In the last decade, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) has seen more changes than any other marketing channel.
Through many algorithmic developments, SEO has remained a key part of a successful inbound financial marketing strategy
Today, Financial Services SEO is a mainstream topic within the industry and beyond.
It is obvious that SEO is a competitive area in 2022 and constantly requires new approaches and skills.
The latest data shows that there are 4.2 billion digital voice assistants worldwide, with voice search showing no signs of slowing down.
This shows that the focus of search has been decentralised. Search is now everywhere.
This is an important factor for financial organisations to remember, as SEO requires the combination of many specialities to achieve optimal results for your firm.
It is now at the heart of successful financial marketing strategies, and isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
5 Different Types of Financial Services SEO
In this comprehensive Guide to SEO for Financial Advisers, we will explore the five types of Financial Services SEO and how to use each of them. They include:
- On-Page SEO
- Off-Page SEO
- Technical SEO
- Local SEO
- International SEO
To learn more about each area of Financial Services SEO, read on!
First, we’re going to explore on-page SEO.
It refers to the optimisation of pages to increase the search engine rankings of a website.
It is used to generate organic traffic to your financial firm.
On-page SEO is the process of optimising your headlines, HTML tags, titles, meta descriptions, headers and images.
E-A-T and YMYL are key concepts that financial firms should always consider when writing content.
For the best chance to rank well on Google and other search engines, you should prioritise writing content that is factually correct, compliant, written by industry experts, as well as being updated frequently.
On-page SEO as a whole takes into account many aspects of a website that when combined, increase the visibility within search results.
Why is on-page SEO important?
Search engines use on-page SEO to understand the content of your firms website, so they can determine whether it is relevant to a query.
Search engines are fast becoming more sophisticated, and the focus on semantics and relevance in search engine results pages (SERPs) is increasing.
Google is now much more familiar with its many complex algorithms.
It is important for search platforms to understand what users are looking for when entering a query, and to present search results relevant to the user’s intent.
Financial Adviser SEO, in turn, must adapt to these changes.
Firstly, you can optimise your financial services website and content according to current best practices.
This applies to what users see on their pages (text, images, audio and video), as well as elements that only search engines see (i.e. HTML tags, structured data).
On-page SEO is an area of SEO that should not be ignored, as it arguably delivers best results.
This is because you have greater control over optimising elements on-page than off-page (consisting of external signals, i.e. back-links). We’ll cover this in more detail next.
We’ve seen many of our financial clients experience a surge in traffic and search presents when they invested in on-page strategies.
You will also be better able to meet the needs of your clients and prospects if your on-page SEO is aced.
We believe there are 10 key steps to improve your financial content and authority, as well as to increase traffic and conversions.
This handy checklist will help you start optimising your website and blog.
1. Producing high-quality content (E-A-T content)
As already mentioned, E-A-T content is content that echos expertise, authority and trustworthiness.
Something that naturally should already be practised within the financial sector.
Google uses this framework to evaluate content creators, websites and the whole web.
Google also evaluates content according to search quality guidelines, always placing a premium on high quality financial content.
It wants to reward high quality content with higher rankings.
Websites with lower quality content will in turn, gain less exposure.
It is evident that Google’s definition of high quality content correlates directly with what appears in search results.
E-A-T content should be taken seriously to improve your on-page SEO – even more so when it comes to SEO in financial services.
2. Writing Persuasive Title Tags
Title tags are a HTML tag placed in the header of each webpage or piece of content.
It should give context to the topic of your financial content, web page or landing page.
It appears prominently on the search engine results pages (commonly as a clickable hyperlink) and in your browser window.
Although it has no influence on organic rankings or page titles, it is an established ranking factor.
John Mueller, Search Director at Google, stated that page titles have nowhere near as much impact on rankings compared to main content.
It is worth remembering that SEO results can be negatively affected by poorly written, duplicated content or lack of title tags.
3. Producing compelling meta descriptions
Meta descriptions have been a key to optimising since the beginning of SEO.
Meta descriptions are essentially tags that describe the content of a page and are displayed under the title of the search engine results.
While Google claims meta descriptions do not improve rankings, there are reports that better descriptions can help.
