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Australian fintech recovers from Google core update with new optimized content and grows traffic by 75% YoY

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“We find a lot of value in Semrush. It helps us with SEO, content creation, site audit, and daily ranking monitoring.”
Henry Leung, Digital Optimisation Owner at Jacaranda Finance

About Jacaranda Finance:

Jacaranda Finance is an award-winning neo lender. Jacaranda is on a mission to assist hard-working Australians with fast, reliable and responsible access to finance for life's expected or unexpected major expenses. Jacaranda is 100% online, Australian-owned and operated, and makes applying for finance simple and fast.

Business Challenge: recover from Google core update, regain top ranking positions for primary keywords

Despite being a fairly new company, Jacaranda Finance was competing successfully in the crowded market of online lending. 

After the 2020 Google core update, Jacaranda’s website experienced a significant organic rankings drop across key search terms. This impacted business performance, as 100% of the company’s leads were generated online.

Jacaranda Finance’s organic keyword trend in the Semrush Organic Research tool

Jacaranda Finance had to find the cause of the sudden drop and take a systemic approach to its SEO and content to maintain its competitive edge.

Solution: data-based and human-centric content creation

Previous SEO work at Jacaranda Finance was done sporadically. This time, the company hired two organic specialists to run a complete site audit and ensure it met Google’s new best practices for content, thereby providing a great UX experience to its customers. 

Site Audit

Henry Leung, the Digital Optimisation Owner at Jacaranda Finance, ran a Semrush Site Audit and it returned a precise list of suggested improvements around: 

  • Duplicate content
  • Canonical tags that were set improperly, some of them pointing to a loop
  • Meta descriptions missing, with others either too long or too short
  • JavaScript issues, and others.

“The Site Audit through Semrush gave me a good overview of the priority improvements needed,” Henry said.

The tool categorized issues into groups:

  • Errors: the most critical problems affecting the site performance
  • Warnings: second-priority issues
  • Notices: non-threatening problems that are worth reviewing

Using this prioritization, the Jacaranda Finance team was able to quickly recover and maintain its site health, which was crucial given the competitive nature of online lending.
 

Content Audit

Previously, the team wrote a lot of content with the basic, mid-2010s’ Google algorithm in mind (think of 2,000-word keyword-rich articles, etc.).

By 2020, Jacaranda Finance’s website consisted of 500 pages full of content that was optimized for search engines. While this strategy worked 5-10 years ago, it no longer did its job. 

By the end of the content work, Jacaranda Finance cut its page count in half, and thanks to Semrush, now had dozens of optimized and high-ranking pages. 

Here’s how they did it.

Henry and the team used the Semrush Content Audit and its integration with Google Analytics and Google Search Console to get the following insights for every page:

  • Traffic
  • User engagement (average session duration, bounce rate, etc.)
  • Keyword rankings 
  • Backlinks
  • Social media shares
  • Search intent
Semrush Content Audit example

The complete audit took the team two months and resulted in a comprehensive list of:

  • Core pages to keep and optimize 
  • Second-priority pages that had duplicate content and needed to be consolidated 
  • Low-value pages for deletion

Next, the team made sure to align each remaining page with its true search intent. 

“If a customer is looking for information, that’s what the page should give them. If they’re looking for an application form, we should make it quick and simple for them,” Henry said. 

It was time to enrich the site with helpful content that would be loved by both the users and the Google algorithm.
 

Content Creation

When it comes to the online loan industry, its core terms are extremely competitive. These are keywords with 60k+ monthly searches and fierce SERP competition:

Of course, the Jacaranda Finance team researched their core product terms using the Semrush Keyword Overview tool and integrated the most popular keyword combinations into their page titles and meta descriptions. 

To avoid keyword stuffing and duplicate content, they used keyword variations and synonyms found in the Semrush Keyword Magic Tool. The keyword sub-category column on the left gave them instant ideas:

However, just the top-level keywords weren’t enough for informative and well-optimized pages.

Through keyword research, the Jacaranda Finance team quickly discovered that long-tail keywords—specifically, questions—were the key to success, as they:

  • Gave the most helpful information to a potential customer
  • Had the highest ranking potential (lower keyword difficulty)

“We found that a lot of the questions people asked when researching personal loans were around costs. So we focused on that,” Henry explains.

