SEO in the Forex Broker space

 

The FX space is competitive. Very competitive. Top brokers post earnings in the hundreds of millions per year and the total retail market volume is almost $5 trillion a month. FXCM and Forex.com alone spent more than $17 million on advertising in Q1. Publishers the better for it (FXstreet posted earnings of 515K a month) – there is a huge incentive to do well in the search engines’ organic results. This post looks at the SEO efforts of GFT Forex, Forex.com, FXCM and Oanda, four well known US forex brokers.

Comparison

Below table shows the total number of links, and the total number of linking root domains by broker (one domain can have more than one link).

 

As you can see, link-wise, GFT is clearly doing the worst out of these. FXCM and Forex.com are running head to head and Oanda trailing a bit behind. However, if you look at it on a domain level, Oanda clearly pulls ahead (more below).

The same picture is shown in the search results, below rankings for these brokers on some of the top FX-related keywords:

FXCM

FXCM get’s some of its most important links from DailyFX.com. DailyFX is FXCM’s publishing site which attracts a large audience of forex traders (and links from a huge amount of publishers). I’ve talked about this a few times and it shows that besides using the publishing site for advertising, brand building and pr purposes it is also a great SEO strategy. FXCM also own quite a few sites they link to their main site.

Forex.com

Forex.com (GAIN capital) has a great domain – it’s a category killer and it gives them an ‘unfair’ advantage in the search engines. Every time anyone links to their site, it’s a ‘vote’ for the keyword Forex, besides the fact that an exact match domain is seen as a sign of quality by the search engines. Besides this, they have bought a few links on important financial sites as well as a large amount of lower quality links with the anchor text ‘Forex’ and ‘Forex.com’.

Oanda

Oanda’s search engine strategy is different. They use a subdomain for their main brokerage business (which seems strange given it brings the majority of revenue) which can be found at fxtrade.oanda.com. Their front-page is basically an SEO pre-page with links to link bait and inner pages with correct anchor text. They seem to have built their entire internet presence around SEO, which explains the fact that they have never really done any advertising yet manage to be the 6th largest broker in the world. The majority of their links come from bought and sought links for currency converter tools which are easier to get than links straight to a brokerage company, they then pass that link equity to their brokerage page at fxtrade.oanda.com with appropriate anchor text. There’s also few bought/built links to that subdomain.

GFT Forex

GFT has recently started a strategy like FXCM in launching FX360.com but they are not fully utilising it for SEO purposes.  They don’t seem to have many bought/sought inbound links which explains their lagging behind the competition in the search engines. Not much to say since they don’t seem to do much for SEO (which explains their rankings)

How can these companies improve their rankings?

Out of all of these, it seems FXCM has its house in order most. If they were to rebrand their brokerage domain to CurrencyTrading.com (hint: it’s seems to be for sale) or FXtrading.com (also for sale) they would be able to catch up to GAIN capital’s Forex.com (note that forex.com is a brand, not the company name). I would not recommend going with a short ‘Forex’ domain since that would cause brand confusion (even though ForexCM would work with their brand, it is too similar to the competition).

Forex.com should do something about its link profile, they should focus on getting high quality links instead of the many low quality ones they have currently. I would recommend they look into building a property (that is either officially their site or not) and use that to link build the lower quality links (ofcourse building this publication branded GAIN/Forex.com would also have other benefits).

GFT has lots to improve. Their publishing domain FX360 has no ‘proper’ links to the GFT company site, their homepage has very little relevantly anchored links either and they haven’t secured many good inbound links.

Oanda has their house in order but my personal opinion is that they would do better if they didn’t work with different subdomains. The way they are currently link building there is an unnecessary layer between the properties and it makes their brokerage business get less benefits from their currency rate links. I would put everything on the same subdomain. Also – not SEO related – their homepage doesn’t seem to be catered for the majority of their visitors which are looking for the broker…not the currency rate tool. They have a blog which they should also link to more from their homepage (there is a top bar that should be anchored ‘Forex Blog’ and linked to that site).

Conclusions

Ok, a short and not very in depth or scientific discussion of the FX brokerage field and their SEO efforts. I hope it gives a good overview of the industry and the different strategies out there. I think the strategy of building a content site to attract links and build broader links to and then linking to the main sell site with tight anchor text is a good SEO strategy. Couple this with a great domain, good on-site SEO (ie having the relevant front-page links and inner pages) and quality links to the main site and you have a winning strategy. Execution is another question all together – I’ll save my thoughts on that for a later time.

If you have any questions, comment below or find my contact details on Google (search for ‘Bart Burggraaf’).

 

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About Me

Thoughts on Direct and Online Marketing in the Financial Industry. By Bart Burggraaf. Bart is MD/Partner at MGL, a London based Financial Services Marketing Agency. The posts on this blog are the personal opinions of Bart Burggraaf and not the official view point of MGL or any of it's clients.