As a financial advisor in today’s digital economy, if your services cannot easily be discovered via search engines, you are doing prospective clients—in your community and beyond—a grand disservice by neglecting to establish a potentially powerful online sales pipeline. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing visibility in organic search engine results to improve rankings, drive traffic, increase brand awareness and gain an edge over the competition. While you won’t achieve your ideal search ranking in one sitting, here are 10 actions every advisor should take to get started:
1. Make sure your internal links are strong. Links indicate importance and strength. They point to different pages on your website and help both users and web crawlers navigate through the site. A website needs strong internal linking to maximize the strength of the most important pages because pages such as the product, service or contact pages should only be a few clicks away from the homepage.
2. Use keywords to determine relevance. A keyword is a word or string of words that users type into a search engine to find web content that matches what they are looking for. However, you want to avoid a high keyword density — the number of words on a page divided by the number of instances of a specific keyword.
3. Review the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) regulations. Recent updates to SEC and FINRA regulations give advisors more room to grow and increase their presence online. It is important to know the recent updates before starting a digital strategy.
4. Keep yourself current with Google algorithm updates. Since Google’s search algorithm is constantly changing, it is important to continually update website content and adapt to the evolving playing field.
5. Make your website mobile-friendly. Websites and pages that are not optimized for mobile see a significant decrease in rankings in mobile search results. Google gives priority on mobile search engine results pages (SERPs) to businesses with mobile-responsive sites and mobile apps. If your website is not optimized for mobile, it may lose quality leads and traffic.
6. Integrate your SEO and social media strategies. Even in the financial industry, failing to establish a meaningful social media presence can negatively impact your brand and put you at a competitive disadvantage. With the updates to FINRA and SEC regulations, advisors are increasingly using social media to gain visibility. Links to a company’s website from social media platforms increase website credibility and help search engines understand that the site should be ranked for certain keyword phrases. When people “like,” share or retweet a company’s content, credible backlinks are built. These backlinks increase that company’s website’s authority and credibility.
8. Create valuable content to encourage backlinks. Backlinks are incoming links to your site from another site. They increase your popularity, which increases your chance of ranking higher on the SERP. Backlinks also signify authority: if you have valuable content on your site, people will link to that content to refer other people to the information.
9. Ask the right questions when hiring an SEO expert, whether you hire an in-house professional, a freelancer, or an agency. When hiring an SEO expert, ask about current and past clients, SEO best practices, measurement strategies and background in SEO. It is important to hire someone who will be transparent with you and will follow the best practices in SEO.
10. If hiring a public relations agency, look for one that is SEO-savvy. PR agencies that incorporate SEO strategies into their PR strategies know the value of backlinks and pitching stories to digital channels. They research the most important key phrases that you will want to rank for in search engine results. They use Google Analytics and other analytics software to measure their success. Most importantly, these firms generate media coverage and high-authority backlinks needed to build a powerful digital presence.
By using these tips, you will be well on your way to growing your online presence as a financial advisor in this new era of business development.
Want to learn more? SEO for Financial Advisors: A Simple Guide to Help Your Practice Climb Up the Google Ladder is available for free download on Flackable’s website.