Essential SEO strategies for Financial Services

Essential SEO strategies for Financial Services

Internet search is a powerful tool in the modern financial world. People will frequently turn to the web to research complex financial decisions and to find and compare financial products, making it not just wise for financial services to build a strong online presence but rather an absolute necessity if they want to keep their business thriving. An intelligent Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy is therefore of the utmost importance for any company in the financial sector.

The SEO experts at BORN have found that using a combination of optimisation techniques, both organic and inorganic, has led our financial services clients to the most success. However, with so many SEO options on the table, it’s possible for a finance firm not to give all of them their due consideration or miss some altogether.

Here are a few things that a financial services firm may not have considered to be an essential part of their optimisation strategy.

Excellent content remains the priority

With the ever-changing algorithms of search engines, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s near impossible for any financial services business to pin down what goes into successful SEO. However, since the early days of the internet, there have always been a few constants. No matter what your industry, if you ask any SEO expert what the focal point of any campaign should be, the overwhelming majority will no doubt give the same response: content – or, to be more specific, exceptional content that educates and absorbs the reader, presenting them with all the information they need in a creative, unique way.

To make it to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs), it’s no longer enough for a financial company’s website to have the sole function of selling its services. Today’s customers expect more in terms of content, and all written copy should revolve around helping them. While this approach should be applied to every website, it is especially true for financial services, who have what Google refers to as YMYL (‘Your Money, Your Life’) pages. This means that because following poor advice taken from a financial website could have potentially disastrous consequences on a person’s life, Google assiduously examines the pages when determining their search rankings, applying stricter guidelines when evaluating their accuracy. So that this increased scrutiny doesn’t negatively impact your position, you should take extra care making sure your pages are written with visitors in mind, meeting their needs and offering high levels of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. Naturally, this also means regularly reviewing your content to ensure it remains up to date with all the changes in the financial industry.

Composing content that serves this purpose while also incorporating the relevant keywords (common terms related to your business that internet users regularly search for each month) is often where the challenge lies, but rest assured that Google should award your diligence.
Excellent design and structure should supplement great content. A website architecture that is logical and makes sense with an effective internal linking system will help facilitate the process of searching for information and purchasing your financial products.

What all this comes down to is creating a site that presents a positive user experience to customers. With a topic as incredibly perplexing and esoteric as financial management, searchers will greatly appreciate a site that answers their numerous questions in a way they can understand. If a customer visits your site and finds authoritative information presented clearly and concisely, they are far more likely to hold your company in high esteem. What’s more, you’ll be demonstrating to them that you’ll keep their best interests at the forefront of everything you do, and by infusing every aspect of your online presence with this ethos, you’ll develop trust in your brand and encourage engagement with your services.

Optimisation tips for Featured Snippets

SERPs have evolved to be much more useful to searchers than they used to be, with Google constantly innovating new features. Featured snippets are one key addition.

Featured snippets, or answer boxes, are a short excerpt from a page that is featured at the top of the SERP (along with a link to the page), acting as a summary of the most relevant answer to the search query. They don’t appear in all searches, but they do in a good percentage of them.
There’s nothing better for grabbing the attention of a searcher and significantly improving your click-through rate than appearing in the featured snippet (or ‘position #0′, as it’s sometimes referred to). So, how precisely does a financial services firm achieve this?

As featured snippets are usually answering direct questions, it’s best to take the keywords that you’ve chosen to rank for and turn them into question-based keywords beginning with “how to…”, “how does…”, “What is…”, etc. If you’ve geared your content around answering your customers’ questions clearly and succinctly, as discussed above, this shouldn’t be too difficult to do – “How do I remortgage my house?, “How to save more money on young driver car insurance”, “What is a pension annuity?”, as a few examples.

The three main types of featured snippets are lists, short paragraphs, and tables. It’s a good idea, therefore, to think about consolidating some information into an easy-to-digest bullet point list or table and structuring your content into short paragraphs with clear subheadings consisting of your question-based keywords. Creating an FAQ page (or multiple FAQ pages based on each service you provide) allows you to answer many question-based keywords, so if you’re aiming for featured snippets, this is an option worth exploring.

