Creating SEO campaigns for financial services companies and FinTech business can be a daunting prospect.
Increased marketing and compliance regulation, broad, varied and complex products and increasing competition from competitors both online and offline as well as stricter rules for websites to follow to gain traffic – there is plenty to think about.
- Financial Services Content
- Links for Financial Services Brands
- Technical Website Optimisation for Financial Services
- SEO Strategies for Financial Service Brands
- Three Ways We Can Help Your SEO & Content Marketing Strategies
- SEO Requirements for Financial Sites – Y.M.Y.L
- Overcoming SEO Penalties for Financial Services
Financial Services Content
Creating content for financial services sites need not be overly complicated. In the majority of cases your content can help to bring engaged and relevant traffic.
However, you can help your long copy guides, blogs and news pieces stand out by considering; expertise, authority and trustworthiness when you are writing.
Sites that excel in these three areas are likely to be considered the best fit for search queries related to their targeted sector. So, E.A.T and how to achieve each should be your first consideration when creating your content strategy.
How to create a FinServe content strategy
- find out the queries you already rank for
- discover related and similar search queries
- categorise search queries
- identify user intent behind these queries
- separate query categories into content pages
- assess competitors sites and their content offerings
- identify relevant supporting data sources
- create content briefs or spec sheets
- strategise internal linking
- begin writing
When creating a content strategy good organisation, thorough research and smart decisions are vital.
To ensure you maximise gains from your content project, advanced keyword research should be conducted beforehand to help identify the most valuable and biggest volume, relevant keywords, for you to rank on.
You should also be conscious of queries that already deliver organic traffic to the site and protect them from being dropped when you create new content.
Assessing existing queries can be a good place to start when looking to build out your content. Use what has already worked well for your site and the kind of users you already attract.
With existing queries and knowledge of your current and upcoming website sectors you can begin to build out your keywords. This will help identify what you want to rank for and the kinds of primary, secondary and supporting content you will need to get there.
Armed with your big list it is time to categorise your queries by the areas to make relevant queries easier to manage and extract data from. It will also help speed up the content brief or spec sheet creation process which will come later. By categorising queries, you can group topically relevant queries as well as begin to understand the intent of the users inputting these queries into search engines.
Understanding what users are looking for can help you decide the content pieces you need and which ones are the highest priority to write first.
You should also review competitor content, in addition to helping you understand the level of quality your content will need to be, it can also help you identify new ideas and effective display methods for you to replicate and improve upon within your content.
Backing your opinions up with data is also a good idea. Displaying this data effectively can make a huge difference to how search engines interpret your page and even how they display the content to users.
Create a plan to organise your content at page level.
Look at the search queries, and identify the most important keyword for the page. Then find sub keywords that are also relevant to support the page. Create a detailed spec sheet as this will help your writers work faster and produce better organic search content which is much more likely to gain visits, links and generate sales than unplanned content.
Planned and targeted content is much more likely to gain visits, links and generate sales too.
Links for Financial Services Brands
Links are critical to both ranking and traffic acquisition for the majority of websites where traffic from search engines is a priority.
It can be challenging to gain links from other websites, there are solutions and strategies you can try.
In many cases, it may be as simple as putting your website in front of audiences who are currently unaware of the service that you offer.
Thinking about how Google considers websites using the E.A.T framework can be a good basis for your link building strategies. So, consider;
Expertise – what do you specialise in and what does your website do that others would struggle to communicate effectively? Are there complex topics that you fully understand that your competitors do not cover well or most people would have to research?
If the answer here is yes, you could create a blog post or informational content piece and share it via your website’s newsletter or through social channels, this could help increase the awareness of your piece and help it to gain traction and links. In most cases, sharing your content with active and engaged followers is a good place to start.
Offering your expertise to journalists looking for commentary or expert opinion on topics relevant to your website can also be a good strategy for building links and brand awareness. Journalists often need to gather opinions and data to back up a breaking news story or topic they are covering. Who better to provide this expertise quickly than you?
This type of link building from journalists is much easier if you build up a relationship with the journalists behind these stories, if you have a PR team or agency, talk to them about helping you with this.
Another option could be finding relevant websites which users may refer to for information in addition to your own.
Finding and approaching these sites and promoting your content via email could offer linking opportunities as well as a chance to build relationships.
Authority – If you create content in a blog or news section but struggle to generate traffic or gain attention from the pieces, it may be because the content is not “authoritative” enough. Search engines have, for a long time, been about finding the best answer to the queries asked by their users. This is something you should try to achieve with your content.
