When it comes to SEO for banks and financial services, it’s all about trust. Users are putting their money in your hands, so it’s vital you build a high level of confidence and reassurance with your audience by providing a site that delivers exactly what the user requires from your services.
Trust is also a key factor for E-A-T (Expertise – Authority – Trustworthiness), an element of Google’s Search Quality guidelines, and plays a major role in YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) sites.
You must also ensure you are targeting the right type of keywords that match your user’s intent, providing content that gives advice aligned with their financial status.
Keyword research for financial services
Be aware of intent changes
When carrying out keyword research for financial services, it’s important to be aware of the intent changes going on in SERPs. For example, the keyword ‘online banks’ shows commercial results from the likes of Starling, Lloyds, and Monzo, but you also see informational results, with articles from Money Saving Expert and Save The Student.
Answer core user questions
Finances can be a complicated topic, even for the most money-savvy among us. It’s vital you produce content that answers the questions your users are asking in a clear and concise way. This is particularly important if your target audience is the younger generation who are new to managing their own money. For example, the search term ‘what is a sort code’ has a monthly search volume of 3,900 in the UK.
Providing FAQs and informational content is essential when carrying out SEO for financial services. It will help your customers gain a better understanding of banking and allow you to target popular search queries to drive traffic to your site.
As well as high search volume terms, it’s worth delving into FAQs with zero searches a month too.
Looking at the real questions used by your customers may not show huge volumes in keyword tools, but it’s an effective way of finding valuable queries to produce content for. Your support lines, whether it be email, live chat, or social media, can be gold mines for FAQs that can be turned into useful content for your customers.
Not only does this show your expertise through drilling down into specific queries, but it also allows you to produce pages that can be linked to your users when they ask these questions, potentially making your customer support easier to manage.
Know your audience
As a financial service, you are likely to have a varied demographic when it comes to users. From students to parents and pensioners, your customer base can be vast. With this in mind, it’s important to create content that resonates with each of these groups and, more importantly, their current financial status. For example, producing mortgage-related content that targets first-time buyers or bill-splitting tips for students.
Understanding your users and the financial help they need during each of their financial stages can be key in building long-lasting customers. Having this insight can also aid in building your blog or advice hub, helping you produce relevant articles, topic clusters, and interlinking content.
On-page SEO and demand generation for financial services
Financial services and banks fall under the umbrella of YMYL content (Your Money, Your Life). This means the content needs to adhere to E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) to the highest possible standard, as Google has an extremely high Page Quality rating for YMYL pages. With this in mind, it’s essential to have expert-led advice content produced by those who thoroughly understand the topic they are writing about.
Expert content relating to current events that provides financial advice for users could help gain trust and loyalty from customers and help in establishing expertise from Google too. For example, creating advice content targeting SMEs who are struggling due to the effects of the lockdowns, or money saving tips for families who may be on tighter household budgets due to the rising cost of living. This valuable guidance can be key in helping your customers through tough times, showing that you are there to help them.
Address negatives and safeguard users
Helping consumers avoid scams is important. Phishing calls and texts are rife at the moment, with many asking users to move their money or risk being hacked.
Some of these scammers can sound extremely convincing, even to those who feel savvy toward these con artists. It’s important that banks and financial services produce content that provides users with information on the latest tactics and what to watch out for.
Offering tips and advice on how to spot a scam and avoid hackers is essential in protecting your customers and showing them you are on the front foot when it comes to the latest scams.
As mentioned, E-A-T is an important element in Google’s Search Quality and how it can determine your rankings, with authority being at the core of these guidelines. Reviewing the authority of your content can be determined by a number of factors, including author links in blog posts.
If the content has been produced by someone who is an expert in the topic and is a reputable name in the financial services industry, including this in the author bio can help determine the quality of the advice being given. Publishing content created by someone who is a credible name in the field can aid in showing that the information on your site is of value to users.
Reviews & independent surveys
We all know the benefits of reviews, and this is no different for finance SEO. Glowing reviews of your service is key to building trust with both existing and new customers.
They can also help in adhering to the E-A-T criteria too, showing Google that you are a trustworthy service offering value to customers. Users want a high level of customer service from their financial providers, so testimonials that show you can provide it can be vital in building trust and gaining new customers.
If you are coming out on top in independent surveys, this can also be a valuable asset in showing your trustworthiness to users and search engines.
In the latest Ipsos survey for Personal banking service quality – Great Britain, Monzo and Starling came out on top for online and mobile banking services, the two providers who rank highly for ‘online banks’. In contrast, HSBC were placed 12th in the survey, who on average rank in position 14 for the same keyword.
When it comes to generating demand, interactive tools such as calculators can be a real benefit for banks in terms of building interest for products and services. Calculators for loans, mortgages, or savings accounts allow users to quickly see what they could potentially receive from your bank.
In the UK, the search term ‘mortgage calculator’ receives around half a million searches each month, with ‘loan calculator’ receiving around 85k monthly searches too. Utilising these calculators not only provides interactive content for your users but can help you target high search volume keywords relevant to your services.
Technical SEO opportunities for financial services
Having a technically sound site is a core element of SEO for financial services and a way in which you can help build trustworthiness with your users and search engines.
Customers want quick access to their accounts and finances, so making them wait around with a slow site could lead to some very annoyed users. This could inadvertently harm your user experience scores in GSC, negatively impacting your organic rankings.
Having excellent page speed could be a valuable asset to your customer service. If a customer has issues with their banking or wants to alert you of a stolen card, quick service is vital in helping the customer as quickly as possible for time-sensitive issues.
Security & privacy
It should go without saying that security and privacy are paramount for financial service providers. Handling users’ financial data requires the highest level of privacy and security features to protect users. Making sure pages with sensitive information aren’t being indexed or shown in search results is important to keeping information secure.
Internal broken links
Adding internal links across your site can be helpful in pointing users in the right direction of relevant pages or further information. However, these can quickly become broken if URLs change without redirects, so make sure you regularly check for broken internal links across the site. If a user lands on a 404 looking for further information, this can quickly lose the trust you’ve been trying so hard to build.
If a search engine locates a 404 instead of a valuable YMYL page, this could also impact how Google perceives the quality of the page and potentially view it as low value to users.
A clear and easy to use navigation is essential for a bank or financial website.
This sector can be confusing. With so many different options and information available, working on site architecture for a bank can quickly snowball due to the high number of areas that you may want to link to. It’s important to make sure you create a concise structured flow that your customers will find easy to use.
A clear site navigation can also aid search engines in crawling pages on your site – helping Google to efficiently locate your most important pages and your valuable content.
To sum up, as mentioned initially and throughout the above, trust is key. As a financial service provider who handles users’ money and personal data, you need to ensure you can be trusted. You need to provide expert advice that is tailored to your audience’s financial status, helping you gain authority within the sector and the SERPs.