The Definitive Guide for Financial Advisor SEO
Many experts believe SEO and other digital marketing practices are the future for the distribution of financial advice and services to investors.
First of all, it transfers power back to investors where it belongs. When they are ready, investors can use the Internet to find, research, and contact the financial advisors of their choice. They are no longer limited to the advisors who cold call them. This also limits their exposure to financial advisors with the best sales skills.
Second, this fits the way most people make selection decisions. They identify their choices, do their homework, and conduct interviews that lead to buying decisions based on what they hope is factual information.
Third, they can protect their identity until they are ready to be contacted. This is a big deal for investors who are extremely cautious when they select advisors – perhaps the most important financial decision they will ever make.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a combination of several marketing processes that increase advisor visibility on the Internet (content marketing, pillars, social media, local SEO, etc.). In a simple sense, it is ranking for keywords that are used by investors when they surf the Internet to find financial advisors and research their credentials, ethics, services, and business practices.
Back in the day, the goal of most advisors was to rank on page one for a handful of high traffic keywords – for example: Financial Advisor Dallas. Page one keyword ranks are definitely important. Google says 91.5% of its users do not scroll to page two. 4.8% scroll to page two and 1.1% scroll to page three. So, page one ranks will always be important.
In recent times, it is more important to rank for keywords that are based on how investors launch their searches in the major search engines. That’s because increasing numbers of investors are using verbal commands to launch their online searches – for example, Find a Financial Advisor Who Works With Doctors in Dallas.
Based on the above, it is more important to rank for hundreds of keywords that collectively produce the traffic that advisor websites need to generate a steady flow of new leads each month. This strategy works best because keyword combinations used by investors are not predictable.
Every financial advisor in America has a website that delivers information about their firms and the professionals who work there. No advisor wants to be conspicuous by not having a website that potential clients can visit and learn more. But, most financial advisor websites fail to deliver the results that generate new leads, prospects, and clients for the firms. What is missing?
There are two types of traffic on financial advisor websites. One type of traffic already knows the firm. How do advisors know this? Investors enter the firm’s URL in a search engine. The other, much more important type, is investors who do not know the financial advisor’s firm (strangers). In this case, they enter keywords in search engines to find financial advisors they don’t know.
Financial advisors need visibility for hundreds of keywords so they are easy to find on the Internet. The easier they are to find on the Internet the more visitors they have on their websites.
Visibility, traffic, and a lead generation website are the three keys to digital marketing success. Lack of visibility or a poorly designed website will undermine the results that financial advisors are seeking.
The website traffic that is produced by online visibility is at the top of a financial advisor’s sales funnel. Investors that don’t know firms have to find them before they visit their websites. This is where the right keywords come into play.
There are four factors that have a negative impact on the SEO results of financial advisors.
A frequent factor is a lack of patience or perspective. There are very few results in the first month or two so they cancel the services of a qualified digital marketing agency that knows their industry. This would be the equivalent of terminating a financial advisor’s services based on a few months of stock market performance. It takes a longer commitment than a few weeks to measure the real value of a digital marketing agency or a financial advisor who recommends investments in the stock market.
A template-based website with no Internet visibility will not produce any results. Best case it is a source of information for investors who already know the firms. How do we know that? We know this when 80% of an advisor’s traffic is based on investors who entered their website’s URL in a popular search engine.
As discussed elsewhere in this article, failure to play by Google’s rules will have a negative impact on your results. In fact, there may be no results. All advisors have websites, but all too often they do not do what it takes to produce traffic for their sites. Therefore, they wrongly assume that SEO is only for the brand names and it does not work for them. They could not be more wrong, but they have to be willing to do it right to produce measurable results.