Optimising your meta description can improve:
- Understanding what your website can offer.
- Click-through rate.
- Perception of the quality of the results.
4. Writing enticing headlines
Would you like your financial website content to be highly ranked in search results?
Silly question, right?
If it’s not already, you need to start writing compelling headlines.
It is possible to make a great headline that makes a difference in the conversion of clicks into impressions.
Therefore, it is important to write them strategically.
To make your headline stand out in SERPs, it must spark interest.
This encourages users to click on the link and read the content further.
The use of a convincing headline communicates the value of clicking through.
5. Treat your Header Tags with the same importance as Headlines
Header tags are HTML components that can be used to distinguish titles / headings from subheadings within your content.
Although header tags are no longer as important for site rankings as they have been in the past, they still serve an important function for both your users and your SEO efforts.
You can directly influence your rankings by:
- Making your financial content more accessible and enjoyable for readers.
- Providing search engines with context that is keyword rich.
6. After conducting your SEO research, write for your intended reader / user
SEO means writing financial content that is both search engine and user friendly.
Writing solid SEO content requires more than keyword research and filling in the gaps.
Simply producing any old financial content is not enough.
The content you write must be tailored to your audience, so it is important to be relevant, high quality and substantial.
7. Keyword Cannibalisation
The more pages you have targeting a keyword, the better you’ll rank for that keyword – right or wrong?
If your financial firm has more than one web page ranking for the same keyword, this simply means you are competing with yourself (also known as Keyword Cannibalisation).
It is important to determine whether your website has keyword cannibalisation, and if it does, fix it immediately!
8. Conducting ongoing financial content audits
Content writers often focus so much on creating new content that they do not check their existing content.
This is a common oversight.
It is important to audit financial content, and if so, how?
Assess whether your content achieves its objectives and generates ROI.
You should then determine whether the financial content you have is still compliant, outdated or stale.
Finally, you should find out which content topics are most effective for you.
Regular content audits can significantly improve your SEO strategy.
9. Best practices for image optimisation
Images make your website attractive.
Especially in the financial industry, where some websites can be pretty dull.
Although, it is worth noting that some images can affect the loading speed of your website if they are large in file size.
It is important to compress and optimise your images by including relevant titles and including alt text.
This is because images are indeed a valuable SEO resource when properly optimised.
Some advantages include:
- Ranking benefits (including the appearance on Google Image Search).
- A better UX.
- Faster page loading.
Images should not be seen as an afterthought when building your financial brand or creating appealing financial content online.
Image should be used to support your content, while ensuring that you use enticing titles and alt text properly.
On-page SEO Concluded
It is essential to improve the visibility of your financial website, rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) and attract more clients and prospects.
It is a continuous process and constantly evolving.
Our advice is always to keep your UX in mind when it comes to on-page SEO.
This should allow you to naturally optimise while following the above best practices.
So we now know that on-page SEO is everything you can control on your website.
Whereas off-page SEO refers to everything away from your website.
Off-page SEO essentially aims to increase the authority of your financial site among search engine crawlers and users by increasing awareness and brand exposure.
Let’s dive deep into off-page optimisation best practice:
1. Link Building
SEO strategies that are off-page focus mainly on link building.
This includes finding links from trustworthy sources to generate qualified traffic to your website.
Google considers backlinks a sign that your website is an authoritative source.
It is commonly said that links are queen if content is king.
Search engines consider links proof that you are an authoritative financial website.
It is not only the number of linked websites, but also the quality and authoritativeness of them.
Although you may have many links that point to your site, if they are all spammy or from link farms, it will not help you.
In fact, it will only hinder your hard work.
You should try to get backlinks from only high-quality and authoritative websites.
If your content is good, it will naturally help you to get links.
However, if you want to increase the speed of things or ensure success, you need to actively search for these links yourselves.
You can start by requesting a link from non-competitive websites related to your topic.
It is also important that all links back to your financial website use your keyword text in them.
This can make a huge difference to the success of your link-building efforts.
For example, if the keyword you want to focus on is “pension transfers”, then you want the link back to your landing page to use that particular text.
