Banking and finance companies are facing more competitive forces than ever as they vie for market share in the digital landscape—where now, web visibility is shaping their business. Sites with investments in infrastructure and online experience are seeing big wins, gaining market share that was once considered impossible. In this fourth podcast of our April Searchmetrics Content Ranking Factors series, renowned SEO strategist Jordan Koene and Ben Shapiro of Searchmetrics examine this new territory, analyzing who is winning and losing, and why.
- How are mobile experience, speed, and usability transforming the financial sector?
- What is the mix of key players and how is their content propelling their business?
- Why is having HTTPS enabled for the informational based players like Nerd Wallet, Credit Karma, and Fool.com critical for Google rankings?
- When is short form content most effective?
- How are Chase and Schwab using long form content?
- Why is protecting the privacy of users impacting rankings?
- Does rich imagery and video boost rankings?
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- LinkedIn Jordan Koene
- Benjamin Shapiro: Bio // Podcast Network // Twitter // LinkedIn
Ben: Welcome to industry ranking factors week on The Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host, Benjamin Shapiro and this week we’re going to publish an episode every day covering what you need to know about the ranking factors impacting search visibility in your industry. Joining us for industry ranking factors week is Jordan Koene who is a world renowned SEO strategist and the CEO of Searchmetrics Inc. And today we’re going to continue our industry ranking factors discussion by talking about the ranking factors impacting visibility in the finance and banking industry.
Ben: But before we get started, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. We are an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale business monitor their online presence and make data driven decisions. And as part of ranking factors week we would like to welcome you, our loyal podcast audience to our upcoming webinar where we’ll discuss the evolution of custom ranking factors with machine learning on April 25th. Join our discussion about how a new generation of machine learning driven technology is evolving to provide on-demand and demand specific ranking factors that are shaping the future of SEO.
Ben: To register for our custom ranking factors webinar, go to Searchmetrics.com.webinar. Okay, here’s the third installment of industry ranking factors week with Jordan Koene, Searchmetrics’s CEO and lead SEO strategist. Jordan, happy Wednesday and welcome back to industry ranking factors week on The Voices of Search podcast.
Jordan: Hey Ben, excited to talk about our finance ranking factors. Can’t make any promises that people are going to get rich off of our suggestions here.
Ben: We’re going to spend at least 15 minutes putting our mind on to our money and our money on to our mind. Bad rap lyrics aside, let’s get into it.
Ben: Well, all right, so not to make a mockery of the banking and finance industry and clearly, I have very little knowledge of recent hip hop, but let’s talk about high level what is working in the banking and finance industry before we get into the actual ranking factors. Give me your high level things that you’re seeing in this industry first.
Jordan: Yeah, Ben. So, the big story here for the finance category is that the overall industry is transitioning and moving towards an environment where competitive factors are starting to play a major role. Sites who’ve made major investments in their infrastructure and experience are starting to see some big wins and they’re now even able to take market share into sections or categories or topics, more importantly, that they may not have been able to do in the past.
Jordan: So, notably, banks who’ve expanded into having content that is information in nature, I’m already starting to see strong performance KPIs in terms of traffic. And then we’re also, we’re also seeing that in the finance category the publishers or the media sites who are making strong technical improvements to their experience are starting to see favoritism in terms of rankings and expanding their ability to be more present in this finance category.
Ben: That’s interesting. So, we’re seeing a little bit of a different competitive balance where the banks are starting to take on content as a marketing channel. I also got the sense that there’s probably a shift in the user experience where I think the traditional type of content in the finance industry is going to be long form, like, investing strategy type things. But I’m, I’m now thinking, okay, maybe it’s shorter form content that’s more real-time, like, tweets about what’s happening with individual stocks. How are you thinking about the content and the mix of the players?
Jordan: Yeah, that’s a great question. So, what we see from a content standpoint is that in this particular category, and this should be no surprise, newsworthy information as well as the short-form aspects still is a heavy, heavy, role in your ability to be successful. So, having relevant news and information on your site because of the nature of this industry, so for example, if you are a publicly traded company, having your stock ticker on your stock profile page matters. And if you want to try to outrank, say, a Bloomberg or a Motley Fool who also has your stock page, you’re going to need that kind of instantaneous direct answer piece of information on your profile page. And so there’s some unique scenarios in this category that do require very specific short form content, but as these improvements and expansion and experience, particularly mobile experience, start to improve in the finance category, long form content is starting to play a major role in creating that kind of holistic rank for more key words type of pages.