All they had to do is enter the target keyword into the Keyword Magic Tool and filter by questions: 

While each of these long-tail keywords has a relatively low search volume, their combined traffic potential shouldn’t be underestimated. After all, many of them are variations of the same question with a high ranking chance.

“The Keyword Magic Tool gives us great insights on how to avoid intense competition and focus on the easy wins. Now we actually have quite a few highly relevant keywords ranking #1 in search,” Henry said.

Once the keyword list was ready, it was time to get writing. Henry used the Semrush SEO Content Template as a guideline for in-house writers. The tool helped uncover:

  • Content length of top-ranking competitors for the same topic
  • Recommended content structure
  • Missing semantically related keywords
  • Lists of relevant domains to get backlinks from
     

The Jacaranda Finance team made sure to include FAQ sections with the chosen questions wherever it made sense and discovered an additional benefit: besides the increase in traffic, the FAQ content improved the pages’ conversion rate.
 

Competitor Research

While implementing the changes to the website, the Jacaranda Finance team was keeping an eye on their direct competitors. They were particularly interested in their traffic insights, such as:

  • Estimated monthly traffic
  • Traffic sources (paid vs. organic)
  • Top keywords
     

Most of Jacaranda Finance’s competitors are lenders with high brand awareness. Using Semrush Domain Overview, Henry assesses how much of their traffic comes from branded and non-branded search. He then focuses on competitors with high non-branded traffic.

From there, Henry reviews a competitor’s top-performing pages and the keywords they rank for. He makes sure to review the page itself for any SEO-related findings and best practices.

The Jacaranda Finance team repeats this process regularly to detect new competitors in the industry. For their top competitors, Henry set up automatic monitoring via Semrush’s Position Tracking. This tool lets him know if multiple competitors are suddenly ranking very well and why that might be.

Rank Tracking

Henry also uses the Position Tracking tool to monitor Jacaranda Finance’s core keyword performance daily. 

Even though the company doesn’t have physical branches, the location tracking feature is especially important in the personal loan industry, as Google serves different results for queries like “cash loans” depending on the location. Henry set up tracking for all major cities to get granular keyword position data.

The tool also helps him track mobile vs. desktop keyword rankings:

The team also set up page rank tracking for important pieces of content to make sure they are getting organic traction.

“It took some time to set up the campaign: enter the keywords, locations and competitors, but after that, it’s very easy. The tool does all the tracking and we don't have to go to any other platforms to find this data,” Henry said.

Google Ads keyword research

While organic leads are Jacaranda Finance’s bread and butter, the company takes advantage of Google Ads whenever it makes sense. 

The team uses Semrush’s Advertising Research to find the most efficient keywords for PPC campaigns. They enter a competitor’s domain to find the list of keywords they advertise for, as well as their key metrics:

  • Search volume
  • CPC
  • Ad positions
  • Traffic they receive from a given ad (in absolute numbers and percentages)
  • The keyword’s competition level
A competitor’s PPC keyword list

This data helps Jacaranda Finance find the best keywords to target and those to avoid to stay cost-efficient.

Social Media

While social media channels aren’t as big a priority for Jacaranda Finance as organic traffic, it’s still a great way to engage with and grow its audience. 

To streamline SMM, Jacaranda Finance’s marketing team uses Semrush Social Media Poster and Social Media Tracker for:

Creating a marketing calendar 
Posting on several different platforms
Tracking their performance (and competitors’ performance) on all platforms

“The convenience of using one platform for all marketing channels and accessing data in one place is invaluable,” Henry concluded.

Results:

The data-based and human-centric approach to content at Jacaranda bore its fruit and delivered:

  • +75% organic traffic YoY (September 2022 vs. September 2021)

  • 150 keywords in Google’s top 3 positions in October 2022 (compared to 96 on October 2021)
  • 1022 keywords on Google’s #1 page (compared to 385 on October 2021) - a 265% increase
  • Improved organic bounce rate from 40.64% to 35.16% (13.48% lower YoY)
  • Avg. session duration is up 7.71% from 4:43 mins to 5:05 mins.
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