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Ecommerce SEO And PPC For The Finance Industry

Paid Search, SEO | 3rd Oct 2012

Video Transcript

Hi. If you work within the SEO or PPC industry, then you’re probably familiar with working to strict deadlines or meeting constraining time frames. This is all the more important in more competitive industries. This video will discuss some tips for how to maximise your time and your efforts, specifically within the finance and insurance sectors. I’m going to cover both SEO and PPC and a few tips for each. Now, it’s probably obvious to state that everything you do in SEO and PPC will have some positive effect if it’s done properly, but I’m really just going to focus on a few things that are either specific to or particularly good for the finance and insurance sectors.

Now, starting off with SEO, the basics, I always say don’t forget the basics. I mean this, again, kind of applies to everything in the sense that it doesn’t matter whether it’s finance you’re working in or any other sector, but it can’t be ignored, getting all your on-page elements in place, everything from Metadata to your Sitemap and so forth. Although these are really, really basic elements, they do have a strong impact and getting them in place is usually the easiest part of any campaign anyway.

Moving on; rich snippets. This is a great way to mark up your content on page, and I think that one of the best examples of this if you use rich snippet markup data to pull in reviews from an independent site. The advantage of this is that it actually changes the way that your listing will appear within the search results, adding a star rating next to it with the number of people that have voted on it and so forth. This can massively improve click-through rate, and click-through rate is a huge indicator to Google that your ad is in fact the most relevant one. So improving click-through rate will ultimately help to improve rankings.

You can use markup data for a number of other things as well, but I think this is just a really good example of where it can be used, specifically within the finance industries where review-based research is quite important to people if you’re looking to choose an insurance company or a loan lender or a mortgage company. People are more likely to look at what other people have said about you online. So that makes this kind of really important as well.

Brand protection. It’s very, very important that you protect your brand name. So secure social profiles, use page one domination, those kinds of things specifically for your brand name. Not only does this protect your brand and the information that your brand can put out from your competitors and from other people, but it also controls the ad space on Google from people who are actually searching for you. They’re less likely to find negative reviews or negative comments or upset customers. It’s just a very, very strong way of controlling how your brand appears online, and in a sector that’s very open to assault from dissatisfied customers, this is a very, very important step to take in your overall strategy.

Credibility and trust. Again, this refers more to on-page aspects, so having all of your legal disclaimers in place. If you work in the payday loan industry, you have to advertise the interest that you charge in a certain size of font relative to the other size of the font on the page. Having a privacy policy if you collect personal information, if you’re getting quotes to stipulate how you deal with that information once you have received it. Website terms and conditions as well as any other legal information or documentation that you can have. Also having an address, a proper phone number, freephone number, your VAT registration number, company number, any of this information that you can put, either in the footer or on the specific pages on the site, helps just build that credibility. Certainly if you’re going to borrow money from someone online, you want to know that they’ve got an office in the country that you live in and that they’re fully licenced and accredited and registered in all the ways they need to be in order to not only appear but be a proper institution.

This also leads on to the checkout process. By building the credibility and trust, you’re going to encourage people to actually purchase from you. But once they’ve made that choice to purchase from you, you want that checkout process to be as smooth and efficient as possible. And this ties in a little bit with conversion rate optimisation. I won’t touch too much on this, but ultimately the checkout process for your website needs to meet a few criteria. So don’t take people off page if you can avoid it. You see this very often on sites where you click a button to get a quote and all of a sudden a new page pops up and you’re in a HTTPS secure site that’s different to the one that you’ve built all the credibility and trust for and done all of the work to actually get people to it, just to take them off to go somewhere else.

This can have an impact, too, if you’re actually tracking conversions on the site. Obviously, if you take someone off-site to a secure page, it may not be possible to track the uses of that page, and so you may not be able to identify where people are dropping out of your goal funnels.

But also a few other things to consider are not to have too many obstacles to conversion. So if you’ve got a page that redirects someone that says, right, you can get a quote, but primarily beforehand you need to fill out a form, give us your e-mail address that you can register with the site, and then you get taken off page, you have to go to your e-mail account, you have to find the e-mail or wait for it to arrive, click a verification link, come back, sign in. All that kind of activity just detracts from what people are trying to do. Now if you make this analogous to going to a shop and you were queuing in the shop to buy an item that you’d been looking for and someone came up to you in the queue and said, “All right, fine, before you buy something you need to fill out all this information about yourself. We’ll send you a letter in the post. If you could just nip home, get that letter, and then bring it in so that we can verify you are who you say you are,” it’s going to put people off. They’re going to go to the shop next door.

