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Sophie Roberts

The Construction Industry Search Report: 2021/22

13th Dec 2021 Analytics, Brand, News, Industry News, Marketing Strategy 11 minutes to read

Our new Construction Industry Search Report (2021/22) reveals how the digital search and ecommerce landscape is changing for UK construction and building services companies in the face of the pandemic.

Fairly or unfairly, the UK’s construction industry has a reputation for being slow to embrace digital transformation. However as we hurtle closer towards 2022, it is clear that this is starting to change. According to recent research, over half of construction product manufacturers anticipate increased investment in e-commerce as we emerge from the pandemic¹.

From builders’ merchants and suppliers, to developers, consultants, contractors and sub-contractors, businesses from all areas of the UK’s construction industry are finding that their customers are turning online more than ever before.

Koozai’s Construction Industry Search Report: 2021/22 includes:

Is UK Construction Finally Embracing Ecommerce?

Real world relationships in construction will always be important. However, customers from all areas of construction are increasingly more likely to be a millennial and to turn to Google to find what they are looking for. 85% of B2B buyers now prefer using self-service tools for reordering over talking to a sales rep², making it increasingly difficult for construction companies to underinvest in ecommerce. Recent research shows that over 98% of people now prefer to conduct their research for products and services online too.

Our report reveals that approximately 2.5 million Google searches were made for building suppliers in the UK over the last year alone. This number expands into many more millions of searches for different types of construction products, services and brands.

Our research also indicates that ecommerce is playing a larger role in British construction. The estimated value of sales from UK construction businesses has grown by 228.57% (from £0.7 to £2.3 billion) over the last decade and by 64.28% (from £1.4 to £2.3 billion) in the last five years.

However, the digital world can be tricky to navigate, with the pandemic having further impacted search demand as well as how, when and why people search for construction topics online.

As specialists in digital marketing for the construction industry, we have put together this report with the aim of demystify the digital world and to give you a clearer picture of what people are searching for in UK construction.

Our digital strategists have used Google search data to group commonly searched for key words and phrases in construction over the last three months to produce this report, comparing trends against previous years and months to unveil what’s trending.

How Has Digital Demand For Construction Goods & Services Changed?

With the pandemic having had a sustained impact on search demand throughout the year, our research first looked at how demand for different types of construction companies has stood up over the last few months. The below table shows that monthly search demand for grouped keywords related to building supplies, merchants / suppliers, consultants, contractors and sub contractors has been strong. As to be expected, searches for building suppliers were highest, however searches for other types of business were also strong with intent for these keywords likely to be strong.

Sustained quarter-on-quarter demand overall

Online demand for general construction goods and services has increased by 0.09% in the last 3 months compared to the previous quarter. However, this represents strong online demand given that this figure is compared to the previous three months, which also saw very healthy search demand.

Seasonal fluctuations for different services

Online search demand for keywords related to construction consultants (-11.26%) and contractors (-6.33%) has dipped slightly, while demand for contractors has risen (5.68%). With fluctuations in search demand similar to this seen across different quarters, these small charges are likely to be down to seasonal factors rather than an indication of a substantial change in demand.

Spike in searches for building materials

Search volume for keywords related to building supplies and merchants has risen by 33.49% in the last quarter compared to the previous one. This could be a reflection of the construction materials shortage³, which is currently causing issues with product availability across the construction supply chain.

Fuelled in some part by the pandemic, Brexit, a shortage of lorry drivers in the UK and other global factors, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s latest Monthly Statistics of Building Materials and Components report shows that the year-on-year cost of materials increased by 23.6% in September this year⁴.

The below table shows how online search demand for some of the most commonly bought building materials has also grown substantially, including for cement, sand, gravel, bricks, building blocks and slate.

Search interest for keywords related to the supply chain in construction are also up by 6.92% quarter-on-quarter, illustrating either a modest increase in awareness of the issue or a wish among professionals to educate themselves about how the supply chain issues are impacting the industry.

2021’s Construction Hot Topics Revealed: Jobs, Marketing and the VAT Reverse Domestic Charge

Our digital strategists also looked at search demand around keywords related to common trends and issues that have been impacting the construction industry at large. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the below bar chart reveals that people are searching for construction jobs more than any other construction related topic in this report.

