In light of the many changes to Google this year, lots of financial advisers are asking: “Do I still need a financial website?” It’s a fair question, but the answer is still a resounding “Yes!”
It is very tempting for locally-based financial services businesses like IFAs to think they no longer need a website. The rise of Local Service Ads, zero-click SERPs and paid links all suggest that Google is becoming a financial adviser’s de facto “homepage”.
Yet the trend is misleading, and in this article, we’re going to show you why you need a financial website more than ever as we enter 2019.
First of all, however, let’s look a bit more closely at why people are starting to think they no longer need a financial website…
How Google changed the landscape for financial websites
Not too long ago, you could run a search query in Google Search and it would bring up a list of ten links contained within the first page of results. For instance, a potential IFA client could make a local search such as “financial adviser Brighton” and reasonably expect to see 10 different options on the first page.
Then what happened? Google shrank the list of 10 organic search results down to 7, as Google AdWords occupied the top 3 spots (thus dominating the screen when the search was made on a smartphone device.
Not long after that, the number of organic spots shrank even further as Google-owned interfaces started pervading the results, and as Google Ads pervaded the bottom positions too.
This is clearly a dramatic shift in the digital landscape for financial advisers looking to occupy the top organic search spots with their website links. However, the developments do not stop there…
These days, it is now not usual to run a search query in Google and find the answer you were looking for, straight away. There is no need to click on anything because the information is right there in the search results.
As a result, there has been a dramatic rise in “zero-click” search results. For instance, if you type in “UK prime minister age” into Google, then at the time of writing you immediately get:
There is no need to click on any further links, as Google interface means you do not need to dig deeper.
#2 Local Packs and paid ads
When you run a local search at the time of writing, then you are likely to find something like this:
The above is an example of a “Local Pack”, which is a fairly new type of search result which displays a list of three local businesses. Did you notice, however, that there is an ad in the above example?
Research suggests that these ads appear in as many a 20% of Local Pack search results in the financial services sector. These link not to your website, but to your Google My Business profile.
#3 Google becoming a “lead generator”
Google Local Service Ads are now becoming more and more prevalent. These appear at the top of local search engine results within specific industries, and list a collection of trusted professional relevant to the search query.
For instance, when you search for “locksmiths nearby” in certain US cities Google will display a list of them at the top in a carousel-type format. From there, you can click on the result to instantly put in a call. You do not necessarily need to visit the website of the service-provider you are interested in.
At the moment, there is no readily-available research on the prevalance of these results in the UK financial adviser sector. However, it seems reasonable to assume this will eventually arrive.
Why the Above is Misleading…
The above are just a handful of developments in Google which are leading many financial advisers to believe that a website is no longer a necessary component to their marketing. However, this is wrong.
Your financial website is still tremendously important. Consider, for instance, that websites with a high organic search ranking also tend to have a high position in the Local Pack.
What does that mean? Essentially, it shows that even with the rise of zero-click SERPs, new lead generation listings and paid advertising SERPs, your best chance of getting into the results of Local Pack search results lies in having an excellent financial website.
Research suggests that nearly half of small businesses do not have a website at all. Given that most financial planning firms are small businesses, we haven’t been surprised to see anecdotal evidence of this over the years as we have worked in this industry.
Even those businesses with a website are quite likely to not have a link to it in their Google My Busines profile (assuming they even have one).
This actually presents financial advisers with a huge opportunity for their marketing. Given that the majority of your competition is likely to be asleep at the wheel in this whole area, you have a chance to step up your marketing game and get your website into the top local search spots before they wake up.
How to Make Your Financial Website Stronger
There are many things you can do to improve the quality of your financial website so that it increases its local search engine rankings, and therefore moves further up the Local Pack.
As a starting point, we recommend that you look at the following areas to get you moving the right way:
- Get the technical parts of your SEO right
- Make the website easy to use
- Publish engaging, original and relevant content on a regular basis
- Publicise your financial website appropriately
- Build your local link profile
There is a tremendous amount that we could say on each of these individual points, yet this article has now reached its conclusion.
If you’d like to discuss this with a member of our team, then please do get in touch for a free, friendly and no-commitment chat.