So, you’re thinking about launching a new website for your financial adviser business. You want it to look great, of course. However, you also want to be sure people will see it too.
This is where the subject of SEO comes in – i.e. search engine optimisation – which refers to the process of tailoring your website in a way which causes it to climb up the search results for keywords used by your target audience.
For instance, if you are a small independent financial adviser business in Reading and you want to target people in your local area who are looking for your services, then in all likelihood you will want your website to appear at the top of search results for keywords such as “financial adviser reading” or “ifa reading.”
Part of the challenge with doing this, however, lies in the fact that search engines are much more sophisticated these days. Ten years ago people were able to “trick” Google much more easily using black hat strategies, such as keyword stuffing. Moreover, pretty much everyone saw the same set of search results when they all typed the same phrase into Google.
In 2019, however, search engines like Google are much more sophisticated and it is no longer sustainable to build your website rankings by trying to cheat the system (you will get caught!). In addition, search engine results are now much more personalised to each person, which makes it harder to track exactly where you are appearing in Google to your target audience as a whole. Google, for example, now tailors your search results depending on the device you are using, where you are making the search and also based on your internet browsing history.
So, how can you be smart with your new website design project and ensure that it gets off to the best possible start in the search engines?
In this article, we’ll be providing some tips about how to do just that. Please bear in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list, and is not guaranteed to get you to the top of Google. There are many moving parts to SEO and it requires a good amount of ongoing work (hence the reason agencies such as ourselves exist – to help!). However, this list should help you set a decent SEO foundation for your financial website:
#1 Website “depth”
If your current website requires your user to take four or five “steps” or clicks to get to the content they want, then that’s generally going to lead to poor user experience. Some big companies such as Amazon might be able to get away with it for now, but small financial adviser businesses are better off generally sticking to the “three deep rule” when it comes to designing a new website.
What does that mean? For instance, it means that if a user wants to find your page about pension transfers, then they should not have to go further than three steps to get to it. As an example, their journey might be Home – Services – Pension Transfers.
If your website is slow, then users are going to leave in frustration pretty quickly. It doesn’t take long – many studies show that people will lose patience in as little as five seconds!
Website page loading speed will also be an important ranking factor when Google looks at your content, deciding where to position it in its search results. A faster website is more likely to please the user, so all other things being equal, Google will want to prioritise a quick-loading website over a slower one.
Your website design plays a big part in how quickly your website loads. Another important factor will be your hosting provider.
You can check your website speed for free using Google’s Pagespeed Insights tool.
#3 Mobile responsiveness
If you want your new website to appear high up in search engine results but feel that mobile responsiveness is not important, then you will need to come to terms with Google’s Mobile First algorithm update.
This update essentially states that it no longer really matters how strong your website is on a desktop device when it comes to search engine rankings. Rather, Google now focuses almost exclusively on how your website appears and works on a mobile device.
Some financial advisers are tempted to skip over mobile responsiveness, believing that their clients will not look at their website on a tablet or smartphone. Regardless, the Google update means that it should be an important feature of your website for SEO purposes.
#4 Tags & schema mark up
There are certain parts of your website which need particular coding elements on there, in order to “speak” to Google effectively when the Google bots crawl over your content as they report back to the algorithm.
For instance, your main pages will need appropriate H1 and H2 tags featured prominently – and ideally containing a target keyword used by your audience. Images will also need strong “alt tags”, to describe the content of the image to Google (which cannot “see” the image).
Your pages will also need “meta tags” and “meta descriptions” which briefly describe what your page is about. This is the information that will display to the user in their search engine results, so it’s important that you use your keywords naturally and that you make sure your copy compelling and attractive to click on.
Finally, you will also need your new website to have a strong “schema markup” across all of the content, to inform Google about what certain pieces of text are referring to. For instance, simply including your phone number on your page will not result in Google automatically discerning that these digits are, indeed, your phone number. Schema markup will allow you to inform Google of this, however.
This is just an initial list when it comes to foundational SEO for financial adviser websites. Due to limitations in time and space, there is much we have been unable to mention. However, we hope this inspires you as you consider your new website design project. To speak to us about your new project, please get in touch to arrange a free consultation.