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Why SEO Is Important For Your Financial Service Website
Sidse SorensenSeptember 2018
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is essentially an umbrella term for a broad range of methodical practices that help sustainably increase the visibility of your website on search engines.
In finance especially, digital marketing can be a frustrating hurdle. The financial industry is one of the most competitive on the internet with big corporate banks and international auditors leveraging the power of having been around for many, many years.
Because of the fierce competition, ranking for general keywords such as ‘home insurance’ and ‘instant saver’, is often out of the question for smaller financial institutions and services. The same goes for trying to match up to the advertising budgets of the likes of Lloyds and their wild stallions.
The good news is that you can be creative with your SEO campaigns and still achieve remarkable ROI figures. In fact, when done right, a small but highly targeted financial campaign can bring in some really profitable leads.
The following list is a list of reasons why you, as a financial service company, need to give SEO a chance. If you’re already on the bandwagon, head over to our nifty SEO audit tool to get a free SEO audit, with a report, and discover how you can improve your website.
1. SEO doesn’t require a multi-digit marketing budget.
Theoretically, in best practice SEO you can’t buy your way to fame and glory. SEO is an (almost) level battlefield and you don’t need a six-digit marketing budget to rank for a group of keywords that are relevant to your business. What you need is someone who has the time and expertise to methodically optimise your website and content for search engines. Do this, and you’ll hit the ground running.
If you should remember one thing from reading this article, it is that search engines are relentless in finding the perfect search result that best matches the searcher’s intent.
Mess around with dodgy link building and easy fixes and Google will not hesitate to bump you down the rankings!
Fortunately for you and your budget, companies that have a million pounds in the marketing bank are not going to benefit hugely from it when it comes to SEO (with the exception of being able to hire a bunch of expert SEO practitioners to carry out the hard graft).
I mentioned in the introduction that you can be creative with your SEO campaign. I’d like to clarify that by creative I am referring to the process of solving problems and discovering ranking opportunities through a data-driven approach, not through guesstimating or pursuing gut feelings.
Let me give you an example. CardSwitcher came to us wanting to make it easier for SMEs to research and choose a suitable payment processing provider. The card processing industry is a bit of a tricky one, and it hasn’t always been the most transparent of its sorts. After carrying out in-depth industry and persona research and scoping out what keywords would attract the right visitors, we started producing high-quality content helping small business owners make more informed decisions. Over the last two years, we’ve been consistently publishing great content and we’ve worked to optimise the site for conversions.
Not only has Cardswitcher seen a 29% spike in traffic year on year, but they are now ranking for more than 4,700 keywords in the top 100 UK searches, bringing in a good stream of enquiries month after month.
2. SEO Can help bring in new business in a changing market.
What used to be personal recommendations, professional referrals and advice bureau handovers is now increasingly organic leads coming from search results. If you want to win new business, you need to find a sustainable way to cut through the noise and attract new leads.
The decision-making process is changing rapidly alongside the technological advancements. Today, if there’s something we don’t know or need help with — we either Google it, ask Alexa or check out the relevant hashtags on Twitter.
To put this into perspective, let’s have a look at how the decision-making process has changed over the last 20 years for finding a mortgage.
Getting a mortgage in 1998
In 1998 a first home buyer would decide that they wanted to buy a home. After that, it would’ve been common to consult family and close friends that had already gone through the process. After this initial research, the first home buyer would likely consult either a financial or a specific mortgage advisor by recommendation or from having looked through the phonebook. Ultimately they’d choose a suitable mortgage.
Getting a mortgage in 2018
In 2018 a first home buyer would explore the idea of buying a home vs renting. They’d Google ‘how to choose a mortgage’; ‘minimum mortgage deposit’; ‘best mortgages for first-time buyers’; ‘benefits of owning vs renting’; ‘should I get a mortgage’ and so on. Mixed in at some stage of this initial scoping, the first time buyer would likely consult close friends and relatives to discuss the idea.
After many hours of researching and comparing options, the first time buyer would likely look to Google again, search around for advisors, and eventually fill out a form to inquire about an initial appointment with a trustworthy looking advisor. Then back on track to choosing a suitable mortgage.
As you can see, In the 2018 version of the ‘Mortgage Decision Making Process’, there are a lot of digital touchpoints.
First are the early intent phases where potential customers are purely looking for help and answers to their burning questions. These moments are crucial.
If you can answer questions and find a painless way to solve pain points through your content, then there’s a good chance that the potential customer will come back to you once they’ve done a bit more scoping and are ready to fill out that enquiry form.
As an established company, you should know your target audience really well. You need to turn that knowledge into great content and then you need to use it to convert visitors into customers.
Example: 180 Advisory Solutions
In our work with 180 Advisory Solutions we have worked methodically to do just that; attract high intent traffic and convert it into customers. Through building a large bank of in-depth content helping SMEs understand and navigate complex financial situations, 180 Advisory Solutions have seen a 290% increase in their organic conversion rates.
