Optimising your financial advisory website for SEO

Consumers are increasingly using search engines such as Google as a convenient and quick way of finding products online. Around 50% of online purchases start with a search, and high rankings in search results represent a huge opportunity to generate more business and boost sales.

On-page optimisation refers to changes made to a website to help it appear higher up in the results for searches relevant to its products. Simple changes to a website can make a significant difference to traffic, so investing time in optimising your website is time well spent.

Write good page titles
The title of each web page is written in the page’s HTML code and appears at the top of the browser window. The page’s title is one of the most important factors that search engines use to understand the content of a page. Each page should have its own unique page title including the relevant keywords for that page, for example, the product or service that is featured. Try and keep the title short (maximum 70 characters). It’s also widely suggested that search engines place more weighting on words at the beginning, so it’s best to keep target keywords at the start and brand names at the end (with the exception of the home page).

Link between pages
Links between the pages of a website not only help users find their way around but are also an important SEO tool. A site’s home page tends to have the most search engine ‘authority’. Links between pages can help spread this authority and improve the search engine performance of other pages. Furthermore, the text of the link (known as the ‘anchor text’) helps the search engine to understand the content of the target page.

Anchor text
The anchor text you use for a link should provide at least a basic idea of what the page linked to is about. Aim for short but descriptive text, usually a few words or a short phrase. Make it easy for users to distinguish between regular text and the anchor text of your links. Your content becomes less useful if users miss the links or accidentally click them. You may usually think about linking in terms of pointing to outside websites, but paying more attention to the anchor text used for internal links can help users and the search engines navigate your site better.

Backlinks
While most of the links to your site will be gained gradually as people discover your content through search or other ways and link to it, the search engines understand that you’d like to let others know about the hard work you’ve put into your content. Effectively promoting your new content will lead to faster discovery by those who are interested in the same subject. However, as with most areas of SEO, taking these recommendations to an extreme could actually harm the reputation of your site.

Use alt text on images
A website’s images can have hidden text associated with them (know as ‘alt tags’). These tags allow the partially sighted using screen readers to use the Web and help search engines to determine the page’s content. The best approach is to write a descriptive alt tag for each image that includes the page’s target keywords.

Be unique and avoid duplicate content
Search engines test for the uniqueness of a page’s content and will place pages with content that is similar to that on other websites much lower down their results. For the best results, a website should have completely unique content, avoiding manufacturers’ standard descriptions.

Include keywords in page headings and content
Using headings and sub-headings containing target keywords helps with SEO and makes the page easier to read. It is best to use keywords in the headings and a few times in the main page content. Be careful not to overdo it, as using a keyword too many times (‘keyword stuffing’) is frowned upon by search engines.

Keywords in the web address
If the page’s web address (URL) contains keywords related to your products, then this can help the page to rank higher for those particular words. Keywords in the URL will also often appear in the anchor text of links into the site where the URL is used, helping with off-page optimisation.

Paul Bearman, Senior Editor, Goldmine Media

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