Winning backlinks in the financial industry is tough—especially when you're not a top multi-national bank.
American Banker reports that leading banks are increasing their annual marketing spending by more than 40%.
So how are small finance companies supposed to compete with the giants?
Luckily, you don't need to spend millions competing for clicks on expensive "credit card" keywords.
You can win a different way:
With powerful finance backlinks.
Use the 15 techniques in this article to gain relevant backlinks and traffic to your finance site—at a fraction of what the big banks are spending to acquire more customers.
1. Get Local Listings for Your Offices and Branches
Let’s start with the easy backlinks.
Make a list of every location your company has—all of the offices and branch locations. Then, from that list, you need to go out and get local listing backlinks.
At a minimum, start with Yelp and Google My Business. Create a listing for each location, and make the listing stand out by adding location-specific photos and asking your customers to leave reviews.
Here's a good example of a local listing for a credit union in Chicago on Yelp:
You can see that a backlink to your website is included in the listing, along with your contact information and directions to your office.
To maximize this strategy, you can also find country or city-specific local listings, like 411.ca in Canada, where you can add your finance company as a helpful resource.
2. Pitch a Star Customer to Local Blogs
Finance is about more than just numbers on a spreadsheet. Frankly, the numbers don’t mean much to most customers.
People relate to stories, not data.
A great way to get finance backlinks is by highlighting a customer success story to get them featured in local blogs or news sites. Your company will get mentioned alongside them, along with a powerful backlink!
To do this, start by thinking about or asking around for impressive customer stories. Maybe your bank gave a business loan to a small local bakery, and now the bakery has expanded to five locations.
Then, pitch the story to local bloggers and media, and you'll get backlinks when your company is featured in the news.
You can also adapt this strategy to emphasize charitable activities, like when these five Canadian banks came together to make a collective donation in 2015.
3. Review Your Sponsorships for Backlink Opportunities
Finance companies are known for sponsoring many events. It's one of the most efficient ways to get in front of affluent customers.
Unfortunately, many of these sponsorships aren't optimized for SEO. But you can fix that oversight now!
First, make a list of all your company sponsorships this year and last year. (If you haven’t made any sponsorships, you might want to reconsider.)
Most of the organizations being sponsored would have a website, and maybe even a page on their site that's dedicated to their sponsors. You might even already be featured on it!
If that's the case, simply reach out to the organization and ask them to include a backlink with their mention of your company.
If not, you can request to be featured on their website as a sponsor.
Here's an example of a Sponsors page on North Liberty Blues & BBQ's website, complete with a backlink to their credit union sponsor:
This kind of backlink request is going to be easy since you already have an existing relationship with the organization.
Depending on how many organizations you sponsor, you could potentially get up to a dozen or more backlinks with this approach.
4. Take Advantage of Business Associations and Memberships
Due to the size of the financial industry, there are many specialized associations and groups where you can become a member. The Mountain West Credit Union Association is a good example.
It's likely that your finance business is already a member of some industry and business associations. If so, you can get backlinks from them!
Start by making a list of all the industry and business associations your company is a member of. Or, ask your accounting department to give you a list of all the organizations where you paid membership fees in the past year.
Then, contact the organizations to ask about backlink options on their site.
Maybe there's a member directory where you can be listed, or you could be featured on their blog if you have something newsworthy to share.
For example, this blog post on the Mountain West Credit Union Association's website links to one of their members who opened a scholarship:
What if you’re not a member of any trade associations?
You have two options in that case:
You can spend some money and join a few organizations. Or, you can create your own organization and list your company as a founding member.
5. Leverage Your Relationships with Brokers and Third Parties
Finance is a highly specialized industry with dozens of niches.
Because of that, you're likely to have relationships with other companies in different finance niches.
Think about it:
There are companies that specialize in giving legal and accounting advice to finance companies. There are software firms dedicated to credit unions. And there are brokers and other third parties that play a key role in selling financial products.
If you have industry relationships, there's a backlink opportunity there.
Take a common example: mortgage brokers. If your bank provides mortgage loans, you probably work with some.
To get backlinks, all you need to do is reach out to your brokers and ask!
6. Get Listed on Finance Comparison Shopping Sites
Comparison shopping is alive and well in the financial industry, especially for mortgages, credit cards and other consumer products.
Just visit a comparison site like Ratehub or RateSpy—you'll see that they compare a variety of companies, and that there are backlinks to each company being compared.
On RateSpy's Best Mortgage Rates page, there are links to the company websites when you click on the "Details" button:
These finance backlinks are particularly worthwhile because the traffic you get from these websites is highly qualified—people actively shopping for finance companies and products.
To add your company to these sites and get a backlink, your best bet is to contact the site owner or look into their advertising options.
7. Publish Original Survey Content
Creating and publishing an original survey on your website is a great way to get PR and backlinks.
To do that, you need to start with a topic to conduct a survey on. Ask your sales staff about the most common questions they receive from customers. What do your customers want to know?
From that, create a digital survey using a software platform like SurveyMonkey or Google Surveys. This will help you organize the survey data.
Set your survey requirements—I'd recommend limiting the survey to a maximum of 10 questions, and aiming for at least 1,000 respondents to attain statistical validity.
Then, launch the survey to a targeted list of customers. Collect the survey data, create a short report on your findings, and then reach out to business media outlets to promote your findings.
Want to see this survey technique in action?
