7 SEO best practices for financial services

The finance sector accounts for 8.6% of the UK economy’s total output. That is equivalent to £164.8 billion contributed to the economy!  The finance sector is extremely competitive, with financial advisors, accountants, tax firms, banking, insurance providers, and more. With fierce competition, it can be difficult for your financial service to find ways to stand out and make yourself known to potential customers. Especially when it is estimated that around 76% of people in the UK now use banking and financial services online. Gone are the days of spending out on traditional forms of advertising, if most of your customers are using online services, you should be too. Fortunately, search engine optimisation is one of the ways you can stand out to potential customers and steal a march on your competition. Implementing the SEO best practices highlighted in this article will help you to improve your SEO, and start attracting relevant, targeted traffic to your website!

Why bother with SEO?

You may be wondering, why should I bother with SEO? Quite simply, search engine optimisation (or SEO) is the process of improving your website’s ranking for certain keywords in the search engine results pages (SERPs), and therefore improving the visibility of your content. When 93% of web traffic comes via the search engines, optimising your SEO seems like a no-brainer. Ultimately, the goal of improving your SEO is to:

    • Increase traffic to your website,
    • Increase the likelihood of prospective clients finding your site,
    • Help to rank above your competition in the SERPs,
    • Stand out in an over-saturated market,
    • Grow your online presence and reputation,
    • Increase your inbound leads,
    • Target customers at different stages of the sales funnel.

Perhaps the most important gain from optimising your SEO is building trust with customers. After all, trust is everything in the financial services sector. As it so happens, the trustworthiness (part of Google’s page quality Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness, or E-A-T) of your content is one of the things Google uses when indexing your site to determine the ranking of your content in the SERPs. This also includes SEO for charities and non-profits.

Making sure your website and content is trusted by both customers and search engines is especially important, particularly within the financial sector. The information and advice financial services provide have high stakes in people’s lives. After all, you do not want to be creating content that can have an adverse effect. Therefore, Google takes ‘your money or your life’ (YMYL) pages extremely seriously meaning your YMYL pages need to have the highest E-A-T possible. Now let’s look at the SEO best practices to building your E-A-T and optimising your ranking.

7 SEO best practices for financial services

To make sure your page content helps to achieve a high E-A-T score, here are 7 SEO best practices to help boost your search engine ranking and help stand out more online:

1.     Audit your current SEO

Audit your current SEO

Firstly, before considering what you are going to change, you should look at the current state of your SEO. Conducting an audit will allow you to identify any issues that are preventing you from ranking well in the SERPs.

A good audit will establish two key things:

    1. Form and prioritise a list of actions to be taken
    2. Justifications clearly setting out the steps that need to be taken

If the audit is conducted effectively, you will be able to identify issues such as:

    • Why your content cannot be crawled and indexed by search engines,
    • If your content does not match up to competitors,
    • Or if there are any ‘toxic links’ (links that can weaken your SEO) present.

If your website suffers from any of these problems, you could be missing out on organic traffic from the SERPs that your competitors are enjoying!

Luckily, conducting an SEO audit is not as daunting as it sounds and only requires the use of 4 simple online tools, including Google Search Console and SEMrush site audit. An SEO audit can be performed in 18 steps to ensure everything necessary is covered. Once you have conducted your audit and identified the issues that need fixing, you can then start to work on improving these issues to better optimise your SEO.

2.      Keyword research

Google search engine for keyword research

Possibly the most important step in optimising your SEO for financial services. Keyword research is the process of finding the keywords people are searching for which relate directly to the products and services you offer. Knowing the keywords that potential clients are looking for will allow you to adapt your content around these keywords. After all, there is no point making content about things people are not searching for, or that do not relate to your business.

When conducting keyword research, there are two key metrics that should be prioritised. These are the keyword volume (how many times people search for that keyword) and the keyword difficulty (how difficult it is to rank for a keyword). Ideally, you want keywords that have a high volume but low difficulty to ensure your content stands a fair chance of ranking highly.

Conducting keyword research can either be done yourself through a search engine’s suggestions and recommendations or by using a free online tool. Just remember not to over-stuff keywords as search engines penalise your contents ranking. Finding these keywords is just one of the many SEO best practices to help financial services stand out in rankings.

