You’re thinking about investing in a new website for your financial services firm. That’s great, but how will you ensure that your target audience finds it in their search engine results?
This is where creative and marketing agencies such as ourselves start to talk about “search engine optimisation” (SEO); the practice of optimising your financial website for Google’s algorithm, to ensure it appears as high up in relevant search engine results as possible.
Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as building an amazing, “Google-compliant” financial website and then watching it sail to the top of the first page. SEO requires ongoing work, particularly in the form of regular and original content which offers relevant, compelling value to your target audience.
However, it is still very important to set a strong “SEO foundation” to ensure that your ongoing efforts are not hindered from the outset. After all, you’ll want the best possible start with your financial SEO. So let’s dive into six ways you can achieve that with your financial website design project.
#1 Website Speed
This is easily forgotten about by financial planners and similar businesses when approaching a website design project, yet it is hugely important for your SEO.
Think about it. How many websites have you quickly left after it failed to load, once you clicked on its link in the Google search results? That’s why website speed is a Google ranking factor.
Much of this hinges on your hosting. If you are hoping to place your new financial website on a shared, low-quality server then you are setting yourself up for problems. However, much of your website speed also hinges on important components within the website design process, such as the file size of your images and videos.
Be careful to strike a sensible balance between the quality and size of these assets.
#2 Website Depth
It shouldn’t take your users long to find the content they are looking for on your financial website. For instance, if they have to click five or six times to find what they want, trawling through half a dozen different pages, then this is likely to harm your SEO.
Large, established brands can get away with this kind of website depth (e.g. Amazon). For smaller firms such as financial planners, however, try to keep your content three clicks away, at maximum, for your users to reach. Shallow website depth is a good principle for financial SEO.
#3 Meta Information
How will your target audience know what your website links in Google are about, unless you specify this in the page titles and descriptions? This is known as the “meta information” of each page.
Much of this information is invisible to the user once they arrive on your financial website. However, it is crucial for not only signalling the nature of your content to your prospects in Google search; it also helps Google to determine what your website content is about, so they know who to display it to.
So, make sure your meta titles and meta descriptions are present, accurate and inviting. You should also consider assigning an appropriate “alt tag” to each image on your financial website, to ensure Google understands their content. This can increase your chances of your content appearing in your users’ Google Images search engine results.
#4 Schema Markup
Similar to the aforementioned point, schema markup is a special kind of code assigned to elements on your website pages. This code helps Google to determine what the purpose of these elements are, enabling them to match these elements more effectively to your users’ search engine queries.
For instance, suppose your financial website will contain a set of downloadable reports on pension planning for the user to consume. By assigning a “CreativeWork: Report” tag to these reports via schema markup, you can “tell” Google that these are useful reports for your target audience, which they might be interested in.
#5 Duplicate Content
If you’re thinking about taking some copy from another financial website and passing it off as your own, then you might want to reconsider. From an SEO perspective, this is bad practice.
Google is likely to discover this activity and regard it as “duplicate content”. Whilst there is some debate about whether it could land you with a Google Penalty, you almost certainly will not gain any SEO benefit from this kind of approach.
The same holds true for other pages on your own website. In other words, try to ensure that each of your new website pages is unique, relevant and original with regards to their content.
#6 Keyword Integration
Google still depends upon users’ keywords to determine which website links to serve them in its search engine results. To give your website the best possible chance of getting found, therefore, it makes sense to target your audience’s keywords with your content.
For instance, if you are a financial planner looking to target local search queries such as “inheritance tax planner”, “tax planning” or “pension planner”, then you should consider building some of your website pages around these sorts of search terms.
You will need to be careful here. Obviously, during your website design project, you cannot hope to build a page for every possible search query made by your users. So, you will need to be strategic with the keyword you go after with your primary pages.
One good approach here is to draw up a list of possible keywords and prioritise them. For instance, you could prioritise those with higher monthly search volume, which have higher user intent and which also hold out less competition from your rivals in Google.
During this process, it often becomes clear that certain keywords hold out more promise than others. Perhaps 5-10 could be used to build your primary pages during your financial website design project. The rest could be targeted later on during an ongoing digital marketing campaign, where you build a landing page to target some of the other keywords you couldn’t get to during your initial project.