SEO can be a confusing subject for financial services. There is a lot of jargon, multiple moving parts and constant technology updates. So little wonder!
In this guide, our digital marketing team wanted to offer this summary of frequently-asked questions about SEO from financial services businesses – along with some of our answers.
We hope this is useful for your financial marketing plan. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss your own SEO strategy with us.
What is financial SEO?
SEO refers to “search engine optimisation”, which is the practice of using certain tactics to improve your website’s visibility in search engines like Google. The aim is to generate more organic traffic (i.e. not from paid ads) from these channels and gain more leads.
“Financial SEO” is just a short-hand way of saying SEO for financial services businesses. This is much the same as SEO for any other business. However, financial SEO typically requires more specialist help from a dedicated marketing agency.
This is because there is a lot of jargon in financial services, which presents a significant barrier to entry for non-experienced marketing firms and freelancers. As such, many financial businesses end up funding a “learning curve” when engaging a non-specialist partner.
Moreover, financial firms also need to consider the compliance implications of any SEO content before publication. Here, it helps to work with an SEO partner who generally knows what you can and can’t say in a blog post, landing page or other content.
What is SEO for a website?
SEO is, ultimately, about gaining more qualified organic traffic to your website. This means that search engines like Google pay close attention to websites before placing – and ordering – their content before users in search engine results.
Therefore, a big part of financial SEO involves doing regular, “on-site” optimisation to make sure your website is ticking the right boxes for Google. For instance, many years ago website owners used to stuff their blog posts full of keywords. This often used to be effective in getting the attention of Google and Bing, who would then rank the content higher up in search results.
Today, however this approach harms your SEO and so you need to periodically check your SEO content to make sure it sounds “natural” and is not going to risk a slap on the wrist from Google.
SEO for a website involves multiple activities and efforts including alt tags for images, writing meta descriptions for pages and providing appropriate links within your website content.
How do I start financial SEO?
If you have a website for your financial firm, then you could “start” your SEO right away simply by writing a blog. However, you likely want to make sure that any effort you put into your SEO strategy is going to be effective. This is why an SEO plan is helpful.
A good place to start, therefore, is to run an “SEO audit” of your financial website. How is it currently performing? Here, you can check your Google Analytics reports to investigate how much organic traffic you are already getting, and how engaged it is.
Can you identify any trends? In particular, is your organic traffic holding steady over time, rising or decreasing? Also, which pages are these people mostly visiting? It might be that certain blog posts are very popular and driving a lot of traffic.
This investigation can help uncover useful information about how to develop your SEO strategy. For instance, if 50% or more of your organic traffic is being driven by 2 blog posts, then you might want to consider starting a weekly blog to help “diversify”. After all, if a Google update suddenly results in one (or both) of these pages getting pushed down the search engine rankings, your organic traffic is likely to plummet along with it.
What is a Google penalty, and do I have one?
Google regularly updates its algorithm to try and provide the best user experience to everyone. Unfortunately, the company is very secretive about what they change, how often and which websites are impacted.
Usually, you can tell fairly quickly if you have received a Google penalty – as your website will largely disappear from the search engine results. For instance, if your Google Analytics showed consistent organic traffic for a while and, all of a sudden, there isn’t any, then this could be a warning sign (assuming your website is up and running).
Try not to panic. Remember, it isn’t in anyone’s interests – including Google’s – to arbitrarily delist websites from its search results. However, you do need to avoid “black hat” SEO tactics to help protect yourself against possible penalities.
Black hat SEO refers to SEO tactics that directly violate Google’s rules and guidelines. Examples include placing viruses and malware on your financial website (which can happen if your security is poor), keyword stuffing or high volumes of duplicate content.
Which SEO skills should I look for in a partner?
If you want to work with an external marketing partner to help with your SEO, it helps to know which qualities help identify them as a potential SEO partner. Whilst there isn’t an exhaustive list, the following list may help:
- Look for an SEO agency which isn’t afraid to share past results and statistics (within the limits of client confidentiality).
- Look for someone who understands ROMI – return on marketing investment.
- Look for past experience of working with firms in your industry or niche (if possible).
- Look for qualifications and certifications, such as Google Partners. This helps prove their technical knowledge.