Why is it essential to have a strategic plan for financial services SEO? Not only must you overcome slow-moving and highly regulated processes, but the financial industry is the most competitive SEO vertical online.
Financial services SEO is a digital marketing strategy that helps companies in the financial industry optimize their website to be found by and rank on search engines which result in more traffic and conversions.
Siege has been fortunate enough to have worked with many incredible finance companies, such as Zebra and Homebuyer. Through these relationships, we’ve learned and mastered the repeatable SEO strategies that perform exceptionally in finance markets.
In this post, you’ll learn some of the challenges that marketers in the financial sector face and the best solutions and strategies to overcome these challenges with the help of SEO and creative initiative.
Make sure to stick around till the end to see our simplified bulleted list of the best strategies to overcome all of the challenges the financial industry will throw at you.
Marketing Challenges of a Highly Regulated Company
The financial services industry has to deal with some of the strictest regulations which makes it tough to navigate an ever-advancing online market.
These companies must adhere to federal, state, and local regulations as well as Google’s financial products and services advertising restrictions.
Once we understand the obstacles of the financial industry we can better implement a sound SEO and marketing strategy.
Legal Obstacles of Digital Marketing
Due to there being so many strict regulations, this can result in marketing processes being slowed down and strung out as a legal team reviews your items.
This can cause a backlog of content waiting for review or website changes that never happen.
The two best ways to avoid legal issues and stopgaps are:
- Have a writer on your team who also has a legal background and is experienced in navigating high regulations.
- Have your writers work closely with a dedicated member of your legal team that has assisting with content and marketing reviews as part of their job.
How Silos Slow Success
The high regulations previously mentioned can also lead to silos forming between internal departments.
This means that multiple departments within the same company will not communicate too often and will rarely share information or plans with each other.
By having monthly internal company meetings that involve all relevant departments, you can ensure you don’t have silos within your company.
Separation Can Cause Brand Inconsistency
One potential outcome of silos within a company is brand inconsistency. Brand inconsistency is when there is a lack of a single brand voice which results in a missed opportunity to resonate with your customer.
The biggest issue that can typically arise from brand inconsistency is users might not fully understand what you do or what you stand for. This can ultimately result in your company appearing to have no clear identity.
A solution to help avoid brand inconsistency is by having your entire company follow strict brand guidelines to ensure customers have a cohesive experience at all touchpoints in the customer journey.
Impacts of Limited Internal Resources
Another major obstacle that companies in the financial industry face are limited internal resources. This can come in the form of department budgets, technology, or even people.
Marketing campaigns can quickly become expensive if you want to reach users through multiple channels and touchpoints.
The best solution for this is to have a team with diverse expertise or omnichannel marketing experience
Another great solution is using a marketing agency that gives you access to an entire team of experts with diverse backgrounds and access to advanced technical tools that are typically too expensive for a single company to pay for.
Appeasing Digital-first Customers
Digital-first customers are people who expect to have a flawless experience when accessing their financial services between different digital sources, whether that be via email, website, or an app.
A recent study found that 85% of Americans prefer to bank online and 55% prefer to use a mobile app specifically.
With such high expectations from customers, it creates a challenge for many financial institutions that lack the resources to make this happen.
Since people expect a perfectly functioning website or app, if you lack the resources to create both seamlessly, then it’s recommended to hold off on an app and invest in creating an incredible website for your financial service.
The majority of Gen Z and Gen Y are using mobile banking, with 51% of Gen Z and 64% of Gen Y using it to check their balances and activity. (Morgan Stanley via Siege Media’s Fintech Statistics)
Why SEO Strategy is Necessary for Financial Services
With so many companies competing to be the top result for financial service topics, you have to find a way to rise above the noise. This is achieved by mastering SEO.
SEO is essential because it allows your website to be more visible, which results in driving more traffic and conversions.
However, most companies have at least some aspects of SEO incorporated into their website. So, if you want to outrank them all, you will need to fully optimize your website.
This will take a combination of the following factors:
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Local SEO
- Technical SEO
We will dive a bit deeper into all of these in the sections below.
Quality SEO-Driven Content is Required for Complex Topics
You may have heard the saying “content is king” before. This means that content is the most important factor for a website’s performance over all other things.
This can be seen as even more important in the finance industry, since many topics are complex and deal with people’s money.
However, being in such a competitive industry, creating well-written content is not enough to make you rise above the competition. You need to ensure the content you’re writing is also SEO friendly.
This means the content is created not only for users but also for search engines. This is done through a myriad of SEO factors such as the following:
- Use a SERP Analysis to generate your content strategy.
- Optimize URL structure to include the main target keyword.
- Include an optimized title tag and meta description.
- Naturally incorporate keywords into headings and copy.
- Add alt text to all images.
- Optimize page structure for scannability.
- Include at least five links to other content on your website with optimized anchor text.
- Link to your newly created page from other existing relevant pages.
This makes it extremely important to have an internal writer on your team that has SEO knowledge or to hire an agency that specializes in creating SEO content.
Y.M.Y.L. Makes E-A-T Essential for Finance Companies
Finance is a Y.M.Y.L or Your Money Your Life industry, which means that it’s content that has the power to affect people’s decisions with their money or life.