Obviously, there are certain aspects of a checkout system which you, if you’re in the finance or insurance sector, you can’t ignore. So you’re going to have to verify who a person is. But having this as an additional or preliminary step can put people off. If it’s integrated properly into the form itself or into the process, then people will be more happy with it.

That covers the SEO side of things. From PPC, again, it’s always worth saying don’t forget the basics, but there isn’t much that you can do on PPC that’s not going to help. But if you’re in a limited time frame or with limited resources, certainly there are a few things that you can do specifically within the sector that I think will make a big difference to any campaign.

So remarketing first of all. Specifically for, say, insurance, if you sell someone a policy that runs out after a year, using remarketing to target them after a year or leading up to the end of the year, so maybe 11 months or 11.5 months in, you could use a remarketing campaign to target them to remind them to renew that policy or to buy a new policy, that kind of thing. So that can be a really, really useful tool and can be used a little bit more cleverly than your average remarketing that’s just going to produce an ad to follow someone around if they don’t buy something. You can use this specifically if they do buy something.

Long tail keywords. Again, I mean it’s a bit of a basic element, but really can’t be ignored. Specifically in the finance and insurance sectors, you’re going to find that bidding on keywords is very expensive when you’re looking at the big money ones. There’s a lot of big players in the game as well that have got huge budgets they can afford to throw at it, and they can afford to take a loss on some heavier keywords in order to get greater brand awareness or coverage and have their ads appear in more places.

If you’ve got a smaller budget or less resources, you’re really going to have to do your keyword research and try and identify some of these keywords. It doesn’t take long just to find, if you sell car insurance, add a few words on the side of it in terms of car insurance brokerage UK or looking for or want to buy, whatever, something, the strong commercial indicators within the keyword as well so that people that are searching for it aren’t speculatively researching or at the very preliminary stages of research, they’re not looking for reviews, that kind of thing. Just so that you can really target the people that are actually looking to get insurance from you.

Quality score. I mean this is a fundamental part of PPC anyway, but it’s ever so more important in very competitive markets where, as I say, the price of a click is going to be a lot higher on average than local business sectors for example. Improving your quality score is going to ultimately drive down the cost per click, which increases the margins of profit because you’re paying less for the click. So if you’re making 30 pounds out of a conversion that is costing you 3 pounds per click, you could only really afford to have 10 clicks to break even. If you can reduce that down by ten percent, your margin is increased significantly.

So, in order to increase quality score, there’s a number of different techniques that you can use. Ultimately, you’re looking to drive click-through rate to increase the relevance that Google perceives you have between the keyword, the ad, and the landing page. I don’t want to get too far into how to improve quality score, other than to say that it’s very, very important.

Split testing. I’ve put it in the PPC section, but equally this could go in the SEO section as well. Given the amount of time, effort, the competitiveness, and the cost involved in delivering traffic to a website, being able to convert that traffic is absolutely pivotal, and one of the best ways of doing that is split testing. So, classic A/B split testing, you have two pages that are similar but different running against one another over a period of, say, 5,000 visits per page. You determine which page is converting the best, delete the lowest converting page, make a copy of the highest converting page, change an aspect of it in keeping with conversion rate optimisation guidelines, and repeat the process over and over again.

So I can’t stress how important this is, and specifically for PPC if you’re using PPC landing pages or even the ads within PPC to split test and improve CTR, which feeds back into quality score and also for SEO. A/B split testing of landing pages, there, different designs, different quote buttons, different types of forms, different numbers of fields in the form, that kind of thing can all have a very strong impact. And just to reiterate the importance of doing this. If you’re getting 10,000 visitors to your site a month, and you convert 100 of those visitors, in order to double the conversions through traffic, you’d have to get another 10,000 visitors to the site a month, whereas to increase the conversions through split testing or other processes, you’re looking at really just increasing the conversion rate from 1 to 2 percent. So you’re actually dealing with what you’ve already got, and it’s another way of just pushing the profitability of the business or the website without actually having to deliver more traffic to it, which, if you’re using a PPC campaign in the short term, could be quite expensive anyway.

So, in summary, these are the aspects that I think you should look at if you’ve got time constraints with deadlines to meet or limited resources when working specifically within the finance or insurance sectors.

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Alec Sharratt About the author

Alec Sharratt

Alec Sharratt will be writing about his passion; the technical aspects of search. Well experienced within the IT industry, Alec has bags of knowledge on everything technical from simple spreadsheets that will save you hours right up to news and tips to make search that little bit easier.

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