With the health crisis that led to the closure of physical branches, banks felt the need to accelerate the digital transition, Suppose the commercial online banking offer has considerably diversified and strengthened.
In that case, it is clear that the neo-banks have been able to exploit the power of natural referencing from the start, which has given them a considerable lead in terms of web visibility. .
Even if their offers are reduced compared to those of traditional banks and they target a more niche audience, there is a lot to learn from their SEO strategy.
Today, banks must be visible online. This is where search engine optimization work comes in.
But why are banks so little visible on Google at a time when their customers are going all-digital? How to exploit the different SEO levers in this highly competitive and highly regulated sector?
Through this article, we hope to help you better understand how SEO works for banks and what are the best techniques to improve your visibility on Google.
The particularities of SEO for banks
It is not so easy for American banks to work on their referencing, here is why.
Binding regulations for banks
In American, banks are subject to strict regulation by the Prudential Control and Resolution Authority (ACPR). This regulatory authority imposes particular rules on the online activities of banks, which can make it challenging to implement an SEO strategy.
The primary constraints are:
- Banking secrecy which considerably limits the amount of information that can be made public by banks,
- The obligation to be extremely precise and transparent in the use of language,
- The commitment to comply with the GDPR.
Well aware of the particular challenges of the banking sector, Google also asks in this context to produce YMYL content under penalty of sanctions.
To be well referenced naturally, a bank must, therefore:
- To be able to offer them the information they are looking for,
- Avoid outrageous advertising and incitement to banking risk (for the credit offer, in particular),
- Follow Google’s guidelines precisely.
The search engine will quickly penalize the pages that do not respect its rules of use!
Discourse control: a critical need for proofreading
Legally responsible for the comments they make, the banks risk hefty penalties if their speech is imprecise. Therefore, this constraint must be considered in producing web content, particularly in choosing your keywords.
For example, a bank that offers personal loans will not be able to use the word “loan” alone. Instead, it must use the expression “personal loan” or “personal credit” in its internal contents.
The same applies to technical terms: a banking glossary must be written by experts and approved by a legal department before being published on the site. This step is essential to ensure compliance with the rules set by the ACPR, a requirement that is found in Google’s YMYL.
Proofreading service available at learnb2bmarketing
Control the internal and the publicity, all right. But it gets complicated when you start delegating content writing to the outside, significantly articles for netlinking strategies.
In this case, it is essential to use a proofreading service to check the comments made before publication. This verification avoids unpleasant surprises when an external contributor speaks.
learnb2bmarketing offers a high quality proofreading service, intended to check each piece of content before its publication: syntax, errors, formatting, fact-checking, and above all, compliance. In addition, we work with internal French proofreaders and are aware of legal issues specific to banks.
With us, you can be sure that the content produced for your netlinking campaigns or your blog will comply with Google’s YMYL guidelines and ACPR rules of use.
Confidently delegate your content production to learnb2bmarketing and focus on your business!
A very competitive sector
The banking sector is one of the most competitive on the internet, along with insurance.
This is all the more true since, in addition to the many traditional banks, there are the major banking groups’ digital subsidiaries and the neo-banks, which are very active on digital channels.
In addition, the insurance industry has a related target that can encroach on banks.
Banks are players who often have large resources at their disposal, but they still need to be exploited: this is only sometimes the case in SEO.
More is required to pay more than advertising to be better seen! Injecting large resources is only sometimes synonymous with success.
General reminders on SEO
SEO (search engine optimization) is a discipline of digital marketing that improves the visibility of its web pages in the results pages (SERP). Bank SEO, therefore, refers to SEO optimization for banks specifically.
Why focus on Google?
With nearly 93% market share, Google is France’s most popular search engine. For a bank, being invisible on Google means losing customers.
You should know that Internet users consult only the first ten results of Google: from position 11 (therefore from page 2 of a SERP), the click-through rate (CTR) collapses to less than 0 .1%.
Among these ten results, the top 5 display a heterogeneous CTR, with a full 3, which concentrates nearly 75% of the clicks on its own!
