In today’s digital age, having a strong online presence and a search engine optimization is crucial for businesses in all industries, and the financial vertical is no exception. With the majority of consumers turning to search engines like Google to find businesses and services, it is essential for financial firms to have a well-optimized Google Business Profile (formerly know as Google My Business).

This allows potential clients to easily find and learn about your business, increasing your reach and ultimately driving more leads and conversions. However, simply having a Google Business Profile is not enough.

To truly maximize your reach and stand out from competitors in the financial vertical, there are key steps that must be taken to optimize your profile.

In this article, we will explore the importance of having a strong presence on Google, the key steps to optimizing your Google Business Profile, and the benefits that come with it.

By following these steps, your financial firm can gain a competitive edge and reach a wider audience, ultimately leading to increased brand awareness and growth.

Dynamic and Highly Regulated Sector

The financial industry is a dynamic and highly regulated sector, presenting unique challenges for businesses operating within it. Unlike industries such as retail or restaurants, optimizing local search presence, google search query and Google Business Profile listings in the financial vertical requires a specialized approach that takes into account various factors.

To begin with, businesses in this sector must navigate internal branding guidelines, accessibility considerations, regulatory measures, and governance considerations across different lines of business within the financial organization. These factors contribute to the complexity of managing local listings in the financial vertical, making it clear that a one-size-fits-all approach is not suitable.

Instead, businesses in the financial industry must tailor their local listings to specific functions within their organization. This includes creating separate listings for branches, loan officers, financial advisors, and ATMs, which can further be categorized into walk-up ATMs, drive-through ATMs, and “smart ATMs.” Each of these listing types requires a unique approach, including customized hours, categories, hyper-local content, attributes, and an overall optimization strategy.

The Importance of a Unique Optimization Strategy

Understanding the importance of a unique optimization strategy is crucial for businesses in the financial vertical. By tailoring their local listings based on function and following industry-specific best practices, financial brands can effectively enhance their online presence and ensure that potential customers can easily find relevant information. By delving deeper into the intricacies of listing optimization strategy, this article aims to provide valuable insights for businesses in the financial industry.

Financial Brand Listing Type Considerations

One of the reasons why optimizing listings in the financial vertical can be quite complex is due to the various features that differ based on business functions. Additionally, Google has distinct classifications or types of listings, each with its own specific guidelines or rules that apply to different listing scenarios.

For instance, there is a differentiation between listings for organizations such as bank branches and listings for individual practitioners like loan officers who may or may not be based at the branch. Furthermore, there might be a requirement for department listings in certain cases, such as consumer banking versus mortgages.

It is crucial to adhere to the rules and criteria associated with each listing classification, particularly in terms of establishing and representing the listings for a specific address. Failing to follow Google’s guidelines in this regard can result in disabled listings or even penalties at the account level.

Although disabled listings or penalties are relatively uncommon, disregarding the risks involved is not recommended. In a heavily regulated and competitive industry like finance, such consequences can have a detrimental impact on both revenue and reputation.

Please note that if you have more than 10 locations, you have the option to request bulk verification.

Google Business Profile Category Selection

Choosing the right business category for your Google Business Profile (GBP) is a crucial task that directly impacts the visibility, ranking, and traffic of your listing. Unlike other optimization techniques, keyword optimization is not possible in GBP listings due to Google’s guidelines.

Hence, the primary and secondary categories you select play a significant role in guiding Google on who should be shown your listing in local search engine results pages (SERPs) and for which queries. The key here is to focus on quality and specificity rather than quantity.

Google only allows for one primary business category, which emphasizes the importance of choosing wisely. On the other hand, spamming the secondary category field with irrelevant entries can have unintended consequences. It can confuse Google’s algorithm, leading to poor alignment with users’ needs and experiences, ultimately attracting the wrong traffic.

Having too many categories can muddy the signal for Google, making it difficult for the algorithm to accurately surface your listing for relevant queries and audiences. Consequently, this can result in a suppressed or poorly ranked listing, leading to decreased traffic.

It is crucial to carefully select categories that truly reflect your business and its offerings. By doing so, you can ensure that your listing aligns with user intent, enhances visibility, and drives meaningful traffic to your business.

