The practice of search engine optimisation (SEO) is always changing, since search algorithms are always changing. If you are a financial adviser with a website, it is therefore crucial to keep your website up to date with these developments so you do not lose your precious search rankings.
This flux is a positive thing in many ways, as it enables the user experience of the internet to be constantly improved. On the other hand, it means that many financial websites and their agencies are doing unproductive – or even harmful – things to their SEO, because they think “it still works.”
In this article, we’re going to outline 5 outdated SEO practices we commonly see with financial websites. We’ll then show positive, practical ways to replace these with effective tactics fro 2018.
Mistake #1: Relying on Keyword Planner for Research
Many IFAs are attracted to Google Ads (formerly AdWords) because it offers the potential for financial advisers to rank high in local search results, fairly quickly.
Google Ads also offers a powerful tool called Keyword Planner, which allows you to get an idea of search volumes and competition for specific keywords within defined geographic areas.
Some IFAs will therefore think: “If I use the Keyword Planner to find out which keywords people are using to find financial websites like mine, then I can target those with my content and get more traffic.”
Whilst the logic appears sound, relying on Google Ads and its Keyword Planner tool alone is putting your keyword and SEO strategy on very flimsy footing.
The metrics are not totally reliable, and the volume data is not particularly robust. Google Ads also does not display keywords which it believes are not commercially relevant – although they could well be.
Whilst the Keyword Planner can form part of the keyword research you do, we’d really recommend instead primarily using a software solution which is based on clickstream data.
For instance, tools like Moz’s Keyword Explorer or Ahrefs are much better for identifying keywords and their volumes. You will need to pay to really take full advantage of the capabilities these kinds of tools hold, so you might want to approach a financial marketing agency to run an analysis for you.
Mistake #2: Prizing First Place Rankings Above All Else
Don’t get us wrong. Obtaining first position in Google is a great thing for financial advisers to aspire to with their websites. Yet prizing this goal above other traffic-driving SEO methods is a bad idea.
For instance, what is the use of going solely after that number 1 search position, but ignoring other SERP features? (Search Engine Ranking Position). Perhaps the most prominent one is the “featured snippet” in Google, which appears at the top of search results in answer to a user’s question.
For instance, when you type “what is a pension transfer” into Google, this featured snippet comes up to answer:
These search engine snippets are hugely popular, and there are many questions which IFAs can address which could bring in significant volumes of search traffic.
Snippets like this are also used in voice search. So if a potential client asks their phone “what is a pension transfer?”, and your company has snagged the featured snippet for that search query, then you’re going to give them the answer. That means they are more likely to visit your site, rather than your competitor.
So, don’t just go for the first position in Google search. Go for featured snippets as well. Also consider going after long-tail keywords which are lower in search volume, but also lower in competition.
Mistake #3: Relying on Link Building to Increase Search Engine Rankings
This is often a big mistake made by financial firms to promote their websites. For instance, if a financial website is sitting just outside of page 1 for an important keyword, it can be tempting to think:
“Ah, I’m in 11th place. All I need to do is build some links to that page, and I’ll be bumped up to 5th place or even higher!”
It used to be the case that you could do this to rank your website higher in Google search, but no more. On its own, link building is unlikely to be the game changer you’re after.
Instead, nowadays the key thing to do is to improve the user experience on your financial website. This will do lot more for your rankings than just focusing on link building.
For instance, improve the content on your web pages. Consider even upgrading the content to something more engaging or higher quality, like a professional explainer video.
Mistake #4: Sub-Domains and Separate Domains
Not too long ago, it used to be the case that you could dominate a search result by adding lots of sub-domains to your financial website. Or, even by registering lots of different domains.
This no longer works. Google nowadays prioritises financial websites which have different sub-pages, which come from a single domain. In light of this, IFAs should be focused on building a solid sub-directory structure for their financial website, to help improve their search engine rankings.
This gives your content a better chance of ranking lots of times in the search results, for the same query.
Mistake #5: Obsessing Over Keyword Placement
When IFAs approach SEO for financial firms, they can become quite fixated on keywords.
For instance, suppose you wanted to rank for the keyword: “pension advice mancester”, it can be tempting to think:
“Right, I need that keyword in my landing page title. I also need it in all my subtitles, meta tags and alt tags too. It also needs to be in the URL…”
And so on. To a degree, this thinking is fine and it’s not really the case that it doesn’t work. Certainly, you need your keyword in your title, for instance, at the very least.
It’s more that this is focusing energy on the wrong area. Rather, you should be focusing that energy on ensuring your content contains the right mix of related topics and keywords.
For instance, suppose someone wanted their website to rank well for “events in manchester”. If they failed to mention key neighbourhoods in their content like Deansgate, Castlefield and Salford Quays, then it’s simply not going to do very well.
You could get all of the above keyword-tagging correct in your content, but if you were to leave out this area of associated topics and keywords, then your financial website will not rank very well.