Jan 22, 2019 5:01:44 PM
It’s no secret that SEO is tricky for websites in the financial industry. I’ve worked with some of the most well-known financial brands and it’s still difficult for them. But before you jump ship to pursue SEO in another industry, let me fill you in on a secret.
Marketers need to focus on premium quality content that adds value to the audience -- so much so that Google employs an international group of content evaluators to ensure that its search engine is ranking the best of the best. These content-quality raters spot-check rankings for highly valuable keywords to ensure the algorithm is doing its job. Google's highly trained evaluators follow a set of guidelines and act as gatekeepers to high rankings.
What are these search quality rating guidelines?
Designed as a road map of sorts, the search quality rating guidelines were established to help raters rank the quality of pages that surface on a results page. For example, a search for best retirement investments should reveal the most helpful content related to this search phrase.
Evaluators simultaneously rank pages based on Google's guidelines and determine how well Google's algorithm is automatically filtering out low-quality content. Google listed the most important factors considered when evaluating a page to include page purpose, main content quality and amount of content. The most important quality ranking factor is EAT -- or expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. To evaluate these factors, raters must determine the following:
- Who wrote the main content and what are their qualifications?
- How trustworthy is the author and the site they represent?
- How frequently is this information updated and maintained?
- Is the author or site an authority on the topic being discussed?
It's important to note that raters pay extra attention to financial pages. Are they trying to be unfair? No, they're adhering to Google's commitment to do no harm. Google considers financial pages a YMYL page. Your Money Your Life, or YMYL, pages are those that contain content likely to influence someone's quality of life. YMYL pages include news, online shopping, banking, medical, legal and financial websites. So, if you're responsible for SEO or content marketing at a financial firm, understand that Google's directive to raters is to evaluate your content using a fine-toothed comb.
Between YMYL pages and page quality guidelines, there is a lot of information to digest. Use these actionable tips to improve the quality of your page content and encourage evaluators to rank your page highly.
1. Have a clear purpose and deliver.
When creating content, focus on answering one question very well instead of 10 questions poorly. If the URL of your page includes the term "Best Stock Options 2018," deliver the answer to that query and don't leave your readers guessing. Jump into your readers' shoes and touch on concerns or questions they might have when reading your page. Conduct marketing research to understand your readers’ position and their pain points.
2. Cite trustworthy information.
Google doesn't require that your company is the end-all source for everything financial, but they do want to know that you're using trustworthy information to build and support your claims. Is the stock market headed for a crash? What trustworthy sources are you using to make this argument? Where can your reader go to read this information for themselves? Be relentless when finding quality sources, then be transparent about what your sources are.
3. Give readers an out.
Financial information can be complex, and making financial decisions is highly personal. Most people won't act without first discussing their options with someone. Who can your reader reach out to in your company after reading the page? How quickly will their questions get answered? Is there someone they can speak with now about their concerns? Give your readers an out by clearly displaying contact information and make sure you are adhering to General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines with the transmission of their information.
4. Choose authoritative authors.
If you're creating content about business investments, is your content being attributed to your company's staff writer (who may or may not know what they're talking about)? Or, is it backed by the expertise of your firm's chief financial officer? Marketers in any industry often make the mistake of setting up dummy "author" profiles on their sites without putting much thought into it. Instead, partner with your internal resources and use authorship as a way to promote your brand's expertise in the financial space.
5. Be responsive to readers.
Depending on your marketing budget, you may not have the staff resources to respond to each and every comment received on your page (not to mention social media channels). But a failure to acknowledge legitimate questions altogether sends the wrong signal to your reader and to Google's page evaluators. When building your content marketing plan, allot time daily, weekly and monthly to review and respond to reader questions on your page if comments are enabled. This speaks to your firm's dedication to customer service, which is one of the ranking factors raters will review.
6. Check your reputation.
Online sentiment about your content and brand is a reflection of your reputation as a trustworthy and authoritative source. Marketers need to be vigilant in monitoring a brand's online reputation. This includes remediation of negative reviews on the web, social media and agencies, such as the Better Business Bureau. You can't prevent people from speaking their mind online, but you can control if, when and how your brand responds. Make an effort to turn negative reviews into positive brand experiences.
7. Put your reader first.
Knowing Google's guidelines for content quality is a helpful starting point. But, pleasing Google shouldn't be your main focus. Instead, put your reader first. Answer their questions, ease their fears and create content that helps them make better financial decisions. If you put your reader's interests first, Google will notice and rank your page accordingly.
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