So your website is finally up and running. You’ve got your services clearly listed, client logins ready, and a beefed-up bio to impress potential leads. But is your site ringing in the new year right when it comes to Google rankings? While we know fresh, quality content will never go out of style, there are a few important factors to consider when looking to increase your rankings on Google this year. Keep reading below to learn some of 2019’s top SEO ranking factors and overall trends you can incorporate into your financial firm’s site.
Why Are Ranking Factors Important?
SEO ranking factors are as important to your site as the site itself. That’s because they help it become more visible in Google’s SERP (search engine results page). If you have a beautifully designed site that hasn’t been optimized to rank well in Google, you can quickly say goodbye to lead-generating traffic.
And with Google’s algorithms changing all the time, ranking factors are constantly evolving. That’s why regular site maintenance and evaluation is a must.
Top SEO Ranking Factors for 2019
You’re a financial advisor who always puts the client first, so we know you’re busy. That’s why we’ve done the research and curated a list of top SEO ranking factors in 2019 for you to easily incorporate into your site.
1. Mobile-Friendly Sites
It may surprise you to learn that desktop browsing is gradually becoming a thing of the past. That’s because more than half of all web pages visited in 2018 were done so on a mobile device. Google’s embraced the shift in searching, which means you should too.
Mobile-friendly sites not only offer an improved UX (user experience) for your visitors but can help you rank better in Google’s SERP. With Google even beginning to index mobile versions of sites, not having one could result in search penalties and a lower ranking.
2. Informative URLs and Slugs
Google puts a lot of stock into a site’s URL, which makes it an important ranking factor in 2019. An informative and well-organized URL must tell the user where they’re being taken and what you’re claiming to be an authoritative figure on.
This means, unsurprisingly, that each subpage’s URL should also contain an informative and well-organized slug. For example, if your site is financialfirmexample.com, your “Meet the Team” page’s slug should be something like financialfirmexample.com/meet-the-team. This is because Google and the user want to know exactly where you’re taking them when they click on a link. Therefore, a slug such as /meet-the-team can help you rank higher than something like /L8BDB7 or /post93.
3. Site Security
Being in the finance industry, site security should already be on your radar. Having an SSL certificate showing in the address bar not only brings peace of mind to your site visitors, but it shows Google that you’re a legitimate site with good intentions. This gives Google more confidence and trust in ranking your site higher and sending its users to you.
4. Page Speed
Quite simply, a faster load time = better UX. And because Google wants to promote sites that will result in the best experience for their users, it makes sense that page speed is a big ranking factor for 2019.
Most financial firm sites won’t be weighed down with excessive media, photos, or font types. Therefore, you should have little to no problem ensuring your site loads in three seconds or less – the optimum load speed in Google’s eyes. Any more than three to five seconds and the user will lose interest and forego trying to enter your site.
5. Internal Links
Internal links refer to links on your site that lead to other pages on your site. For example, offering a link in your company’s blog post to your firm’s “Services” page would be internal linkage.
For ranking purposes, focus on offering an internal linking strategy that offers the best roadmap for users. Think about where you want traffic to go once a user has landed on a certain page within your site. Offering a logical roadmap for users first and pushing for lead-generation second seems to be a favorable strategy for Google in terms when it comes to page ranking.
First off, what is a backlink? A backlink is a link from a third-party site that leads back to your page. For example, if a website ranking the “Best Financial Firms in Maryland” offers a link to your site on their page, that is a backlink.
But why are they so important? Because backlinks prove to Google that others find your site to be legitimate, trustworthy, and/or authoritative. While Google favoring backlinks isn’t necessarily a new trend, it is becoming more and more important in ranking factor. If Google finds all things equal on two competing sites but one has more backlinks, guess which one it’ll rank higher?
7. Meta Tags
Meta tags include meta titles, meta descriptions, and alt text for images. Similar to backlinks, meta tags aren’t a new concept for Google. But, just like backlinks, not having them could seriously hurt your rankings. That’s because everyone is using them on their site in 2019, so not having meta info could mean you’re seriously missing out.
8. Digestible Content Structure
Digestible, skimmable content is all about UX. It should be easy to read and offer simple navigation for the viewer. Creating easily digestible content means using an appropriate amount of headers and subheaders for clear, concise and organized information. Making a reader search through long-winded paragraphs or uninformative headers offers a negative UX, which can quickly create a lower ranking in Google’s SERP.
Food for thought (pun intended) – Easily digestible content sets your page up to be more engaging with the reader. Helping them find exactly what they’re looking for can make them want to stay and consume more of your content.
9. Hyper-Focused Content
Simply put, hyper-focused content means publishing material about the same subject. By consistently producing related pieces of content, you’re building up your own expertise on the subject matter. This makes Google believe you to be an authoritative site on the topic, which can lead to higher rankings for relevant keywords.
What do we mean by “hyper-focused content”? We’re suggesting that if you’re in charge of your financial firm’s blog, post about relevant information in the wealth management or financial fields. The opposite of hyper-focused content is casting a wide net on subject matters to fish for keywords. Offering a wide range of unrelated topics on your site for the sake of capturing keywords makes you appear unreliable, uninformed, and even a bit spammy to Google.
10. Keyword Optimization
Keyword optimization is king. And here’s why.
In 2019, Google will continue its quest to answer more and more queries right on the SERP, a la featured snippets. That’s where keyword optimization comes in. Instead of stuffing a certain keyword into your content as much as possible, you need to match the user’s search intent.
Again, keyword optimization = matching user intent.
Think about the type of answer users are searching for when typing specific keywords into Google. Do they want a list of examples for “types of investments”? Then create a bulleted list of examples. Are they looking for the definition of “fiduciary”? Then offer a definition. Base your content off of what it is you think the reader wants to know to increase your chances of making it into a featured snippet.
This could become even more relevant in the coming year as we see Google favor sites that work well with voice search – aka offer clear, concise answers that match user intent. While Siri may have been the beginning, voice searching has grown leaps and bounds over the last few years with the growing popularity of Google Homes and Amazon Echos.
Google Ranking Trends for 2019
There are two clear trends Google is following with its ranking factors for 2019: trustworthiness and user experience.
Almost every factor listed above can easily fall into one or both categories. That’s because more credible, relevant, and authoritative sites are emerging every day – meaning Google has the power to be picky when choosing where to send their users. If you aren’t proving yourself a reliable wealth of knowledge to both Google and its users, you can quickly get lost in the shuffle. Follow the ranking factors above and continue offering fresh, updated content on your site to boost your Google street cred and drive traffic to your site.