Not “click here” at the bottom of the page or something similar.
Another option is to submit articles to other related websites to receive back links that way.
A blog or Twitter (in particular) is a great way to do this.
Ensure the content you publish always contains links to your website.
There is no easy solution to link building.
It comes down to relationships and networking.
Although our golden nugget of advice is to remember that well-written and informative financial content will always be better received by all, and in turn will support your link-building efforts.
Remember – quality, quality, quality!
Search for your primary financial keywords to keep track of your competitors, and learn from their actions.
Although we never promote copying, it is no brainer to analyse what competitors do, what they do not do, and what works.
Also, you can look at the websites that link to you, and link back.
You’ll have to catch up if you’re a new financial firm or starting a website and its content from scratch.
Remember that the firms at the top had to start somewhere.
3. Analytics & Statistics
This sounds boring, but it is the most important part of all your hard work.
Most hosting companies will offer some kind of web statistics that allow you to check basic information, such as unique visitors, referrals, page not found errors and more.
Newcomers often mistakenly consider “hits,” the number of visitors they receive, as if that were true.
“Hits” are in fact useless information.
Hits are simply server pulls.
For example, if there are ten images on one page, each page load leads to a server push or “hit.”
What you want to see as an indicator of website traffic is the number of “unique visitors” to your website.
No matter what financial area you fall into, you should never let your website go on autopilot.
You should check your statistics often.
It’s surprising how little tweaks can help you get more traffic and ultimately generate more leads, prospects and clients.
Search engines examine your domain history when ranking domains.
This includes how long the domain has been up and whether it has been renewed for more than a decade.
It also takes into account how often you change your IP addresses.
Essentially, they consider you more trustworthy if you are stable.
If you’re in it for the long run, renew your domain for years at a time, rather than the annual renewal.
The best option is a dedicated web server, but not everyone can afford it.
You can get a dedicated IP address from your host to ensure you do not share the hosted IP block.
In general, it doesn’t cost much.
Search engines will then see you as more stable, and you do not risk being banned from the Internet if one of your shared hosting buddies breaks rules.
We also suggest never bouncing from one host to another, as this is seen as spammy to search engines.
Stay with a reliable hosting company and reap the benefits of off-page SEO success.
Off-page SEO Concluded
Although we don’t yet know the exact algorithm Google uses for ranking content, data from the Search Engine Ranking Factors Study shows that more than half of the ranking factor weight is likely to be attributed to off-page SEO-related factors.
If this doesn’t highlight its importance, we’re not sure what else will.
We believe all SEO efforts should begin with technical SEO.
SEO has always been about generating high-quality traffic through organic search.
The ways to achieve this goal have changed significantly from the beginnings of SEO, when technical skills prevailed.
Although one thing is certain, SEO strategies should always revolve around crawl-ability.
In the past, the quality of the financial content you provided was secondary.
It was thought that the best way to rank was to simply pack your content with financial keywords.
Now, this is like an SEO crime.
Over time, keyword stuffing expanded to link building.
This is due to Google’s innovation to use trusted links and high-quality content to achieve a higher ranking in search.
Financial marketers have always had one goal: attracting organic search traffic to their website, which converts.
For quite a while, we were forced to endure a game of chase with marketers who did everything in their power to get high search rankings.
Even after Google recognised the use of keyword cloaking, black-hat SEO professionals began buying links to continue to manipulate their rankings.
For a while, it was questioned marketing-wide whether SEO was indeed dead.
Although one key point was missed in this question – SEO simply won’t die if people continue to use search to find information.
These discussions are now long gone as modern SEO is embraced, especially its partnership with content marketing.
The industry is now thriving, and search engines have implemented algorithms to eliminate snake tactics.
Today, those with the most effective strategies (E-A-T concepts) are rewarded with increased search traffic.
Technical SEO now covers all search engine best practices and leaves no room for manipulation.
Although this specialism has not disappeared, it has experienced a renaissance in recent years, as senior marketers recognize it drives performance and crawler compliance.
These are the four areas that matter most to financial adviser SEO:
- Site Content
Although this has long been true, financial marketers have realised that technical SEO goes beyond maintenance.
