Who Needs The Merchant Cash Advance Keyword Anyway?

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Google MapsAlmost five years since Google banned its search engine from displaying ads when queries contain the phrase “cash advance,” the loss of business attributed to that has probably been nil to the small business finance space.

According to Google, despite there being between 100,000 to 1 million searches for “cash advance” each month on average, only 1,000 to 10,000 searches per month are specifically for “merchant cash advance.”

People are ~10x more likely to search for business line of credit, business loan, working capital, or business credit card, according to Google’s estimates.

This is somewhat in line with findings from the Federal Reserve, whose recent study determined that 7x more business owners seek out a loan or line of credit than they do a merchant cash advance.

But putting that aside, the ban on paid advertising for all things cash advance has had an upside for some lucky companies. Without ads, Google has inadvertently (or maybe intentionally) elevated funding providers that are local to the searcher to the top of the organic results. That means listings on Google Maps that contain keywords matching the search queries are reaping the benefits of being prominently placed at the top of the page and are potentially capturing all the clicks along with it. The end result is an old-fashioned SEO war to win what few searches there are.

Compare that to a search for sba loan where paid advertising is fair game. In the era of PPP and EIDL, it’s perhaps no surprise that there are between 100,000 to 1 million searches per month for that keyword on average. Many of those searchers will probably not be eligible for an SBA loan so perhaps the next best fit would be equipment leasing or invoice factoring, two queries that are on par with merchant cash advance in average monthly searches, meaning volume is relatively low.

But how does low search volume turn into the large volume of funding originated? Well, another factor has changed since Google implemented the cash advance advertising restriction in 2017, and that is that Google is not as relevant as it used to be. Business owners are more likely to discover a potential capital source from social media or a fintech platform they already have a relationship with than ever before. According to a recent study, 25% of people claimed they had actually used either Alexa, Siri, or another voice assistant to find information about financial services, signaling a major departure from how traditional searching used to be conducted.

All of which means that the paid advertising restriction on a niche keyword on Google is unlikely to make any kind of difference in the big picture. Odds are you might not have known this restriction even existed. Bing, on the other hand, has no qualms with cash advances and allows paid advertising on it.

Last modified: May 31, 2022
Sean Murray

Category: merchant cash advance

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