If you’ve ever read an article online there’s a very good chance that links to other stories were included in its text. Commonly referred to as backlinks, these are links that connect the original article to another related article for further reading.
While these links serve as good reference tools for the end user, they stand to serve a bigger marketing purpose. Here, we explore the ins and outs of link building for financial and futures industry firms to help raise their financial ranking.
What is Link Building?
“Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own. A link is a way for users to navigate between pages on the internet”, according to Moz.
(A direct example of this being our own hyperlinked reference to Moz in the previous sentence.)
It you have a digital presence, it is imperative to use link building as a tactic to be more easily found in search engines. Google uses a tactic called “crawling”. This is an invisible tool that “crawls” pages on the web to add them to their indexes. A crawler will scan and determine if your page is relevant enough to move up in the search engine ranks based on many factors including content relevancy, keywords, and links.
Link building success is a combination of cross links and backlinks. Cross linking are links to others’ websites. Backlinks are links that connect to your website from someone else’s website.
For example, if you are a managed futures firm or CTA that provides data to clients through BarclayHedge, you will inevitably want to link to that website. Alternately, if you are a trading platform provider, a broker offering your technology would also link to your website directly.
Why Link Building Matters
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. Without link building, it would be difficult to show up in the top result of search engines, let alone on the first page of search.
Without having a strong search engine presence, potential clients searching for “financial services” on Google may not be able to find your firm. Perhaps a competitor has invested time and resources into SEO and link building which, in turn, ranks that competitor higher than your firm in Google. To remain competitive in how you rank in financial services search, you or your marketing agency will want to invest time building equity through SEO and link building.
For example, if you’re a financial advisor, it is worth your time to get listed in a financial directory, such as Bright Scope. Not only will it help you get found by potential clients through the directory itself, but Google will recognize and reward your site based on its participation in a legitimate directory.
Build Links for a Good User Experience
Link building allows a user to dive deeper on a topic. For example, if your futures brokerage firm writes a blog post on Bitcoin futures, you can add links to Bitcoin futures product specifications at the CME Group or Cboe exchanges.
Link building is even a good relationship building tactic. For example, linking to your financial auditor’s website can provide them with more web traffic and it means you consider them as a credible source, just as futures firms link to industry organizations such as the NFA website to display their membership and regulatory legitimacy for the user. It is reasonable to request that your industry partner reciprocate with a backlink to your website, too. This relationship will be recognized by Google and will win both websites search credibility.
How to Implement Links
The three main assets you’ll need to successfully implement links are a webpage, a link to a different page, and a goal. As you plan your approach to adding links, make sure the content that is being created is strategic. That way when the links are placed, they fit seamlessly in the copy with a “hook” for readers to want to click through.
For example, if you have a webpage that is strictly about Bitcoin basics, you can’t place a link to another webpage about the stock market because they are two different topics.
Additionally, keep the content as specific as possible. You can do this by choosing niche keywords to use within your link building copy. If you’re a hedge fund manager writing website content on “green” mutual funds, using terms such as “investing in sustainability” and “clean energy stock index” and “fossil fuel-free investing” will help support content ranking over broad, general, or less descriptive terms.
Google Keyword Planner is a great tool to help achieve this. Ensure that you are not setting a goal of adding as many links on a page as you can. This will make for a poor outcome that is difficult to reverse.
Link building must be exercised in moderation, however; too much of it can actually hurt your Google rank so it is important to find a balance. It is a significant factor that goes into common marketing tactics like SEO.
Google crawlers can intelligently detect when certain websites disingenuously cram an unreasonable amount of links into their content to “game the system”. These sites are penalized in terms of ranking. Again, be sure to integrate links into your content in a genuine way – where a reference link would naturally be expected.
For example, a financial advisor, broker, or fund manager who contributes market commentary to Seeking Alpha or Inside Futures would be rewarded for including a link in that content naturally leading back to their website.
Marketing is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
In theory, link building sounds like a simple tactic, especially in the financial industry where firms maintain partnerships with service providers, contribute market content, and link to trading exchanges, however it is quite strategic and even the most senior marketers have grappled with deciding how much is too much.
No matter how much you link build in a day, you will not see a return on investment right away. It could take weeks or even months to appear at the top of search engines.
In no profound sense of irony, for financial firms, the key is investing time (over a long period of time) in link building. As with most areas of marketing and SEO, link building as a tactic is one part of a larger and more intricate marketing fabric.