Believe it or not, even though the featured snippet is a highly prestigious position, it won’t always go to the top-ranking page – in fact, the page the extract comes from doesn’t even have to place in the top three. As long as a page in the top ten results (in other words, the first results page), it’s eligible for the snippet, which means lower ranking pages can easily steal the limelight from higher ranking pages.

Adding structured data to your site

Structured data is one way Google tries to improve results through the use of microdata. It’s a useful tool for any financial services company, but many aren’t aware of its benefits and fail to implement it, likely damaging their SEO. Structured data refers to the marking up of a web page’s HTML code with microdata, which describes the type of content on the page and its meaning to Google so that the bots can categorise and index it more accurately.

Google will enhance the appearance of page links with structured data on SERPs by adding a rich snippet between the link and the description, making them more attractive to searchers while providing them with extra information. For instance, the rich snippet for a financial services page may show the average star rating clients have awarded it.

Structured data needs to be formatted in a specific way, and search engines have produced several tools to help with adding structured data to a site, including Introduced in 2011 by Google, Bing, Yahoo! and Yandex, provides standardised frameworks for marking up all different kinds of webpages with microdata. There are plenty of schemas relevant to the financial services sector, including microdata for financial products such as bank accounts, loans, and insurance.

PPC Advertising

You can trust BORN to do everything possible to ensure your organic SEO methods (generating increased traffic due to good on-page content and linking structure) are as fruitful as possible, but we also won’t ignore the available options for inorganic marketing to complement these strategies. Inorganic SEO strategies require you to have to spend money to get clicks, but they have the potential to yield fantastic results within a short amount of time. A primary inorganic strategy is the use of pay-per-click (PPC) online advertising, including Google Ads and Facebook Ads, both of which work in very similar ways.

How do Google Ads work?

You’ve probably already noticed Google Ads appearing at the top of results pages above all other SERP features and always labelled with a green “Ad” icon. When a searcher visits a company’s website by clicking on one of these paid-for links, the company will have to pay Google money. Precisely how much they have to pay for each click and whether the ad appears above or below other ranking ads is dependent on a complex bidding system that automatically runs every time there’s available ad space.

To advertise on search pages, different companies will bid on keywords related to their business, and whoever bids the highest gets an ad placement on that keyword’s results page. The ins and outs of this auction system, which operates billions of times every month, is a vast topic in and of itself. Obviously, a bigger budget and willingness to bid more is likely to result in a higher rate of success and more clicks. But if you want to heighten your chances of success, even on a limited budget, here is the bottom line: once again, the focus should be on quality, as Google will more frequently feature relevant ads with a good Quality Score (a metric that looks at, among other factors, the usefulness of the ad’s landing page). Because of how the bidding system works, higher quality ads generally won’t have to pay as much for each click, either, meaning a carefully thought out Google Ad could turn into a very cost-effective investment.

Targeting searchers with the right keywords

Choosing the right keywords for your campaign will help you reach your intended audience, but understanding which keywords to bid on is a hurdle for many. There is a seemingly endless number of options depending on your particular area and services. A few effective keywords applicable to the financial industry include “pension saving”, “investments”, “life insurance”, and “financial advisors near me”.
To drive as much traffic as possible to your site, you may think it’s as simple as finding whatever the most popular search term related to your service is and bidding on it so you can place an ad that leads to the appropriate landing page. Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward. The more widely used the search term, the fiercer the competition is to rank highly for it, making it incredibly difficult for your ad to win the bid and appear on the SERP.

Therefore, it’s often best, especially if you’re a new company trying to get yourself established, to target lower ranking keywords, which will increase your chances of winning the bid and getting your ad displayed.

Knowing which keywords are the most worthwhile to optimise for isn’t only appropriate for creating paid ads; this same approach to keyword analysis is also an essential part of your organic SEO. If you’re able to work in several instances of the carefully chosen phrase naturally into a page (the operative word here being “naturally”, as opposed to shoehorning it in), Google and other search engines will view it as valuable content that will be of great use to searchers whenever they enter the term into the search box. As a result, the algorithm will improve the page’s ranking.

What about Facebook Ads?

