PensionBee’s CMO explains how to achieve SEO success through content

Alex Sword


The Financial Services Forum

This interview is from the FSF Insight/Receptional report into pensions SEO, available here.


PensionBee shows how SEO success can stem naturally from creating content that people actually want to consume.

“For us, the strategy wasn’t [just] to rank as high as possible for any possible keywords in pensions,” explains CMO Jasper Martens. “One, you need to be able to provide clear and simple information on pensions that people are searching for online. If you search for pension consolidation or other important keywords, the information you often find is actually quite complicated and can be a bit daunting.

“Our mission is to make pensions simple so you can look forward to a happy retirement.”

Jasper notes that simple and engaging content will push readers to scroll down and take time on the page, which are key metrics from the perspective of a search engine that is aiming to show information that is relevant to users. Conversely, if people don’t want to click on a page or leave quickly, these are negative indicators.

“The second pillar was to only provide information that’s about pensions and the services around pensions that we can actually provide,” he says.

With many consumers searching for particular information around keywords, it was important to have tailor-made pages for them to visit.

“It wasn’t enough just to make sure that our main pages from the website were optimised for those keywords as we all know what keyword stuffing looks like.”

This is where the Pensions Explained section on the PensionBee website came from, designed to be a go-to knowledge hub for key information.

“Rather than stuffing multiple keywords on existing pages, we created a specific section on our website in order to provide that information. I think that has been at the heart of us ranking so well on those keywords.”

Jasper says that a good content strategy goes hand-in-hand with an SEO one: making difficult pension content easy to understand also ensures it is optimised so it ranks well.

“I don’t believe this stuff should be driven solely by SEO, otherwise you get keyword stuffing and some really horrendous-looking content.”

He says that success comes from “creating content that people actually want to consume and whispering to other outlets that there is some really interesting content there so they will link to it.”

In other words, there is the on-page strategy to make great content, and the off-page strategy in which the PR team attain links to that section.

He adds that SEO leads to high quality customers.

“The marketing tool we use gives us the pot size per customer per channel. If you look purely at first touch, we can see from the pot sizes that SEO gives us the best quality customers compared to some of the affiliates and partners.”

The marketing team in PensionBee is split into the brand and comms team, which includes content marketers and the press office, and acquisition, which includes the owners of different marketing channels.

PensionBee has one senior SEO manager, who sits in the acquisition team. However, this manager works very closely with the six-person content team.

“So in a typical week, if there is a particular topic people are searching for and it’s actually up our street, then the SEO manager will produce a brief for the content team and they will start looking into the topic. So it’s a collaboration in the end.”

The company has upped its brand spending over recent years, including with major TV ads. What impact has this had on SEO?

“If your website doesn’t rank after you’ve had a multi-million pound brand campaign and Google still hasn’t got the message that it ought to be ranking your website, there’s something wrong with your website infrastructure,” Jasper says.

He notes that when PensionBee advertises, it sees natural search queries increase, whether for “PensionBee”, “pensionsbee” or “pension bee”. SEO teams obviously need to ensure that when this traffic comes in it is served the right content.

“What [advertising] does do is build traffic to the website, which is also an indicator for Google that the website is popular. I think it will indirectly help us to rank for non-branded keywords because traffic is increasing to the domain.”

The other place where brand is highly relevant is when a site is appearing in a list of search results alongside several others.

“The challenge is when you search for combined pensions and you get say 10 results on a search engine on the search page and I’m not ranking first but third or fourth, will people recognise my brand?”

With a strong brand, Jasper says, “even if a competitor ranks higher than you in search results for a term, you will get clicks.”

This will in turn enhance a site’s SEO position as Google will note that it is being clicked more than others.

Jasper’s background is in SEO, with his first job optimising websites. Founded in 2014, as a relatively new entrant to the market compared to some others featured in this report PensionBee had some advantages.

“I am massively in favour of SEO. It’s the diesel train, with a slow start but once it’s going it delivers results. You won’t see results in the first year or two years – when you have a new domain it has to settle, like cheese has to mature.”

The flexibility of being small and unencumbered by legacy technology was “fantastic”, with Jasper noting that now moving the Pensions Explained centre to another URL would be a major operation which would take weeks to do.

Jasper ultimately sees pensions content thriving in the future.

“Pension consolidation was nothing new but we were one of the first to supersize it, and make it available not just to those who can afford advice.

“More people are searching for consolidation than they did a few years ago. In the early days people weren’t looking for pension consolidation so I had to wow them on Instagram, Facebook and on the tube.

“A lot of people now know about it so how you acquire has definitely changed – you can tap into a larger group of customers.”

Crucially, the amount of digital content has made it easier to find answers to key questions online without having to go to a financial advisor and pay for advice.

“We see that people don’t go to a financial advisor with those questions anymore because the information is widely available through government sites or even websites like ours. So they use tools like this way more to educate themselves, find out what’s possible, and then start considering brands where they want to potentially sign up to.

“People are starting to do research and educating themselves more and more, becoming pension confident.

“The lines between advice, guidance and self-service are getting blurred and for consumers it doesn’t make any difference.”

Jasper claims that the key secret to SEO success is ultimately “providing answers on the pensions questions people have”.

“When we have questions we go to Google. We don’t ask our mums and dads anymore. We go to Google. So answering questions that people have with regards to their finances has to be the key thing. We provide the content customers are searching for which is related to the products we sell.

“It sounds boring but being successful is solving a problem.”


FSF Insight: How to Win in Pensions SEO

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