Most financial firms have likely heard of SEO by now. Yet what is it exactly? How does it work and how might you use it effectively in your own marketing?
Financial SEO is the practice of taking measures to encourage a financial firm’s website to rank higher in search engine results.
There are usually immense benefits when doing this. Most British people in 2020 still use a search engine on their mobile device or desktop computer to search form answers to their questions and pain points on the internet. Whatever appears near the top of their Google search results tends to be trusted, and so people click on the links to find the content they need.
Assuming you achieve prominent positions in these results with your own website, this is a fantastic way to generate organic traffic – which is, typically, of a higher quality than many other traffic sources.
How Google & Other Search Engines Work
Search engines like Google are, essentially, hugely vast and quick online libraries. Rather than offering physical books or a human librarian, however, services like Google offer digital content through an algorithm which attempts to understand what the user meant when they typed in their query, and presents what it thinks will be most helpful and relevant.
Nobody knows exactly how Google works (except Google themselves!). Yet what we do know is that algorithms like these regularly update to improve the quality of service they offer, and they are getting increasingly good at it.
In the past, for instance, it used to be possible to “cheat” Google through “black hat SEO” techniques. Here, a website owner might try to trick the algorithm by stuffing their web page with the user’s search phrase – to make it appear higher in the results. Yet Google caught onto this, and tactics like this now, more often than not, can even result in a penalty which could see your website removed from Google search results entirely.
The key question, then, for a financial firm is how to create a website which meets Google’s standards and also the user’s expectations and needs, so that it appears high in relevant search results legitimately.
That’s what the rest of this article will now tackle.
How Financial Firms Can Improve Their SEO
The first important thing to recognise is that, in 2020, Google does not really rank financial websites – it ranks web pages.
For instance, if you’re a financial planner in Glasgow this does not mean that all pages on your website should rank for the search phrase: “financial planner in Glasgow”. Rather, you might just focus on getting one page (e.g. your homepage or a landing page) to rank for this. Other pages can then be dedicated to other search phrases used by your target audience.
This is useful, since it allows your entire website to cast a “wider net” to try and catch more organic traffic (since not everyone uses the same phrases when looking for your services on Google).
So, how can you ensure that each of your web pages has as strong a chance as possible to rank for its target search phrase(s)? The best thing you can do is improve the quality of the content.
First, type your user’s search phrase into Google (e.g. “financial planner Glasgow”). What comes up? What is the quality of the results? Is there anything you could do on your own page to beat them?
For instance, are the results dominated by poorly-designed web pages which are old, and thin on content? Do they make scant reference to Glasgow, and to the distinct value their services can distinctly benefit residents there?
Assuming you are, indeed, a Glasgow-based financial planner, those are good signs that you might be able to get your web page in a more prominent search engine position.
If your competitors have pages comprising less than 500 words, consider putting 1,000 words of excellent, relevant copy into your page. Think about including a video of client stories from people you’ve helped in Glasgow. Make reference to the local area – its wards, history and landmarks – and how your business connects meaningfully with these, rather than giving them scant reference.
Keeping Technical SEO in Perspective
A lot of financial SEO agencies will give the impression to financial planners that SEO is primarily about doing clever things on your website (e.g. adding alt tags). Whilst these things have their place, it’s important to keep them in perspective.
Ask yourself what Google is trying to do. It’s trying to offer the best user experience possible so that they trust it more and more, over other search engines, to deliver great content which is relevant to their immediate need. The algorithm isn’t primarily concerned with how many “SEO boxes” a financial website ticks, insofar as is has minimal bearing upon the user experience.
This means that, when it comes to technical financial SEO, you should concentrate most of your attention on improving the aspects of you web pages which will make people want to visit your pages, and stay on them.
Consider your website navigation, for instance. Is it hard for people to find their way around your website to other pages they might want to see?
What about the layout and functionality of your pages? Is it difficult to read the text, to find information or travel through the content in a fluid way? Do your buttons and calls to action work?
What about the web page speed? Does it load quickly – particularly on a mobile or tablet device? (Helpful hint: to find out your speed, try the Google Pagespeed Insights tool)!