The financial vertical is a highly regulated area.
It's important for businesses in this vertical to have a higher level of sensitivity and specialization than other industries.
Internal branding guidelines, accessibility considerations, regulatory measures, and governance considerations among lines of business within the financial organization are some of the inherent challenges.
Local listings in this vertical vary based on function and fall into one of several types, including branches, loan officers, financial advisors, and ATMS.
Each type of listing requires a different set of hours, categories, hyper-local content, and attributes.
The goal of this article is to dive deeper into why having a unique optimization strategy is important for businesses in the financial vertical and share financial brand specific best practices for listing optimization strategy.
Financial Brand Listing Type Considerations
In addition to all of the listing features that vary by business function, there is also a different set of guidelines that apply to different types of listings, which is one of the reasons listings are so nuanced.
There is a difference between a listing for an organization and a listing for an individual.
There might be a need for a department listing between the two main divisions.
Each listing classification has rules about how many listings can be set up for a given address and how they are represented.
There is a risk of disabled listings or account level penalties if you do not follow the guidelines.
Those risks are bad for revenue and reputation in a tightly regulated industry.
It is possible to request bulk verification if you have more than one location.
Google Business Profile Category Selection
In the context of ranking, visibility, and traffic attributable to the listing, category selection is one of the most important activities involved.
Unless you choose to violate Business Title guidelines, you can't "keywordopt" a GBP listing.
Because of this, the primary and secondary categories that you choose are collectively one of the strongest signals that you can send to the local search engine results pages, and for what queries.
Quality and specificity are more important than quantity in this instance.
This is in part due to the fact that only one primary category can be selected and in part due to the fact that the secondary category field can have consequences that are both un
There are too many categories that can muddy the signal for the search engine's search results.
Poor alignment can lead to the wrong traffic.
It can result in the listing being suppressed or ranked poorly, thus driving less traffic.
Governance Vs. Cannibalization
The distinction between the choice of classification types and the practice of targeting categories appropriately according to the business functions and objectives represented by a given listing are considerations that play together to help frame a strategy around governance.
The idea is to create separation between lines of business so that they don't compete over rankings and visibility for the same search terms.
Users should not be served a listing for a consumer bank branch if they are looking for a financial advisor.
This will result in frustrated users, complaints, and potential loss of revenue.
The Importance Of Category Selection
The example below shows how this can be done.
An asterisk indicates the primary category for Branches and Advisors at a large investment bank.
There are branch categories.
- *Investment Service.
- Investment Company.
- Financial Institution.
The categories are advisor.
- *Financial Consultant.
- Financial Planner.
- Financial Broker.
The Branch categories show relevance for the institution as a whole, whereas the advisor categories show relevance for individual practitioners. These listings complement each other.
Their visibility will be aligned with the needs of users when they are maximized.
There are other factors involved in crafting a good governance strategy.
In addition to the overall relevancy and content strategy as applicable for the associated LOBs, all the other available data fields and content within the listings should be similarly planned and designed.
Specialized Financial Brand Listing Attributes
Information about a listing that helps communicate details about the business being represented is called a GBP attribute.
They vary by primary category and are a great opportunity to serve users needs while boosting performance by differentiating against the competition and giving more relevant information to the search engine.
The more information a listing has about it, the more precisely it can provide a listing to users.
There are a number of attributes that are helpful for the financial vertical.
- Online Appointments.
- Appointment Links.
- Wheelchair Accessible Elevator.
- Wheelchair Accessible Entrance.
- Wheelchair Accessible Parking Lot.
The chart shows which attributes are best suited for listing.Image from Rio SEO, December 2022
Managing Hours Of Operation
This is an area of listings management that is often overlooked.
The hours of operation should be included in the listings. Not giving hours will impact user experience and visibility.
The hours of a bank branch and a mortgage loan officer and financial advisor that both have the same address will be different than the hours of a drive-through ATM.
Each of the services and LOBs has its own hours of operation.
Leaving these details out, or using the same set of operating hours across all of these listing types, sets users up for frustration and prevents Google from serving and messaging users around a given location's availability.
All of this leads to either missed opportunities when hours are omitted, or frustrated customers that arrive at an investment banking office expecting to make a consumer deposit or use an ATM.
Appointment URL With Local Attribution Tracking
Financial advisors, mortgage loan officers, and insurance agents are some of the practitioners who use this information.
Appointment URLs allow brands to publish a link where clients can book appointments with the individual whose listing the user finds.
This is a low-hanging fruit tactic that can make a big difference in revenue and lead generation.
To track conversion events, leads, and revenue associated with this listing feature, these links can be tagged with UTM parameters.
There is an example of a link with a UTM parameters.Image from Google, December 2022
Potential customers can find out what services are available at a given location by adding them to a listing.Screenshot from Google, January 2023
One of the reasons category selection is so important is that services are subject to availability by category.
Once services are added to a listing, they will be prominently displayed on the listing under the "Services" tab of the listing.Screenshot from Google, January 2023
This feeds more data completeness, which benefits both mobile and desktop performance, and increases engagement in the mobile SERPs, which are bottom-funnel key performance indicators.
Content marketing opportunities that are valuable on multiple levels are represented by the posts on the internet.
It is possible for an organization to post relevant, evergreen content that is tailored to the needs of the local community.
While there is no evidence or admission that relevant content will have a direct impact on rankings for a listing, what we can say for certain is that listings with well-tailored posts do show up in the local SERPs landscape.
This has been observed since the beginning of the year.
The benefits of using Google Posts in your local search is reinforced by this.
If a listing doesn't have the relevant post, it's fair to assume that it won't show up in the search results. Visibility can lead to more traffic.
Second, featured snippets are associated with boost in click-through rate, which amplify the traffic increases that result from the increased visibility alone
Additional Post Benefits
There are two very obvious benefits to using Google Posts, but they are just one of the many benefits that come with messaging potential visitors and clients with relevant information about the location, including products, services, promotions, events, limited-time offers, and possibly many others.
Consumer banks with free checking or direct deposit can be used in use cases.
A measurable impact on traffic, CTR, and revenue can be achieved by publishing posts that highlight these differentiators.
For a while, they were designed to be visible according to specific date ranges, and once the time period had passed, they would fall out of the search results.
If there is a relevancy match between the user's query and the content, certain post types will show up.
The financial vertical requires a highly specialized, precise GBP strategy which is well-veted for the needs of users, LOBs, and regulatory compliance.
Defining the overall strategy is dependent on considerations like primary and secondary categories, hours, attributes, services, and content.
Financial institutions and practitioners can maximize visibility, engagement, traffic, revenue, and overall performance from local search if they take all the available listing features into account.
There's more resources.
The image is by Andrey_Popov.