Almost all financial firms want to appear at the top of search engines for the keywords their audience is using. This is prime position for brand exposure and lead generation. This, moreover, is why it can feel like such a horror when your financial marketing shows a decline in your website’s search rankings.
The best way to effectively diagnose why this is happening, and do something about it, is to get an experienced SEO professional or agency to look at it for you. If you’d rather do some of the work yourself, or you simply want to first understand what this auditing work involves, then read on.
#1 Uncover the problem with your financial marketing
The first thing you need to do is ascertain whether the problem is with your financial website, or with the search demand. What does this actually mean?
Let’s suppose you are a finance business, and you are trying to rank for the search term “business finance” as well as more niche terms like “equipment finance.” Let’s also suppose your financial website is ranking well for the former, but your rankings for the latter have been steadily declining.
One of the first tools you should check is Google Trends, which will show you the search volume for particular keywords over time. It might be, for instance, that the number of people in the UK searching for “business loans” has held fairly steady over time. On the other hand, the numbers of people searching for “equipment finance” could have declined.
If this is the case, then the problem probably isn’t with your financial marketing – your declining rankings for “equipment finance” is more to do with search demand.
#2 Run some diagnostic queries
You will need access to rank tracking software to do some of these checks. (Our clients have access to this via our Portal software). Essentially, this technology will allow you to track your website rankings over time for particular keywords.
The first thing you’ll want to do is, simply, check your rankings. For instance, suppose you are a financial adviser based in Hampshire. You want to check if you still rank in Google search, in Southampton, for the search term “financial adviser southampton”.
To do this, you would simply look through your list of keywords for this particular keyword, and look at what your tracker tool says about your rankings in that local area.
Another approach you could take is to go straight to Google search, and type your brand name / website + the target keyword you are checking. Where does your website appear?
If your website is appearing on page 2 or beyond, then your financial marketing has some serious work to do. That’s potentially the sign of a Google penalty, or perhaps “brand dampening” around your company name or website.
The next check you can run, is to copy a 10-20 string of text from your web page, and put it directly into Google search (not in quotes). Then, run the search again – but using quotes this time.
If you are ranking well for the former, but not the latter, then you are probably not facing an issue with duplicate content (which Google penalises). The issue with your financial marketing is probably therefore more to do with content quality.
#3 Offer some hypotheses
Now you have a better grasp of what SEO problem(s) you might have, it’s time to understand what could be resulting in that problem(s).
In general, your financial marketing will likely be facing one of two problems. First, your financial website rankings could be up, but your traffic is down. Or, second, your website rankings could be down, and so is your website traffic.
Briefly, these are the factors usually to blame in each separate case:
Scenario 1: If website rankings are up, but traffic is down, this could be due to…
- Lower search demand.
- Snippet issues (i.e. you are ranking well, possibly, but you are no longer the featured result).
- Problems with your brand / reputation.
- New features in the SERPs (search engine rankings positions. For instance, featured snippets).
- Personalisation (e.g. Google is changing people’s search results by their location etc.).
Scenario 2: If website rankings are down and traffic is down, this could be due to…
- Duplicated content on your financial website.
- Thin or poor quality content.
- Search intent has changed for the SERPs you’re targeting.
- Competitors are beating you (e.g. their backlinks are better, or their UX).
- Technical problems (e.g. index / crawl problems).
- Pogo sticking. (People clicking back due to dissatisfaction with your content).
#4 Make some fixes
The solutions you follow will obviously hinge on the distinct problems above related to your financial marketing. If you have ascertained the issue, the way forward might be more or less straight forward.
For instance, if your lower SERPs are due primarily to on-page or technical issues, then addressing these should result in a fairly quick increase in your rankings. All you need to do is make the relevant changes, and wait for Google to crawl your site again.
If, however, you have been hit by a spam penalty or are suffering from link issues, then you could be looking at months before your financial marketing recovers in the search engines. Maybe years.