Similar to Google Ads are Facebook Ads, the implementation of which may be another avenue worth exploring considering the sheer amount of people who use the social media platform. You can of course still utilise Facebook without spending money – it’s completely free to create a business page and create regular posts that advertise your services and link to your site’s pages. However, while writing striking posts that stand out is likely to result in more shares and engagements, extending your reach beyond your existing followers can be a challenge, and it may not always be the best option for lead generation. By providing an extensive array of customisable targeting options, paid Facebook advertising enables you to find and connect with an ideal audience who is likely to be interested in your services.

To give a quick overview: when you create an ad, Facebook allows you to target your ad, or set of ads, at users based on their demographic and interests. For instance, if you’re a car insurance firm, you might decide to target users with an interest in cars (determined by information on their profile and pages they’ve interacted with), and if you specialise in providing quotes for young driver insurance, you may choose to only target users below a certain age. Once you’ve selected your target audience, bearing in mind not to narrow it down too much – as Facebook will not publish an ad too specifically targeted that could exclude large portions of people – you can then set either a daily or lifetime budget. Much like Google Ads, a bidding system is in place to decide the best ad to display to a user whenever there’s an opportunity to do so. Once again, the quality and relevance of the ad are paramount to winning a bid. If analytics show an ad has a good ‘Relevance Score’ – signified by positive user feedback such as high click through and conversion rates and minimal negative feedback (hiding or flagging the ad) – Facebook will subsidise it so that it will see more results for less cost. The exact cost of placing an ad is dependent on a variety of factors, and you won’t be entered into any more bids once your budget for the specified period has run out.

There are plenty of other options concerning how fast the budget is spent, how you want Facebook to bid for you (determined by choosing a bidding strategy), and what goal you want to optimise for (your ‘optimisation event’, which could be link clicks, app installs, or conversions). Arriving at the right combination of these options to get the best results requires thorough research and a careful assessment of your objectives.

Why choose PPC ads?

While it’s true that a large percentage of Google’s users ignore the paid ads and are instead likelier to trust the first three organic results appearing underneath, a PPC ad is certainly worth considering. One crucial factor of PPC campaigns is the timeframe that you can expect to see improved traffic. Our clients in the financial sector have experienced plenty of success with the organic campaigns we’ve devised for them, but developing these can be a long process. The effects of inorganic marketing, on the other hand, are more likely to be apparent in a much shorter amount of time. As long as your ads bring prospective customers through to a website that’s filled with superb-quality, informative content (and if you employ BORN, we will make sure it does), you are bound to convert clicks into sales with great success, potentially leading to a fantastic return on investment.
Plus, appearing at the top of SERPs, regardless of whether users are clicking the ad or not, can still help get your name seen, increasing your brand awareness. On that note, if your main goal is not to increase traffic but to increase the visibility of your brand, you don’t have to pay per click. Instead, you can select to be charged on impressions – i.e., every time your ad is shown. The price is usually calculated based on every 1,000 impressions.

Whether you want to pursue organic or inorganic marketing or a combination of both, BORN will listen to all your goals and help you work out what is best for your brand and budget.

Multi-faceted SEO strategies for Financial Services

Any financial services company that wishes to stay ahead of the competition should think about how it can make the best of the above options and fuse them into a secure SEO strategy. Of course, there is so much more to think about than what’s been mentioned here: obtaining backlinks from reputable sources, optimising for local search, ensuring you have optimum performance on mobile through the use of AMP pages, etc. All this can be accomplished much easier with the help of an agency that fully understands both the technical and creative sides of fully optimised websites.

How can we help?

At BORN, we are extremely proficient at helping businesses in the financial services industry climb SERPs, having been able to hone our skills throughout our long history working with financial advisors, insurance firms, pension providers, banks and building societies.

The benchmark for what a user expects from a financial services website in terms of the appearance and content keeps on rising, continually introducing new challenges to web designers, developers, and copywriters. The team at BORN are more than up to the task; our hard work and dedication have paid off for many of our financial services clients, and we’re always eager to build new relationships.

If you’re a financial services provider hoping to unlock your full SEO potential, please don’t hesitate to contact BORN today.

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