Google algorithms are constantly being adapted and improved to ensure that users find the best, most relevant, and most helpful answers to their queries.
2021 has been one of the busiest years on record for Google updates, with the global search engine rolling out a multitude of different changes, including…
A page experience update, designed to promote or penalize pages based on how users perceive the experience of interacting with them.
A spam algorithm update, rewarding qualified links while improving Google’s ability to identify and nullify spam comments and links across multiple languages.
An update targeting slanderous content and websites that make unverified claims about people or businesses to keep victims safe from harassment and defamation.
Google has also tightened up its policies around advertising financial products and services, to protect people from the rising threat of scams and other fraudulent activity.
And finally, Google rolled out two core updates in June and July.
While the Google team never reveals much around their core algorithmic updates, many analysts claim that the latest ones have been a continuation of recent efforts, likely designed to deepen the search engine’s understanding of user intent.
But will these updates demand a change in approach to SEO? And more importantly, how will they impact SEO for financial services?
What is the goal of these Google updates?
While we can only speculate on their wider strategic purpose, ultimately these updates all appear to be efforts to weed out content that is deceptive, harmful or of low value.
Essentially, SEO is going through a process of refinement. Trimming the fat to leave the absolute best content on the table.
How will they impact SEO for financial services?
When it comes to SEO for financial services organizations, these Google updates are particularly important.
And there are a number of reasons for this:
Increasing competition in the digital space
As competition builds in the financial markets, digital means of acquiring new business are eclipsing traditional methods, delivering repeatedly high ROI for less time and budget, and enabling businesses to generate leads from outside of their physical network.
With digital marketing efforts in the finance space still catching up with those of more media-driven sectors, there is ample opportunity for businesses to perfect their SEO practices and rise above the competition.
High topic complexity
The financial markets sector is complex. People in the financial space have questions around highly technical matters and these require detailed, nuanced answers from knowledgeable sources.
To create high-value content, financial services organizations will need to work even harder than those in other industries to publish online material that shows a deep understanding of both developments in their sector, and the needs of their customers.
Association with ‘YMYL’
The initials ‘YMYL’ stand for ‘Your Money or Your Life’.
Google uses this term to refer to websites that offer advice on sensitive topics such as public health, medicine and finance, where misleading information can have extremely harmful consequences.
Again, this means that SEO for financial services will have to meet higher standards in terms of producing content that gives advice to others, or recommends certain products or services.
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“So, what should I do next?”
In light of Google’s most recent updates, there are a few things financial markets businesses can do to optimize their content for search and remain competitive in the digital space.
Apply an answer-centric approach to content
Conduct the planning and production of your content with the mentality of a doctor looking to diagnose a patient, before providing an appropriate remedy.
News articles and press release content still have their place from time to time, but you should look to offer value wherever you can.
Think about what problems you can solve, or which questions your product or service provides the answer to.
Then, use your unique perspective, knowledge and experience to create content around these points, and position yourself as an authority on the subject.
Update and consolidate
Outdated SEO tactics involved creating high numbers of individual pages to target the same or very similar keywords.
This resulted in businesses producing reams of near duplicate content. Or producing padded out articles, that took 1,000 words to explain something that could easily be summarized in 100.
Now, as Google’s understanding of user intent grows stronger, your goal should be to have a smaller number of more detailed, high-value pages ranking for individual keywords.
Make a note of which web pages are performing best, or which you and your customers feel offer the most value, and look to make these ‘host’ pages.
Then, look for any neighbouring pages that feel ‘thin’ – that offer insight on a similar topic, or address the same topic in the same way, and add the best bits of these thinner pages to your ‘host’ page.
And, if there is anything you can add to your high-performing content based on recent developments in your space or changes in the market, add them in.
As far as SEO goes, updating high-performing content tends to be more fruitful than producing an entirely new piece.
Don’t forget backlinks
Backlinks still carry their weight in terms of enhancing your search credentials, but they are one of many contributing factors that are used to determine search ranking.
While you’re refreshing your content, it’s a good idea to check your hyperlinks, make sure none of them lead to pages that no longer exist, and where possible, replace them with links to better content.
Efforts spent developing and refining high-value content can be quickly undone by a poor website experience.
Make sure every section of your website is optimized for mobile, has a good blend of copy and engaging visual media, and check that none of your pages are bogged down by slow loading speeds.
SEO for financial services: what’s changed? Key Takeaways
The main thing to remember here is that producing quality content is key to performing well in those search rankings.
High-quality content is content that helps people, answers their queries effectively, and doesn’t lead them to a page on false pretenses.
There are several strands to this in relation to Google’s most recent algorithm changes, and one way to remember them is the acronym EAT: Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness.
If you can produce content that demonstrates these three components, people will trust your opinion on matters in finance, and they’ll come back to you for more when they next have a question.
Play by the rules and repeatedly create high-quality content (supported by a high-quality website experience), and watch as your name starts making its way up those search engine results pages.