The four areas listed above will improve the performance of the site through search engines and other channels.
We believe the term “SEO” is no longer an appropriate categorisation of what we do.
This is as we have expanded our scope to include content marketing and conversion rate optimisation.
Maybe Site, Search, & Content Optimisation is now more convenient to SEO in 2022….
SEO for financial advisers in 2022 includes:
- Ensuring your financial content is of high enough quality for search engines.
- Optimising your website for both clients and prospects.
- Optimising landing pages.
- Creating financial content that works across all marketing channels.
It is our responsibility to reach consumers wherever they look, which is constantly changing.
Financial brands need to ensure their web presence is up to date with modern consumers.
Mobile first has a huge impact on how we engage audiences.
However, it is also a technological consideration.
Financial advisers need to think beyond search engines to imagine how clients can find content in new ways.
In addition to traditional SEO techniques, this approach should be expanded to optimise the site experience.
The importance of technical SEO
SEO is now part of a larger picture, and technical skills need to be used in a new way.
It has developed into a more sophisticated and complex digital channel than the category “Search Engine Optimisation.”
The core principles of organic search remain unchanged, but technical SEO is given more prominence as a driver for the performance of the web, mobile and device.
This begins with the definition of what exactly SEO means, and ends with how SEO is used within your financial organisation.
Although it is crucial to know where and how to use this knowledge to achieve technical SEO success.
Focus on optimising:
- Your website (for both mobile and desktop devices)
- Vertical search engines (not just Google anymore – think Bing for example).
- Voice search
Technical SEO Concluded
Technical SEO basics are not enough.
If you want to compete with the rest of the financial marketing world, you must be doing more than putting keywords into your blogs and content.
Technical SEO and its success in organic search ranking can play a key role in your financial marketing strategy if you act now.
Local search is an essential part of any financial adviser’s SEO strategy that targets your clients in a particular area, city, or town.
Organic SEO will in turn help increase the ranking of your financial website in organic search.
If a query is of local intent, organic listings can be another way for your company to appear before motivated searchers.
Although local SEO and organic ranking are closely linked in this way, each strategy requires an individual optimisation strategy.
Let’s start with the basics:
What is Local SEO?
Local SEO refers to the practice of optimising search engine results for local search results.
This means your Google business listing will be ranked higher in the Local Pack / Map Pack and appear more frequently in response to relevant local queries.
Consider the last time you turned to Google to search for something locally.
Google is committed to providing searchers with the best answers for every query, whether it be “final salary pension advice London”, “financial advisers in London”, or “Local investment advisers”
When its algorithms determine that your intent to search is local, meaning that you are searching for something in the immediate area, Map Pack results will be prominently displayed on the first page.
These results can also be complemented by organic information on local businesses and services.
For example, if you search for [Financial Advisers London], Google will have already identified that you have a local, immediate need.
Local search results, including business name, address and phone number, as well as photos and videos, reviews from clients and star ratings (all on your Google My Business profile – if set up correctly), are more likely to provide the answer you are searching for than an organic or paid for link.
Following Google’s guidelines and creating a great UX on your site are best practices for SEO in general.
This is crucial if your website is to rank high in organic search results, where Google has found there is a local intention for a query.
If you are a brand new financial company, you can still appear in search results, even if you have no website yet via your Google My Business profile.
This is because your Google Business Profile strongly influences the results of the Map Pack, with or without a website.
These results may contain information Google has collected from other areas of the Internet, or user suggestions and content.
It is worth noting that Google has its own guidelines regarding local SEO.
The most important being the ‘Guidelines to represent your business on Google‘.
Following these guidelines will help you maximise your visibility in the Map Pack and avoid a suspension of your listing for any reason.
Why is local search important?
Here are some statistics showing how important local search is for financial companies:
- Google estimates more than 30% of all search queries it processes relate to the location.
- A recent survey of local searchers found that 61% said they searched locally every day.
- 86% of people use Google Maps to find a company’s location.
- A recent survey on local SEO found that 93% of consumers spend about 14 minutes reading online reviews about businesses before they make contact.
Google Local Ranking – How is it determined?
