Recent YouGov research finds that two thirds of British adults still do not trust banks over ten years after the financial crisis. Money is an inherently personal subject, and the conversations we hold around it has the power to create optimism and fear in equal measure. This balance puts immense pressure on how businesses within the financial sector communicate. The financial industry is constantly evolving, and challenger brands like Monzo and Klarna are changing consumer expectations around accessibility, transparency and flexibility.
Google recognised the significance of this with the release of its August 2018 core algorithm update, commonly known as the E-A-T or Medic Update. While the revision stressed the importance of high quality content across all industries, it has particularly affected rankings categorised by Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines as ‘Your Money, Your Life (YMYL)’ sites.
Many major finance brands lost visibility in the search engine results pages due to the update and have been fighting to recover ever since. Following our five writing tips to create finance content, you’ll be on the path to build trust with readers and Google alike:
1) Consider search intent
Creating content to satisfy search intent is essential to SEO in the finance sector – a sector that affects nearly all of us in different ways. In short, this process involves trying to understand why a person would carry out an online search around a subject. What they want to do, such as learn something or make a purchase, and what information they need to do it.
Think about the who, what, where, when, why and how. Use tools such as SEMRush and AnswerThePublic to unearth common questions people have around a subject. Consider reviewing the current top-ranking content for your topic to fill in any gaps and spot opportunities to improve.
There will be a wealth of information to cover on most topics and the majority of high-ranking financial content is lengthy. Ensure you break your content up with clear signposting to make it easy for your readers to navigate.
2) Do your research
E-A-T is a criterion used by Google’s team to review content, standing for expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. Google states that: “High E-A-T financial advice, legal advice, tax advice, etc, should come from trustworthy sources and be maintained and updated regularly.” In other words, it’s important to do your research.
Your content needs to withhold a journalistic standard of accuracy. Do you believe external finance is the key to growth for UK SMEs? Find authoritative and relevant sources to support and add weight to your statements in the same way you would with an academic essay. The British Business Bank is one example source for B2B businesses.
Financial markets fluctuate. Ensure referenced statistics and regulatory information are up to date and applicable to your audience – e.g. UK or US. When a wholesale change does occur, update your existing content and elevate it to the same standard. Your readers need to be able to rely on what you’re telling them, as Google warns, it could affect their financial stability.
3) Be empathetic
Successful financial content isn’t simply a case of ticking Google’s boxes. It’s important to be empathetic when writing for such a sensitive subject. Think carefully about the person or groups you’re speaking to. How do they feel now, and how do you want them to feel after reading? Robust customer personas and brand tone-of-voice guidelines should help you settle on the right messages.
It’s important you don’t assume the expertise of your audience. The higher your own expertise, and the more you’re surrounded by experts, the easier it is to assume everyone will understand. But most of us aren’t financial specialists, and as many as 1.5 million British adults are unbanked.
Technical language is often unavoidable due to compliance, but that doesn’t mean you should hide behind it. Explain your acronyms and swap out unfamiliar or unnatural terminology where you can. It could be as simple as changing ‘purchase’ to ‘buy’, and ‘funds’ to ‘money’.
4) Show transparency
Large financial organisations can feel like faceless machines. Displaying transparency in your language is vital for breaking down that barrier. Avoiding unnecessary technical terminology as discussed above will help, as will avoiding the passive voice. The passive voice creates indirect sentences, be more straightforward by using the active voice.
It’s easy to unconsciously slip into the passive voice when discussing certain processes and actions, particularly if they’re negative. But instead of owning your decisions and providing clarity to the reader, you’re distancing yourself from the message and responsibility.
Using the example of a car finance provider, if a customer can’t keep up with their repayments on a hire purchase agreement, their vehicle will be repossessed. Stating ‘your vehicle will be repossessed’ sounds vague and menacing. Who would repossess? Be fair to the reader by educating them with honesty and transparency.
5) Be ruthless with your edit
Wordiness can be the bane of financial content. Google advises: “The amount of content necessary for the page to be satisfying depends on the topic and purpose of the page. A high-quality page on a broad topic with a lot of available information will have more content than a high-quality page on a narrower topic.”
Word count is arbitrary as long you’re comprehensively covering your topic. Once you’ve finished your first draft, study it for opportunities to cut out anything that doesn’t add value. Review the structure and tone of voice for the points mentioned above, too.
All content we create is proofed and fact-checked by our in-house proof-reading team before being sent to our clients. An extra pair of eyes always helps when you’ve spent hours working on a piece. Enlist the support of another writer if possible and leave ample time for your legal team to carry out the necessary checks.
If all the above sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is. After all:
“Creating high quality MC (main content) takes a significant amount of at least one of the following: time, effort, expertise, and talent/skill.”
Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines
But the results will be worth it.
The expert team at Ingenuity Digital have experience working on award-winning projects with leading businesses in the financial sector, such as 118 118 Money. Speak to us for further information on how we can help improve your content and boost organic performance.