By Daniel Hunter

The extreme difficulty some company owners have faced obtaining conventional bank borrowing over the past three years has proved the making of invoice discounting, an alternative funding mechanism in which money is provided in lieu of unpaid invoices.

However, with forecasts improving and non-bank lending to small businesses at a five-year high, research has revealed the most popular Google keyword search terms in the corporate finance industry, providing an insight into the funding needs of UK SMEs.

The research, conducted by digital marketing agency SiteVisibility, reveals since 2007, the Google search term for ‘invoice discounting’ has hit a 30 per cent decrease in the four year period between December 2008 and December 2012. However, the term ‘invoice finance’ has consistently been the most popular search term and in 2013, has been 218% more popular than searches such as ‘asset based lending’ and ‘factoring’; the latter having peaked in April 2006 when it was 143% more popular.

These findings also reflect recent figures from the Asset-Based Finance Association (ABFA) which revealed invoice finance was up by 16 per cent year on year at £62.5bn during the final quarter of 2012.

The research has also revealed how the likes of Barclays and Lloyds are finding themselves well behind their competitors when it comes to featuring in the prime positions on Google search. Whilst these larger banks are performing well when specific searches are made for the likes of ‘invoice finance’ and ‘asset based lending’, RBS and Aldermore are the only companies to have a 100% share of the industry’s keywords within the top 10 on Google whilst Close Invoice Finance follows closely behind on 80%.

Simon Burslem, Marketing Manager at SiteVisibility, comments: “This research confirms the shift away from traditional bank lending to small business, which has shrunk by a quarter since 2011. With traditional bank lending in its fifth year of decline, these results show that more small businesses are turning to alternative means of funding in order to survive — it is providing life support to the SME market and is vital to give it extra impetus to boost the economic recovery.

“‘Another interesting factor of the results was how each brand expects different traffic volumes on Bing and Google with ‘Invoice finance’ possessing the highest search volume on Bing (473) and ‘Invoice factoring’ being the number one search term regarding volume on Google (4,614). What’s more is how much larger the total search volume for the terms is on Google compared to Bing (7,171) and (1,221) respectively — this will certainly cause the lenders to direct their attentions more to Google, increasing the competition.”

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