Creating Financial Advice Content That Ranks in Google (+ 📄 Free Content SEO template)
So you want to create content that ranks in Google and brings you FREE organic search visitors, every month?
In this post we’re diving deep into what makes high performing SEO content.
I’m going to pull together insights from some of the industry’s top performing content that I’ve assessed:
- Case Study: 9,600 Monthly Visitors ($164,000 Traffic Value) with 1 Piece of Financial Advice Content
- Case Study: $59.7K in Monthly Traffic with 1 Guest Blog 🤯
- Case Study: $33k In Monthly Traffic with Alternatives Article
And give you guidelines based on what’s currently working best in the field.
In this article we’ll cover:
- 1. Google’s AI ranking algorithms
- 2. Content relevance and search intent (on-page)
- 3. Website & web page authority (off-page)
- Plus, grab my free SEO optimised blog template
1. Google’s AI ranking algorithms
If you search Google for SEO advice, you’ll inevitably find pages breaking down the top SEO ranking factors.
I’ve seen pages from authoritative sources quoting 200 factors!
It looks like a science experiment:
No doubt there are a large range of factors that influence SEO rankings.
But trying to optimise against 200 factors (or even 30), is madness.
And the truth is:
You don’t have to.
Since Google’s update to its core ranking algorithm, known as RankBrain, the company has been using machine learning to influence how to rank pages.
Their goal: to improve Google search results usability.
In short, Google wants to serve up the best possible content on any given topic.
They want happy users.
And they can measure user satisfaction with a range of data inputs (that they capture from Google Analytics and logged-in Google users):
- Organic Click Through Rate (CTR%): The % of users that click on a website from their search results pages
- Dwell Time: time spend on the webpage
- Scroll rate: amount of page content that is consumed
- Bounce Rate: whether the user immediately leaves the site, or continues to consume other content
- Pogo-sticking: whether the user hops back to the search results, to content, then back to the search results, to other content, etc.
- Related concepts: Google’s engine takes ‘keywords’ to the next level by understanding them as concepts. It expects to see other closely related concepts to your core focus topic.
So these are some of the universal ‘user satisfaction’ metrics that Google can use to assess which pieces of content rise to the top.
Now, things like the content’s keyword focus (on-page factor) and the page’s number of referring domains (off-page factor) – still influence rankings.
But the RankBrain algorithm will dynamically adjust the weighting of those factors, by algorithmically determining which weightings create the most satisfied users.
So therefore, you can no longer just say “backlinks and referring domains are 40% of the ranking factors, we need to build backlinks asap!”
Instead, the focus needs to shift to creating content that delivers incredible user satisfaction.
Here’s what you can do about it:
|Performance Metric||What you should do about it|
|Page has a high Click Through Rate (CTR%) in the search results||Focus on writing a compelling, actionable and benefit driven title, a killer meta description with a strong CTA (copy the best Adwords Ads).|
|Page keeps users on the page longer (Time on Page)||Focus on writing a super compelling introduction, by focusing on the benefits of reading the article and what users will get out of it. This will encourage them to invest the time to read the content.|
|Users scroll further down the article (Scroll Rate)||Having a table of contents that links users to sections down the article helps with scroll rate. Use benefit driven copy in the section sub-headlines so that users have a good reason to click through to lower sections of the page.|
|Users to click through to other pages on their site (low Bounce Rate).||Link to other helpful content on your website so that users stay on-site.|
|Page incorporates related keywords that Google’s AI engine expects to be found in content related to your topic.||Focus on incorporating related terms (suggestions), user questions and autocomplete ideas from Google into your post content and structure. Further info below.|
The takeaway: build content that makes people happy.
Ok so you’ve created highly engaging, user-friendly content?
Great. That’s step one.
Now there are two other big areas influencing SEO rankings to be mindful of.
Enter, on-page content optimisation…
2. Content relevance and search intent (on-page)
In general, Google wants to provide the most relevant content that matches the user’s search intent.
Search intent: what was the user intending to achieve by making this search?
For example, consider these two closely related searches:
- financial advice
- free financial advice
Although they are searching the same topic, the context of the user’s search matters – a lot!
A search query can also indicate the user’s stage in the Client Journey.
Here’s another example:
- financial advisers australia
- financial adviser register
The first search term indicates an intent for searching for financial advisers (in other words, they may be beginning their search).
While the latter, indicates that the user is actively reviewing advisers, and wants to check an advisers’ credentials.
You obviously want to be ranking for the first search term in this case.
You can also look at the intent behind search queries that reveal the users’ niche or market.
- financial advice for 25 year olds
- aged care financial advice
So depending on your Ideal Clients (and/or geographic targeting), you’ll need to match the content closely with the underlying ‘intent’ of the search term you are targeting.
And because Google’s algorithms pay close attention to related topics, a powerful approach to develop your content structure is to focus on related searches:
Harness Google’s related searches
Here’s an example where I started my research, using the search term ‘financial advisers australia’.
If the search term has significant volume you’ll see the ‘People Also Ask’ section:
If you interact with this tool, you might find it expanding with suggestions:
And if you scroll to the bottom of the search results page, you’ll find Google’s ‘Related Searches’:
You can also use a fantastic tool called ‘answerthepublic.com’, which takes a search query and outputs common search variations.
