The financial services industry is well-known as one of the most competitive fields. This makes sense given that finances and, specifically, investments are big boys’ playgrounds, with entrepreneurs spending millions of dollars on various stocks and bonds.
Even if you’re a regular Joe, you’ll likely need help from financial companies at one point in your life when buying a property or seeking out a pension plan. The financial products can range from simple banking services to creating and executing investment strategies, buying insurance policies, performing company audits, and more.
Due to cutthroat competition, financial service providers have to invest big bucks in marketing activities. Although traditional marketing has always been a good choice, businesses are now rerouting the majority of their budgets into digital marketing strategies.
In this article, we want to talk about the benefits of financial services SEO and what makes it so different from other marketing approaches.
Benefits of financial services SEO
Reaching the first page in search engines sounds like a dream. You instantly get an influx of massive organic traffic that will boost the positioning and sales of your financial services company. Because of that, many financial institutions spend enormous amounts of money on this marketing activity, even if it doesn’t yield instant benefits.
Here’s what you can potentially get from financial SEO:
- Reaching the top of search engine rankings for lucrative financial keywords ensures a steady influx of traffic. What’s better is that this kind of traffic (organic traffic) trumps any other traffic source. Not only does it convert at a higher clip, but it also supercharges your brand-building efforts
- Speaking of branding, SEO is the best way to increase awareness, especially in industries like finance. Using social media or email marketing doesn’t always work here, making optimization the best way to share your company message
- SEO is vital for other digital marketing efforts. Just by having a highly functional site, you’ll significantly improve conversions from other sources. In other words, whether you like it or not, you should implement the best SEO practices to stay afloat
- Through optimization and organic traffic, you can set yourself up for long-term success. Once you reach the top of search engine rankings for specific keywords, it will be hard to topple your site. The ranking changes don’t occur that quickly, giving you several months of unopposed traffic
Given that organic traffic is the best traffic and that it ensures the highest conversions, you should at least consider hiring financial services SEO experts.
Challenges with financial services SEO
There are lots of reasons why implementing an SEO strategy is the best way to promote a financial company. Unfortunately, many business owners are highly skeptical of this tactic and would much rather try different approaches.
Truth be told, there are several potential challenges in hiring SEO experts:
- Honestly, there are lots of scammers on the market. Some marketing companies do a great job promoting their brand, but they constantly underdeliver on the SEO front. So, your first task is properly vetting providers until you find the right one for your business
- SEO takes time, especially if your financial services website is brand new. For example, if you’ve created a new site, it might take several weeks for Google just to index your pages. Unless you can survive the growing pains, you probably shouldn’t utilize search engine optimization
- You also need a provider that has experience with the financial services sector. Like any other industry, this one has unique competition and challenges. Knowing top competitors and having connections within the field can come in handy when promoting the business and developing a digital marketing strategy
- If you don’t have good branding and value proposals, SEO might be hard to pull off. In the end, there’s only so much you can do with great content marketing and link-building; the rest depends on what you offer to the world. Among others, this is why generic financial service companies struggle to survive on the market
After reading this section, you might think it’s not worth it to pursue SEO. Nevertheless, the potential benefits of reaching the top of search engine results pages usually outweigh the associated challenges. Otherwise, no one would be using SEO in 2024.
10 Best SEO practices
Without further ado, here are the 10 best SEO practices that will make a major change in search results:
1. Prioritize technical SEO
Essential keywords and creatively customized content won’t yield results unless your technical SEO is top-notch. The whole idea is to make it convenient for visitors to navigate your site, find relevant content, and make it easy for search bots to crawl and index your pages.
However, there’s much more to technical optimization than that. During this task, you ensure that the financial web pages are well-optimized for users so they gain maximum value when browsing. You need to ensure that the pages are opening properly on various devices and that there aren’t any errors.
Perform a site audit
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are some of the most effective tools out there for a comprehensive site audit, and what’s more important is that they’re free. Use these tools to fix broken links, banish 404 error pages, and rectify a host of other technical errors to create a better customer experience and halt customer attrition.
Improve loading speed
Ideally, it should take less than two seconds for your pages to load. Longer loading speeds compel customers to pogo-stick elsewhere to satisfy search queries. The Google Page Speed tool presents you with a checklist of technical drawbacks and actionable advice on what you can do to improve speeds on both mobiles and desktops.
