For most people in this age of mobile phones and always online digital malarkey, the days of heading to a physical building like a bank for any and all things related to finance are pretty much dead. The rise of e-banking and the so-called “challenger banks” (which operate exclusively online or via apps) has cemented this in everyday finance, and more and more related services are following suit. Needless to say, if you’re in the financial services game and you want to stay in any way relevant or competitive, your online presence is a pretty damn important thing, so let’s have a look at how organic traffic growth through purposefully strategized SEO for financial services can play a valuable role in this business.
The importance of SEO in the financial services sector
Consumers turn to search engines when they’re looking for… well, anything, really, and financial service providers are no different. If you’re not in the SERPs (search engine results pages) then you’re essentially not on the map, and not in the potential customer’s line of sight, never mind consideration. Getting your digital strategy right has a lot of different levers to pull and far more than can be chatted through in a single blog, but the short and laser-focused version is that effective SEO for financial services will focus on all aspects of the user’s potential journey, from first contact with the brand through to consideration and comparisons, all the way through to when that user becomes an actual lead or sign-up.
The role of SEO in finance
It’s not just about ranking high for those key converting terms (gasp). Financial services institutions with a good organic search presence enjoy a higher level of credibility and trustworthiness when it comes to consumer consideration, and thus where they choose to place their hard-earned dosh. Keep your digital presence well placed, optimised, high quality, and easy to use, and you both establish your business as a meaningful authority in its specialist field as well as building up a more loyal customer base.
Modern search engines can also act as a useful microcosm of the wider digital world, with the exploding use of technologies like voice recognition and machine-learning generated content (and the trust problems inherent with said content). This means that banks investing in, or at least paying attention to, trends in SEO and wider search technology will get a front row seat to how these fads surge, rise, crest and then either die or become integrated, which can help form a feedback loop to wider business strategies that is remarkably beneficial in unexpected ways.
Should we use ChatGPT to write our forecasts and fire all the analysts, asks a director? Good lord no, says the commercial team, via SEO awareness, those tools literally make stuff up and mustn’t be used without human oversight. Ah, but can we use it to more rapidly iterate copy for conversion testing and to speed up production of newsletter or other similar content, with human review? Why yes. Yes, we can. Let’s talk about building a new process that will be faster and more effective but won’t result in a bajillion dollar lawsuit, shall we?
Keep on trend in all aspects of your business – in a sensible manner of adoption – and you can make sure all the right tools are at your disposal to make sure you aren’t missing out on potential customers or risking the loss of those you already have.
The benefits of effective SEO strategies for financial services
As well as the informed trend and tech monitoring that comes with any substantial investment in digital, a true powerhouse SEO strategy can offer plenty of more directly commercial benefits, too (shocker). For example, organic search growth typically has a list of perks a bit like this…
- Increased visibility and traffic to your website: more visibility in relevant SERPs, more users on site that you can look to convert in some form or another.
- Higher quality, more targeted leads: tailoring a content and targeting strategy to specific demographics, interests, and search topics allows businesses to maximise their chances of bringing in the right sort of users who are going to be a more valuable audience than, for example, “anyone who walks past this big billboard on the Tube.”
- Improved website performance and user experience: UX is of continually growing importance as part of SEO strategies. As well as needing good UX for, you know, the users, you now also need it in order to rank well. What results is a site that’s faster, slicker, easier to navigate and more likely to engage and convert. Win-win all around.
- Boosted brand recognition and authority: appearing in more SERPs (and closer to the top of more of them!) for queries at all stages of the user journey, from initial tentative steps like “what is an ISA” to highly converter-ready searches like “easy access cash ISA online,” you’re more likely to get the right sort of eyeballs on your brand – and many of them may well visit later on brand searches to actually become customers, as you’ve won them over with your never-erring expertise on nearly everything they could possibly search for about ISAs (or whatever), meaning they trust you a lot more than some random paid ad that just floated across their dashboard.
- Higher conversion rates and better ROI: getting in more qualified leads and a better performing website without the need to invest more and more and more in ever-spiralling paid media or search ads can do wonders to bring down blended cost of acquisition, making your marketing overall work harder to produce the same or better bang for similar buck.
Strategic considerations in SEO for financial services
Of course like all things to do with organic search, financial services SEO is a long game. A marathon (an ultra marathon, in many sub-sectors), and definitely not a sprint. We’re talking investment in many months and often years to see good returns – but by gum once the returns come in, they come in. So startups looking for super-high immediate growth trajectories… you may not be ready for this just yet. But when you’re building for next year rather than next week, the SEO world is ready for your call.
As well as the usual checklist of good semantic headings, clean code, the right markups, site speed, and all that jazz, financial services is one of those sectors where really thinking long and hard about your target search terms is a must, rather than just going after the big ticket terms from the off. You’re unlikely to be able to start batting against Natwest or HSBC or Halifax for “fixed term savings account,” and it’ll be a long darn while before you can compete with LV or Admiral for “car insurance,” while we’re on that note. Think long term, slow burn, target searches that will build your credibility, expertise, and trust with your potential customers, and team with cheeky paid media tools like selective remarketing on display or social platforms, or experimenting with some (gently) gated content or tools to get people into automation flows you can nurture towards conversion that way.
Don’t forget link acquisition! Whether you opt for a digital PR type strategy that integrates with your wider media plan, or bring in a dedicated PSA-type-resource outreach team to supercharge those offsite signals specifically for SEO, it isn’t something you can ignore. Especially if you want to build up to the point of being able to kick around those big ol’ lumbering incumbent providers stuck in their tradition-laden past with your amazing digitally-savvy know how, you cheeky whippersnapper, you.
That said, SEO is a pretty crucial component of any kind of marketing for financial services in order to maximise visibility, get in better leads, and (arguably most critically) build up that brand authority and trust with users. Whether you have an in-house team to act as your organic search experts or commit to some kind of monthly SEO services with a specialist consultant or agency, getting the pieces in place is as essential for not getting left behind as it is for starting to get ahead.
(And that applies as much to those big incumbent market leaders as to the scrappy young disruptors)!