Ultimate 2021 SEO Guide for Financial Services: Get More Traffic
Here are the most important things to know about SEO for financial services websites to help you rank higher and win more customers.
Financial SEO is good for business. It’s part of a trifecta of online marketing. It goes hand and hand with SEM (search engine marketing) and digital marketing. Many of the tasks in these categories overlap. This guide is for beginners as well as anyone who needs to brush up on modern SEO for financial services.
This is a comprehensive boot camp on how to show up in the search results. We’ll start with some definitions: What is it? Why is it important? Then we will get straight tactics and best practices finance SEO specialists use. There are thousands of articles on SEO and many are insightful but have you actually practiced SEO?
If you already know what it is and why you need it – skip straight to the On-Page SEO section to get started on your journey into the world of SEO for finance companies.
- What is SEO?
- Why is Financial Advisor SEO Important?
- On-Page SEO
- Keyword Topic and Research
- Making Sure Your Site is Technically Sound
- Off-Page SEO
- Local SEO
- Other Google Tools and Resources
- The Future of Financial SEO Services
What is SEO?
SEO means search engine optimization. It's everything you do online to make sure your site is indexed by Google. Indexing simply means that Google puts it on the list. You can be at the bottom of that list or at the top, which is the Top 10 in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
As you learn there are many different techniques and methods to go about optimizing your site. There's no one-size-fits-all for financial SEO success. But you can get a certification from Google which has an SEO tutorial program. It's not necessary but if you want to work as a financial advisor SEO specialist, it may give you a bit of an edge over the competition.
How Does Google Work
How does Google work? Google indexes sites based on algorithms. Those algorithms check for the quality and popularity of your website. Many factors are considered and they change often. A few are page speed, the structure, how long people browse your pages, and the quality of websites that link back to your site, and more.
Who is This SEO Guide for?
This guide is for anyone interested in financial SEO strategies or general strategies for SEO. It's easy to learn and we'll start with the basics so you understand how it works and what you can do to rank your site. This will help anybody interested in learning SEO or those who are looking to hire a finance SEO professional.
This walkthrough is designed to help small business owners or even one-person marketing teams set up sites properly. We recommend that you learn all the fundamentals before you get started otherwise you may waste a lot of time on the wrong approach.
Why is Financial Advisor SEO Important?
SEO is vital to businesses if they want an online presence. You need to show up in the search engines when people search for terms related to your product or service. There are lots of options when it comes to advertising and marketing these days. You have TV, ads on social media, and ad platforms from companies like Google and Microsoft.
Every industry is different so you’ll want to find specific ways to execute SEO for finance companies. It is the number one choice for inbound marketing for companies big and small. Search is the most popular way that people find companies. If someone searches “financial services online,” you want to come up on the first page.
Most people rarely go to the second or third page although this is becoming more common among certain demographics. While ads and other types of promotion are valuable, tailored finance SEO gives you the best return on your investment.
The Benefits of Proper Financial SEO Services
It takes a lot of work but it generates sustainable business. So if you want more business, professional financial SEO services can help. Many times just a small tweak here or there can make a big difference. The following paragraphs are based on a true story about how one company received massive amounts of traffic and a significant amount of profits from SEO.
SEO Success on A Massive Scale
A company that provided reviews of financial services was making money from affiliate links and ads. They weren't getting as much traffic as they wanted so they hired an SEO specialist. After the first meeting, the SEO professional knew what to do right away.
The company wasn't using the most valuable keyword for one of its most important products, reciprocating saws. People often search for the word ‘Sawzall’ when they are looking for this kind of saw. This is a brand name but it's become synonymous with reciprocating saws.
After they added that keyword to all their products matching it, traffic went up 1000%. This doesn't happen often but it happens more than you think. For large sites with tons of pages that aren't optimized correctly – using the right keywords is crucial.
Below are 10 common mistakes that financial SEO services make.
- Not measuring progress. You need analytics to find out what's working and what isn't.
- Optimizing for the wrong keywords. Lots of sites waste time choosing the wrong keywords, which is why measuring your progress is so important.
- Not implementing local SEO for financial services.
- Using poorly written content. This used to be fine but nowadays Google emphasizes well-written content. And so do the people who read it. If there are grammatical mistakes or it's just written poorly it's going to be harder to rank.
- Not focusing on the design of their site to encourage people to click links.
- Not using unique title tags and meta tags.
- Focusing on quantity over quality. If you're all over the place you're not going to hit your target.
- Not creating content that's worthy of sharing. Specific content is a key part of financial SEO success. You need content built around your industry that people like or need.