Governance Vs. Cannibalization

The classification choices and targeted categories in a business listing are crucial for effective governance within the organic local search channel. It is important to understand that these considerations work together to shape a strategy that aligns with the business functions and business objectives.

The main objective is to avoid internal competition between different lines of business (LOBs) and ensure that search rankings and visibility are not compromised for irrelevant search terms. For instance, if someone is searching for a financial advisor or loan officer, it would be inappropriate to display a listing for a consumer bank branch, and vice versa.

Such misalignment can lead to a poor user experience, leading to frustration, complaints, and potential loss of revenue. Therefore, it is essential to carefully categorize and target listings to provide an optimized and relevant search experience for users.

The Importance Of Category Selection

For a comprehensive demonstration, consider the following example.

In the context of a prominent investment bank, the suggested classifications for Branches and Advisors, respectively, are as follows (please note that an asterisk denotes the primary category):

Branch Categories:

  • Investment Service.
  • Investment Company.
  • Financial Institution.

Advisor Categories:

  • Financial Consultant.
  • Financial Planner.
  • Financial Broker.

By examining the aforementioned illustration, we can gain a better understanding of the recommended categories established by a significant investment bank for both Branches and Advisors.

The Significance They Hold

The classification of branches reflects the significance they hold for the entire institution, while the classification of advisors is specific to individual practitioners. It is clear that these classifications serve distinct yet complementary purposes.

By strategically optimizing their visibility, these classifications will effectively meet the needs of users who are seeking relevant information about these specific functions.

It is important to note that category selection is just one aspect of developing a comprehensive governance strategy, although it is a crucial one.

However, it is equally important to carefully plan and optimize all other available data fields and content within the listings. This should be done in accordance with appropriate governance considerations, while also considering the overall relevance and content strategy for the associated lines of business.

Specialized Financial Brand Listing Attributes

GBP attributes serve as data points that convey important information about a listing, effectively communicating the specifics of the represented business. These attributes vary according to the primary category and present a remarkable opportunity to cater to users’ needs while enhancing performance by setting the listing apart from competitors.

Furthermore, they provide Google’s algorithm with pertinent details, enabling it to deliver more relevant results to users based on their localized queries. This aspect, often referred to as “listing completeness,” underscores the significance of providing Google with comprehensive information, as it directly influences the accuracy of matching listings to user queries.

Here are some key features and characteristics that can be advantageous in the financial sector:

  • Convenient Online Scheduling: Offering the flexibility of booking appointments online, ensuring easy access and saving valuable time.
  • Empowering Black-Owned Businesses: Supporting enterprises led by Black entrepreneurs, contributing to diversity and economic empowerment.
  • Family-Led Expertise: Providing financial services with a personal touch, drawing on the insights and experience of a family-led business.
  • Honoring Veterans’ Leadership: Recognizing and benefiting from the expertise and unique perspectives of those who have served in the armed forces.
  • Harnessing Women’s Leadership: Embracing the strengths and talents of women leaders in finance, fostering inclusivity and innovation.
  • Streamlined Appointment Links: Enabling clients to effortlessly schedule appointments through direct links, enhancing convenience and efficiency.
  • Accessibility for All: Ensuring a wheelchair-accessible elevator, entrance, and parking lot, promoting inclusivity and accommodating individuals with mobility challenges.

Below is a comprehensive chart that effectively demonstrates the most suitable attributes for listing, depending on the type of listing, line of business (LOB), or organization:

Managing Hours Of Operation

One crucial aspect that often goes unnoticed in financial listings management, and in general, is the inclusion of operating hours. It is essential to provide this information in listings rather than omitting it. Although it is not mandatory, neglecting to include hours can negatively impact user experience and visibility.

It is important to note that the hours of operation for different services within the financial space, such as bank branches, drive-through ATMs, mortgage loan officers, and financial advisors, will vary significantly. For instance, a bank branch may have operating hours from 10 am to 5 pm, while a drive-through ATM may be open 24 hours. Additionally, a mortgage loan officer and a financial advisor, both located at the same business address, may have their own distinct hours of operation.

To accurately represent each service and line of business (LOB), it is best to create separate listings for each, specifying their respective hours of operation.

Failing to include these details or using the same set of operating hours for all LOBs and listing types can lead to user frustration. It also prevents Google from effectively informing users about a business location’s availability, such as displaying “open now,” “closing soon,” or “closed” messages.