Ben: So it sounds like there’s an increasing need for a mix of content between real time and long form. And as you mentioned before, it’s not just the stock traders and the investment community, but also the banks are starting to get into content plays as well. Let’s dive into a little bit more detail about the actual ranking factors. And I’m assuming that the user experience moving more on-demand in banking is going to play a factor here. Talk to me about what the ranking factors that people in the finance and banking community need to pay close attention to.
Jordan: Yeah, so there’s a couple of key topics here. There’s really two trends that are really critical for folks to know. The first one is no shock, and that’s HTTPS, right? Having HTTPS enabled is really critical and what we see here is that many of the, say, secure institutions have adopted HTTPS for obvious security reasons to not only secure their own content and experiences but also ensure that the users that are accessing those are not becoming vulnerable to threat. But those are like banks, financial institutions, those guys, no-brainer, that’s taking place. They’ve already transitioned years ago.
Jordan: But now what we’re seeing is more of the informational based players start to make a move here. And that in, that in particular are publishers of content, websites like Fool.com, and even the traditional banks and institutions, people like Chase and Schwab and others are publishing a lot of great long form and useful content and as their mobile experiences start to improve both from a speed and usability perspective, what we’re starting to see is those websites gain more traction and more visibility.
Ben: It sounds like what’s happening here is Google is realizing that the people that are going to be consuming financial and banking content are highly sought-after targets for, bad users, right? For the malware and spyware users, anymore that’s going to try to, grab your password, they’re going to target somebody who’s making large, important financial trades. So the security is really one of the biggest ranking factors in this industry.
Jordan: Correct. Security is one of the most important factors, if not the most important factor in this particular category. So much so that even websites that you wouldn’t even traditionally think as category players like Nerd Wallet or Credit Karma have even moved over to HTTPS.
Ben: Okay, so, protecting the privacy of your users, whether you are a bank or whether you’re just producing content related to finance and banking, critically important. You, you mentioned something about mobile and one of the things that I noticed just from my own behaviors is that as mobile technology improves, more of the banking transactions and more of the investment activities are happening on the go. Right? I use more mobile app all of the time to either make stock trades or, do my research, do my mobile banking. Talk to me about how mobile is impacting banking and finance and is that an important ranking factor for this industry?
Jordan: Yeah, and if you look at experience as a whole, there are a lot of interesting players that had kind controlled the space earlier in the finance category, sites like Nerd Wallet and Credit Karma that I mentioned earlier, they just simple had a much better, richer experience than the traditional banks or financial news and media publishers. And so, they kind of had a corner of the market. Now, that’s happened is that a lot of these experiences and improvements, especially around speed and usability and mobile have become more adopted and more accessed by these traditional players and as that happens they start to take market share away from some of these new innovations inside the finance category.
Jordan: This particular topic really matters, especially as you try to make waves in growing into search. Another really interesting brand that we’ve notices has created both unique content but also great experiences in a mobile way is Robinhood. So you mentioned investing, and this is a site that has gone literally from no visibility, no presence in Google, to a significant amount and it’s a combination of them publishing new content, having a great mobile experience, and really being able to dominate in that space because, even in finance, it is becoming heavily dominated by mobile use.
Ben: So I understand why security is important as a ranking factor in the industry and obviously there’s a shift toward mobile use and even with the most important activities in banking and in finance, you mentioned that Robinhood, as an example, is developing more content. Talk to me about those content strategies. What are they doing that’s so unique and is there an industry-wide change that people should take note of.
Jordan: Absolutely, so there’s this is a really interesting industry because there’s no surprises in terms of what it is that’s working, and a lot of these topics have been discussed. But how you implement and execute them really vary and content is exactly a differentiator. So obviously news related content plays a big role in this category. Also what we see a lot in terms of the content experience from the data that we look at in the SERPs is direct answers. And direct answers plays a huge role in the finance category as well. And in particular, what I think is really, unique about direct answers is about how this gets implemented on the website.
