Getting Google to notice your business
There is a struggle for share of voice on Google that can make it difficult to get your business positively positioned in the search rankings. But there are things you can do to prove to Google your site is SERP worthy, says Jonathan Moore, SEO group head, equimedia
The Search Engine Results Page (SERP) can be a daunting place for investment and financial advice firms, and indeed financial services companies in general, hoping to gain visibility and sales from generic search terms.
Unless you have the luxury of working for a major brand or an aggregator, achieving natural search rankings that drive business can seem an unattainable dream.
However, scratch the surface and it is possible for even the smallest business to make headway with the right tactics.
To explore this, equimedia completed a project over a nine-month period comparing the top 3,000 SEO keywords in financial services. We wanted to see how the changes Google had brought in over that time, such as the mobile first strategy and tightened security around https:// sites, had impacted the top ranking brands across the sector.
Over the course of our project, Google released a number of updates with the aim of improving the results delivered to the consumer organically.
If that wasn’t enough of a challenge, Google’s Penguin update in September 2016 was designed to weed out sites ranking well due to legacy SEO techniques, such as low quality links, hurting brands who had not cleaned up their links and improved their SEO strategies.
We found that this particularly affected insurance brands, which saw a large reduction in visibility across the research period. However, these changes have created a lot of opportunities in organic SEO, which are there for the taking.
As we began this project, we saw that for these financial search phrases, the organic page one results were dominated by aggregators and consumer advice sites overall, which is the main issue for the financial services sector on Google.
However, in terms of businesses and pages returned against investment and financial advice-themed keyword searches, this specific market is much less dominated by large aggregator sites.
This means there is far more opportunity for smart companies to not only rank, but rank well on the first page of Google. This matters because the first five results on page one account for 67.60% of all clicks, meaning brands that don’t have a joined up SEO and paid search strategy will really struggle to rank.
Without prominent paid for ads or natural search results appearing for competitive search terms, or a brand connection to a product, the chances of someone clicking on an unknown brand’s results on page two or beyond is less than 6% of clicks.
While it is evident that the challenges of ranking on page one still remain, our research showed that there definitely are opportunities for firms looking to improve their position.
Putting this all into context for the financial services sector, specifically for investment and advice firms, we can use which.co.uk as an example. At the beginning of our project ‘which’ ranked at number 15 on the results page, but by the end had disappeared from the top rankings.
This could be due to a mixture of both secure and non-secure resources and the presence of multiple pages targeting the same search query but this type of problem underlines the importance of technical SEO and keyword targeting.
What can you do?
So how can businesses dip their toes in the Google waters? Simply put, learn from others.
Larger aggregator and consumer advice sites with dedicated SEO strategies have adapted well to the changes because these kinds of sites are huge and constantly growing, creating and hosting content applicable to every stage of the customer journey thus making themselves more relevant to users.
Emulating this type of strategy in a cost effective and scalable way, combined with the removal of duplicate pages and old links, can help to pull your brand up the rankings very effectively.
Try going back to basics, creating a new, clean site with all poor links removed to prove to Google your site is SERP worthy. It is crucial to get the technical SEO basics right from the start, for example, using semantic URLs that Google can understand.
It is also important to plan and manage a site migration to https:// effectively as this standard of security is now favoured by Google, with penalties for those who do not migrate – the fate of one brand in several markets in fact.
Exploiting niche terms related to your services can yield quick wins through the development of content rich landing pages to attract repeat visits.
Whilst paid search ads can be a valuable way of attracting customers, and a good testing ground for new content ideas, you should not need to dedicate a large chunk of your budget to paid activity.
Recent updates have created a way for brands who create good quality, valuable content to thrive. Delivering real value in this way can yield better natural search results in competitive markets and help deliver sales cost effectively.
It is never too late to invest in SEO. The market is highly competitive, but a content strategy focussed on achieving high ranking positions for key business terms can deliver returns still.
To read the full whitepaper ‘Has Google breathed new life into financial services SEO?’ click here: http://eqi.md/2lX9vAF
Visit the equimedia website