SEO for Financial Services #2: Making the Most of On-Page Content

A Guide to On-Page SEO for financial services

Will Nye

When it comes to on-page content, quality and relevancy are critical for organic search success.

Released several times per year, core updates can have a major impact on a website’s performance. To counteract this, Google has made it explicitly clear that affected sites should focus on their content first.

On average, financial services sites tend to be smaller than those in other sectors, such as travel and ecommerce. As there’s less to assess, it’s even more important that every page’s quality is as high as possible, and that it’s relevant for the user.

To achieve this, many brands will create new content that fulfils these needs to boost traffic. However, SEO is not a “set and forget” activity, so the improving of content is very much an iterative process. The ongoing assessment is just as important as new content creation, with the ideal strategy being one that balances expansion with recursive improvement.

The impact of E-A-T and YMYL on financial services

To help brands understand the framework being used to assess quality, Google now publishes its search quality guidelines.

Central to these guidelines, is the concept of E-A-T (expertise, authority and trust) which is used by Google’s search quality raters to evaluate the strength of a piece of content.

This is especially important for financial services brands, which are classed as being YMYL sites (Your Money or Your Life) – in other words, sites that help users make major life decisions and therefore warrant closer scrutiny.

At this point it’s worth noting that E-A-T is not a ranking factor in itself; The raters only test the quality of Google’s search results, they don’t rank them. However, the signals that are used for ranking closely align to what a human would describe as being high quality. In other words, applying the criteria when assessing the quality of your own content still holds real value.

Within financial services specifically, it’s important to think about who is producing your content. Wherever possible, content should be guided by or created in collaboration with subject matter experts. Taking this approach will vastly increase the probability that the content will provide additional value.

It’s also worth paying close attention to trust factors, such as reviews, awards, industry accreditations, all of which can be displayed to reinforce the legitimacy of the brand.

Financial Services Guide 2_Aviva image

If you’re struggling to be objective when assessing your own content, consider using feedback surveys and asking your users for their opinion.

Using the purchase funnel to steer your on page content priorities

As well as being high quality, good on page content also needs to be relevant for the user. The purchasing funnel can be a great too for understanding what types of user your content should be targeting and how you can adapt existing pages to meet specific intents. Using this tool, content can be split into two distinct buckets:

  1. Conversion-focused content
  2. Discovery-focused content
Financial Services Guide 2_Funnel image

Caption: The purchasing funnel can be split into two distinct buckets to help you create relevant content.

After using your SEO strategy to gain clarity on what on-page content needs to be optimised or produced, you can begin to plan and prioritise. Wherever possible, try to do this based upon a combination of impact and effort (the impact ideally being determined by potential leads or revenue).

If you’ve prioritised using real business KPIs, you’ll usually end up working “bottom-up”, beginning by focusing on transactional content, which will drive higher conversion rates, and later supplementing this with supporting informational content.

And when it comes to conversion-focused content, the most logical place to start is with your product pages.

Producing industry-leading product pages

Typically, product pages will follow a uniform layout, with a specific subset of modules available for use. Before optimising or creating individual conversion-focused pages, it’s worth analysing these templates and requesting any tweaks or enhancements that are likely to boost organic search performance.

Taking this approach is much more scalable when working with enterprise-level sites, where it’s commonplace to have an extensive product portfolio. Having a solid page structure from the get-go will make your content creation and optimisation activities far easier because you already have a strong foundation. Once you have a template that you’re happy with, you can begin working on your on-page content.

Start by analysing your own product pages, taking into consideration your keyword research and product knowledge from your SEO strategy. Ask yourself whether these pages contain all of the information users will need to move from the evaluation stage to conversion.

Next, look at some of the top competitors within your space. Are there any commonalities between the pages? Which product pages are most appealing to you as a user?

Some of the things we’d recommend looking at are:

  1. Page headings and subheadings
  2. Product information
  3. Price information and CTAs
  4. Customer service information
  5. FAQs
  6. Related content modules
  7. Trust factors (e.g. reviews)

Business insurance provider Superscript are a great example of a brand with an industry-leading product page template.

Their headers are well optimised, critical policy information and benefits are prominently displayed, and so are CTAs and trust factors, including reviews and existing customers. Commonly asked questions are also answered on-page within an FAQs module, and informational content is linked within a carousel.

FS-guide-2-product-page-template-5s_GIF

Caption: This hairdressing insurance page demonstrates Superscript’s industry-leading page template.

With a solid template in place and product pages that capture search demand for policies, roles and business types, Superscript has been steadily growing over the past year.

Financial Services Guide 2_Traffic trend graph image

As a relatively new entrant into a crowded space, this is a fantastic level of growth.

To put it into perspective, larger competitors have link profiles that are currently 6-10 times larger than Superscripts.

