SEO (search engine optimisation) is constantly changing, and financial firms need to keep abrest of these – and more timeless SEO principles – in order to use it effectively. Here at CreativeAdviser, we have provided an overview of some of the key SEO tactics for financial firms to consider in 2021. We hope you find value in this checklist and invite you to contact us if you’d like to discuss your own financial SEO strategy with a member of our team.
Content still reigns supreme
Search engines like Google want to make money – just like any other business. They do this primarily through advertising. To make this work as well as possible, this depends on serving the best available content to users. If someone makes a search, they are looking for content which solves their problem or answers their question. The top results, therefore, will typically consist of the best content.
This idea – that “content is king” in SEO – has been true for years, and remains so in 2021 (although the practical outworkings of this are different). In simple terms, therefore, to have a chance of getting your financial firm’s website into the top Google search engines results, you need great content. It needs to be better than the content which already occupies the top spots, to have a realistic chance of suppanting it.
How do you ensure your financial content marketing is better than the rest? Start by making a search that your audience is likely to make, and check the quality of the top ten results. Make a list of the defining features. For instance:
- Are the search engine results primarily other financial service websites, like yours? Or, are they low-quality links like forum discussion groups?
- How many words does each link contain? If they range in the 500-700 mark, then you may have a good chance of beating these if you produce content that is 1,500-2,000 words in length.
- What is the quality and nature of these competitors’ content? If their content is primarily text-based and is poorly laid-out, then you could produce something that is much more readable (e.g. through use of bullet points and sub-headings). Does the content lack content resources that you may be able to produce such as PDF guides, imagery and videos?
Having a strong content plan will stand your SEO in good stead. Here, be careful to choose your topics carefully based on what your audience is looking for, user intent and search engine volumes. Carefully consider whether or not the subject/question you wish to address is simply too competive, or not. Some search engine results are simply unrealistic to expect to compete with, especially if these are dominated by well-known brands with authoritative websites. Try to choose SEO opportunities where there is more potential for you to rank due to the poorer-quality results already occupying the space.
Check website performance
Website speed and mobile responsiveness are often areas neglected by financial firms in their SEO strategy. Yet they have become increasingly important to Google’s algorithm when determining how to rank websites in search engine results.
After all, it provides a poor user experience if someone clicks on a link and arrives at a website that takes 20 seconds to load. Moreover, we’ve all been confronted by the frustrating experience of clicking on a link in Google on our smartphone, only to be taken to a page where the text is tiny and you need to “pinch” the screen constantly to read it. These kinds of website features are likely to lead to Google de-priotising your content when deciding which websites should enter their top search results. As such, make sure you have a fast website which can be navigated easily on different devices and screen sizes.
A backlink is a name given to a hyperlink on other websites which point to your own website. For instance, suppose you write an excellent blog post on how to transfer a final salary pension. An owner of another website – perhaps a prominent financial media outlet – stumbles across it as they do research for their own news piece, and links to your blog post in their own article. Backlinks like these are seen by Google as positive signals that your content is authoritative and trustworthy, making it more likely that their algorithm will rank it higher in relevant search engine results.
Here, it can be tempting for financial firms to cut corners in an attempt to get more backlinks. Be very careful to avoid tactics such as buying backlinks, which Google is likely to detect and punish your website for. Remember, it is better to have a few, really good backlinks rather than 100s or 1000s of poor ones.
Keep on-site SEO updated
There is a range of features which Google expects to see on your website and SEO content. These need to be “check off” as you write and publish each post or landing page. The list can be quite long and changes with new updates to the algorithm. However, a good starting point is to make sure you have appropriate H1 and H2 tags (for your title and sub-headings). Check that any images have alt tags, and that your content contains the latest schema markup and meta-information (i.e. descriptions and title). Be sure to include links to other sources of content within your own – both internal and external – and check that these are never broken for long (e.g. if the website you linked to changes the URL).