This omission of hours can result in missed opportunities when competitors with open status rank higher in search engine results. It can also lead to the disappointment of customers who arrive at an investment banking office expecting to make a consumer deposit or use an ATM.

Appointment URL With Local Attribution Tracking

Individual practitioners in fields like finance, mortgages, and insurance can greatly benefit from the use of appointment URLs. These URLs enable brands to provide a convenient link for clients to schedule appointments directly with the practitioner they find through organic search or direct search. 

By implementing this simple yet effective tactic, brands can witness a prompt and substantial improvement in lead generation and revenue.

Furthermore, it is possible to enhance this strategy even further by adding UTM parameters to these appointment links. This is particularly useful for brands utilizing Google Analytics or similar analytic platforms, as it allows them to track various conversion events, leads, and revenue associated with this valuable listing feature.

By leveraging these powerful tools, brands can gain valuable insights into the effectiveness and profitability of their practitioner listings.

Leveraging Services

Potential customers can be inform about the range of services at a specific location by incorporating them into a comprehensive listing.

The availability of services in GBP depends on the primary category, emphasizing the significance of selecting the appropriate category, as previously mentioned.

Once services are included in a listing, they will be prominently showcased on the listing’s mobile search engine result pages (SERPs) under the designated “Services” tab.

This contributes to enhancing the comprehensiveness of available data, leading to improved performance for both mobile and desktop platforms. Additionally, it enhances user engagement within mobile search engine results pages (SERPs), encouraging actions like visiting the website, making calls, and obtaining driving directions.

These actions, known as bottom-funnel key performance indicators (KPIs), play a crucial role in driving revenue.

Google Posts

Google Posts offer valuable opportunities for type of content marketing across various levels. Organizations can utilize this feature to share relevant and evergreen content that is strategically optimized for localized phrases, services, and product offerings.

Though Google has not explicitly confirmed that relevant content directly impacts overall rankings for a listing, it has been observed that well-optimized posts do appear in local search results for relevant keyword queries associated with the piece of content. These posts are often displayed as “related to your search” snippets, a phenomenon that has been widely noticed since 2019.

This observation carries significant implications, further highlighting the advantages of incorporating Google Posts into your local search strategy. Firstly, the presence of Post snippets suggests that a listing without the relevant post may not have appeared at all in the search results. Therefore, utilizing Google Posts can enhance visibility and drive more traffic to your listing.

Secondly, it is well accurate that promote snippets are linked to grow click-through rates (CTR), further amplifying the traffic gains resulting from better visibility.

Additional Post Benefits

In addition to the obvious advantages of Google Posts, there are numerous benefits in terms of effectively communicating with potential visitors and clients by providing them with relevant information about a physical location. This includes business details about products, services, promotions, events, limited-time offers, and more.

Various industries can make use of Google Posts for different purposes. For instance, consumer banks can showcase their offerings such as free checking or direct deposit, while financial advisors can promote their free 60-minute initial consultation.

By taking the time to publish posts that highlight these unique features, businesses can significantly impact their website traffic, click-through rates (CTR), and overall revenue.

Another noteworthy advantage of Google Posts is that, previously, they were outline to be visible within specific date ranges. This meant that they would “expire” or disappear from the search engine results pages (SERPs) once the designated time period elapsed.

However, certain types of posts can still show up in search results even after their expiration date if they remain relevant to the user’s query. This extended visibility can provide additional exposure and opportunities for businesses to connect with their target audience.

In Conclusion

The financial sector necessitates a specialized approach to optimize GBP (Google Business Profile) effectively. This strategy must be thoroughly evaluated to cater to the unique requirements of users, various lines of business (LOBs), and regulatory compliance.

Several factors must be taken into account when formulating this comprehensive strategy, including primary and secondary categories, operating hours, attributes, services, and content through Google Posts. These aspects play a pivotal role in establishing and upholding important governance boundaries between complementary LOBs.

By holistically and strategically utilizing all available listing features, financial institutions and practitioners can enhance their visibility, engagement rate, website traffic, revenue, and overall performance in local search. Simultaneously, this approach minimizes potential negative consequences such as cannibalization, complaints, and a subpar user experience.

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