We're going to start with the basic tasks you need to accomplish to rank higher. You need to make sure your site is technically sound, well written, and optimized for search engines.
On-page SEO along with backlinks are the most important factors when it comes to ranking. Not to say that the other foundations won’t heavily affect your financial SEO efforts (especially if they are done poorly). Google’s algorithms keep getting better, competition is getting tougher, and like any sort of marketing – the game evolves and tastes change.
On-page SEO is called owned media because you own it. It's everything you do on the pages of your website to rank higher in the search engine results pages.
These are the basics:
- Use the right keywords.
- Make your pages easy to read (well-written).
- Create good content and take advantage of a holistic approach.
- Make sure that your site is technically set up for search engines.
Below are the things you need to focus on to increase your chances of ranking for the terms people search for.
Keyword and Topic Research
You need to know which keywords people are searching for and which ones that you have the chance of scoring four. Keyword research has the beginning of every financial SEO campaign. When you conduct keyword research you also want to find relevant topics to focus on. SEO software services like Google Keyword Planner and others will give you ideas when you research keywords.
How to Conduct Keyword Research
We're going to start this off with an example that shows you exactly how to do it. There are many tools you can use and we are using Google Keyword Planner. All you need to get started is:
- A spreadsheet on hand.
- A Google AdWords account.
Adwords is Google’s ad platform but you don't have to pay to use the Keyword Planner, it's free. Set up an Adwords account. Start a new account by clicking on the button.
Note: keywords can be long tail or short tail. A longtail keyword would be “where can I finance SEO guides for beginners?” A short tail keyword could be “financial SEO,” “or local SEO for financial services.”
Once you are in, go to the Keyword Planner from the Tools & Settings dropdown menu.
Next, click go to Discover Keywords.
Enter in a few keywords or maybe just one. Then click get results. (You want to create a list of maybe 5 to 10). That’s not a hard rule, it’s just what many people do. You may want a large list and your master list may end up being hundreds or thousands.
Here I have “SEO for financial services,” “financial advisor SEO,” “SEO for finance companies”, and “local SEO for financial services.” These might be some of the keywords that landed you on this page. Some you might want to try are: “best financial services near me” or “financial service companies.”
The results pages give you all kinds of information including suggestions for other keywords.
The following columns will pop up in the display of the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.
- Competition: this is the number of advertisers that are buying these keywords. If you want to use them with the Google AdWords platform you have to pay either per click or per impression. Clicks are if someone clicks on the link and an impression is if it's displayed in someone's browser.
- Global monthly searches: this is data on how many people are searching for the term per month. It goes back for one year.
- Estimated CPC: this is the cost per click, how much you pay if someone clicks on an ad. Most people start with PPC but you might want Impressions depending on what you need.
Now download the keyword ideas so you can load them into your spreadsheet.
Load them into your spreadsheet and format it as a table. To make this easier I’m only using 3 columns. I’m using excel, you can use any spreadsheet app you want. I’m only using the columns I need. Monthly Searches and Competition.
I color-coded them but it’s not necessary. You want to find a balance between low competition and high volume. Sort them to find keywords to go for.
The top 3 look like good ideas. I have a chance to get 1500 clicks a month. Now, some of those are based on ads so you can get all of them. Additionally, these are ballpark numbers, they change from time to time.
Try some other tools like SEMrush or Wordtracker and use the same method to find keywords for you. You should repeat this process until you find some good opportunities.
Let’s use Google Trends to find some topics. You can just do a regular search as well to find relevant topics. Go to Google Trends. The first page will display some of the most popular searches listed in your country.
Enter a topic related to your business. Let’s do “financial advisor.” It shows you a rating of the terms popularity, subregions, and related topics. Explore the related topics and see whether you should use them.
Do a Google search to see who’s at the top. This is where you want to be. Experiment with different topics, click on compare to see which topics you might want to focus on.
Once you’ve found keywords and a topic it’s time to create content. Publish content on your site that’s informative, relevant, and highly targeted for local SEO financial services or regional, wherever your target market is. Content is everything on the page. Written content, images, audio, video, interactive, and possibly more but I think that covers all of it. Here are some tips.
Content Creation Tips:
- Use written content and images at least.
- Make it easy to read – use the Flesch Kincaid readability guidelines.
- Even if your audience is smart, which is typically true of people interested in finance, make it easy.
- Most people scan, shoot for a high-school reading level.
- Embrace the page break. Don’t use huge blocks of text.
- Mix things up with headlines, bullet points, images, etc.
- UX (user experience) is important. This is the design of your site. Even if you aren’t a designer, you are dealing with SEO, or hiring someone who is, you’ll need to focus on design.