“As a younger brand in an ultra-competitive sector, we’ve worked hard on our product pages to ensure they’re best in class for both SEO and usability. Doing so perfectly aligns with our ambition to make insurance better by creating great products and a seamless customer experience.” – Kira O’Sullivan, SEO & Content Manager.

One small refinement we’d look to make here would be updating the related content carousel, to display content relevant to the specific page rather than the three latest blog posts. This would make it easier for users to discover related informational content and provide another signal that the pages are semantically related.

Creating discovery-focused content with purpose

The right content marketing strategy is empathetic to the needs of potential customers. It should not only prioritise conversion-focused content, but concentrate on driving highly targeted traffic into the awareness and consideration stages of the funnel as well – Just make sure the right pages are visible when the customer’s intent screams: “I’m ready to buy”.

Conversely, a bad strategy that relies too heavily on one or the other can actively harm a brand’s organic search performance by diluting relevancy and sending negative quality signals.

A good rule of thumb here is to think carefully about the type of information a user would actually want from your brand before committing to an idea.

As an example, a user looking for a credit card may be interested to understand how credit scores are calculated, how to improve their credit score or the different types of credit cards available. They probably don’t want to know what the 10 most expensive cars in the world are. If they did, they’d visit a site about cars.

A good way to ensure relevancy in your on-page content is to start by reviewing your search data to determine the types of questions users are asking as they make their way through the purchase funnel. Make sure you have content that caters to these needs first. Often, this means prioritising things such as buyers guides and how-to articles.

Tesco Bank has done this well by sticking to three core areas for their on-page content: life events, everyday money and product guides. This feels very targeted and aligns perfectly with their offering.

Financial Services Guide 2_Tesco image

If you’re struggling for ideas, try spending time with your customer service reps or sales teams. They’ll undoubtedly have a list of the most frequently asked questions because they deal with customers every day.

A query you may well have when going through this process is whether it’s ok to cover the same questions within the product page FAQ modules and a guide. In our experience, the answer to this is yes. While it’s important to avoid cannibalisation, you can use the FAQs module on product pages to provide succinct one/two sentence answers to related questions, and then expand upon these answers within your guides.

This is exactly what Simply Business has done with the question ‘what is professional indemnity insurance’:

• https://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/insurance/professional-indemnity/
• https://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/insurance/faq/what-is-professional-indemnity-insurance/

Catering to diverse preferences through different formats

When you’re creating content, don’t be afraid to experiment with different formats.

Some users will prefer video, for example, and it’s worth bearing in mind that YouTube is the second largest search engine and can be leveraged as another source of traffic. Short videos also tend to be more popular on social media and can make your content more accessible.

Often, a singular guide can be broken down into a series of short videos as part of a well thought out content distribution strategy.

PensionBee, for example, has a well optimised YouTube profile which features a host of short videos covering common pension questions, as well as videos featuring customers that have benefitted from its services.

Financial Services Guide 2_Pension Bee image

Navigating compliance

The final thing to bear in mind as you create and optimise your on-page content is internal dependencies.

As part of the content creation process, it’s important to construct an approach empathetic to the constraints of other teams within the business who may need to be involved.

Within financial services, it’s virtually inevitable that all content will have to be reviewed by a compliance team. Often, these teams are under resourced and being pulled in a lot of different directions. It can be difficult for someone within a marketing role to exert much influence over these timelines.

Instead, we’ve had more success by having conversations with compliance teams about what turn-around times they can commit to. This can then function as a rudimentary SLA and be accounted for within project timelines.

If this turnaround time is a month and you want a campaign to launch on a specific date, then the reality is that you need to have a finalised version of the content ready the month before.

Conclusion

On-page SEO is invaluable for creating high-quality content that drives relevant traffic.

Informed by a strategy that takes your market and consumers’ online behaviour into account, on-page SEO can greatly contribute to your organic growth.

By adhering to E-A-T principles to ensure quality and allowing the purchase funnel to inform your production and priorities to ensure relevancy, your content will add value for the user. Additionally, experimenting with format or page templates will only add more value and improve user experience, encouraging visitors to your website to move down the funnel.

Our next guide will explore Off-Page SEO as a companion to on-page efforts and will show you how you can continue to drive quality traffic from outside your own content.

If you’d like to talk to Builtvisible about any aspect of its work for financial services companies in the UK and internationally, get in touch via our contact form and we’ll get back to you for an exploratory discussion.

Further reading

If you’re looking for additional resources into on-page optimisation, I’d suggest the following:

 

Will Nye

Will is our Technical Director and leads one of the most revered organic search consulting teams.

With 10 years agency experience to his name, his passion lies in technical SEO. He's the driving force behind our dedicated team of consultants in this area, constantly looking out and ahead for our clients.

He believes that successful client-agency SEO relationships are only possible when technical excellence is paired with effective consulting, and strives tirelessly to foster an environment in which equal value in placed on mastering both disciplines.

When not at work, you can find Will hiking in the great outdoors, pottering in the garden, reading and watching the occasional game of rugby.


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