For these reasons, the primary purpose of SEO is to improve the visibility of a website on Google before other search engines.
Difference between SEO and SEA
SEO for banks is a long-term strategy. SEO consists of improving your ranking in Google’s organic results (“natural” or “unpaid” results) indirectly (on site and off site).
The objective is to see its business pages naturally position themselves in the top 3 of the search engine, on relevant keywords.
SEA (Search Engine Advertising) is a paid traffic acquisition strategy that consists of buying advertising space in Google’s search results pages.
The objective is to position itself above the organic results, thanks to sponsored links (the “paid” or “sponsored” effects).
If an excellent natural referencing strategy is essential for any website that wishes to gain visibility on Google, it should be noted that in the banking sector, paid referencing is also very important.
The intense competition and the vast surface of action impose indeed to make choices: one cannot work all, The two SEO and SEA strategies will therefore work in complementarity.
State of play of the natural referencing of American banks
American banks are trying to accelerate their digital transition, as the number of customers visiting physical branches has been falling since 2015 ( source ).
However, due to the recent health crisis, we note an apparent acceleration of this decline, which is currently continuing despite the easing of distancing measures.
Therefore, it is more than urgent for banks that still need to take the plunge to work on their referencing on search engines!
The main target of traditional banks is made up of loyal customers who mainly go to physical branches.
To acquire new customers, these banks have long relied on the fact that, statistically, their customers brought their children and family to use their bank’s services. They, therefore, had no interest in favoring a digital strategy.
The problem is that this trend is no longer relevant since a study published by BVA in March 2018 showed that only 13% of people under 35 said they used the same bank as their parents.
Adapt the offer to the digitalization of services
This lack of interest in parents banking is largely due to high fees, the complexity of the offers, and the new needs of young people and working people accustomed to using and favoring online services.
This an opportunity that the new players in the banking sector have succeeded in exploiting! 100% online banks offer their customers the same services as traditional banks but with an all-digital experience and lower fees.
The objective is to make life easier for users for all online administrative procedures (opening an account, customer service, etc.).
Faced with this breakthrough, traditional banks had to adapt their offers to these new markets without neglecting the conventional request (still popular).
Online services and online banking
Traditional banks, faced with the need to retain their current clientele while adapting to the new one, have adopted various strategies.
Some offer online administrative services (account management, appointment booking, etc.), while others have chosen to launch a 100% online service under another name.
This allowed them to detach the traditional physical branch from the remote branch. In this way, they could offer online offers at prices more in line with the digital competition.
But this also multiplies their SEO problems: twice as much work and possible competition between services, complicating the SEO strategy.
A digital strategy too focused on the brand name
As you probably know, Google is the most used search engine in France, with over 93% market share.
However, the vast majority of French banks were not or hardly visible on Google outside of brand queries, according to a study by the consultancy firm Kelley Consulting.
This observation dates from 2014 and is, unfortunately, still valid today in the banking and insurance sector.
Just type the request “mortgage” or “make an international bank transfer” in Google to realize it: there are very few banking sites in the top 10 results.
Being visible on its brand name is a good thing for a bank, but capitalizing solely on branding is not a viable strategy in the face of dynamic competition.
Also, branded queries could be more effective in acquiring new customers through search engines. For example, users who search for a bank name on Google are usually already customers.
This is the whole problem of SEO for banks!
Putting customer needs back at the center of SEO strategy.
The new online banks that have entered the market, unknown to the general public, have demonstrated this.
Adopting an SEO strategy centered on the user query rather than the bank effectively acquires leads.
In addition, they have chosen to target user needs and use more generic questions, excluding brand names.
This inbound marketing strategy, coupled with their discount price (compared to physical agencies), has allowed them to find a place in this reputedly impregnable market.
They have also taken the lead by accumulating backlinks since the 2010s, which has allowed them to solidify their positions on Google: trying to dislodge them from their top 3 will be long and very difficult.
Good use of netlinking
Most banks often have a powerful, efficient, and secure website. If it is always possible to make technical optimizations, the structure of their website is clean and efficient.