Jordan: So I’ll give you a great example. When you look up a publicly traded company’s stock ticker or a stock symbol, the reality is that you can often get a very distorted set of results, everything from a media publisher, like a Fool.com that has a company profile page, to a Bloomberg or a Yahoo, a source as well as you could get the actual company’s profile page. Companies that include the stock ticker and the stock price on their actual company profile page often rank better than ones that don’t, but that makes a ton of sense because if the stock price, keyword query is very much a direct answer type experience and you’re not showcasing that content on your page, the likelihood of Google finding that page as valuable as the others that do include the stock price is very unlikely.
Jordan: And so that’s kind of the unique, scenario there.
Ben: What I’m guessing is that there are SEOs listening to this going to their CEOs saying, “Hey, if we want to rank, better for some really important key word terms we need put the stock ticker price on our corporate bios.” And the CEO is going to say, “The stock is in the tank. We’re not doing that or we’re all going to get fired.”
Jordan: (laughs) Exactly. Exactly. No, no surprise.
Ben: Are there any other formats of content that stick out to you? Any other optimizations that people in the banking and finance industry can make?
Jordan: One of the things that I find really interesting and I’ve spoken with some of our financial related customers, is the use of images and videos in this particular category. And there’s a lot of emphasis to invest in these asset types, simply because, again, I think it’s new and innovative for some of these companies to do so, but the reality is that there isn’t a strong set of indication that this is going to help you become more visible in the SERPs, both from a rank higher perspective as well as a, I, Google, create these experiences by integrating some sort of image or video experience on the SERP.
Jordan: And so, the reality here is that that’s one of the things that I actually try to recommend people to try to avoid. They’re very cost intensive and time intensive but they also, in this particular category, don’t generate tons of value in your ability to create higher rankings.
Ben: I think at the end of the day, people that are looking for financial information, that are looking for information about their bank, they’re not trying to be entertained, right? This is transactional so it makes sense that the video and the imagery is light and things are very matter of fact answer based and text based. I guess the last question I have for you about content, it seems like there is an incredible amount of regulation in banking and finance, just to make sure that everybody stays on the up and up, how do you make sure that the content that you’re producing is something that is not going to get you in trouble if you start going down a content strategy in banking and finance.
Jordan: That’s a really tough question and one of the things that I think especially the more traditional players in the space with is the ability to have creativity in their strategic and planning processes around content. And there’s a very clear reason why in the online space brands such as Credit Karma, Nerd Wallet and others have been able to really break through. Their ability to bend the creative spectrum in a very conservative and traditional industry, which is finance, has allowed them to generate lots of traffic and awareness to their brands. And so how you go about that is largely dictated based on your company culture and identity. I think that the reassuring piece for … and especially the listeners who are in this category is that a lot is changing, especially in traditional brands, and I think that by being persistent and continuing to try to adhere to your company’s values while introducing new ideas, you’ll find new ways to implement new content strategies that help you create that awareness.
Ben: Okay, so just to recap, the biggest ranking factors in the banking and finance industry, first and foremost, security. Even for your non-transactional pages for your content pages, it’s important to make the transition to HTTPS. I think the second is as the banking and finance industry becomes more mobile, more focused on on-demand, having a mobile experience that meets the needs of your customers is also going to impact your search results. And in terms of content, the industry is changing where you can infuse more creativity into the types of content that you’re creating. But Jordan’s suggestion is you don’t have to invest heavily in rich imagery, you don’t have to invest in video because by nature the finance and banking industry content is going to be pretty much transactional and not about entertainment.
Ben: Jordan, any last words about the banking and finance industry and their ranking factors?
Jordan: No additional last words, just maybe some encouragement. go out there and push those boundaries. I think there’s so much space to be creative in this particular industry and for all of us to, to learn some new tricks.
Ben: Okay. That wraps up this episode of The Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Jordan Koene, Searchmetrics’s CEO and lead SEO strategist. We’d love to continue this conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Jordan you can find the link to his bio in our show notes or you can send him a tweet where his handle is JTKoene. If you have general marketing questions or if you want to talk about this podcast you can find my contact information in our show notes or you can send me a tweet at BenJShap.
Ben: If you’re interested in attending our custom ranking factors webinar on April 25th, head over to Searchmetrics.com.webinar. And if you like this podcast and you want to regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning to discuss the ranking factors that impact visibility in the travel industry. Lastly, if you’ve enjoyed this podcast and you’re feeling generous, we’d love for you to leave us a review in the Apple iTunes store or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Ben: Okay. That’s it for today. But until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.