Check out how Goldman Sachs earned some media attention with their survey on corporate technology spending:
When it comes to link building, you might forget to consider the potential of offline events.
But conferences, meetups and other offline events are a great way to generate targeted local finance backlinks—and build valuable new relationships, too.
Think about all the upcoming events involving your company. Are you hosting any events at your offices or other venues? Are your employees already participating in events or speaking at conferences?
Then, look for websites where you can list your upcoming events. There are plenty of local event sites to choose from!
For example, if you had an event coming up in Chicago, you'd want to get it listed on a local website like Choose Chicago.
If the event is being held at a venue, you can also look at getting your event listed on the venue's website. Here's an example of a finance event listed on the Vegas Means Business website:
If you held one event per month, you could easily earn a dozen backlinks per year—as well as attract even more customers from the event itself.
9. Get Listed on Review Websites
The voice of the customer is everywhere in business, and that includes reviews and ratings websites.
In travel, you have websites like TripAdvisor. In the financial services industry, there are other websites to consider.
Here are a few where you can list your finance business:
Each website has a different process for how they manage business listings and backlinks. Some will be free to get listed, and others will come with a fee.
As an example, the Better Business Bureau has an application page to start the process of listing your financial company.
Note: Many customers only leave reviews when they're unhappy. If possible, set up a process for reaching out to unhappy customers and addressing their concerns.
10. Answer Finance Questions on Q&A Sites
Without the right financial products, it's difficult to travel, own a home and manage responsibilities. Some people are drowning in debt partly because they just don’t understand the costs and features of financial products.
You can help to end this confusion by writing detailed answers to finance questions on Q&A sites like Quora.
Here's an example of a popular question related to mortgages:
Note that there are many votes and answers to the question, which tells us that a backlink on this page could provide a lot of meaningful traffic.
Make sure you provide thorough and helpful answers. You can’t just add a link to your website and call it a day—it's likely to be flagged as spam or completely ignored.
Instead, include the backlink as part of your answer to direct people to further information.
As well as Quora, you can also look at other Q&A sites like Superb Answer and Yahoo Answers.
11. Do What Your Competitors Are Doing
You can go a long way by studying your competitors' backlinks.
If you're using SEOptimer to track your main competitors, just head to the Backlink Research section to see all the backlinks they've been building:
Go through your competitor's links to find the best backlink opportunities worth taking advantage of. You'll be able to easily identify whether they got their links from business listings, news articles, etc.
If it's a valuable backlink, go and get it for yourself too!
Use this strategy once per month to come up with plenty of new backlink ideas.
12. Surprise Customers with Good News
The general public doesn't exactly love financial companies. That’s just the reality, especially for the largest banks.
Fortunately, you can work against this perception to stand out and earn links.
Think about a good news story involving your financial company that you can highlight. Are you associated with a successful local business? Have you given a scholarship or award to students at a local school?
Create a press release about it!
The key point in using this strategy is to be unexpected and surprising.
Make the story about somebody else, and you're more likely to earn attention and backlinks.
13. Launch Seasonal Content and Promotions
Financial needs change depending on the time of year. Think about “back to school season” in August and September—a great time to market to students and families—and “home buying season” in the Spring.
You can earn backlinks related to these seasonal opportunities by creating timely content.
Start by choosing a relevant season or event related to your products. For example, “back to school season” might link with a student credit card you offer.
Then, develop a promotion related to the season and product. Maybe you're offering a special deal for students who sign up for a credit card in the next 30 days, or running a contest with a cash prize.
Create some relevant content to go with the promotion, and then use outreach and PR to get the word out. You could also use social media ads to get attention quickly.
14. Answer Finance Questions on Your Site
Earlier, I covered the approach of answering questions on Q&A sites. But there’s one significant drawback to that approach:
You’re limited by the questions that are posted there.
What if you have other questions you want to answer for your audience?
Simple: Answer those questions on your own website.
To use this technique effectively:
- Minimize jargon. Outside of the finance industry, nobody likes the sound of finance jargon. Aim to reduce—if not eliminate—the use of jargon in your content. Ask a non-industry friend to read your content first, and if there's a word or abbreviation they don't understand, take it out.
- Tell stories. It's important to use some numbers to make your point, but don't forget to include your customer and make the content about them. For example, if your content is about student credit cards, use a story to show how the credit card's travel insurance feature saved a student when they were traveling abroad.
- Be helpful. In finance, it's far too easy to come off as preaching or condemning people for making bad financial decisions. That tone will only turn people off your content (and ruin your chance of earning good backlinks). Instead, use a positive, helpful tone and provide practical and simple tips.
15. Monitor the Backlinks You Earn
As you put these finance backlink strategies into action, you then need to monitor your website’s backlink profile so you know which ones are working.
With that information, you can see which methods are worth doubling your efforts to get more backlinks, and which ones aren't delivering results and should be changed.
SEOptimer's Backlink Monitoring tool is a great tool for backlink tracking and identifying the best backlink opportunities.
You can see all the backlinks you've gained at a glance, and keep track of where they're coming from:
You'll also be automatically notified of new backlinks (and lost ones), making it easy to stay on top of every change.
Finance Backlinks Wrap-up
Ready to start earning valuable, relevant backlinks to your finance site?
Start with the easy wins at the beginning of this article, and as you gain confidence, move on to the more complex techniques.
With the right finance backlinks, you can compete against the best of them and come out on top.
Bruce Harpham offers outbound and inbound marketing services for B2B technology companies.