Lead Digital Developer
Posted on December 10, 2018
Improving a financial services website’s search performance is vital in keeping the site visible and, more importantly, ahead of your competitors! While it’s relatively straightforward to configure your site so search engines can index your content properly, extra work is required if you really want to improve your ranking.
The process of improving your websites online performance can take time to plan, measure and analyse. And, to top it off, the results are not immediate. We therefore need the right tools to help us manage, record and advise us on what we need to do. Only with the right information to hand can we make the informed choices to improve a site’s ranking.
It doesn’t matter if you work in the financial sector, or run your own personal site selling Christmas hats, the following tools listed will work for you. If there’s some metric you need to measure or some analysis you want to make on a particular set of data, there is bound to be a solution to get the answer.
In this post, we’ll list a handful of popular tools that will help in your day-to-day work. Some are free to use, and some require a subscription of some kind (often with a free trial), all of them are useful.
Google Analytics / Google Search Console
Any site you look after should be reporting on the visitors it attracts, even if you have no immediate desire to improve your page rankings. The data captured will be extremely useful if you change your mind later on.
Google Analytics will record website visitors and their interactions with your site, allowing you to ask questions by querying the data it collects over time. How many visitors do you get? What is your most popular content? Do visitors spend long on your homepage? Which country are your visitors coming from? Are the visitors you get, coming back time and time again?
Search Console can also provide some basic website analytics but has nowhere near the depth of reporting, instead it concerns itself with the health and performance of your site. You can see how your pages are being indexed and see if Google is experiencing any errors as it attempts to index your site.
Analytics and Search Console are both essential, there’s no reason not to use them both.
Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner will help you research keywords. It will give you an idea of search volumes, competitiveness and suggest bid prices for ads. If you already advertise with Google, you’ll know about this product already. Even if you don’t, it can still provide valuable information, suggesting relevant words and phrases for you to use with your web content.
Paying for some Google adverts will get you a more detailed breakdown of some of the statistics it provides, but as a starting point, it can still be very useful.
Knowing who your competitors are, and how they are performing in search is a great way to get some ideas for your own marketing plan.
No doubt you’ve done some manual investigation already by reviewing your competitors’ online activity, but working out how well they are performing and what keywords they are targeting isn’t easy without specialist tools.
SEMrush is one such service that will help you carry out competitor analysis, find profitable keywords, monitor backlinks, check site health and much, much more. It’s not a free service, but if you’re serious about improving your sites ranking and getting one over your rivals, a tool like this should pay for itself.
SE Ranking will provide similar analytical insights as SEMrush. You could argue that it doesn’t have the same depth and breadth of tools. It’s a close-run thing, but for those marketing teams looking for a similar SEO reporting service with a more flexible and cheaper subscription plan, SE Ranking is an excellent alternative.
Websites are ranked in many ways, and one aspect that needs to be carefully thought about is the user experience.
Websites should be easy to use, guiding visitors to the content they want quickly. Visitors who have a great experience on your site will tend to hang around a little longer and possibly look at more of the content you have.
These signals are captured by search engines and provide a good indication that the visitor is getting what they came for. A better user experience, the better your page will perform in search.
Understanding where visitors may have issues isn’t necessarily straightforward. Yes, you can get a rough idea with Google Analytics, by showing average time on page and bounce rates. But it won’t show where on a page someone might have a specific problem.
Hotjar is a tool that records user interactions, giving you a visual record of where problems might be appearing on the page. Are people clicking on an element that looks like a button, but isn’t? Are CTAs being ignored because they’re too far down the page? Hotjar will let you know so you can make the necessary changes.
Answer the public
This is a service which will help your financial marketing teams brainstorm ideas for content. Enter a keyword to write about, and seconds later you’ll have dozens of article titles to choose from. It’s free too, although the paid version offers a few extra features that might be useful if creating content on a regular basis is part of your marketing plan. You’ll still need to do the hard work and write it, but it’s a start!
There’s more out there
There are countless tools and applications that will help you with your SEO strategy. Some are easy to use, while others require more time to learn and master. That’s why financial marketing agencies, like Talisman, are ideally suited to guide and plan your SEO efforts and make your website work harder for you.