Create pieces that, where possible, directly answer user questions and queries and ensure you are conclusive in your answers. Authoritativeness can be difficult in the financial space where users often have unique problems or situations.
Creating a one size fits all answer in the financial space is often not possible. However, writing with certainty, in ways that help your readers feel confident in your understanding of the complex topic, can help your content to meet the search engine’s authoritativeness measures.
Writing with authority can help those researching the topics you cover feel more confident in your expertise and more likely to link to you if they are running content or financial sites of their own or even share it on social media.
Try to create an effective tone of voice site wide and focus on correct language as well as topical accuracy in your written content. Users will be much more likely to “share” what they consider as the “best” answer to a topic or problem and this is the kind of content that Google commonly ranks.
Trustworthiness – Being a trusted source of information is also crucial to your link building efforts but some can struggle to achieve this.
Focus on the accuracy of your written content and proofread everything that you publish. Check for and remove spelling mistakes and inaccuracies.
Also reference reliable data sources in your pieces to back up the information you are delivering.
Use visual aids to help make information appear simple and quick and easy to digest. This can go a long way to helping users speed up information retrieval.
Ensuring your content appears and reads as though it is trustworthy while making it accessible and relevant to the audience of your website, can help it to rank better in search engines.
Better ranking content gets seen by more search users and has a better chance of attracting links from other sites who reference content as a primary “source of truth” or a resource that adds significant value to users.
Ultimately, building links within any sector can be as simple as finding relevant websites, that are closely related to your brand and your content and putting examples of your useful content pieces in front of them as a potential audience.
Success in SEO today is not just about growing visits and clicks from organic channels but about increasing the breadth of your targeting to establish and engage relevant businesses in and around your sector.
Link building is at its best and most effective when it follows these rules;
- Is efficient and cost-effective
- gains valuable links to relevant indexed pages on your site
- Is simple in its ideation and delivery
- Is backed up by fantastic, evergreen content on your website
Technical Website Optimisation for Financial Services
Technical optimisation of any website is about consistency and accuracy.
Ensuring technical accuracy on your website is not only useful but vital for ongoing efficiency of your site. Sites should prioritise SEO from launch and work hard to build technical best practices into their page construction, site hierarchy, internal link structure and codebase.
As your site grows in size its complexity will normally increase alongside it, it’s important to continue to prioritise technical SEO as if it slips it can be difficult to rectify.
More than anything in SEO, effective technical is about a consistent, holistic approach to the management of your website.
When you create your strategy consider all of the following from a technical perspective;
- site structure and hierarchy
- internal link management
- page speed
- long term viability of page and URL structure
Regulatory Requirements Matter
Before writing any content within the financial services space, it is important to have a strong understanding of the regulation and compliance associated with the topics that you are writing about.
FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) regulations for specific verticals, remember to check the specific requirements for your sector when creating your SEO strategy for financial services brands.
Getting on the wrong side of these authorities can mean disciplinary action is taken against your business through large fines if deliberate wrongdoing is proven.
Familiarise yourselves with their guidelines and ensure all those involved in your content marketing and website optimisation strategies are comfortable with the regulations as they are stated.
Regulations for consumer credit products like credit cards, loans, mortgages and weekly financing purchase agreements can have very different regulatory and compliance rules than areas like insurance, currency exchange or the highly regulated trading and investing spaces.
Encourage collaborative work flows which allow critical content producers, marketers and compliance professionals to feed into the delivery of content for your website to guarantee that you remain on the right side of the regulations.
SEO Strategies for Financial Service Brands
We have a history of creating SEO strategies worth millions of pounds for brands in some of the most competitive spaces.
If you would like to work with us to take on giants, please do let us know.
We’re experts in SEO for financial services for both large and small websites.
Three Ways We Can Help Your SEO & Content Marketing Strategies
Understand what your users are looking forOur audits will help you develop a winning strategy
Assess your offering and help you optimise the siteMake changes to optimise your organic offering
Measure performance and improve traffic & leadsTo grow leads and revenue
SEO Requirements for Financial Sites – Y.M.Y.L
Google wants to make sure the sites it shows to users who start their browsing on search see the best, most relevant and trustworthy results for their needs.
Y.M.Y.L stands for Your Money, Your Life and it’s mentioned heavily throughout Google’s search quality rater guidelines.
So, what does this really mean?
Well, Google has stricter rules for sites that have the potential to affect;
“a person’s future happiness, health, financial stability, or safety.”Google’s search quality evaluator guidelines
Sites included in this classification are;
- news and current affairs sites
- governmental and civic sites
- shopping and eCommerce
- health and safety sites
- religious, political, disability or special interest sites (known as group sites)
Google is essentially retaining the right to customise its results based on the accuracy testing that the search quality evaluator teams conduct.