I put in ‘financial advisers’:
Ok now you have a large list of related topics and queries.
Time to apply logic
So you obviously want to bring together content that’s tightly related, but not in a spammy way.
Remember the golden rule: the best possible content for the topic.
So based on the data above, I might decide to produce a piece of content around ‘financial advice fees’, since there’s plenty of interest in this topic.
Here’s how I might put an article structure together for this topic:
Title: 2020 Financial Advice Fees Guide: Don’t Hire Before You Read!
Sub-headline: How much does a financial adviser cost
Sub-headline: What is a fee only financial adviser
Sub-headline: Is paying for financial advice worth the money
Sub-headline: How to never get ripped off for financial advice
Sub-headline: Tax: Can financial advice fees be claimed
And here’s a pro-tip:
The ‘People also ask’ section is great to incorporate into the meta-description of your content (that’s the description of the page that gets pulled into the search results).
Here’s what that might look like:
The Title and Meta Description are critical to nail so that your CTR% in the organic results increases (and RankBrain up ranks your content!)
So that’s how you optimise for content relevance, including the Title and Meta Description…
Now there are a couple of other things you need to do with the content on-page (beyond my tips in the table above):
- Make it valuable content: Add screenshots, details, step-by-step instructions, brand new strategies, examples, etc.
- Use unique images: sites with unique images outperform sites with stock images
- Comprehensive content: Google loves showing users content that gives them everything they want about a topic on a single page.
- Optimise image files names and alt text: use keyword rich filenames, for example financial-advice-fee-structure.png
Now there are probably 50+ other factors (just search Google for “on-page SEO factors” for a ton of articles), but what I’ve given you are the big things that really matter.
Just remember the golden rule (as I will keep repeating):
Create the best possible content online for your target topic!
Now let’s review the last important SEO area:
3. Website & web page authority (off-page)
If you’re going to compete in organic search, you’ll need an understanding of website and webpage authority.
In simple terms, a website’s ‘authority’ is based on the number of other websites linking to it.
Think of it as a popularity contest.
Google can’t check every website in the world, so instead they figure, if other high quality websites are linking to this site, it must be good.
Let me show you how it works.
In my previous case study I feature a high performing the NerdWallet page:
Note the Domain Rating: 87/100
The Domain Rating (DR) is Ahref’s metric estimating how much authority the website has.
(If you’re interested, here’s a detailed look at it.)
Simply though, the DR is calculated by:
- How many unique domains have at least 1 dofollow link to the target website
- The DR values of those linking domains
- How many unique domains each of those websites link to
How many high quality websites are linking to the website.
Importantly, the calculation of DR is logarithmic.
So the difference between DR 85 and 95 is far greater, than the difference between DR 25 and 35 – exponentially so.
Here’s why this is important.
When we look at the top keywords that the above article ranks for, it’s in position #1 for a number of highly competitive terms:
And if we drill into the top keyword, we can review the competing web pages:
As you can see here, generally speaking:
The pages and websites with higher UR and DR ratings, and more backlinks from quality referring domains will rank higher.
Now, there’s always exceptions to every rule, such as the 3rd search result, from Investor Junkie.
This highlights where RankBrain can influence – if that particular page has better User Experience (UX) signals than the others, it can be upweighted, despite lower ‘authority’.
What can you take away from this?
My main takeaway for financial advice firms is this:
Pick your battles.
If your website has a low DR, you’ll have difficulty competing against high DR websites – especially for competitive search terms.
If this is the case, there are two strategies you need to consider:
1. Build DR:
Every business needs to be building their DR over time (especially if they want to be around long term, and not relying solely on paid ads).
This may involve a content marketing plan, a link building campaign and guest blogging strategies.
(What’s guest blogging? Review how NerdWallet uses this strategy to build high value backlinks here. Btw, if you’re unsure about how to build backlinks, just remember this: the best strategy is creating content SO good, people want to link to it).
So if you think of SEO as a war, your DR is your defensive moat to protect your rankings against competitors.
2. Pick a niche:
In my course, Content Marketing for Financial Advice, one of the first steps I take students through is to get more specific with their marketing.
Consider this question based on what you’ve learned in this article:
Which topic do you think will be easier to ‘own’ with authoritative content?
- Financial advice
- Financial advice for retirees
- Financial advice for retiring lawyers
Picking a niche and marketing to it, makes it far easier to be the ‘big fish in a small pond’ in your given market.
It doesn’t mean that you have to shift your entire business to target ‘retiring lawyers’, but your content and marketing campaigns definitely do!
So those are really the 3 key areas of SEO you need to think about:
- Create content that gives the best possible user experience (better than all the rest)
- Optimise the content on-page for that topic
- Build your website authority and backlink profile over time
Plus, grab my free SEO Optimised Content template
If you’d like to start creating SEO optimised content today, don’t miss grabbing my free ‘SEO optimised content template’.
In a handy Google Doc format, it’ll help you:
- Create a well structured SEO optimised article
- Understand what you should focus on in each section
- Give you guidelines for SEO Title and Meta Descriptions