- Check out the terms: “user experience,” “human-computer interaction,” “inclusive design,” and “information architecture.” This will help you discover what it takes to make your content accessible.
- Last but not least, focus on quality, not quantity. It’s good to publish often but make sure to keep high standards. Poor content reflects poorly on your business.
We mentioned this earlier but here’s how you do it. Search the keywords that you want to rank for. Check the sites on the first page. Take a look at the companies at the top and study what they are doing. The goal is to outdo them. If you can add something unique that they aren’t, go more in-depth, or just make it better in any way, do it.
Making Sure Your Site is Technically Sound
Technical SEO is all about the structure and code of your site. This is what goes on under the hood, all the stuff that makes your site run. These are the things you need to do to make sure everything on the technical side is set up properly.
While you don't need to be a front-end developer, everyone involved in financial SEO should understand a little bit about what front-end developers do. Like we said there are tools you can plug into your site to do this you don't have to develop. Just about everything can be done without having to touch the code itself.
Your site should be:
- Audited with an SEO app or software
- Crawler friendly
- Fast (loads in the browser)
- Easy to index
- Ready to rank
Why is it so important?
It takes all three aspects of SEO to get to the top of Google. It’s much easier to rank this way. So that means on-page financial SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO. You can have the greatest most interesting site in the world but if it loads slow or bulky code is blocking the content on your site, crawlers can’t do their job.
It's kind of like having a business without a sign on it or a phone number. No one's going to know that it's there. And if you're here you probably want people to visit your site. So you have to make it easy for crawlers. Let’s look at some of the components of technical SEO.
The SEO Site Audit
The site audit is where everything begins, it may be a few minutes if you are auditing an entire site, you'll get a full report on the technical information about a website. You can audit competitor sites as well to see what they're doing or what they're missing.
There are lots of tools to do this but we're going to use Ahrefs. It's good for beginners and good for small marketing teams.
Go to Ahrefs and click the Site Audit link. If you don’t have an account, start a free trial. You can cancel it if you don’t want a subscription.
Once you are there start a new project. The basic trial gives something like 5 projects; it may be a different number.
Let’s look at an insurance site on page 5 of the results. Enter the domain and continue.
You’ll be brought to a verify ownership page. If you own it you can plug your site into ahrefs but if you don’t just skip it.
Now some options will come up in the display. Don’t worry about scheduling regular crawls because you are going to delete this project when you’re done. Run the first crawl.
You will be brought to a page asking you to add keywords to track, then to another page asking if you want to compare competitors. Just skip those for now. Hit finish on the final page
It will say starting. Click on it when it’s done.
On the Overview page, you’ll see the results. There are some issues here. A score of 50 isn’t bad but there’s room for improvement. You want above 60 at least. Above 90 shouldn’t be hard to achieve.
The All Issues page will show you everything that should be fixed.
Technical SEO Basics
Now that you know what an audit is, let’s go over all the things you need to do to ensure that your site is optimized properly.
Implement SSL. You know those warnings you get, “site is not safe.” You need to have an SSL certificate to avoid that, which means it’s not http:// This is no longer secure and easy for hackers to break into. It’s also not secure for you to browse sites without an SSL certificate.
- Redirect all of your http:// to https:// when you setup your site.
- Update all the URLs on your sitemap and the tags.
Page Speed Optimization
It’s common knowledge that people will run from a page that takes forever to load. By forever ever I mean two seconds. It should load in milliseconds.
- Don’t use too many plugins: If you're on a platform like WordPress or Weebly you're going to use plugins to handle things like compress images, implement hamburger menus, and other stuff like that. This also makes you vulnerable to hackers as well. Ready-made themes are one of the most common reasons your site loads slow. Consider getting a custom theme or having a developer code your site with a framework like Ruby on Rails.
Optimize for Crawlers
- Create a site map
- Used robots.txt files
- Optimize your site for mobile
- Optimize the structure of your site, the most important pages should be first
- Create a clean logical URL structure
- Use bread crumbs
- Use pagination
- Optimize URL (use lower case letters, dashes between words, short and descriptive, don't use too many stop words like “the” or “a”
- Place Target keywords in the URL new line
- Use keywords in the title
- Use keywords in the meta description
Indexing means that you are added to Google’s list. If something is blocking a crawler, you won’t be found. Here are some dos of indexing.
- Remove duplicate content. You will get penalized if you have the same page listed twice. Penalization means lower rankings.
- Remove broken URLs and make sure your redirects are set up properly. The site audit will let you know when you have broken links. There are plugins to do this as well.
