If you’re a fintech or financial services business, you’re probably accustomed to paying thousands of dollars a month buying traffic from Google AdWords. A single click on a valuable commercial keyword can cost anywhere from a few dollars to over $100.

Now imagine you could get that exact same traffic — prospects actively searching Google for your products and services — at a 97% discount. For every dollar your competitors spend on advertising, you will be spending only 3 cents. A qualified lead that used to cost you $250 to acquire will now cost you only $7.50.

That’s exactly what CanIRank Full Service accomplished for a consumer lending client who approached us looking for help reducing their reliance on expensive paid acquisition channels like Google AdWords.

Over the course of a 6-month collaboration, we dramatically overhauled their content strategy and link building to generate over 700 new page 1 rankings for competitive financial industry keywords, resulting in a 452% increase in Organic traffic. Those exact same search clicks would have cost nearly $1 million / year if purchased through Google AdWords.

Financial Services SEO Strategy

Best suited for
  • Insurance brokers
  • Lenders
  • Financial advisors
  • Personal finance
  • FinTech startups
  • Foreign exchange
Budget
  • $2k-10K monthly
Included service areas
  • Technical SEO
  • Site structure
  • Content strategy
  • Link building outreach
  • On-Page optimization
  • Creation of promotable content assets
  • Content amplification

In this case study, we’ll explain the Financial Services SEO Strategy used by CanIRank Full Service to enable even small and mid-sized financial services businesses to rank on page 1 for valuable keywords usually dominated by billion-dollar institutions like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, and Capital One.

“We reached out to CanIRank because we needed an affordable solution that would help our business grow its online presence and generate leads. We knew if we wanted to be competitive, we had to reduce our cost of customer acquisition.”

– CEO
Financial Services Client

While this client-focused on consumer lending, we’ve since employed the same strategy to impressive results for clients in other financial services industries including retirement products, insurance, small business accountants, and foreign exchange, as well as FinTech and personal finance blogs.

As this client prefers to remain anonymous, we’ll refer to them as Client X in this case study, but would be happy to provide proof of all the claims in this article upon request.

The Challenge: SEO for Financial Services

  • High cost of lead generation through pay-per-click ads
  • Weak brand with low-quality backlink profile
  • Saturated market with many incumbents

Like many financial services businesses and FinTech startups, Client X had a profitable business but struggled to squeeze more growth from highly saturated marketing channels in the financial products space. Paid ads, social media, content marketing, PR, and affiliate channels were all dominated by billion-dollar corporations offering competitive debt products, including credit card companies like Chase, Capital One, and Citibank, as well as consumer banks like Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and PNC Financial.

“Think about creating content that returns specific value to the visitor, such as a financial assessment or calculator. An example is the ‘Early Retirement Calculator’ on retirement.net. This type of content is also great for link building, since it is perceived as a helpful, non-commercial resource.”

– Stefan Debois
Founder and CEO
Survey Anyplace

Further complicating matters, Client X was skeptical about hiring an SEO agency. A previous agency they’d worked with utilized outdated black hat techniques and failed to achieve the desired results. They didn’t want to go through the same experience again.

How can an ambitious new entrant reach rocketship growth velocity in the consumer financial services industry without mountains of funding?

CanIRank’s Solution

  • Landing page development
  • Keyword strategy and content marketing
  • Journalist and blogger outreach

The CanIRank Full Service team deployed a strategy we call Atomic SEO. Phase 1 focused on establishing a high performing, usable, and crawlable website well optimized for brand signals to build trust and credibility with users and search engines alike.

Client X’s site structure consisted primarily of service pages and a sea of mediocre blog content. To tighten this up, CanIRank’s Optimizations specialist Emma mapped out the customer research journey using CanIRank’s Grow my Content tool to learn what prospective clients were searching in Google at each phase of the purchasing process. 

This funnel became the basis of a new site structure focused on educating prospects and turning them into qualified leads. Our graphic designer Megan created new landing page templates for bottom-of-funnel keywords to incorporate both conversion and SEO goals. In the new site structure, each of these new bottom-of-funnel keywords became the tip of a thematic Supporting Content pyramid that served to establish Client X’s expertise.

To keep campaign costs as low as possible, Content Strategist Andrew focused on refurbishing existing site content rather than starting from scratch. Google’s standards for financial industry content are particularly high because most queries are within a category they call “Your Money or Your Life” (YMYL). In order to avoid accidentally giving a searcher bad information that could adversely impact their health or financial situation, Google algorithms pay particular attention to rewarding trustworthy, high-quality content demonstrating a high level of subject matter expertise.

To meet YMYL content standards, Andrew turned blog posts with thin content into in-depth resource guides covering topics such as credit history, budgeting advice, and types of loans. He also wrote new Supporting Content articles from scratch to attract more visitors to the website at the early stages of the sales funnel, where competition is often lower.

“It’s not enough to just rank for keywords, the key is to rank for the keywords that your customers actually search for. CanIRank has the right processes in place to identify the most valuable keywords for your business — the ones that give the best return on investment.”

– CEO
Financial Services Client

CanIRank PR & Outreach Specialist Mike knew link building was going to be a critical part of improving the website’s trust and brand authority. In the highly saturated financial content space, many bloggers and media only offered links on a “pay for play” basis, and given Client X’s prior experience with Black Hat SEO, they were understandably eager to avoid running foul of Google’s guidelines on paid links.

