Beyond the Waiting Game: Accelerating SEO ROI

Beyond the Waiting Game: Accelerating SEO ROI

Long exposure shot of car lights on the highway at night.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) rewards patience, but let’s be honest for a second: who has patience in this economy?

It’s a Catch-22. 

You’ve probably heard stories about SEO taking months (if not years) to bear fruit. 

You’ve probably even watched some financial services peers jump to page one, while others still wait to win organic traffic. 

As for you and your team? You’re wondering if it’s worth the wait, and we don’t blame you. 

Let’s get right to the point: SEO is difficult to master and patience is integral to achieving success. But if you put in the work (that so few are willing to do), you’ll separate your financial firm from the pack. 

The question remains, how do you get to page one faster

While the SEO timeline can’t be cheated, your SEO ROI can be accelerated. As we’ll discuss below, there are a number of strategies you can leverage in the “here and now” to rev up your return on investment. 

These are not hacks—they’re tried and true fundamentals (we’ve tested them!) of a holistic approach to modern financial services digital marketing. 

SEO for Financial Services: A Brief Review

The potential for SEO ROI couldn’t be more compelling: organic search drives 64% of all inquiries to financial services providers.

If paid search is like a Super Bowl commercial, organic search is like a handwritten letter. One yells at you, while the other talks to you like a friend. 

At its best, a content-based SEO strategy can create the feeling of a valued relationship between your company and your target audience. And like all significant relationships, this process takes time (and TLC) to build. 

How long? In our experience, most brands take up to 12 months to see results

Though some fintechs and financial services organizations obtain significant ROI within six months or less, these “quick wins” are the exception to the rule. 

After all, the SEO strategic process is equal parts research, creativity, and technical precision. It’s a blend of architecture, art, and alchemy—in digital form.

From a high-level perspective, the first few months of an SEO expedition include intensive research, competitor analysis, backlink audits, keyword research, content planning, and content restructuring/optimization, to name just a few of the core tenets. 

Of course, this extensive process will manifest differently depending on your organization’s specific industry and  strategic goals. 

Sadly, many financial services organizations opt for cookie-cutter SEO strategies, often taking a “set it and forget it” approach. 

An SEO strategy is dead in the water without the ability to adapt, evolve, and pivot. That’s why we consistently return to our investigative framework:

  • Who do you want to attract? 
  • What are their pain-points/challenges?
  • Where are they located? 
  • How are you currently serving their interests and needs? 

These strategic questions (and their answers) represent the foundation of any effective SEO strategy, particularly for financial services. 

And yet, even with an effective strategy in hand, SEO ROI may still be a few months off. The market is competitive, search engines are evolving, and consumer preferences (especially with respect to content consumption) are shifting. 

So, assuming you’ve crossed your “t’s” and dotted your “i’s” on all things SEO, how can you expedite success?

Keep reading. 

P.S. If you’re new to SEO, be sure to check out our complete SEO guide for financial services organizations. It’s a great place to answer your questions and explore a range of powerful SEO resources. 

5 Quick Tips to Expedite SEO Results 

Most SEO strategies are like Zone 2 cardio: they’re slow, steady, and far from a sprint. And, as it turns out, have the best health effects (not just for you, but your business).

However, while much of the journey is a rhythmic climb, there are a few opportunities to gain speed.

While the following tips may seem like general solutions, each one requires a tailored approach—no two brands are the same. Though we will outline these strategies from a high-level perspective, we encourage you to implement them in a targeted manner, one that aligns with your goals, industry niche, and target audience(s). 

It’s also important to remember that all of these tactics are interlinked (pardon the pun). 

Like most things digital marketing, very few SEO strategies/solutions/tactics exist in a vacuum. So, while it will be tempting to pick and choose which tips to pursue, you’ll typically see the best results if you incorporate them into a holistic approach.

1. Dial in Your Technical SEO

There are several technical SEO items to tackle right off the bat. We want to ensure that Google can retrieve our website content and serve it up to people. 

You can check the indexing status of any of your webpages using Google Search Console. If they are not indexed, you can submit the URLs and Google will crawl and index the website (usually within a few days). 

This is key. If Google isn’t indexing your webpages, the following technical SEO fixes (what we consider to be the technical SEO “foundation) will have zero impact.

Consider the following fixes:

  • Make sure you aren’t targeting the same keyword on multiple pages. It can help to build a “keyword map.” This is a list of webpages and the target keywords in their title tags, headings, and meta tags. Each page should be unique.
  • Title tags, headings, and meta descriptions should use variations of the same keyword. Don’t use the exact same keyword, but natural variation repetition to a certain extent can help Google understand the purpose of your page better.
  • Submit your sitemaps to Google Search Console for indexing.
  • Use a Content Deliver Network (CDN) to cache your images and webpages to get a better pagespeed score. This isn’t a major ranking factor but is used as a tie breaker in competitive niches like finance. 
  • Build a list of target keywords for your content, and group them by semantic relation. We call these topic clusters.

2. Target Low-Competition Keywords

It’s no secret that businesses face fierce competition for conversion-driven keywords (regardless of industry). 

In fact, some keywords are very difficult (if not impossible) to rank if you don’t have top-tier domain authority

Are you a start-up neobank looking to rank for the head term “online banking?” 

Here’s the hard truth: you are not going to beat out Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo, PNC, Chase, etc., for a top 10 Google SERP position.