New job queries jump as searches in skills shortages drop

With over 220,000 average monthly searches in the last quarter for keywords related to jobs in the construction industry, it is the most talked about construction topic in this study. However, average monthly searches for keywords associated with the skills gap problem in construction came in at less than 1,500, having decreased by 29.73% quarter-on-quarter.

According to a recent survey of 6,000 workers⁵, 24% of workers are planning a career change in the coming months, with construction workers among the most confident that they would be able to find a new role. This, combined with the construction industry’s aging population and image problem among young graduates, could pose the sector significant challenges in the coming months and years.

Searches for construction marketing on the rise as output fluctuates

There were nearly 68,000 searches for grouped keywords related to marketing in UK construction over the past three months, representing a quarter-on-quarter rise of 15.25%. Although we have recently seen construction output rise⁶, output had slowed earlier in the year. Increased hunger for information about marketing for construction businesses may have been spurred by several factors.

What has caused this is likely to be highly context dependent. For some it may be down to the fact that B2B buyers are increasingly turning to search engines to look for the best prices on products, especially during the pandemic. Whether its to drum up business or to capitalise on a wave of increased demand, both surges in revenue and decreases in output can be impetus for businesses to seek marketing support – just for different reasons.

Rise in VAT queries follows the domestic reverse charge

Over 64,000 searches were made for grouped keywords associated with the VAT domestic reverse charge in construction in the last few months, representing a significant quarter-on-quarter rise in searches of 39.94%. This finding follows recent changes to VAT for some construction businesses which came into effect earlier this Spring.

The VAT domestic reverse charge for building and construction services was a change made by the government in how VAT for certain kinds of construction services (and related building materials) is handled. It means that businesses providing construction services to a VAT-registered client do not have to account for the VAT, with the client accounting for the VAT instead. In laymen’s terms, this means that for services they provide, sub-contractors now require the contractor employing them to make the VAT payments directly to HMRC.

Other search trends: sustainability and technology

There were also 32,000 searches related to keywords associated with sustainability in construction. However, this represents a quarter-on-quarter drop in search volume of 8.25%, which is perhaps a little surprising given the recent focus on the environment and COP26. Technology in construction was also one of the most searched about topics of the last quarter, with over 24,500 searches made for keywords related to this topic.

Although searches for keywords related to topics such as inflation and supply chain issues in construction were low, it is anticipated that interest in these topics may rise as they start to become more prevalent issues for the construction industry.

Which Construction Brands Are The UK’s Most Famous Online?

With the end of the year fast approaching, we identified the largest UK construction and building improvements companies⁷ and analysed the number of online searches for these businesses to unveil the most famous construction industry brands on the internet.

The below table illustrates that Homeserve, Balfour Beauty and Morgan Sindall are among the top three most famous brands online.

