Most financial advisers want to appear at the top of their potential clients’ Google search results. So it can cause panic when you notice your website no longer occupying the top spots.
As a financial marketing agency, we encounter IFAs all the time who are concerned about their website rankings – especially during a SEO dip. In this article, we’re going to give you some tips about what you can actually do about it, if and when this happens to you.
Establish If There Was A Major Drop
At CreativeAdviser, we use special software to track our clients’ search engine rankings over time, for multiple keywords. It’s possible you might have access to something like this as well, such as the Query Report in Google Analytics (you’ll need to link to your Search Console account for this to work).
The benefit is you get a clear, constant and real-time view of your financial website’s rankings. The downside is that you will almost certainly see a dip at some point, and this might cause you to panic.
The first thing to say is, take a deep breathe and stay calm. Search engine fluctuations are extremely common, and to some extent just comes with the territory.
Much like an investment, your keyword positions can go up and down in a short space of time. However, often the overall trend is a gradual increase. It’s important to consider if that’s what’s happening here with your website’s keywords in Google.
If you see a drop in rankings, see how dramatic the drop was within different time-frames.
For instance, if your keyword drops from position 1 to 3 over the course of a week, that probably isn’t a reason to panic. If, however, you drop from 1 to 8 overnight, then that’s likely evidence of search engine decline.
Take stock of the bigger picture as well. If your keyword drops from position 1 to 3 in week 1, then from 3 to 7 in week 2, and then from 7 to 12 in week 3, then that’s also likely evidence of decline.
What To Do When There’s Evidence Of Search Engine Decline
Assuming you have found evidence that your financial website is falling down the Google rankings, what do you actually now do?
Rank Tracking Issues
The first step is to determine whether there was a rank tracking issue. As good as some of the rank tracking software products out there are, they don’t always get it right.
I. Wrong URL / domain
This can happen, for instance, when a financial website changes domains or moves a page. The old page or URL can sometimes still be tracked by your software in this situation, since it doesn’t know which version to keep track of. If you’ve updated your page or URL, make sure you update your tracker.
Google Search Console Issues
Google Search Console can be a great tool for financial websites to turn to during a search engine decline. The two major things you’ll need to check include:
I. Indexing Issues
Navigate to the sitemap you submitted, and see if the report is throwing up an issues which might shed light on the problem you’re experiencing.
For instance, it could be that your robots.txt file is suddenly blocking the page that you were previously ranking for. This would mean Google cannot “see” the page anymore, and so your rankings drop.
II. Manual Actions
If you navigate to the Manual Actions area of Google Search Console, then this can shed light on problems you might be having in the search rankings.
For instance, it might tell you that you have a large number of dubious links pointing to your website content. Or, perhaps it mentions that your website content is too thin or low-quality.
Updates To The Algorithm
Google updates its algorithm all the time. On certain occasions, however, there are some really big ones which can be quite disruptive for financial websites’ search engine rankings.
If you noticed a decline at around the time Google announced it was rolling out a large update to its algorithm, then the latter might be the reason. Just make sure you address the issue.
Many financial advisers are not actively involved with the running, maintenance and content published on their website. Regardless, chances are multiple people have access to it, such as your financial marketing agency, your pay-per-click manager, your hosting provider and domain provider.
It could be that any one of these parties – or combination of them – might have made a change to your website which has caused it to fall in Google Search.
In this case, unfortunately you will need to ask around and explain the situation so each of them can check their work records.
Other Possible Causes
Sometimes the problem isn’t any of the above issues, but something else. In our experience as a financial marketing agency, here are some of the most common ones:
I. Cutting Content
Sometimes financial website designers will look at a financial adviser’s web page purely from the perspective of the user journey. Quite often, this can result in a greater emphasis on imagery to the detriment of content.
Whilst we love great imagery and believe it is essential to an IFA’s website design, Google is mainly looking at your content when it decides how to rank your website. If your web page is full of great, valuable content and you cut it to “improve the user experience”, then this can cause the page’s rankings to fall if the content was what was originally causing it to rank.
II. Backlinks Disappearing
Google not only looks at your content when it decides how to rank your financial website. It also consider which other websites are linking to your content.
The more relevant, authoritative and trustworthy those linking websites are, the better your search engine rankings are likely to be.
However, if you suddenly lose backlinks like these, then it undermines your financial website and can cause it to decline in search engine rankings.
A good tracker tool can often tell you what your backlink profile is, and how it has changed over time. If you notice the disappearance of some important backlinks coinciding with your declining search engine rankings, then you may well have found your problem.