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Google AI Overviews for financial services

Luke Gosha

Posted by Luke Gosha

02 July 2024

We’re still early in the journey of Google’s new AI Overview feature, with it yet to arrive in the UK and other markets outside the US. Despite mixed feedback and a number of improvements already implemented, there’s no doubt that there will be an impact on the financial services industry, presenting challenges and opportunities.

How will AI Overviews impact financial services?

There have been a number of early studies showing the ratios in which AI Overview results are shown in certain arenas and queries in the US. 

A report by BrightEdge, found that while only 5% of search results for the finance industry showed AI Overviews, this rose to 45% when the search term was a question. Looking specifically at the insurance sector, 18% of search results displayed an AI Overview, increasing to 50% when the keyword was a question.

These statistics are going to be varied and are taken within the context of their respective case studies and the queries looked at. Things are also liable to change as Google further refines its AI Overview offering and deals with concerns over accuracy and regulations, particularly within the financial services industry. 

How different types of financial services queries will be represented in AI Overviews

There are various search intent types within the financial services industry. These can include people looking for commercial local search terms, such as “mortgage brokers near me”, or for more informational queries such as “ways to manage cash flow in a business”. These will be represented differently within Google AI Overviews.

Looking at these two images from a study from Yext carried out in the US, we can see some examples of what types of AI Overviews may be presented to the user. The first is from the search term “a bank branch near me”, with the screenshot comparing the difference between a current Google search result and AI Overview-generated one:

The conventional result shows a typical list of local searches of bank branches in relation to the geolocation of the user, which in this case is in Sandy, Utah. To the left, the AI Overview result shows a much richer series of informational-led text providing details to the user on ways to locate a bank branch and subsequent links to these sources. It's only below this that the locational information of bank branches in Sandy, Utah is provided in a similar form to what users see today.

Looking further, the study also provided a look at a top-of-funnel commercial intent search term, in the form of “how to apply for a mortgage”:

This is clearly a high-opportunity search term that mortgage brokers or financial services companies will want visibility on and, as we can see, the AI Overview result differs vastly. Instead of traditional blue links and People Also Ask queries, the user is presented with a rich AI-generated snippet summarising some steps on how to apply for a mortgage, with subsequent links to resource cards. Google has said there is a likelihood of brands who are featured in these resource links enjoying a higher click-through rate than in traditional search results, owing to the heightened prominence in the AI Overview results.

Financial services businesses will want to do everything they can to feature in these positions. While it is early days in hypothesising how Google pulls these AI Overview resource links in, there are some clear signs in relation to content structure, optimising for long-tail search queries, and nailing E-EAT (among other things). Let’s take a look at this in more detail through a finance lens.

How financial services businesses should optimise for AI Overviews

There are still a number of unknowns in how AI Overviews will evolve. Taking what we know already about best practices for SEO in financial services, it’s worth considering the following. 

SERP reputation management will be key

Google’s AI model, Gemini, will present the data contained in the AI Overviews from a variety of sources. For financial services brands, this includes data from Google Business Profiles and the website of a business in question, but also from other publishers, third-party forums, and suggestions or reviews from other users on third-party websites. This means that from an SEO reputation management point of view, businesses will need to be smart and savvy in ensuring that for a variety of branded search terms, any AI Overviews triggered are accurate in the information they’re displaying about your businesses. 

This can range from information such as addresses or services offered to opinions on your brand from third-party review sites. There have already been plenty of instances of forum and review sites such as Reddit and Quora making up AI Overviews, some less accurate than others, so keeping on top of this from a branded perspective will be vital. This means ensuring areas such as your Knowledge Panel and Google Business Profiles are up to date while managing your brand reputation and sentiments towards it from a variety of third-party sources that may contribute to AI Overviews on branded search terms.

Compliant, accurate and up-to-date content

The financial services sector is one of the toughest in SEO, particularly given the competitive landscape and the levels of regulatory compliance. As we’ve seen, Google is already triggering AI Overview results for certain YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) queries that require only the most accurate, compliant and up-to-date content. This is in spite of the concerns exhibited following the launch of AI Overviews in May 2024 and the potential for Google to land in hot water legally if it were to present misleading information about finance (as well as health, safety and current events) in its results. 

That said, it is clear that AI Overview results for highly commercial and highly competitive queries in the finance sector are here to stay. With that in mind, brands need to emphasise their E-EAT metrics and prove they are authoritative in their field. Using credible sources and known experts as content authors, and constantly keeping up to speed with industry trends and regulatory updates will stand you in good stead in the long term.

Stay on top of local SEO

For financial services brands with multiple locations (particularly in enterprise settings), such as banks, insurance companies and financial advisors, ensuring that Google My Business listings are managed and maintained across all the relevant locations will continue to be important in the age of AI Overviews. This will include ensuring that branch details are accurate, images and descriptions are kept up to speed, positive reviews are maintained, and brand transparency is projected. This ties in with the importance of compliance and brand reputation amid the competitive financial services arena.

Deploy structured data where relevant

Like with eCommerce queries in AI Overviews, deploying structured data markup where relevant across your category and product pages will help to give Google more information to populate its AI Overview results for commercial terms.

Considering product pages on queries such as “home insurance” or “contents insurance”, ensuring relevant schema markup around the product type, as well as for the reviews attributed to these pages, will likely heighten your chances of featuring in an AI Overview result as Google moves further towards brand reputation and trust in the finance field. 

There are a number of potential schema markups for banks and financial institutions, the likes of which are detailed on Schema.org

Build backlinks from reputable and relevant external sources

Backlinks still matter in the age of AI Overviews, particularly when it comes to the overarching importance of trust and reputation. This seems to be a recurring theme in this next stage of Google’s development. Backlinks from highly respected financial publications will be key. These can be gained by creating in-depth case studies, reports or guides around your topic (ideally with the involvement of an expert) or partaking in regular conferences, webinars and podcasts within the finance sector to continue to enhance your brand credibility.

The future of SEO for financial services businesses in the age of AI

It’s clear that despite the initial array of negative feedback (not limited to the digital marketing industry), Google AI Overviews will be here to stay. Brands that adapt quickly and continue to follow best practices in cultivating a strong, trustworthy and transparent brand that stays on top of trends and industry insights will flourish. 

This may not differ too much from how we would encourage brands in the financial services sector to build their SEO strategies, though it's clear that reputation, strength and accuracy of content, as well as E-EAT metrics, will continue to prove important. 

About the author

Senior SEO Consultant Luke Gosha joined Reddico in December 2020 after working for five years within the insurance industry. In his past role, he oversaw acquisition marketing and developed an in-house SEO team. Luke is now responsible for leading a number of our leading client accounts, from managing communications to identifying areas of improvement. He recently made his first appearance at brightonSEO, taking to the stage to talk about how leadership skills can be leveraged to work with AI.

Reddico financial services clients

Reddico has worked with numerous leading financial services brands including BlackRock (case study), Compare the Market, Direct Line (case study), eFront, Totally Money and Wellington Management.

If you'd like to discuss how we can help you ready your business for AI Overviews and optimise your organic traffic contact us >