Balance, the UK financial services digital marketing agency, has published research showing that four in five finance brands are failing Google‘s guidelines for quality and trustworthy websites. Furthermore, the research shows the Financial Conduct Authority‘s (FCA) recent Consumer Duty regulations are not being followed.
The agency analysed 50 household-known websites across the main sectors of financial services. It gave each website a score across the four areas of Google EEAT recommendations: Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trust.
The scores were marked out of 12, with each area of the EEAT offering a maximum of three points. Balance found the most compliant organisations were in fact price comparison websites, averaging a score of 9.4. Meanwhile, the worst-performing firms were building societies, achieving an average score of 5.3. Consulting firms and investment firms took second and third place respectively (scoring nine and 7.9 on average). Meanwhile, banks only scored an average of 6.5 and insurance brands only 5.9.
Out of 50 websites analysed, only one was able to achieve top marks across all of the areas. This website belongs in the price comparison sector. On the other end of the spectrum, one bank received zero points. Both the highest and lowest scorers are household brands used by millions of British consumers each year.
Breaking down the scores
Price comparison websites were able to score so highly in the Google EEAT due to their high performance in trust and authority. However, their major drawbacks were in evidencing expertise. Balance noted “this is troubling given how many consumers use these websites and read their articles when making financial decisions.” The poorest scoring area for building societies was experience.
Alex Murphy, co-founder and CMO at Balance, the financial services digital marketing agency, commented on the research: “While many marketers are looking how to make their businesses perform better in Google, and many compliance teams have a keen eye on Consumer Duty, no one else appears to be noticing the gaps between the two. In this lies a huge opportunity for financial services companies. More importantly though, an opportunity to connect the dots for a better customer experience.
“The results we found were troubling, especially with Consumer Duty looming in July 2023 and an economic downturn meaning businesses are fighting to survive and correct financial choices are more important than ever for consumers. Financial services need a new way of thinking in order to support their customers.”
EEAT comprises a number of ranking factors that Google uses to judge the quality of a website. It is more important for financial services firms to get this right, as they fall within the ‘your money or your life’ category which undergoes increased scrutiny by Google.
Murphy added: “Consumer Duty asks financial services brands to improve their online communications. The finding that stood out to me the most is, while the FCA is asking brands to ‘increase trust in the sector’ a huge 84 per cent of the websites we audited are not ticking all the trust boxes, with over a third scoring very low or not even scoring at all.”