. Using search volume combined with an industry-specific CTR model we were able to to estimate how much traffic each site was receiving per month.

In addition to this ‘visibility’ we also measured how many keywords each brand ranked for.


“This is about Wonga’s traffic, not all sector traffic!”

This analysis isn’t as impartial as a sector report since the keywords were dictated by what Wonga tick, not by the opportunity across the market. As such - sites that shrunk or didn’t grow as much shouldn’t panic, there is a chance that their target keywords were not well aligned with what drove traffic to Wonga’s site.

If you are worried about any of what the data is suggesting, we encourage you to reach out to info@zazzlemedia.co.uk and we can help to provide you with an indication of where this potential drop has occurred.


“An industry of growth due to need/demand”

According to Google trends payday loans aren’t as popular (or accessible) as they were 5 years ago. Not only is the industry more tightly regulated now but credit cards and banks have bridged the gap that previously existed.

There has been a growing trend over the last 2 years as the lenders have become more responsible and APR ceilings have prevented the 5 digit APRs of old (or 8 digits as is the case in this article from the Guardian.

In addition to this, applications for short term lending solutions typically spikes in January following early Christmas payslips and overspending around the festive season.

How did you fare?

“Check your site to see if you benefitted”

We’ve made a neat little sheet that will provide you with information on how you have or haven’t been affected by Wonga’s closure. You can visit this sheet and make a copy of it and then enter your site root domain (bbc.co.uk, wonga.com, example.org) to receive your % changes.

Hopefully you’ve found the article, presentation and tool useful! Let us know in the comments how you or your clients have been impacted by the fall of competitors in their market.

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