But SEO isn’t just about writing mind-blowing content, it’s also about building a backlink profile that speaks authority. Through building links with startup communities, business publications and other SMEs — 180 Advisory Solutions not only generated a lot of general awareness from
outreach and link building campaigns, they improved their rankings considerably. Today, 180 ranks in top 10 for a dozen high intent local keywords bringing in the vast majority of the monthly traffic.
3. A way to distinguish yourself from unscrupulous businesses.
Historically, physical assets and length of service were two stellar pillars of success in the financial industry.
With everything becoming increasingly digital, big marble floors and grandeur headquarters have been slightly sidelined by online reviews, well-designed websites and search engine visibility.
It is not important whether you are for, hesitant, or against this digitalisation of the industry. What is important is that you are aware of the changes that are happening, and know how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
Increased competition brings innovation and new perspective benefiting the whole industry. But with lower barriers of entry, there are often a few unscrupulous businesses that enter the market too.
With the barriers to entry turned upside down, and with mahoosive corporations struggling to digitalise — there is new room for genuinely talented businesses that know how to leverage the power of digital marketing.
You can especially leverage this if you are an SME. You’re small enough to transform your business model and assets to really focus on digital, but you’re still big enough to have a bunch of success stories in the bag that can help establish a good amount of trust.
So how do you put yourself ahead of the unscrupulous?
Well for starters, you need a well designed and optimised website. If you’re not sure what a well designed financial website looks like, then check out our blog Five Brilliant Financial Websites and Why They Work.
If you’re toying with a redesign project or just need a bit of guidance on what design elements a great financial service website needs to have, head over to our blog Key Web Design Elements for Financial Service Pages for some expert design advice from our Senior Designer Kevin.
4. SEO campaign results are compounding.
As with most things, you get what you pay for. If you really invest in search engine optimisation, you are likely to see some impressive results from it. SEO is a long term investment, however, so your efforts need to be consistent and you can’t compromise on quality.
Over the years, companies have found loopholes in search algorithms, allowing them to perform well for a short amount of time, only to be quickly dumped at the very bottom of the rankings. This is not sustainable.
When done right, SEO results are compounding, making the practice extremely sustainable. The graph below shows the results from a typical organic marketing campaign. As the costs gradually decrease with time, the traffic starts snowballing.
Paid Advertising Vs. SEO
Let’s compare paid advertising to search engine optimisation for a moment. Both practices have a similar goal; to attract a stream of high intent relevant traffic that is likely to convert into paying customers.
With paid advertising, you get exactly what you pay for. Should you one day stop putting money into your paid ads, the stream of traffic will come to an abrupt halt. With SEO, your return on investment should increase month on month as search engines start picking up on your optimisation activities.
Your investment in organic SEO and off page link building doesn’t disappear from one month to the next. The landing pages you write, the guest posts you author and the testimonials you publish will continue to attract visitors to your site and build trust.
SEO is essentially the marketing method that keeps on giving.
5. A sustainable way to target qualified leads.
SEO is all about ranking for select keywords that are relevant to a business or product. In other words, it’s about attracting traffic that is likely to convert. Because SEO is so targeted, it’s a good bang for your bucks.
Let’s compare it to TV advertising.
Have a look at the hypothetical table below comparing a peak time TV ad with a local SEO campaign.
Say you want to run your life insurance advert in one of the Great British Bake Off breaks. Yes, you’ll reach a good 5 million viewers, but you’ll also be paying the premium of ~£17k. How many people do you think will go and contact you after they’ve seen your ad? I’ve put down 2.5k for the sake of this example. When you crunch these numbers that leaves you with a Cost Per Acquisition of over £2,000.
With one of our typical SEO campaigns, we’ll target very specific keywords that we know are profitable. The DI client in the example has a monthly retainer of 10 hours of SEO work. Mid campaign, this brings in ~600 organic visits/ month, with 40 of them converting into customers. A Cost Per Acquisition of £15.
I know, I know — that was an extreme example, but you get the gist I’m sure.
6. Boost brand awareness.
Search is becoming an integral part of our day to day lives. If you really want people to know about your company and boost your awareness — you need to optimise your site for search!
A study by Search Engine People suggests that on average, 1st position takes around 33% of all traffic, 2nd position takes 15%, and 9% goes to the 3rd position. After position five, there are steeper drop-offs.
Awareness and retainment are tricky things to nail, but with search engine optimisation you can help make sure that when your potential customers are out there searching for keywords relevant to your products and services — they can find you in their top searches.
Try our free SEO audit
Not quite sure where to start with your SEO? Why don’t you try out our free SEO Audit?
Head over to our SEO Audit. Type in your name, email and URL and we’ll send you over a report on how your website is performing.
We’re not fussed whether you’re just curious, or on the lookout for an agency — we’d like you to try it out regardless.
Sidse SorensenDigital Marketing Coordinator
With experience in tech, startup and the public sector, Sidse brings an unbelievable wealth of talent to the marketing team at Digital Impact. Sidse heads up the internal marketing team at Digital Impact and writes for a wide range of clients and niches.
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