From the March 2010 issue of Boomer Market Advisor • Subscribe!

Eight steps to a better online retirement presence

Log onto Google, type in "financial advisor" then your city and state, hit enter and look at the first page of the search engine results. Does your name and Web site appear? If so, good for you. If not, you're missing a huge opportunity to market and brand your practice, because where you appear in the search engine results reflects tremendously on your brand.

How do you move to the top spots of a Google keyword search? The good news is that you don't have to be number one. In reality, you can be in the top half of the first page and still receive a fair amount of consumer consideration.

Here are some steps that I followed to move Investors Capital up in the Google search engine optimization:

  • When I undertook the project, the first thing I did was go to the broker/dealer currently at the top of the search results and looked at the code of their Web site. After all, if they're in the top spot, they must be doing something right. So, look at the keywords of successful competitors (e.g., financial advisor Bedford New Hampshire)--and copy them. Put them on every page of your site.
  • Next, look at your keyword density. That is, of all the words on a Web page, what percentage of those words are keywords in your code. Strive for 20 percent. Make sure that on any given page of your site, 20 percent of the total word count are keywords (i.e., terms that someone looking for your services might type into Google). Start with your home page and work through all the subsequent pages, rewriting the copy to include those words.
  • Make sure you have ALT tags on any images you have on your site and make sure those ALT tags contain your keywords. ALT tags are the words that appear when you move your cursor over an image on a Web page. Not all images have or need ALT tags, but if you're striving for SEO, add them.
  • Web sites that are heavy on Flash animation are at a disadvantage because "spiders," the sophisticated programs sent out by Google and other search engines that "crawl" your Web site, read your code, and then rank your site among other similar sites, to my knowledge, cannot read Flash. So, stay away from Flash on your site. If you must have it, keep it minimal. All that animation may look pretty, but it's not helping your search engine rankings.
  • Create links from your home page to areas deep in your site where the spiders may not crawl. Spiders love links, especially keyworded links. It helps them navigate your site, which brings me to my next point.
  • Make your Web site spider friendly. Show the spiders a little love and they'll repay it tenfold with good positioning for you in the SERPs. Spiders love: lots of pages, lots of content on those pages, keyworded links, external links, and site maps.
  • Get as many external links as possible. By external links, I mean a link on someone else's site that takes a searcher to your site. To a spider, external links are a measure of how cool your site is: if your site has 100 external links and your competitor has 50 external links, a spider concludes that your site must be "cooler" (i.e., a better result for the keyword search) and you'll be awarded a better ranking.
  • Add a site map to your site. As I mentioned before, spiders love site maps. It helps them navigate your entire site. Lastly, be careful. Web designers aren't necessarily interested in your SERP ranking. Their goal is to make your site look attractive. Remember, I talked about Flash--pretty to look at, no SEO value.

I'm no Web site guru and I know just enough code to make me dangerous, but I do know that with just a little work you can boost your search engine results. It's amazing what you can do with a copy of "SEO for Dummies". Good luck.

Robert Foney is the chief marketing officer at Investors Capital Corporation. He may be reached at
781-477-4814 or

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