By focusing on developing authentic win-win relationships with bloggers and journalists in the personal finance community, the CanIRank team was able to help them see Client X as one of the “good guys” despite being a relatively new brand. Those collaborations helped earn links on a number of highly-ranked topical pages, as well as landing brand-boosting thought leadership pieces that helped to establish Client X’s Founder as a leading expert in their niche.

Mike also leaned heavily on Content Amplification techniques, using CanIRank’s Promote My Content tool to promote each newly-created blog post on relevant social media groups, aggregators, and communities. This not only drove traffic and awareness for the great content Andrew was creating but also generated second-order “trickle-down links”.

Financial Services SEO Campaign Results

  • Achieved 3,000% ROI on marketing spend
  • Generated over 1,100 backlinks from relevant, quality sources
  • Added over 700 page 1 rankings

Over the course of the campaign, Client X’s organic traffic more than quadrupled. The ranking improvements translated to $76,000 worth of monthly organic search traffic, saving the client approximately $1 million per year in Google AdWords spend.

Since the total cost of the SEO campaign was in the low five figures, the ROI generated exceeded 3,000%. For every $1 that Client X invested in CanIRank Full Service, their competitors with weaker SEO had to spend $33 to buy the same exact traffic via Google AdWords.

financial services seo

Most importantly, the campaign achieved its objective of reducing Client X’s reliance on paid ads as a means of growth, freeing up significant cash flow to enable them to reinvest in their business’ future growth. By re-investing those dollars into growth channels and including bits of a financial email marketing plan to nurture the leads.  The additional traffic can get even higher ROI

CanIRank’s content and outreach efforts resulted in many quality links. Our team has worked with a variety of financial services companies and earned press on sites such as:

Post CanIRank

Although it may seem counterproductive to admit this is in an SEO agency case study, even a 3,000% ROI doesn’t guarantee a client will stick around. Unfortunately, Client X actually ended up canceling their service soon after the first draft of this case study was completed.

Although we’re always sad to lose a client, in this case, a silver lining is that it allows us to compare the site’s performance under their new SEO agency against the growth rate achieved by CanIRank Full Service.

If you’ve ever been tempted to cut costs by going with a budget SEO agency or wondered whether the work your agency does really makes that much of a difference in your search engine rankings, this part is for you!

First, some context: as you can tell from the quotes, Client X was happy with our services and the results we’d achieved. But unfortunately, human psychology is such that even when we have a good thing going, we can’t help but wonder if maybe something even better is out there.

“I would like to thank CanIRank’s team for their hard work. Our website is in a much better position now. Their team has gone above and beyond my expectations.”

-CEO
Financial Services Client

One day the client wrote to us that another SEO agency had mailed them claiming (incorrectly) that their site had serious technical problems that needed to be resolved ASAP in order to preserve their Google rankings. Sadly, this is actually a pretty common sales tactic used by some low quality agencies. I immediately offered to jump on a call and review the “issues” with the client so that I could explain why they weren’t really a problem. Client X’s response: “Do you really want to go through this?”

Unsurprisingly, an agency that exploits the layman’s lack of SEO knowledge to try to lure away clients by falsely claiming there are urgent problems is unlikely to be amongst the top-performing SEO agencies. Let’s see how they did:

Almost immediately, Client X’s site started getting hammered by super low-quality auto-generated links. Profile links, web2.0 links, and directory listings like those favored by Black Hat SEOs over a decade ago. Low-quality SEO agencies use these techniques because these garbage links are much cheaper and easier to create than authentic, white-hat links. It allows them to show “progress” in vanity metrics such as the number of linking root domains but rarely leads to sustainable rankings improvement.

Besides the spammy links, a bit of new content went up on the site, but it was of the “marginally legible but not meaningful” variety produced by content mills earning pennies per word.

Google’s response was swift and tragic: SEMRush and Ahrefs data show that the site’s rankings have slipped for nearly all of their most valuable keywords, and overall organic traffic has dropped by 83%. If SEMRush data is accurate, it took less than 6 months for a black hat SEO agency to completely reverse the gains our team had fought for nearly a year through our SEO for financial services or fintech SEO strategy.

How can CanIRank help your firm?

According to BrightEdge, 53% of all website traffic comes from organic search. Every day millions of queries are conducted online for financial information. Yet many financial institutions are missing out on opportunities to grow their business through SEO.

84% of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising. Instead, younger consumers are over 3 times more likely to be influenced by blogs and other content marketing. As more buying power migrates from to younger generations, it will become increasingly important for financial companies to adapt to shifts in consumer behavior. Rather than letting media control narratives, financial brands can leverage SEO and content marketing to play a direct role in educating and engaging potential customers.

When it comes to choosing an SEO agency, it can be challenging to separate the wheat from the chaff. Not every agency is able to achieve consistent growth in competitive verticals. SEO for financial websites is particularly challenging due to link building hurdles and Google’s strict content quality guidelines.

The CanIRank Full Service team has helped numerous businesses in the finance sector including investment firms, financial news companies, and fintech startups. Book a consultation call to learn how CanIRank can help your organization improve its online presence and stay on top of the latest trends in digital marketing. If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency for your financial services business, we’re here to help!