Are you planning a banking website revamp in 2019? Whatever your business reasons for undertaking your bank website redesign are, remember that user experience is important, but it’s not all that matters.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is just as much of a necessity as strong aesthetics when it comes to financial website design.

Why SEO is critical for financial website design?

The reason is simple. SEO determines how search engines crawl and index your website content. If your bank website’s SEO isn’t up to snuff, you’ll struggle to get noticed in search. That means you’ll be less visible – and receive less traffic – across the shopper journey.

And if you are a website owner, you probably already know this. Yet, when it comes to bank website design, this reason becomes even more powerful.

Bank website design and SEO: What are the major challenges ahead?

Financial services companies face a very specific set of challenges when it comes to redesigning for SEO.

Financial website redesigns are typically motivated by a need to upgrade to meet the evolving needs of a digital consumer – ease of transactions, security, accessibility, cross-device compatibility to name a few. Financial websites also typically have very strict branding guidelines to meet – any bank web design, for example, should reinforce the brand’s integrity, authority and credibility.

Bank website redesign efforts are often led by either designers or technologists. The focus is often on better applications, UX decisions or maximizing brand identity. What banking web design teams often lack is a Google advocate – someone to ensure that the little website changes that can greatly impact a site’s search ranking and its ability to be where its customers are looking for, are implemented. Without marketers’ involvement, however, SEO is often overlooked or flat-out ignored.

We work with some of the top banking institutions in the U.S. helping them solve this exact problem. And while any business website SEO starts with an audit of what is driving the site’s success at a keyword level, we wanted to list out the 5 key SEO elements to focus on to ensure your bank website redesign is impactful.

5 key SEO elements to focus on for successful financial website redesign

 

1. Capture user intent on a page-by-page basis

To win at SEO, it’s important to understand how search engines work. Their fundamental aim is to capture the intent of users’ searches, then display a list of web pages that match that intent.

In other words, your pages are more likely to rank if each of them addresses a specific user intent (such as making a purchase, getting information, making a comparison, and so on).

Ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of each page on your site?
  • What do you want visitors to do on each page?

If all of your pages are laser-focused on a particular user intent and have a particular role to play in the shopper journey, you’re off to a good start. Remember, optimizing for SEO supports and enhances great customer experience on your website, and vice versa.

2. Add schema as appropriate

Recent Google algorithm updates suggest 2019 may be the “year of technical SEO”. Technical factors have always mattered in SEO, but now it appears that Google is cracking down on sites with subpar technical implementation.

One technical element that’s gaining importance is schema. Schema is a markup language that helps search engines interpret key page content like addresses and phone numbers. It’s also what AI-powered voice assistants often use to answer people’s voice queries.

With smart speakers in a quarter of US households and rising, voice is an exciting new frontier in the search world. Schema, as an essential language for voice tools, will become increasingly important as a means of helping search engines ingest and share information.

3. Incorporate headers and subheadings

A page’s headers (H1s) and subheadings (H2s, H3s, etc.) serve as a kind of table of contents. Much like schema, these tags communicate important information to search crawlers in a structured way.

The key word there is “structured”. Search algorithms love structure; you see this reflected in the “rich results” that appear for certain searches. Web content in list or tabular format is often what shows in these results.

The purpose of an H1 is to describe in a concise manner what a page is about. Ideally, it will incorporate one or more keywords that capture the intent that drives users to the page.

H2s, H3s and other subheadings are less important than H1s, but they do help search engines understand how comprehensively a page addresses a certain topic. The more comprehensive a page is, the higher its relevance score and ranking will be.

4. Think ‘drawers’ and ‘folders’ in structuring URLs

Search algorithms look at websites’ pages and sub-pages like a filing cabinet. If the “drawers” (pages) and “folders” (sub-pages) aren’t clearly labeled, it will be very hard to ascertain the cabinet’s contents.

You can contribute to this “labeling” by structuring URLs to show pages’ relationships to each other, e.g., <https://www.bank.com/consumer/checking>. This URL signifies to search engines that the page is about Bank X’s consumer checking options.

A separate page featuring savings account rates might have a URL like <https://www.bank.com/consumer/checking/rates>. And a commercial checking page may have “commercial” in the URL instead of “consumer”.

Applying strong, consistent URL architecture must be a component of any site redesign. A highly detailed URL hierarchy helps both consumers and search engines navigate and understand your site. The clearer your labeling, the better your user experience – and the more likely you will be rewarded with a favorable ranking.

5. Optimize for speed

Slower-loading pages are worse for end-users; a delay of just a couple seconds causes many visitors to drop. Because speed impacts usability, search engines can ding pages that struggle to load quickly.

Google analyzes page usability on a simulated 3G connection. This connection is falling out of favor in the US – both AT&T and Verizon have said they will shut down their 3G network equipment in the coming years – but it remains commonplace in most of the world.

What that means is that if your site doesn’t load quickly at 3G speeds, Google may penalize you.

In the most effective site redesigns, users may not notice under-the-hood changes but will recognize a significant improvement to their experience. The goal should be to help visitors find the information they need as quickly and painlessly as possible.

This step, and the others mentioned above, help both users and search crawlers get the most out of your site. By focusing on experience, developing pages that meet users’ needs and structuring content the right way, you’ll be well-positioned to win at SEO and move ranks.

What are some of the challenges you have faced with your enterprise web redesign efforts? Tell us here.