Prepare a sitemap
A sitemap, in the SEO domain, is an XML file on your server that provides a bird’s-eye view of your web content. Mapping makes it easier for search engine bots to crawl, assess, and index your site. If you don’t have a sitemap or the existing file is outdated, create a new file using a site map generator and submit the map to the Google search console.
2. Constantly monitor competitors
Many SEO companies recommend that you check out your competitors prior to keyword research. However, this usually isn’t enough to become successful.
Constantly tracking and analyzing other brands can provide a plethora of information. First and foremost, it can show you how their marketing and, specifically, SEO strategy changed over time. As such, their process can serve as a blueprint for your own optimization
By tracking competitors, you can also learn where their links come from. In most cases, the same sources can be utilized during your link-building process to ensure some easy wins.
When checking their sites, we suggest you focus on companies’ products and their features. With this knowledge, you can revamp your own financial services, making them more suitable for modern consumers. Among others, make sure to check their live events, as it shows you how they’re tackling inter-business relationships.
3. Create real connections
Many companies perceive SEO for financial services through the lens of links, content, and technical performance. However, you would be shocked to learn that the marketing process is every bit as reliant on your relationships as it is on technical aspects.
Even if you’re a brand-new financial services company, you need to remember that your business runs on people, not on algorithms. When you see traffic numbers in Google Analytics or when you get a link from a relevant website, there’s always a person making that click.
In other words, you should link up with all financial influencers, fans, and even competitors and try to create meaningful relationships with them. The general public takes note of businesses that do good and are more likely to do favors for them.
4. Perform keyword research
Keyword research affects what kind of financial content you’ll make, which, in turn, affects potential traffic. Many SEO experts execute this task once, at the start of the project, and utilize the list for future content creation. Nevertheless, keyword research can also be a continuous process where you constantly look for new phrases to optimize.
To properly execute the research, you first have to understand the underlying metrics. Basically, it all comes down to search volume and difficulty as the two main indicators of quality. Volume shows us how many searches are made for a particular phrase, while difficulty shows how hard it is to rank the phrase.
Some modern tools also have keyword scores, which is a compound metric for keyword quality. Lastly, I also need to mention cost-per-click, or CPC, as the amount of money advertisers are willing to spend for a particular phrase.
User intent or search intent is another thing you need to consider during the research. Whenever a person browses for something in search engines, they’re looking to fulfill a certain need. In most cases, they want to learn more about a topic, learn more about a particular financial brand or their products, or purchase a financial service.
5. Optimize your toolbox
Like a good handyman, you should constantly try to improve your toolkit. The financial sector utilizes, more or less, the same marketing software as all other industries. Here are a few software categories and tools you’ll have to pay attention to:
- Technical SEO software: DeepCrawl, Screaming Frog, Google Search Console
- Competitive analysis: Ahrefs, SEMRush, Majestic, SpyFu
- Keyword research: Google Trends, Moz Keyword Explorer, Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, SEMRush
- Link building: Linkody, Help a Reporter Out, Pitchbox
- Local SEO and reputation management: Whitespark, BrightLocal, Brand24
Some of these tools are a must-have for just about any financial advisor. For example, you should introduce Google Analytics and Search Console into your workflow no matter what (it helps that both of them are free). SEMRush and Ahrefs are also two fantastic all-in-one solutions that any SEO expert can benefit from.
Our suggestion is to test several tools, even if it means getting the cheapest package, before committing.
6. Create content clusters
Content planning is every bit as important as content creation. Not only should you decide which blog posts to prioritize, but you should also group them into logical sections. That way, you can squeeze more value from each incoming visitor.
Content cluster basics
Content clusters are groups of articles that cover a similar topic. Each one has a spot in the hierarchy and is meant to further increase readers’ knowledge on a subject. So, in an ideal situation, you would guide a person from one section of the cluster to another, forcing them to visit several pages during a single website visit.
Clusters are vital for SEO. Users visiting several pages during a session and spending lots of time on the site sends a strong relevancy signal to Google. On top of that, as casual readers move more and more through the cluster and get acquainted with your financial services, they slowly turn into potential customers.
Enhance user experience
The content cluster strategy only works if you manage to boost user engagement above your website’s average. In other words, if each piece of the cluster can accrue better stats than the usual blog post, it’s worth implementing this strategy.
