It can feel quite daunting setting up an SEO strategy as a financial firm. Where do you even start?
Fortunately, there are resources and experts to help you begin to establish an effective plan. Even if you are new to the world of digital marketing for financial firms, this 2023 SEO guide can help you lay out some strong initial steps.
Below, our financial marketers at CreativeAdviser outline the “basics” of SEO for financial firms, some common errors to avoid and ideas on how to get started. We hope this is helpful to you.
Please get in touch to discuss your own SEO strategy with us over a free discussion.
What is financial SEO?
Financial SEO is all about getting your financial website to the top of certain search engine results. Specifically, you want to target keywords used by your target audience. These keywords, ideally, should be high in monthly volume, low in competition (to increase your chances of ranking on the first page) and high in “user intent”.
User intent refers to the user’s state of mind when making their search. For instance, someone who types “What is a pension transfer?” into Google is likely looking to educate themself on the topic. They may not necessarily be looking to talk to a financial planner at this stage. This person, therefore, can be described as having “low” user intent.
Conversely, what about a user who types into Google: “Financial planner near me”? This suggests someone who is looking to talk to a financial adviser – probably immediately, or very soon. This person has “high” user intent and likely takes higher priority in your SEO.
Financial SEO has a lot of “moving parts” to make it work including content creation (e.g. website blogs), backlinks, on-site SEO (e.g. adding alt tags to images) and off-site factors such as Google Reviews. Indeed, studies suggest Google has over 200 ranking factors.
Naturally, as a key person in a small financial planning business, you are already very busy. It is likely not realistic to take time to learn about these 200 factors, decide which ones to focus on and then implement them. Working with a financial marketing agency can help to take on the leg work involved – freeing up your time to attend to running your business.
Why engage in financial SEO?
SEO is worthwhile for most financial firms in 2023 due to the high-quality traffic it can generate for your website. This traffic may include potential clients, new staff members and business partners. If these “organic” visitors then take action on your website – e.g. making an inquiry via a contact form or telephoning your office – then SEO can be an important source of business income.
There is also an opportunity cost to not engaging in financial SEO. For every keyword your competitors rank highly for instead of you, the risk of losing potential clients to them increases. However, by occupying more search engine “real estate” with an effective SEO strategy, your financial firm stands a better chance of attracting the attention of these potential clients instead.
There is also a “brand dividend” from enjoying a strong search engine presence. The more your audience sees your content in their search engine results, the more they become familiar with your financial brand and start to see it as authoritative and trustworthy. If your website is nowhere to be seen online, however, prospects are likely to wonder why (subconsciously).
The key starting point with financial SEO
Without a strong website, financial planners will struggle to succeed with an SEO strategy. After all, your website will be the focal point for most of your organic visitors. Whilst they might encounter social media profiles, your Unbiased/VouchedFor listing and other digital profiles, your website will be the key “pillar” in any financial SEO strategy.
Make sure, therefore, that your website is up to the task before embarking. Firstly, how old is your website? If it has aged more than 36 months, then it may automatically be time for a re-vamp. Digital technology moves quickly and we all need to keep up with it!
Secondly, what is the quality of your financial brand? It is possible to have a new, high-functioning website but a very weak visual identity. If your logo, colour scheme, imagery and other visual assets convey “cheapness” or low quality, then it may be time to explore a branding project before investing heavily in digital marketing.
Thirdly, how does your financial website perform against key “benchmarks” for SEO? In particular, does it load quickly or is it very slow? If the latter, then is this due to low-quality hosting (which you could change) or is it due to the inherent structure (coding) of your site?
Assuming you have a strong financial website, however, what are some first steps to consider when starting out with an SEO strategy?
Starting out with financial SEO
As with any strategy, it is a good idea to start by defining your goals. What do you want your SEO strategy to achieve, exactly?
The SMART framework can be useful, of course. In particular, it is important to be realistic about your SEO goals. It can take a while to rank highly in Google for many important target keywords. If you expect to get results overnight, you are likely to be disappointed.
Perhaps you could set a goal such as: Attain a first page ranking in Google search for 10 target keywords in the next 6 months. After this, perhaps your goal could shift to focus more on conversions (e.g. achieve a 5% conversion rate by month 8).
A good second step is to run some keyword research. What are your prospects searching for in Google? How might your website and value proposition help them? What kind of search volume, competition and user intent are involved?
Finally, start optimising your website, writing relevant content and building backlinks. These are some of the “core” ranking factors that will help your SEO. Yet they are quite labour-intensive. So you may need external help.