Content that falls under Y.M.Y.L is held to a much higher standard since it can easily help or hurt people (that’s a lot of pressure).
Since Y.M.Y.L content is held to such high standards, it basically requires you to focus on E-A-T: Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
Although E-A-T is not a direct ranking factor in Google’s algorithm, it’s still a massive part of their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines and can prevent pages from ranking well if it is not present.
Prioritizing E-A-T will not only require you to provide users with valuable content that can help them make educated and informed decisions, but it also requires the content to be provided by a person who has subject matter authority.
In the financial space, this might look like a person who is a CPA or has some industry certification. Or it could be a writer who has X+ years of writing in the financial space.
You can display this with some sort of credentials or social proof of their background.
The author’s bio should include any information that proves they can and should be trusted, such as:
- Education level
- Years of experience
Although it’s ideal to have this expert as the writer of the content, it’s understood that these individuals might not have the time to create full in-depth articles on complex topics.
Another way you can still adhere to E-A-T is by having an expert review the content after you write it and stating it on the page.
Bankrate does a great job of adhering to E-A-T by providing information on the writer, editor, and even a reviewer for the post before you get into the content.
Each of these three people has bios that are available on hover — providing immediate trust for readers looking to learn more.
Data Collection is a Must
Data on customers is arguably one of the most valuable assets a company can have. This is because customer data allows you to make data-driven decisions and have targeted marketing.
Despite this, many companies in the finance industry are still using legacy technology and don’t collect any online data at all.
If your company is not collecting any online data from your website and app, then you need to change that today.
At the very least, we recommend setting up the following:
- Google Analytics: Track data, conversions, and more for your website and/or app.
- Google Search Console: Check indexing status, search queries, crawl errors, and more plus helps optimize for website visibility.
- Google Ads: If your company does any paid online marketing this will allow you to create and manage ads plus gain data from those ads.
Once you have all of these tools set up on your website, you will then want to link them to your Google Analytics account so that you can pull all the data into one place. This will help you turn it into visualizations and discover useful insights.
Pro Tip: Using the data you collect from Google Ads and Analytics you can create personalized and targeted ads.
Studies have shown that 71% of customers prefer personalized ads, and there is a higher chance of the ads leading to a conversion when compared to generalized advertising.
The High Value of Links for SEO in the Financial Industry
The lifetime link value for the financial services sector is frequently greater than $15,000.
These high values can be attributed to two main factors:
- The financial industry is very valuable.
- Links are extremely difficult to acquire in this industry.
Unlike other industries where natural links are common, the financial industry will rarely see free natural links to content.
Even if you spend countless hours doing manual link building, you might only see a few successful links.
This is primarily because people know the value a link can hold and that your end goal is to generate money. For this reason, they will likely request you to pay them to get the link.
The best solution to generate natural links is to create outstanding content that stands out with items like interactive assets or statistics that people want to reference.
Bankrate has a helpful loan calculator that allows users to calculate amortized loans. In less than five months of being live, this page has driven almost 13,000 backlinks (and counting).
We’re big fans of this content. So much so that Siege recently decided to stop (most) manual link building — instead, we focused our efforts on creating SEO-driven content of the highest quality (like interactive and statistics-type content).
This resulted in dramatically improving our content productivity while still driving just as many (if not more) links.
Focus on Local SEO
Many financial services still have brick and mortar stores that customers can visit in person. Because of this, local SEO for financial services is something you need to focus on.
To optimize for local SEO, it’s important to have individual pages on your website for each location that targets those local keywords.
Another extremely important part of local SEO is creating a Google My Business (GMB) listing for each of your physical store locations. This will help ensure you show up on the SERPs for people doing local searches.
Here is a list of the most important local SEO factors:
- Optimize for local keywords.
- Increase user reviews for your location.
- Optimize your GMB listings.
- Link any maps on your local pages to the corresponding GMB listing.
- Ensure your name, address, and phone number are correct and consistent on any local directories.
- Add local business structured data.
- Perform local link building.
By focusing on each of these items listed above, you will greatly improve your local rankings and increase the chances of users finding your website with a local search.
Technical SEO Isn’t Your Top Priority
Most websites in the financial space only have around 10,000 pages or less on their website. This is relatively low when compared to e-commerce sites that might have upwards of 250 million pages.
Having a smaller website reduces the chance that you will face any major technical issues.
This doesn’t mean you should completely disregard technical issues, but you can probably get away with just having one person within your organization that has technical SEO expertise monitor and audit the website for any red flags.
The more common SEO issues you will face for your website in the financial service industry are on the page level.
This will require you to find custom ways to address the problems rather than a large-scale fix for thousands of pages due to something wrong with the website’s infrastructure.
How To Master the Financial Services SEO & Marketing Industry
Despite the numerous challenges of online marketing in the financial service industry outlined above, the benefits of rising to the top of this vertical far outweigh the challenges.
To sum up the strategies that you should follow to master financial services SEO and marketing, we created a list below:
Mastering the hypercompetitive financial services SEO and marketing industry is no easy feat, but it can be done following the strategies outlined above.
Looking to accomplish this at an accelerated rate? Get in touch with us to learn how our team of experts can provide you with content marketing and SEO services so you can conquer the online financial industry.