What financial services brands need to do to rank on Google

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Research-backed tactics
By Annabel Hodges, contributor. 5 September, 2017
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To compile their Finance Ranking Factors 2017 whitepaper, Searchmetrics analysed the top 20 Google search results for over 6,000 finance related keywords and compared this to their benchmark report on general ranking factors to determine which factors affect finance brands specifically. We’ve summarised their key findings for you:

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1. Content is even more crucial in finance

For their benchmark report, Searchmetrics developed an index, according to which the search result with the highest content relevance was assigned the value 100. Using this index, they then compared finance URLs to other industry URLs from the benchmark study, URLs for finance keywords were shown to have a higher level of content relevance within the page’s main content than for the overall average across all industries. On average, finance domains ranking on the first page of Google had a higher index score (average of 145.5) than any of the benchmark domains. This suggests the content on the high ranking finance domains is extremely relevant to users.

The lesson: Ensure your site contains well researched, highly relevant content for your product in order to boost your ranking potential.

2. Keyword stuffing is of no benefit

The study found that content on the highest ranking financial services websites contained the relevant searched keyword three times less than content in the benchmark study.

The lesson: Ensure your content reads naturally, don’t over-optimise for keywords. You want your content to focus on your users' needs, not the search engines’. Natural language is actually now rewarded by Google’s algorithms.

You want your content to focus on your users' needs, not the search engines’.

3. Keep your site simple

Compared to all the other industries analysed by Searchmetrics, the websites of financial services brands contain the fewest interactive elements such as menus and buttons; 29% below the benchmark average. Finance sites also have a lower average file size, with fewer images and videos – almost 40% fewer images than the overall average across all industries. It suggests the focus is more on text and information than on site interaction.

The lesson: In the finance sector, it is better to have a fast loading, technically optimised site over excessive interactive elements or unnecessary media.

4. Ensure your content is well structured

Well-structured content using clearly marked meta tags are a key part of SEO foundations. On average, 89% of finance websites in Google’s top 10 had an H1, with the benchmark average sitting at 85%.

The lesson: With fewer images and interactive elements on the page, it is even more vital to correctly structure your content, ensuring the most important information is prioritised for both the reader and search engines.

5. Break out your content

Unordered lists, or bullet points, proved to be a popular formatting structure across the best ranking financial websites. On average, 69% of finance websites in the top 10 included a bullet point list within their content, as compared to only 56% of the benchmark sites.

The lesson: Break your content out to help draw the reader’s eye down – this can be bullet points, numbered lists or by using headlines (tagged up with the appropriate Header tag as per above!).

6. LinkedIn is a key channel for finance topics

The study found that while the top 20 results for finance searches had low Facebook engagement – with just a fifth as many Facebook likes and shares as the benchmark – they compensated with 70% more social signals from LinkedIn.

The lesson: LinkedIn is clearly a very relevant social channel for finance topics so ensure you’re using the platform to its maximum potential

Finance brands most active on social media

We conducted our own research into the social media reach and activity of Australia’s top super funds and retail banks and ranked them based on their performance.

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Originally hailing from the UK, Sydneysider Annabel is a digital marketer with over a decade's experience working with global agencies and brands. A data and spreadsheet aficionado, she recently swapped SEO for motherhood and we eagerly await the analytics report! She is also maternally bilingual in French and English and speaks fluent Spanish.