Google’s organic search ranking algorithm is not open knowledge, but it is much more transparent about how to rank within local search results.
According to Google, the three main categories of local ranking factors are:
- Prominence and Availability
Relevance refers to the degree to which a local business profile corresponds to what someone searches for.
Google will help you better understand your business and adapt it to relevant searches.
Google offers guidance on how to improve your local rankings in its help resource.
Google defines distance as “the distance between each search result and the location term in a search.”
If the user does not specify a location, Google will calculate distance using what they know about that location.
Finally, prominence refers to the extent to which Google considers this business prominent.
This category is probably the most complicated of all local ranking factors.
This is because search algorithms also try to include offline prominence in the equation.
According to Whitespark’s survey “2021 Local Search Ranking Factors,” these are the top ranking factors:
- Keywords in the listing title
- Inbound links to relevant domains of high quality and authority
- The proximity of the business address to the location searched
- High numerical ratings
- Keywords in native Google reviews
- Address in the city where you are searching
- Primary category in GBP
- Other GBP categories
- Completion of the GBP listing
How to Improve Your Local Search Presence
Local search is an important channel for all financial companies providing local services.
Getting Started with Local SEO for Financial Advisers
Your time, money and energy are precious resources.
This leaves many companies asking themselves: “Are all aspects of SEO important?”
The definitive answer to your question is: “YES!”
What Local SEO Benefits Are There?
Local SEO can be beneficial for all types of financial companies serving clients in a particular region.
Local Search Still Relies on Organic Ranking
Google’s Map Pack shows local search rankings. However, the organic rank of your site is also important and complements your local ranking success.
Your organic ranking enables Google to understand your prominence (linking back to the three factors discussed above).
It is one of three main categories of local ranking signals.
Search engines have evolved enormously, and SEO tactics and loopholes are old news.
User experience signals, E-A-T, high quality content, quality links and much higher quality UX are the new standards.
However, there are still certain local SEO factors that are important to success:
- Ensure your technical SEO is up to scratch.
- Find the best keywords and topics you can focus on in your campaign.
- Focus on providing regular high quality content.
- Acquire authoritative links that can help your website rank higher on Google.
- Double check and implement your NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) information on several linking sites.
- Optimising for local ranking
Local focus can make it harder to use standard SEO methods for ranking.
Voice search is also prominent in local search
Voice searches are a popular way to find local information, especially now that more people have access to smartphones, Amazon Alexa’s and Google Home.
It is probably easier to ask a question than to type it.
It is therefore not surprising to see an increase in local queries based on conversational voice searches in recent years.
Being within a service-oriented industry, you can test the water with financial keywords that include questions in your content.
This is a good place to start targeting keywords with local intention.
You may be amazed at the number of searches you can get by simply doing a thorough keyword research.
Local Search and Mobile Search
We already know that most local searches are carried out on local mobile devices.
For this reason, mobile usability plays an important role in Google’s ranking factors.
Local SEO Concluded
If you are just starting with local SEO, set up Google My Business to maximise visibility and conversions within Google Search, and also to ensure you are getting the best out of Google Maps for your financial firm.
International SEO is the process by which your financial website is optimised, so search engines can identify which countries and languages you need to target.
If you know that your clients and prospects live in multiple countries or speak various languages, you can customise your website to improve their experience.
Are you an international financial company or have ambitions to be?
It may be time for you to consider making some changes to your financial website if you realise that many of your visitors come from other countries, speak different languages or both.
International SEO and geo-targeting
Instead of optimising your site to attract traffic from your own county or city, International SEO is simply optimising it for other countries and languages.
You can easily create an internationally recognised website by focusing on specific countries or languages.
Your tasks at the top level to achieve “international geo-targeting” are threefold:
- Specify your target country and / or region with an internationally friendly URL structure (country targeting).
- Language tags (or language targeting) can be used to determine the language your pages are targeting.
- Maintaining and creating content in the target language (s). These are the raw materials to enable you to rank internationally.
Best Practices for International SEO
International financial websites should use URL structures.
There are several ways to target certain countries through your website.