RankCompanyAverage number of monthly searches in the last year
1Homeserve plc49500
2Balfour Beatty plc22200
3Morgan Sindall Group plc12100
4Colas Ltd9900
5Laing O’Rourke plc9900
6NMCN plc9900
7Otis Ltd9900
8Willmott Dixon Holdings Ltd9900
9Galliford Try plc8100
10Interserve plc8100
11ISG plc8100
12Mick George Ltd8100
13Bouygues (UK) Ltd6600
14Kone plc6600
15Lendlease Construction (Europe) Ltd6600
16Mears Group plc6600
17Costain Group plc6600
18FP McCann Group Ltd5400
19Kier Group plc5400
20Newarthill Ltd (Sir Robert McAlpine)5400
21NG Bailey Group Ltd5400
22BAM Nuttall Ltd4400
23SDC (Holdings) Ltd4400
24FM Conway Ltd3600
25Keltbray Group (Holdings) Ltd3600
26Mace Ltd2900
27Spie Ltd2900
28J Reddington Ltd2400
29Severfield plc2400
30TClarke plc2400
31Vinci plc2400
32McLaren Construction Group plc2400
33Rydon Group Ltd2400
34Winvic Group Ltd2400
35MV Kelly Ltd1900
36Novus Property Solutions Ltd1900
37Watkin Jones plc1900
38Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd1900
39Emcor Group (UK) plc1900
40United Living Group Ltd1900
41HG Construction Ltd1600
42ESSCI Ltd1600
43M Group Services Ltd1600
44Wates Group Ltd1600
45Axis Europe plc1300
46Barhale Ltd1300
47Henry Boot plc1300
48JN Bentley Ltd1300
49Northstone (NI) Ltd1300
50Skanska UK plc1300
51Ardmore Construction Ltd1000
52Gilbert-Ash Ltd1000
53Hill Partnerships Ltd1000
54Integral UK Ltd1000
55Speller Metcalfe Ltd1000
56SSE Contracting Ltd1000
57CCG (Scotland) Ltd880
58Eric Wright Group Ltd880
59Renew Holdings plc880
60RG Carter Holdings Ltd880
61RGCM Ltd880
62Robertson Group (Holdings) Ltd880
63Gratte Brothers Group Ltd880
64Esh Holdings Ltd880
65Bowmer & Kirkland Ltd720
66McLaughlin & Harvey Ltd720
67Engie Regeneration Ltd590
68HW Martin Holdings Ltd590
69Keller Group plc590
70Tolent plc590
71BAM Construct UK Ltd480
72BW Interiors Ltd480
73Carey Group Ltd480
74Ferrovial Construction (UK) Ltd480
75John Graham Holdings Ltd480
76McAleer & Rushe Contracts UK Ltd480
77Midas Group Ltd480
78Tide Construction Ltd480
79The Clancy Group Ltd480
80Eurovia UK Ltd1390
81Geoffrey Osborne Ltd390
82OHOB Holdings Ltd390
83TSL Ltd7390
84VolkerWessels UK Ltd390
85Briggs & Forrester (UK) Ltd320
86William Hare Group Ltd320
87Amey UK plc260
88Byrne Group Ltd210
89Caddick Group plc210
90Erith Holdings Ltd210
91J Murphy & Sons Ltd210
92Higgins Group plc170
93John Sisk & Son Ltd170
94Ogilvie Group Ltd140
95Tarmac Trading Ltd110
96Readie Construction Ltd100
97Seddon Group Ltd90
98Sureserve Group plc90
99Henry Construction Projects Ltd50
100Multiplex Construction Europe Ltd50

 

Read More: How To Set Up Your Construction Business Online: A 5 Step Action Plan

 

Methodology: To produce this report our digital strategists analysed publicly available search data from Google’s Keyword Planner. We used the most up to date available date data (at the time of publication) for the last three months (August to October 2021) to provide search volumes. This data was also analysed and compared against data for the previous three months (May to July 2021) to calculate quarter-on-quarter percentage changes. Unless otherwise indicated, the search data in this reports illustrates combined approximate search volumes for groups of related keywords. To create keyword groups we started by using a few product or theme specific keywords for each area of analysis and then created groups of keywords on that area based on Google Keyword Planner’s suggestions.

Data from Statista was also used to look at the estimated value of website sales for UK construction companies. The area of this report marked ‘Which Construction Brands Are The UK’s Most Famous?’ uses search data for the last year (November 2o20 to October 2021) for the most common searches for brand terms related to each company on this list. This was done for the top 100 construction companies in 2021, as identified by the Construction Index⁷.

Sources
¹Construction Product Manufacturers to Increase Investment in E-commerce following Covid-19 (constructionproducts.org.uk)
²11 Reasons Why the Construction Industry Needs Ecommerce | For Construction Pros
³Construction Materials Shortage: ‘Demand Outstrips Supply’ | Homebuilding
⁴Building materials and components statistics: September 2021 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
⁵‘The Great Resignation’: almost one in four UK workers planning job change | Work & careers | The Guardian
⁶Construction output shows fastest rise in four months | Construction Enquirer News
⁷Top 100 Construction Companies 2021 | Construction Company Directory (theconstructionindex.co.uk)

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Sophie Roberts

Managing Director

If you want to know about wine (and who doesn’t?!), Sophie is your girl. A big foodie thanks to her background in the hospitality industry, and a self-confessed geek, Sophie treats every day like a school day. So, wine and pretty intelligent? We think we want her on our pub quiz team.

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