It’s good to have a broad grasp of how backlinks work in financial SEO. You never know when they might come and seriously your financial marketing.
It happened just this month, in fact. We analysed an account where the business in question has seen a dramatic drop in search engine rankings. They’ve gone about 500 places down falling from the first page in Google to third and place in many instances.
What do I mean by a fall in 500 places? If you imagine they were in position 3 for one keyword in Google, imagine next that they’ve gone down about 30 places to around page 4. If that that happens for multiple keywords, the combined result is a total drop of 500 places.
Clearly, this business is suffering in its financial marketing. But what happened?
There are a number of possible reasons for a drop in search rankings. A competitor sweeps in and knocks you out of the top spot. Crawl errors occur on your site. On-page issues caused a demotion. And so on.
In this case, the issue was backlinks. That is, those links from other websites which point your website. If you’re a financial adviser and you write a blog post, and then someone links to it on their website or on their social media profile, that’s a backlink.
Backlinks are crucial for financial marketing via Google, because they give the latter an indication of your financial website’s authority. If lots of prestigious, trusted websites in a particular niche/subject field are linking to yours, then Google looks at you and thinks:
“This must be a pretty good website. Let’s bump it up in or search results, since users are probably most wanting to find this.”
These particular backlinks are called “do-follow” links, and they are seen by Google as “credibility votes” cast in favour of your website.
How Can Backlinks Cause A Financial Marketing Disaster?
So far, so good. At this point you’d be forgiven for thinking you just need to generate lots of dofollow backlinks to your website. Indeed, that’s what the business described above thought too.
The problems start to occur when a firm’s financial marketing makes one, or more, of the following mistakes:
#1 Backlinks are neglected.
Here, financial advisers might create some fantastic content for their website. They have a solid blog which follows SEO technical best practice, and targets specific keywords used by their target audience.
However, they don’t employ a solid link-building strategy. They don’t push their content out on social media, or email key influencers amongst their target audience to make them aware of it. As a result, no one even notices the content, and therefore no one links to it. As a result, the content slowly gathers dust.
#2 Backlinks generated are mostly irrelevant.
In this case, your financial marketing may be actively building backlinks to your website. However, the vast majority of these links are unrelated to your industry or subject field.
We’ve seen financial advisers with backlinks from places such as gaming websites, fashion blogs and other obscure, unrelated websites. As a result, the links are not useful to users on your website or the linking websites in question, which can lead to high bounce rates and pogo-sticking.
#3 Backlink velocity.
Google wants to see a natural backlink profile on your financial website. Ask yourself, were your backlinks gathered suddenly all at once, or gradually over time?
If the former, Google might suspect that you’ve just gone out and bought a load of backlinks to point to your website. That’s a big no-no. Google actively seeks to punish websites that purchase backlinks and cheat the system.
If, however, your backlinks have been increasing steadily over time, that’s seen by Google as a more natural development. This shouldn’t hurt your SEO, and in fact is the best way to build it via a backlink strategy.
#4 Poor Anchor Text Distribution
The Google Penguin update made sure to punish any website which used “over-optimised” anchor text (i.e. anchor text which mirrors exact match keywords).
Anchor text is basically hyperlinked text, like the reference to Google Penguin in the previous sentence. That in itself is not a problem. The trouble comes when all, or most, of your links are exact match for your targeted keyword(s).
For instance, in this article I’m trying to rank for the phrase “financial marketing.” If I were to hyperlink that phrase in the previous sentence to a landing page, and do so virtually every time I use it in this article, that would be bad SEO.
Anchor text should be distributed with more variety to avoid Google penalties. As a broad guide, up to 5% of your links should be exact match, and about 25% a partial match of your keyword. The rest can be either a URL, or a longer phrase or generic/no-match set of words.
#5 Poor Outgoing Links
The final point I’m going to cover is the number of links your website has.
A careful balance needs to be achieved in your financial marketing when it comes to linking to others in your blogs, landing pages and so on. You want to have a some outgoing links, say to the BBC, .gov and other prestigious/credible sources of info. Generally, this has a positive impact on your SEO as this is seen as a trust signal.
However, having too many outgoing, dofollow links on your website can lead Google to see your site as a link farm or paid directory. You don’t want this. These sorts of websites are disliked by Google.
To summarise, make sure your financial marketing strategy includes a healthy approach to building backlinks. This includes:
-An appropriate, natural balance between dofollow backlinks and nofollow backlinks (e.g. comments, tweets, facebook posts & URL shares).
-Making sure backlinks are as relevant as possible to your target market.
-Using appropriate anchor text distribution in your articles, blogs and landing pages.
-Including a healthy number of outgoing links in your content to relevant, high quality external websites which support what you’re saying.
-Building backlinks steadily over time, avoiding purchased backlinks at all costs.
Phil Teale is the Sales & Marketing Manager at CreativeAdviser, an agency specialising in marketing and web design for financial services – and especially for financial advisers. We also provide bespoke branding, graphic design and video production services to financial clients.