We have already seen how content marketing can help fintech companies solve some of their pressing problems: regulations, cybersecurity, human touch, competition, early adopters and new customers.
We also noted that a storytelling approach to content marketing – storytelling as a content strategy – is the best. What stories should you tell, and how do you get your target audience to read those stories?
Telling stories no one wants to listen to is futile. And telling the stories they want to listen to without getting it to them (or them to it) is as futile. So how do you tell the right stories and get them before your audience?
Instead of chasing specific keywords, creating stories around them, and trying to rank those stories on Google, fintech companies should focus on creating and maintaining topical authority.
Google’s Hummingbird and Rank Brain update has changed SEO – making topical authority the best way to get your stories out – and fintech companies must understand this change and use it to their benefit.
In this article, we consider:
- The rise of topical authority
- The opportunities topical authority provide
- How to build topical authority
The rise of topical authority
Before Hummingbird, ranking on Google was primarily dependent on keywords, links, and social shares. “Make sure the keyword is in the headline,” “The keyword should appear 10-15 times,” “Keyword is a must in the first paragraph” were some of the popular SEO wisdom.
However, in 2013, Google introduced the Hummingbird update to their algorithm. Google realized that more people were using natural and conversational language in their searches (e.g. where can I get car loans in California?). This use of natural language was concurrent with the rise in voice search.
Consequently, Google began to focus on user intent – what exactly is this person looking for, what’s the request beyond the words – rather than mere keywords.
The relevance of a piece of content to the user’s intent became important. It was no longer enough that an article contains the keywords the searcher uses; there must be a match between the content and the user intent.
One of the consequences of this is that a single article can be relevant to different users using different keywords but with the same or similar intent. An article titled “everything you need to know about mortgages in Texas” can rank for keywords including “house loan,” “home loan,” “homeownership,” among others.
The ascendancy of user intent and content relevance increased the importance of synonyms (substitute terms and co-occurrence).
Consequently, a single article can rank for many keywords and generate much more traffic than it could when keywords were primary.
The introduction of Rank Brain in 2015 further improved Google’s ability to understand user intent and match it to relevant content. Rank Brain uses AI, which enables it to learn from the users’ interaction with particular search results and improve future search results – better match of intent and content relevance.
What is topical authority?
Topical authority is perceived expertise or authority over some subject areas or topics. Said differently, topical authority measures the depth of expertise a website has on a topic.
Every topic has various sub-topics. POS system is a topic with many sub-topics like “how does a POS system work” “what is a POS system” “what do I need to set up a POS system” “what are the best POS systems?
For a fintech company to establish authority on the topic “POS system,” they need to show a depth of expertise, which means quality and relevant content covering the different queries related to that topic. Instead of seeing “POS system” as a single keyword, they need to rank for, a fintech company can focus on building authority around this topic.
What difference does this make?
The opportunities topical authority provide
A broader set of keywords
The first benefit of topical authority is that it provides you with a broader set of keywords.
Remember that with the Hummingbird and Rank Brain updates, the important thing is the content’s relevance to user intent rather than keywords. Therefore, by establishing topical authority (creating quality content on a topic), you can capture more related keywords as long as the intent behind those keywords match the content you produce.
Instead of only ranking for “POS system,” you are ranking for “how does a POS system work”, among others.
The more keywords you can rank for, the higher your traffic.
More time on site and greater engagement
When someone visits your website while searching for “what are the best POS systems”, and they find other relevant content on the topic of POS system, they will stay to get more. Moreso, if your content appeals to them, you become their go-to source for anything POS system.
The person who planned to read a 5-min article may end up spending 30 minutes on your website and subscribing to your newsletter.
Once you are ranking for more keywords and searchers perceive you as an expert on the topic, other websites will begin to link to yours.
The more links you generate, the greater the authority of your website.
Instead of depending on black hat techniques to build links or spending much time requesting for them, websites will be glad to link to you on their own.
So how do you build topical authority?
How to build topical authority
Coming up with topics
What topics should you seek to create authority around?
It depends on the nature of your fintech company. If you are in the lending space, topics like “credit cards,” “home mortgages,” “car loans” are good ones. If you are in the robo-advising space, topics like “robo-advisor,” “investment portfolio,” “passive investing,” “stocks” will be relevant to your business.
Building topical authority depends on capturing as many queries around that topic as possible. If “investment portfolio” is the topic, sub-topics can include “what is an investment portfolio,” “how can I build an investment portfolio,” “what is portfolio diversification,” “what assets should I have in my portfolio?”
There are many ways to find sub-topics most relevant to your target audience:
- Sales team: They know your existing customers and the type of questions they ask. Understanding your existing customers is a good way to gain more customers.
- Support and customer service team: Like the sales team, they interact directly with your customers. They can provide you with many insights you can turn to sub-topics.
- Online communities: What questions are people in relevant communities on Reddit, Facebook, and LinkedIn asking? Create sub-topics out of those questions.
- Answer the public: ATP is a platform where you can generate sub-topics from a given topic. Input your topic, and the platform will give you some ideas for sub-topics. Choose the most relevant ones.
In the image below, you will see the different sub-topic ideas for the topic “Investment Portfolio.”
- Keyword Research: You can also use traditional keyword research tools (Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, Ubersuggest, and Moz) to find some interesting sub-topics. Focus on question keywords in natural and conversational language.
Create a pillar page
The Content Marketing Institute defines a pillar page as “a web page that covers the overall topic in depth and links to the clusters of related content.” A pillar page “covers all aspects of the topic on a single page, with room for more in-depth reporting in more detailed cluster blog posts that hyperlink back to the pillar page,” according to Hubspot.
A pillar page covers a topic in-depth. Every sub-topic must find a place on the pillar page as a sub-heading (whether H2 or H3).
In a pillar page for the topic “investment portfolio,” you should cover sub-topics like “what is an investment portfolio,” “how can I build an investment portfolio,” “what is portfolio diversification,” “what assets should I have in my portfolio?”
You should give enough information about each of the sub-topics that will make the readers crave for more. It should not be too short or too long, just enough to get them wanting more.
Where will you satisfy their desire for more?
Create topic clusters for each sub-topic
You will satisfy their desire for more in topic clusters. A topic cluster focuses on a single sub-topic that forms part of an overall topic. The topic cluster is an expanded and detailed version of one of the sub-headings on your pillar page.
In the example above, “what is an investment portfolio” will be an article on its own. There you will be able to get into more details than you did on the pillar page – whose purpose is to introduce and create a hunger for more.
Link topic clusters and pillar page
Link every topic cluster to the pillar page and link out to the topic clusters from the pillar page. These internal links add structure to your site architecture and make it easy for readers to find the information they want.
Use multiple content types
Your pillar page and topic clusters should have more than written words. Use charts, graphs, and infographics to improve the content’s quality and the readers’ experience. You can also repurpose them into podcasts and videos to improve engagement.
The more content types you can explore, the better.
Nothing hurts more than telling stories that no one wants to hear or failing to get your stories before your target audience. Marketers have focused on keywords and keyword research to solve those problems.
However, focusing solely on keywords will not cut it with the current Google algorithm. Therefore, fintech companies that want to grow their business must focus on building topical authority.
When you build authority on relevant topics, you rank for more keywords, get more traffic and backlinks, and enjoy more engagement with your readers as they spend more time on your website.
If you use storytelling as a content strategy approach, then more keywords, traffic, backlinks, and engagement will translate into more customers and revenue for your business.
So what are you waiting for? Start building topical authority now!!
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