3.      Create high-quality content

I am sure we have all heard of the saying “content is king”, right? That’s because the content you create has such a huge weighting within the search rankings. You want to create high-quality and compelling content that not only appeals to your customers and potential clients, but also that the search engines like and want to rank highly. After all, it is the high-quality content that you create that is central to effective SEO.

The keywords identified previously will form the basis for what content you should be developing. From there, there are several tweaks you can make to your content. Making use of heading tags, optimising images, creating enticing meta-descriptions, and gaining links to credible pages are all ways that you can optimise your content.

Most importantly, make sure the content you develop is optimised for mobile, as 54.8% of all global web traffic comes from mobile devices. Again, Google will penalise your page ranking if it is not optimised for mobile. Optimising your content for SEO is also a must to help search engines better crawl and analyse your content. Without developing high-quality content, you don’t stand much of a chance of ranking highly and standing out in SERPs.

4.     Gain high-quality backlinks

Gain high-quality back-links

Once you have started to create exceptional content, you can then work towards obtaining high-quality backlinks. Gaining backlinks helps to boost both your page authority and E-A-T. Gaining backlinks from other high authority websites tells Google and other search engines that your content must also be high in authority.

The same rings true for backlinks from poor-quality sites as well. If low authority and spam websites are linking to your content, Google will believe your content to be low in authority (Google Search Console can give you a list of all the backlinks). Avoid using low quality and spam links when putting external links into your content as well. To make sure backlinks positively impact your SEO, they should be relatable, credible, and most importantly, trustworthy.

Gaining backlinks is something that may take time and requires building relationships with other credible websites or blogs. It may even be that you already have established business connections that could provide opportunities to gain backlinks. If so, act now and make the most of these important partnerships! Providing regular social media posts will also help increase traffic to your content and improve your exposure too.

Sharing your content regularly on social media will allow others to share your content easily. It will also help to improve your SEO, and could also lead to gaining high-quality backlinks from other websites and blogs. Business profiles and directories could also be a source for building relationships to obtain quality backlinks that will help your financial service stand out in the SERPs. Just remember to make sure they are high-quality.

5.     Build your reputation

Reputation research

Reviews, testimonials and references to your business and services online can make a big difference. Google uses reputation research as a method of determining the authority of a website. The more negative things people are saying about you online, the worse your E-A-T is going to be. It is to be expected that you will gain a few negative reviews. However, if most reviews and ratings are negative, the quality assessment of your content will be affected.

Reputation research can be carried out on several different platforms including articles, forums, discussions and the ratings and reviews provided on Google itself. Business directories such as Yelp, Yellow Pages and Better Business Bureau are also ways of finding reviews to check your online reputation.

If you are not receiving many online reviews, you will want to find out why. What is equally damaging is if your competitors are getting significantly more reviews online than you are, meaning their online authority is going to be much higher (providing the reviews are positive). Finding ways to increase and improve your customer reviews will help better improve your E-A-T and SEO to help boost your search ranking.

6.      Use the experts

As a financial expert, it is expected that you should be an authority on the content you provide online. After all, Google places a strong emphasis on authoritative sources when ranking YMYL pages – especially for financial services. As we mentioned earlier, providing high-quality content is key for boosting your SEO.

But what if we took that one step further and used experts to provide high-quality content for you? Whether it’s experts you already have in your business or external trusted sources, advice coming from experts will help to really boost your authority and trustworthiness. Using experts to create or endorse content also helps Google corroborate that your content is high-quality. This is especially important for financial services if you want to optimise your SEO. Just don’t forget to credit the experts and state who they are. If they have accreditations or certifications, tell your readers.

7.      Be open and transparent

One last tip for optimising your SEO is to be open and transparent about the content you provide. There are 3 ways you can achieve this:

    • Add sources to your content: Content that is being quoted or written by another writer should be referenced to improve your content credibility.
    • Add author information: Who is writing your content? People are more likely to find the information you provide more credible and trustworthy if they know the person who has written it. Especially where information about people’s finances is concerned.
    • Provide disclaimers where applicable: Transparency is everything in the financial sector. You want to be open and honest about the information you provide to boost the trustworthiness of your content.

Following the 7 SEO best practices

Showing the growth for SEO with financial services

Following the 7 SEO best practices outlined here will really help in boosting your search engine ranking. As the financial sector continues to become increasingly competitive, finding ways to stand out online has never been more important. As Google places high importance on the quality of content provided on YMYL pages, using these best practices will also help to boost your E-A-T, which in turn will gain you a much better ranking in SERPs.