Searchmetrics has recently released a study of the main SEO ranking factors in the financial sector. The study compares the Google ranking factors of websites of the financial industry with all other industries. The study is based on industry-specific keywords as well as generic keywords, which are used across all industries.
For SEO experts, ranking factors are highly important to achieve good ranking positions in search engines. Furthermore, they provide insights into future innovations and trends in the SEO scene.
If you are part of the financial sector, you should continue reading. Because this blog post will introduce you to the most important SEO ranking factors and give recommendations on how you can improve your website’s SEO ranking.
The Financial Sector
The financial sector includes all companies that are offering financial products or are providing financial services. The best-known and most important market players are banks, credit institutions, and insurance companies. Digital transformation also impacts the financial sector and forces companies to change their thinking. To keep up with the advances in digital technology, an increasing number of financial firms are improving their digital services. This includes mobile applications for online payment and online banking.
To ensure that your target group finds your website, you need to be aware of the ranking factors of search engines.
What is a Ranking Factor?
Finding a universal definition of a ranking factor is difficult. It is a well-kept secret how Google defines a ranking factor. Generally speaking, ranking factors are criteria used by search engines to evaluate websites by topic and relevance. It is important to note that ranking factors can differ from industry to industry.
The Most Important Ranking Factors for the Financial Sector
In the following section, we are presenting the most important ranking factors for the financial sector and are giving recommendations on how to improve your ranking position.
- Content is gaining importance
The data shows that relevant content is more important for websites in the finance sector compared to other industries. Thus, the websites ranked in the top ten search results achieve a high content score. The content score is a metric from Searchmetrics that describes the competitiveness of website content. It is calculated based on various factors, including keyword frequency as well as text length and structure. So how can you improve your website content? Since it is no longer a secret that Google RankBrain is gaining impact on search results, it is self-explanatory that the days of keyword stuffing (overloading website content with a specific keyword to improve the ranking position) are long gone. You should publish content that is highly relevant to your target group (such as whitepapers).
- File size
The HTML file size and the included pictures have a big impact on the website’s page speed. In other words: The bigger the file size, the higher the loading time. The file sizes of top 10 pages in the finance industry are around 30% lower than the average benchmark. One explanation for that is that websites from the finance sector are mostly based on informational content and do not use lots of images and videos. To keep your file size as small as possible, images should be compressed and the website code should be minified by avoiding unnecessary spaces and comments in the code.
- Page Speed
Websites of the finance industry load one second faster than the overall average. As mentioned in paragraph two, the file size has a huge impact on the load time. There are also other factors that have an influence on the load time, like the response time of the server. You can test your page speed with the Google Page Speed Tool.
Metadata supports the indexing process of search engines. The most important metadata for search engines and therewith important ranking factors are: title tags, meta descriptions, and H1-headlines. The study reveals that finance websites have better-maintained metadata than the benchmark. To achieve better results for your website, your metadata should meet SEO best practice guidelines.
- Use of keywords
On finance websites, keywords are used three times less frequently in the body text compared to the benchmark. The keyword typically appears 2.1 times in the body copy of the best-ranking finance websites, whereas the benchmark average is 7.4 times. Even though the days of keyword stuffing are over, it is still important that a keyword is used 2-3 times in the body copy and the metadata also contains the keyword.
- Unordered Lists
Unordered lists are also known as bullet points. They are formatting elements that are used to provide a better structure. The finance sector uses more unordered lists than the overall average. Therefore, long and unstructured copy should be avoided to achieve better ranking positions. Bullet points are a good way to structure the text.
- Number of images
As mentioned in paragraph two, websites of the finance sector use less images than the overall average. The study found that users searching for finance keywords are focusing on informational texts rather than images. Therefore, images on finance website should just be used if they add value to the content. The main focus should be set on relevant and meaningful text.
- Internal links
Internal links are links within a website. Often, internal links get underestimated as a ranking factor. This also applies to the finance industry, where the average number of internal links is 20% lower than the benchmark. But make sure that your link structure is user-friendly. Internal links are only useful when they are adding value to the usability.
- URL length
The URLs of the finance industry are 14% longer than the overall average. We recommend not to worry about URL length too much. You should rather make sure that your URLs are well structured, reflect the structure of the website and include keywords.
- Social Signals
In comparison to the benchmark, financial websites show 20% less social signals (shares and likes) from Facebook. On the other hand, there are more social signals from LinkedIn for financial websites. This indicates that the target group is much more active on LinkedIn than on Facebook. Thus, you should focus on LinkedIn to increase your SEO ranking positions.
To sum up, content is one of the most important ranking factors in the financial sector, even though the keyword density is below average.
This confirms once again that search engines are focusing more and more on content quality and value for users. In addition to relevant content, technical factors like page speed, correct implementation of all relevant metadata and a user-friendly structure are helping you to gain good SEO ranking results.
If you have any questions about SEO for the financial sector, please send me an email.