So, to get the most out of it, you need to be extremely meticulous with each piece. Besides the usual best writing practices, you should also introduce meaningful internal linking that will connect various blog posts together.
7. Diversify your content
Convent diversification isn’t something that is often talked about within the SEO field. Truth be told, most brands utilize plain written pieces without ever trying to experiment with other formats. As a result, your blog posts will quickly become dull, which might be noticeable at first but will affect the number of repeat visitors.
- Images are vital within the financial services industry. Given the sheer amount of data you need to showcase, you’ll need to hire a full-time graphics team that will create various charts and tables on a constant basis
- Videos generally don’t work that well within this niche, but there are certain situations where you might use them. For example, you can embed a video for each blog post, thus increasing engagement rates. Educational videos can also be great for your homepage and other landing pages, significantly increasing your conversions
- Infographics might also work in specific cases when you wish to provide something different to your loyal fans
Whether we’re talking about the format of messaging, you can accomplish a lot by diversifying your posts and giving something fresh to your loyal fans.
8. Use guest posting
While some SEO experts theorize that links aren’t as important as they used to be, there’s little evidence of that. In fact, we’ll go as far as to say that backlinks from reputable sites are still vital for prompting your financial business.
There are several ways to supercharge your link building. In most cases, they require extensive work and lots of dedication. Out of all the tested ones, guest posting stands out as the best methodology for financial sites. Here’s what the process would look like in practice:
- Your first task is to seek out blogs that cover various financial and business topics. Luckily, there are numerous sites with such a focus, so this shouldn’t be too hard
- Each one of them should allow guest posting. You can easily find this information on the About Us page or a specific Guest Posting page
- Create a list (an Excel sheet will do the trick) including all the sites that allow guest posting. Add information such as blog name, URL, email, and owner’s name
- Send emails to these addresses asking for a guest posting opportunity
- Create posts based on relevant keywords and link back to your focus articles
It’s worth noting that many guest post sites ask for monetary compensation. So, the outreach might not be as free as you’d hoped. However, you can still get a healthy influx of links with minimal investment. Not only will this strategy quickly boost your site’s authority, but it can also serve as a source of secondary traffic.
9. Utilize link baiting
Aside from guest posting, many SEOs also dabble in link baiting.
Truth be told, this concept isn’t that revolutionary. Basically, with link baiting, you’re creating viral content meant to stir controversy or create a strong reaction from the financial community. The gist of it is that people will link and inadvertently promote pieces that introduce new ideas or that are of high quality.
For example, you can create pieces that cover burning financial topics. You might also create pieces that are controversial but not necessarily harmful to your brand. Of course, you can also invest lots of money in a mammoth piece and start promoting it through various social and online channels.
The thing about link baiting is that these articles not only secure a lot of traffic but they also illicit lots of links. That way, your domain can gain a fantastic, long-term boost, even if the piece is a bit too controversial for the community’s liking.
10. Boost your reputation
Placing high within the local search results is crucial for many service industries. While it might not be as important for certain financial businesses, especially those that offer online services, it can still boost your traffic and build brand awareness.
Interestingly enough, the success of your local SEO campaign is closely connected to feedback customers leave on Google. Another good way to boost your local traffic is by creating relevant local content and optimizing it.
Provide good service
There’s only so much you can do to optimize your business reputation. The public’s perception of your business comes down to your products, services, and interpersonal behavior. So, while a marketing company can manage your reputation, you’re the one that has the biggest impact on what people think of you.
Monitor online chatter
Despite what you might think, there’s a lot you can do to sway public opinion. Simply asking a person to remove their negative feedback can work in lots of cases. Alternatively, you can try to remedy the situation or offer different “incentives,” so they leave a positive review.
We’ve previously mentioned some powerful reputation tools you can use for this purpose. This type of software can detect specific keywords, for example, those mentioning your brand, so you see what people are talking about you. Staying on top of things allows you to fix issues as soon as they occur.
Financial companies can generate a lot of value through SEO services. This promotional tactic is fantastic for building a brand from the ground up, and what’s better is that it can serve as the basis for various other marketing processes.
While doing SEO can be tricky for newbies, there are lots of things you can do by yourself. In fact, it’s recommended that you manage your reputation yourself and build real relationships with other influencers. That way, even if you part ways with your marketing provider, you won’t lose a beat.