These include a top-level country code domain (CcTLD), a subdomain or sub-folder, a gTLD that supports language parameters, or a completely different domain name.
Let us consider each of these options and explain them in more detail:
ccTLD – ccTLDs use two letter codes to tell users and search engines which country or city a website has been registered to.
Subdirectory – Internationalised content is stored in a subdirectory or sub-folder of a root domain.
Subdomain – Internationalised content is located on a “third-level” domain that may or may not receive link equity from the root domain.
gTLD, language parameters – This domain is generally at the top level (like.com or.net) and is targeted at speakers of a particular language by adding a URL parameter.
Different domain – Internationalised content could be placed on a completely different root domain than the internationalised site.
Search engines can interpret every URL structure differently.
Therefore, each technique has its advantages and disadvantages for an international financial website.
It is worth learning more about each structure before you decide on the best one.
Google suggests arranging your hierarchy in the same way for each section, regardless of the structure you choose.
This makes your website intuitive and easy to crawl.
Language-targeting for your financial website and landing pages
Use hreflang and language meta tags to show search engines the languages you have established.
These are codes that tell search engines in which language your financial content is available.
Other best practices for international SEO:
You should ensure that your website navigation, financial content and help desk are all native languages in the region.
You should not redirect users to another language just because they are located in a particular area.
Although it is okay to suggest a website in another language, you do not know (without question) whether, for example, an English-speaking person in France is an expat, someone travelling or completely lost on the Internet.
Avoid scripts or cookies to display different versions of pages in different languages.
Such dynamic content is impossible to crawl through search engines and can be difficult to view for human users.
Your financial content should also be tailored to the language and culture of your target audience.
You should ensure that you provide relevant information to your target audience.
You send strong signals to search engines and users through the use of local languages, currencies and times, as well as contact information such as addresses and telephone numbers.
Be aware of cultural differences when creating financial content and design.
Colour, layout and humour are all viewed differently in different regions.
You can increase the likelihood that your prospects and clients will have a positive experience by clearly declaring that your website is for them.
When done correctly, international SEO should be almost invisible to your users.
Your international SEO efforts will also allow your clients and prospects to find relevant content in their native language and local region (if appropriate).
The signals also help search engines find the best content for the right people.
Other SEO methods which support your international SEO efforts
You can also use these other SEO signals to further indicate your site is targeted at a particular country:
- Host your site on a local server
- Link to local content
- Link up with local resources
- Find ways to rank in local search, like Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China.
International SEO concluded
A CcTLD is always a safe choice if you are targeting a specific country.
Although a ccTLD may not be the best option if you’re concentrating on language targets.
They’re intended to target a specific area, not the language spoken there.
In these situations, you need to use another internationalisation method, such as hreflang or sub-folders or subdomains, instead of a ccTLD.
Each company is unique, so plan everything before you start to ensure you get the best out of your international SEO efforts.
We propose a multi-layered financial services SEO strategy
For those who are just starting with Financial Services SEO, you should focus on on-page optimisation for a while – get that aced.
But if your search rankings continue to rise in the long run, you need to use several SEO types.
Although you don’t necessarily have to use all five types of SEO, it’s a good idea to use at least the first three.
We will not lie, it will take considerable investment to compete in Financial Services SEO and increase your search engine rankings organically.
To see results, you need to use all available SEO methods and optimise your financial content.
Organically ranking will not happen overnight or even over a few months.
SEO is not a sprint, but a marathon. Maybe even a double marathon!
We understand you may want faster results if you are a smaller financial company without a huge budget or time to spare.
If you want to be at the top of search engines with well-known financial brands by the end of the week, then Pay Per Click (PPC) may be a better option for you.
Your short term solution is PPC but longer term – invest in SEO!
Get in touch if you need further advice when it comes to Financial Services SEO.
Our SEO specialists guarantee that your website gets a full overhaul, including continuing to optimise the intent and conversion rate of your visitors.
With search engines driving 300% more traffic to websites than social media, the importance of climbing search engine ranks organically is obvious.
However, SEO should form just one part of a joined up and co-ordinated financial marketing strategy.
You can read our comprehensive guide to marketing for financial advisers here