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How relevant is SEO for the financial industry? Should banks and insurance companies optimize their website for search engines? Or are there other criteria to consider?

The ti&m Banking Trend Study

In one of our ti&m Trend Studies, user groups were asked which touchpoints they preferred to use with banks. In other words, it looked at whether customers prefer to make contact in-person at a branch or to interact online.

The results were no big surprise: preferences depend on the customer’s individual needs. And this is only natural: the less complex your requirement, the more likely you are to choose the quick solution – the digital one. Across all banking transactions, around 20% of customers prefer digital touchpoints, even for complex transactions. Roughly 25% of customers would rather go to a branch for advice on complex transactions. Over 40% of customers are indifferent. That means they choose the touchpoint that suits them best in that particular situation. For these customers, getting the quickest answer to their questions is their top priority.

Why does the financial sector need SEO at all?

Personal contact and brick-and-mortar branches are still highly relevant in insurance and banking. But banks and insurance companies shouldn’t neglect online visibility because of this.

Even with offline touchpoints, the question still remains: Do these customers simply go to the nearest bank? Or do potential customers use a search engine first before seeking advice on pensions or investments?

SEO is crucial for financial services providers

Our trend study shows that banks should not rely exclusively on physical proximity to their customers to attract new business. Our research confirms that there is a growing group of customers who manage their banking transactions online.

Without any doubt, it is crucial for banks and insurance companies to invest in digital services. Financial services providers should consider how to improve their customers’ digital experience. But there is a key point to remember: the most modern apps and best technological solutions can deliver the expected benefits only if customers can find them. And in today’s digital world, that means appearing at the top of the search results.

SEO is the key to visibility on the Internet

Your customers should see you at every crucial moment – for example, when they have a concern that you want to solve as their first point of contact. This could be when they google, when they need advice, and when they want to handle their banking transactions online.

So it’s vital that you are visible when customers enter their concerns in a Google search. Below, we explain how you as a bank or insurance company can optimize your SEO to guarantee optimal visibility.

Analyze your target group’s needs before starting any SEO

Before you start working on your SEO, there is a crucial step: conducting a needs analysis for your target group. If your SEO makes your website visible to people who are not part of your potential customer base, your marketing efforts will be wasted. In other words, optimize your website for keywords that will help you attract your potential customer group.

So don’t just analyze the demographic data on your target group. Instead, ask targeted questions about their needs in relation to a specific issue. Let’s take Pillar 3a as an example. This is a type of private pension plan in Switzerland. But your target group probably isn’t looking just for the term “Pillar 3a.” What are your customers’ needs in relation to this issue?

Maybe they’re worried that their employer is not paying enough into their pension plan. Perhaps they are looking for answers to this online. Analyze these needs before starting your search engine optimization.

Next step: keyword research

Now you know what your customers need. But do you also know what your customers search for in Google (or other search engines) when they have a specific need or question? As you may have noticed, needs and questions do not always translate easily into a search query.

Keyword research is therefore your next step. In the keyword planner in Google Ads, Answer the Public, or other suitable tools, you can see how needs or questions are turned into search terms.

In the Pillar 3a example, customers could be guided to your service if they ask Google how they can save on tax or improve their pension.

Suitable keywords might be: “reduce tax” or “calculate pension gap.”

How visible is your bank or insurance company currently on Google?

The next step is to analyze your current visibility with the relevant keywords. In other words, it’s time to analyze how well you are currently performing. Do you rank in the top three search results for your most important keywords? Or do users have to click through a few pages to find you? To find out, simply enter your search terms in Google.

Tip: Check your visibility in Incognito mode. If you don’t, Google will present you with preferred or frequently visited pages in the top results. Some webmasters celebrate too soon when they see their website at the top of their search results.

Analyze the SEO performance of your competitors in the financial sector

So, you’ve done your keyword research and your first SEO audit. Now you should check to see how visible your competitors are in search engines. You might discover that your competitors are highly visible for keywords that you consider relevant. In this case, you’ll need to ask yourself how you can overtake the competition. The key factors here are how well your website performs in terms of trust factor, content quality and quantity, internal and external links, and other criteria.

You might decide that trying to beat the competition is too much effort, at least in the short term. In this case, using niche keywords could be a good alternative for you. These keywords are usually longer or highly specific search terms that relate to a very particular industry or sector. People search for them less often, but they can make your website more visible.

For example: “How much is the minimum AHV pension?”

Optimizing your financial topics

The last and crucial step is to optimize your website based on your analyses and findings. Here, make sure that each page of your website has a specific keyword associated with it.

SEO is an ongoing project. So don’t expect too much from your first optimization. You should see SEO is a long-term, but very sustainable investment.

If you would like more advice on SEO for the financial industry, feel free to contact our team of experts.