The recommendations were given by Olga Yudina, Digital Director at Ashmanov & Partners, at the eTarget.Finance industry conference. Bonus: at the end of the article, you can download a study on the state of search engine marketing and the main ranking factors for financial websites.
How has financial search ranking changed in 2020?
The main problem of search engine promotion in the financial theme has become the growth of the share of aggregators and similar sites in the top search results. These portals and search engine services do not represent a specific financial institution, but are actively ranked for commercial and informational queries. As a result, it is increasingly difficult for banks, credit and insurance organizations to reach the top, and for some queries it is simply impossible. Let’s look at how search rankings changed in 2019 and 2020. The material was prepared on the basis of research by the Search Analytics Lab.
- 2019: five out of ten sites in the top 10 for financial searches are bank sites.
- 2020: only 2 banks are in the top 10 for the same queries! The rest are aggregators, information sites and even a real estate site.
Pay attention to the site which closes TOP-10 – cian.ru, real estate aggregator. How he got into the top financial topics? If we look at what’s on the site, we’ll see some very handy financial tools for taking out a mortgage. There’s a mortgage calculator, there are offers from different banks. It makes sense: a user who chooses a property, can immediately see what proposals are now broadcasting the banks. Plus, this site has a very high IKS (Site Quality Index), which depends on the size of the site and its attractiveness to users. Thus, due to the huge size and functionality placed on the site, the real estate site was in the top for financial queries
Laboratory research shows that Google and Yandex do not treat aggregators in the financial sector equally. This is confirmed by the analysis of 10 popular financial requests (they are shown in the image below), based on company visibility ratings.
Here are the statistics for two of them to choose from. Thus, for the query “mortgage calculator”, we see that in Yandex only one bank website managed to reach the top 10, and only on the 5th position. The rest are all aggregators, information sites, classified sites, etc. Meanwhile, the same cian.ru with its huge website and mortgage calculator is in third place, above Sberbank’s website. The situation is somewhat different in Google. The policy here is more loyal, and there are 3 bank websites in TOP-10. All the rest – again, aggregators.
For the query “credit card” Yandex again gives preference to aggregator sites over bank sites. There is only one bank in the search results, and it is on the 6th position! Google is much more loyal to financial institutions – as many as 6 banks appear in the top 10. The situation is very different, because Google’s policy for building extradition is slightly different than that of Yandex.
As a result, we see the following trends:
In Yandex output in 2019, aggregators occupied 57% of the top 3. In 2020, it’s already 77%. Their share has actually increased by a factor of one and a half. Large sites are displacing industry sites in this search engine.
In Google’s output in both 2019 and 2020, aggregators occupied about 50% of the top 3. This search engine doesn’t increase the influence of aggregators as much; it’s easier for financial institution sites to move up here.
Also note that for mortgage queries, a real estate aggregator is actively present in the rankings. The conclusion is that it makes sense to go to aggregators in related industries and broadcast financial offers to potential audiences there.
Opinion of an expert
Olga Yudina, digital director at “Ashmanov and partners”:
“Search engines are increasingly favoring aggregators. Their growth is especially noticeable in the top of Yandex, while in Google the number of aggregators is not so large and is not growing that fast. This is probably due to the fact that it is more convenient for users to go to an aggregator site rather than to a bank’s site for general inquiries, since there are many different offers from various financial institutions waiting for them there. Yandex adjusts to user preferences.
Why do financial sites need to change their approach to search engine marketing?
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) was working through a significant layer of factors in 2019. Promoting a site no longer depended only on SEO (relevant content, indexing, traffic, external links, etc.), but also on the business behind the site (assortment, pricing, regional affiliates, etc.).
In 2020, everything has changed. Now you have to work not only with the site and the business behind it. The new strategy is to work with the entire search space (Search Space Optimization, SSO). We talk in detail about how it is formed and what it includes here. In the current reality, not only the website and the content it contains are promoted.
View from an expert
Olga Yudina, Digital Director at Ashmanov and Partners:
“A financial institution needs to be presented in the search space in the best possible light, so that interested users going to those sites can get to know the brand there and then already go to the site. As a result, you expand the entire marketing funnel, ensuring the growth of positions, traffic, leads, sales and LTV in the future.”
Now with your offerings, you need to be as profitable and attractive as possible on all the sites that are in the top 10 for your target queries.
- By clusters of queries that are allowed to promote your type of site, promote the site in the top 10.
- By clusters of queries occupied by third-party resources, provide a presence on the main sites and shows to interested users.
Ensure the presence of business in the services of search engines: Yandex.Zen, Q, District, Maps, Video, YouTube and others to be in the constant attention of potential customers.
Below, in four steps, we’ll tell you what search engine optimization consists of:
- Gathering a large semantic core to fully cover the topic. This is several thousand queries, which should be collected, thoroughly cleaned, clustered and distributed on the pages of the site.
- Analysis of the structure of the issuance of the various clusters of the semantic core. It is necessary to determine which queries to promote the site, and where it is necessary to enter the sites and aggregators.
- Optimization and promotion of your site taking into account current ranking factors. About the factors that worked in 2020 and will work in 2021, discussed below.
Preparing a strategy for implementation and ranking on third-party sites. For example, for YandexZen we make a detailed content plan. By gradually placing the content we get into the zone of visibility of the target audience, promote our status as an expert, interact and generate additional demand.
Does it make sense to compete for residual traffic?
Most financial topics are growing in demand. Here, for example, are the dynamics of the popularity of search queries by month over the past six months.
You can see similar charts for mortgages and debit cards, microloans, consumer loans and other subcategories on your own in the rankings. The number of hits per month and the percentage of visibility also convincingly prove that the promotion of the site of financial topics is quite a promising undertaking. Of course, if you do it right, optimizing the search space.
How to increase the chances of reaching the top for financial sites? Checklist of ranking factors
- We effectively monitor and analyze the performance, the position of sites, and annually produce analytical reports on various industries, based on research of our Laboratory. That is why we know exactly what factors are now affecting the promotion of a site in a particular industry. Let us briefly list the most important of them. You can download the full version of the study here.
- Many regions and a large assortment – the most important factor in getting to the top of both Yandex and Google:
The number of regions is more important for banks; for aggregators it is more of a technical factor.
- A wide assortment of products has a stronger influence on the position of aggregators, for which the number of submitted proposals and organizations is an indicator of the quality of the site.
Reviews and information about specialists in finance is a trust factor:
People want to trust funds only to proven organizations, so the presence of information about specialists is important for bank sites.
- Having reviews on bank sites is less important than posting reviews on aggregator sites. Users perceive an aggregator as an independent site that is presented with unbiased reviews. People can make a decision based on the reviews the aggregator shows.
- Having an 8-800 phone number is still important:
- Although it’s been known for a long time, it’s still a significant factor for bank sites. However, the vast majority of bank sites meet this requirement because everyone has already figured out that such a number is important.
- For aggregators, this is a less significant factor, as a person rarely plans to interact with them over the phone.
- Order button, pricing and specials are factors that need to be adapted for a financial institution:
- It’s important that the site has buttons that help take targeted actions. “Order” might be considered, for example, a button to submit a loan application. Similarly, the “price” could be the cost of credit card service. The factor plays a more prominent role on financial institution sites than on aggregator sites.
- Special offers and discounts also help rank higher, and are more important to financial institution sites than aggregator sites.
- Comparison of services, selection, and calculator are functional for successful promotion:
- Comparing services is more important for a financial institution’s site than for an aggregator.
- The selection tool by parameters is more important for aggregator sites, while for the banks themselves it is less important for getting into the top 100.