That’s why it’s smart to seek out long-tail keywords that have reduced competition, are still relevant to your target audience, and provide an opportunity to increase your chances of standing out. 

Want to explore your options?

Check out Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, select the Matching Terms report, and then set the Keyword Difficulty to 10. You’ll instantly get a range of powerful but underutilized keywords to ignite your organic presence. 

Your keywords should always:

  1. Be truly relevant to your business.
  2. Align with the search intent of your prospective customers.  

Note that Google and other leading search engines can easily spot keyword stuffing and penalize offenders in the process. At the end of the day, the content across your website needs to provide searchers with a comprehensive solution to their query.

No value = no bueno.

3. Elevate The Quality of Your Blog Content

Does quality content take time to create? Absolutely, but once it’s airtight and online, it can accelerate your SEO ROI by driving traffic to your website. After all, authoritative content is a primary driver of higher SERP rankings. 

To elevate your content quality, consider:

  • Engaging professional writers and/or industry experts who meet YMYL and EEAT criteria.
  • Crafting content around high-value keywords and keyword phrases frequently used by your core audience. 
  • Building content around low competition keywords to broaden your reach.
  • Avoiding fluff at all costs.

While it’s ideal to create fresh content, it can also be beneficial to revisit existing content and optimize as needed. 

That includes filling in “content gaps” by analyzing the top performing articles for the keywords and topics you are targeting and strategically injecting more value into your older content. 

A word to the wise: more isn’t necessarily better. 

While it may seem smart to publish net-new articles at every opportunity, we recommend focusing on content assets that are already performing well, but have room for improvement. 

If you can make them better by providing more value, you can leverage the momentum they have already built up (instead of starting from scratch). 

4. Broaden Your Content Distribution Efforts

After your content is in order, it’s essential to promote it. This, in our expert opinion, is the best way to accelerate content ROI while you wait for SEO to do its magic.

Within the vast umbrella of content distribution, there are two pathways that we recommend financial services organizations focus on:

  • “Owned content distribution”
  • “Earned content distribution”

Owned content distribution includes publishing your pieces on your company blog, sharing them on your social media profiles, and promoting them through email newsletters and targeted campaigns.

With owned content distribution, you’ll have the opportunity to repurpose your content for a variety of platforms—like creating punchy posts for X (i.e., Twitter), sharply-edited video essays for YouTube Shorts, and long-form thought pieces on sites like LinkedIn, Medium, and Quora.

Earned content distribution includes third-parties sharing your content to their networks via social media, PR, product reviews, roundups, and guest articles. While “paid” content distribution incurs a fee, earned content distribution is generally pro bono.

Third-parties include journalists, bloggers, customers, and influencers (or “finfluencers”)—essentially anyone who shares your content for free.  However it manifests, earned media outreach is a phenomenal way to generate backlinks, augment your authority, and drive your SEO ROI. 

While both of these distribution strategies can generally be managed in-house, a financial services marketing agency can go a long way helping creatively build and promote your content. 

Either way, both strategies demand proactive and ongoing engagement with industry colleagues and clientele. You have to be on the field of play, cultivating partnerships and building community with those in (and around) your vertical.

5. Black-Hat SEO: A Brief Word of Warning

The strategies we just discussed are only the beginning of a robust SEO strategy. 

While each tactic can enhance your SEO ROI, keep in mind that more aggressive strategies may actually be unethical. 

For example, don’t be tempted by “black-hat SEO” techniques, as alluring as they seem. Though they can deliver powerful short-term SEO gains, these shady strategies can also endanger your digital domain and stunt your business growth. 

So, what is black-hat SEO? 

Here are some of the most common strategies you should avoid:

  • Building personal blog networks (i.e., using multiple sites you own to rank a main site).
  • Parasitic SEO (i.e., using a subdomain to allow 3rd-party content that isn’t related to your main website but helps build backlinks and traffic regardless).
  • Any link-building or link-exchange schemes are against Google’s Terms of Service. Although these are techniques are popular, you will eventually pay a high price . 

The final takeaway? 

Black-hat SEO can result in your website being permanently banned from Google and other search engines. Avoid at all costs.

CSTMR: A Holistic Approach to Digital Marketing

The success of an SEO strategy hinges on taking a holistic approach. Search engine optimization is merely a method of getting your content in front of people. 

After that, you need to take a serious look at how those people are interacting with your business. 

At the end of the day, all traffic channels are merely methods of reaching the people who are import to your business—and telling your story. 

But in order to tell that story in a compelling way, you need to integrate your SEO strategy with core marketing fundamentals. Whether you are a fintech or a traditional financial services organiztion, you have to hone in on your brand identity, cultivate your voice, and nurture your audience with meaningful resources. 

It all starts with the right vision.

Think of it like this: if your firm were a physical building, you’d only excavate the site, pour the foundation, and build the frame after your blueprint was fully formed.
Architecture demands a vision and a plan, and digital marketing is no different. 

At CSTMR, we don’t just focus on one aspect of your strategy. Like digital architects, we leverage our decades of experience to create a custom blueprint aligned with your overall goals, then we let our subject matter experts do what they do best—build.

Whether you’re looking to launch a new company or hit the reset button, we have the solutions you need to build and scale effectively.

Let’s chat, and together we can build something special in 2024.

Picture of Jack Macy
Jack Macy
Jack Macy is one of the co-founders of CSTMR. His background and experience span branding, marketing strategy, design, UX, and technical development across financial services, technology, healthcare, and nonprofits.

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