On the SEO content side, banks are increasingly aware of the need to optimize their content and vary their production.
But with the keyword choice, problems begin, which will then affect the link strategy (netlinking).
What can link acquisition strategies banks leverage?
Choose a profitable keyword.
Wanting to be top 3 at all costs on a very competitive request is not necessarily a winning strategy.
Indeed, a highly searched keyword is often an exact match whose search intent must be clarified.
For example, does the term “consumer credit” mean that the Internet user wants more information or wants to take out a loan?
Type these keywords into Google: the SERP reveals some vagueness in the responses, which move between the definition and the loan simulation.
In addition to the competition, exact match keywords are difficult pages to rank well by nature.
A keyword’s profitability problem must be considered even when you have significant means. For example, what’s the point of investing so much effort in a top 3 that ultimately yields no conversions?
It may be more profitable to identify broader requests, therefore much more targeted to an informational or transactional need. General queries that target a need without being branded also reach a significant market share, which converts well.
It is, therefore, attractive to target keywords such as “how to make a mortgage” and “mortgage + name of the bank.”
Local referencing of bank branches
Despite the sector’s transformation, it remains essential for traditional banks to be well positioned on local searches (keyword + location), which are generally carried out via a mobile device. In this context, designing the site for mobile navigation is essential.
It’s also essential to ensure that each agency has a listing on Google My Business and to provide users with relevant information such as opening hours, services offered, etc.
Agencies often have specific pages for each. These pages must be well optimized on local keywords and offer relevant content for the user to be well positioned.
The main interest of these pages is the traffic they generate and the backlinks they can provide if they are well-referenced.
Analyzing your online presence should be done on more than just brand presence, The weight of the organic results measures the share of voice compared to its competitors.
Therefore, it is interesting to analyze this data regularly to get an overview of the visibility of a given bank on its market and to compare it with that of its main competitors.
The Google Search Console “Search Results” tab is an excellent way to measure this voice share, It gives an overview of all the queries for which your site appears in the organic results and your average position.
This data is beneficial for comparing yourself to your main competitors in a given market and observing changes over time.
The business potential of broad match
Targeting long-tail keywords is an excellent way to be visible on specific search queries that are often closer to user needs. These keywords used by voice search tend to use a more natural, more “oral” language.
It should be noted that new self-learning algorithms for analyzing and processing human language now integrate NLP’s natural language data.
This global NLP approach is profoundly changing how algorithms read, understand, and reference content on the web.
The commercial potential of long-tail queries is tangible: they are closer to the needs of Internet users looking for increasingly precise information.
In addition, they are often less competitive, which facilitates their positioning on search engines, So feel free to include them in your content strategy and boost them using netlinking!
Netlinking and e-reputation
SEO and social media can be leveraged to influence online reputation.
It is essential for banks to control their brand image on the internet, This is all the more true in a context where harmful content on banks can have a considerably impact.
The link strategy can be an excellent way to influence the visibility of positive content on the bank and its e-reputation.
Content reassurance and optimization
It is essential for banks to produce quality content to reassure Internet users who are sometimes suspicious of the banking sector and to respect the legal framework.
But to want too much to reassure the customer, we sometimes forget the optimization! The strategic pages of the site should ideally be positioned on business keywords.
The home page is significant in SEO: it is the most linked website page and is also the gateway for users, It must therefore be optimized to reassure and ensure good visibility on the relevant keywords.
The corporate blog is another important lever for banks. Indeed, this type of content allows you to show your expertise on specific subjects related to your activity or to develop a more human side.
It is an exciting lead acquisition channel for exploiting the long tail.
A good link building strategy can help improve your bank’s natural referencing while respecting the legal framework.
targeting a broad match and not just your brand name, you can increase organic traffic to your website and encourage potential customers to learn more about what you offer.
If you’re looking for help implementing a personalized and effectual link building campaign, our SEO team is here to help.
Contact us today: your dedicated account manager will answer all your questions!