If these teams of manual Google search result testers spot sites they distrust or think don’t meet Google’s high standards then Google will use this data to refine their algorithm to promote sites that do offer better trust signals.
So, Google’s algorithm takes the human collated data to continue to refine its ranking systems and the results that users see.
If your website doesn’t have critical features that help users to trust your business then you could be at risk of losing traffic.
Financial sites, whatever their size and whatever their sector all need to adhere to Google’s website guidelines to rank well in search engines and benefit from organic traffic.
As well as content, links and technical optimisation a good financial services strategy should also heavily feature elements of E.A.T (Expertise, Authority & Trust) to ensure your strategy is not only successful but also long lasting.
Overcoming SEO Penalties for Financial Services
Algorithmic penalties can cause issues for any site but they can be especially damaging for sites within the financial sector. Fortunately, we have experience working with websites that have had to overcome serious issues that have inhibited organic performance.
Penalties we have helped overcome include;
- penguin penalty issues (unnatural and link spam penalties)
- panda issues (website quality)
- core quality updates
- Fred update issues
Firstly, there’s a distinction here that must be made between actual penalties handed out by search engines, like the manual penalties that Google notifies website owners of via email and algorithmic ranking limits imposed on sites that were considered to be employing underhand or shady SEO tactics.
Manual actions can impact pages and site sectors, whereas algorithmic issues tend to be levied at entire domains (although this is not always true).
Also, if your site drops in the rankings because of a core quality algorithm update this is technically cannot be considered an algorithmic penalty, although the net result may be the same.
Core quality drops tend to occur because other sites competing in the same sector as you have progressed their SEO strategy either through increased or improved link acquisition, content targeting and quality optimisations or a beneficial technical restructuring.
Coming out of these penalties can be a lengthy process but ultimately means a return to pre-penalty traffic levels and revenue.
Step 1. Diagnosis
So, how do you identify that your site has been hit with an algorithmic penalty?
The first step is getting a full audit of your website. During the audit process, an SEO specialist will be able to find and diagnose all of the problems with your site and help you to understand which issues are the most critical for you to fix first.
Given the secrecy around the ranking algorithms of search engines, there can often be some degree of uncertainty as to whether algorithmic issues have occurred but some simple ways to identify algorithmic issues are;
- ranking drops across whole sections or websites
- traffic trends within your graphs
- an email from Google letting you know (only in the case of manual penalties)
- an influx or high degree of negative or spam links in a short space of time (could be a sign that an algorithmic penalty is likely to occur)
Algorithmic penalties (except some manual penalties) are most commonly identified through large ranking drops across entire websites in a very short space of time. These ranking drops will translate into real traffic losses.
Once the audit is complete, your SEO should give you a list of problems that need attention and could be causing issues in search engines and the priority order in which to fix them.
Step 2. The Fixes
Your SEO should help you determine the significant fixes you need to make to get your traffic back.
If there’s a problem with negative or spam links targeting your site the problem can normally be resolved quickly by updating your disavow file. This will ensure these links are no longer counted by search engines and highlight them as “negative” links to search engines.
A content or website quality problem may take more time to fix. Take the time to look at the changes you need to make to your content to ensure your website recovers. These things could be;
- improved targeting
- duplicate content removal
- thin & low-quality page removal
- finding and fixing spelling and grammatical errors
None of these issues alone are complex, however, mixed into a large website with many hundreds or thousands of indexed pages it will take time to create a strategic plan to help efficiently fix all of these problems before you can expect your rankings to return to previous levels.
Shortcuts rarely work, especially in the long term, trust your SEO and they will get you there.
If technical issues are causing ranking or visibility problems on your site then
Step 3. Monitor Performance
Throughout the process, you will want to ensure your website’s rankings, traffic levels and overall performance through tools like;
These tools will help you gauge where your site ranks now and help you to understand just how much your SEO has achieved when your rankings do recover.
Google tools are free, easy to use and incredibly powerful with third-party tools like AWR and SEMrush giving you an independent overview and a broader view of the search sphere in the space you occupy.
Step 4. Recovery?
Once all of the above steps are completed it will simply be a case of awaiting recovery. However, these recoveries can take a long time and you’ll need patience, especially in the financial space, if you are going to reach your goals through organic search.
If your traffic still isn’t where you’d like it to be or you want to reach the next level of SEO performance then contact us.
We can help sites of all sizes and sectors and have experience in the financial space to deliver organic performance growth by growing rankings and earning traffic from high-value queries.