Consumer dutyMay 18 2023

Majority of financial services brands fail Google’s trust guidelines

Search supported by
Majority of financial services brands fail Google’s trust guidelines
Biking on the Google campus (Credit: Google)

Out of 50 household-known finance brands, four in five are currently failing Google’s guidelines for quality and trustworthy websites, according to analysis by financial services digital marketing agency Balance.

It found that guidance based on Google’s Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (EEAT) guidelines and the Financial Conduct Authority’s consumer duty are not being followed.  

The agency analysed 50 household-known websites across the main sectors of financial services, and gave each website a score across the four areas of Google’s EEAT recommendations.

The scores out of 12, three for each part of EEAT, were:

  1. Price comparison websites - 9.4
  2. Consulting firms - 9
  3. Investment firms - 7.9
  4. Banks- 6.5
  5. Insurance brands - 5.9
  6. Building societies - 5.3

From the 50 websites analysed, 49 failed to achieve top marks across all of the areas. 

The one site with a perfect score belonged in the price comparison sector, while one bank received zero points. 

Both the highest and lowest scorers are household brands used by millions of British consumers each year, Balance said.

Price comparison websites, which dominate the buying behaviour in some categories, seem to rack in the highest scores, with an average score of 9.4 thanks to their high performance in trust and authority. 

However, they were weak at evidencing expertise. 

Balance said this is troubling given how many consumers use these websites and read their articles when making financial decisions. 

Alex Murphy, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Balance, said: “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, but more importantly, to join the dots to a better experience for customers.

“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.”

Meanwhile, building societies were the worst performing sector, scoring less than half at 5.3 out of 12, primarily due to poor scores in the experience category.

Balance said 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.