- Check if your site is optimized for mobile. Use Pagespeed Insights by Google.
- Look out for the following HTTP error codes:
- 301 redirects
- 302 redirects
- 404 (restricted content)
- 405 (server is blocking access to the page)
- 500 ( bad gateway)
- 504 (Gateway timeout)
Rendering is the performance of your site in the browser. Slow rendering would be if a video took forever to buffer.
- Slow performance.
- HTTP errors like the ones we mentioned above
- Page size and load time
- Page depth. How far away the page is from the homepage. If you have a messy site structure and it's dozens of links away this will be a problem. If you have a lot of pages make sure and structure the navigation menus accordingly. Keep important pages close to your index page. These are pages like about me, our services, pricing, etc.
Off-page SEO is all of your efforts off of your website. This is more important than ever. This is things like links back to your site, social media SEO, and local SEO for financial services
Backlinks are incredibly important. Google rates the quality of your site based on the popularity and quality of the sites that are linking back to you. If you have bad backlinks you're going to have a bad reputation with Google which lowers your chances of ranking.
If you have healthy backlinks and a great backlink profile you are probably going to do well. The quality of your backlinks have a lot to do with your ranking. Here are a couple of ways to build backlinks.
Finding websites to guest post on is a great way to build backlinks and get your site ranked. Other ways to build backlinks are to get a mention on popular sites like news sites or press release distribution sites.
Use apps like Ahrefs Content Explorer to search for broken backlinks on sites that are popular. You can use the filters to make sure you're only searching for broken backlinks and sites with Lots of traffic. If you find a site that's recently popular but it has a broken link to a page with a lot of traffic. You have a chance to alert the owner.
- First, make some great content like an infographic or a video. If they have similar content that doesn't have audio images or video you have the chance to get a backlink from them.
- Then make contact. Write a personalized email about content on their site. “I love this site, I love the UX. I made a piece of content that I think would be perfect for your site. Check it out.
- It might not happen right away. But, if you find a broken link or help them out in some way. A simple message like, “Hey I loved your post on [page here]. I also had your post on [page here] bookmarked and I noticed that the link is broken.
- They are more likely to give you a link if you can do something helpful.
Publish High-Quality Content:
Shareable content is the key to backlinking. But this means you'll have to do a little work to get people to notice. Interacting on social media with other people in your niche, posting videos, advertising on Facebook, and other ways to get visibility off-sight will get people to click on links you post on your profiles.
If you have an article that you love and you want people to see, post it on your Instagram. Also, if you're getting engagement people are going to click on it and if it's good they're going to keep clicking on your other articles. If it's shareable like an infographic that everyone loves, people will post it on social media. Make sure to put your social media handle on everything you publish.
Local SEO for Finance
The people near you are more likely to purchase your services and you have a better chance of showing up if you're near them. Local SEO puts you on the map. It’s one of the first things SEO services will provide along with keyword research and user intent. Google claims that local SEO doesn’t directly affect your rankings but like any off-page SEO, it builds your presence online.
Google Maps is currently the most popular platform for local listings. This is only for businesses with physical locations. You can also have multiple profiles if you have multiple locations.
How to show up:
- Start a Google My Business profile to claim your business.
- Verify your business by mail or phone after the prompt.
- Fill out your profile completely. Add images, hours, phone number, and everything else you can.
- Get reviews. Use your network to get some reviews to start.
- Another thing that helps is to answer questions. Have a customer or someone you konw ask a question people would find helpful and answer it.
- Interact with reviewers and do your best to help those who are not satisfied. You can’t please everyone but good customer service can change people’s minds (remove bad reviews).
Other Google Tools Resources
Google has some of the best resources. We aren't suggesting you rely on them alone but it's important to learn how all of these tools work, they are the gold standard of analytics. Google Analytics is easy to use and it doesn't take long to figure it out. Check out Google Analytics for beginners. It covers things like:
- How to use reports
- Learn how to track your audience
- How to track audience Behavior
- How to reach new audiences
- Conversion tracking
- Running ad campaigns
Next Steps to Optimize SEO for Your Financial Service Website
We covered everything you need to know for financial SEO. It doesn't end here, this is just the beginning. The best way to advance is to practice these fundamental skills and pick up tricks along the way. If you hire an SEO professional they may be willing to share some insight with you. A simple consultation can give you a lot of knowledge. There's no better way to start than taking some of the SEO tools we mentioned for a test drive. There are plenty more and they all do things slightly differently. It depends on what's right for you. Let us know what you think, we'd be happy to help. Good luck!