Some advisors want to work with any investor that meets their minimum requirement. They describe their markets as HNW or UHNW. This is a big mistake. People do not hire real estate attorneys to draft their wills and trusts. They select certain types of professionals because they believe their specialized knowledge will benefit them. The same is true for financial advisors. A high percentage of investors prefer specialists when they select financial advisors. For example, financial advisors who specialize in working with: Retirees, pre-retirees, business owners, doctors, executives, women, millennials, baby boomers, etc. Specialists are easier to market on the Internet.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) describes a bundle of services that have one core purpose. Build a financial advisor’s visibility on the Internet and produce traffic for the advisor’s website.
The SEO process takes time because a lot of advisors are competing for the same space (page one) on the search engines. And, to complicate matters more, they could be using the same or similar marketing tactics.
On the other hand, if financial advisors have the marketing budgets, they can buy page one visibility on the major search engines with advertising (SEM; Search Engine Marketing). In general, the advisors who are willing to pay the highest click rates with the biggest daily spends will have the most visibility.
There is a catch. Investors keep getting smarter. They know the big names bought space the same way they advertise on billboards. However, the organic listings earned their way onto page one with popular content that helps establish their expertise. Many investors prefer the advisors who earned their visibility. But, let’s face it. This is the way Google monetizes the value of its traffic.
Financial advisors need page one ranking for keywords that drive the right types of traffic to their websites. Some advisors make big mistakes when they launch an SEO effort that is doomed for failure. What are some of their most frequent pitfalls?
Because the goal is page one ranks on Google it is imperative that content and social media meet all of Google’s SEO requirements. Following are some of the most frequent mistakes that are made by financial advisors.
They pay a monthly fee to download content from libraries. Google has already seen this content hundreds or thousands of times. SEO credit from Google requires “original” content. From an SEO perspective, downloading archived content is a waste of money.
Google prefers content that is connected to pillar pages. These 2,000+ word pages reside on financial advisor websites and establish their authority for various financial topics. Blog articles are linked to pillar pages.
Many advisors produce content that is based on financial topics. Their content is buried by an avalanche of new content that is published each month on these same topics. Instead, they should be writing content that addresses the pain points of their ideal types of clients.
No one may know the real reason why Google wants 1000+ word articles, but for optimized SEO it pays to produce content that is more than 1000 words in length.
Google will also reward websites with higher visibility when they are a consistent source of new content. Advisors who produce a couple of articles per year will not get the visibility they are seeking. Keep in mind Google is rewarding advisors who produce new content on a weekly and monthly basis.
From a Google perspective, the quality of the content is also important. Why would Google give an advisor SEO points if no one opened and read the content? So, the number of people who actually open and read the content is an important metric.
It stands to reason that high-quality content has more SEO value than poor quality content. Not too long ago it didn’t matter. Financial advisors were rewarded for churning out short articles, whether they were read by Google users or not. Then Google got smarter. The content that matters is content that is read by Google users who use the services of financial advisors.
High-quality content is a two-way street. On the one hand, you want content that is of sufficient quality that people will share it with friends, family, and associates. And those people will share it with their friends, families, and associates. And, so on.
In an ideal world, your followers become dependent on you for relevant information that impacts the achievement of their financial goals. This is the tipping point when they subscribe to your newsletter and become dependent on you for timely information.
Think of this funnel as a way to create an additional competitive advantage. An advisor’s high-quality content is a way for investors to get to know firms and professionals. This is a way to establish expertise and build trust. Think of the advantage this creates when investors start interviewing financial advisors. There may be no reason to even interview additional firms and professionals.
SEO produces online visibility and website traffic. The critical role of a financial advisor’s website is to convert that traffic into qualified leads.
One type of lead may have an immediate need for a financial advisor. The person is retiring and rolling a substantial amount of money from a 401k into an IRA. They want to hire advisors in the next 60 days. There is a sense of urgency.
Other types of leads may not have an immediate need. They are seeking information that they will use when they are ready to start interviewing financial advisors. For example, they are retiring in six months and will start interviewing advisors in four months. Meanwhile, they are going through a learning curve about advisors and financial topics. This type of lead will end up in financial advisor CRM systems to keep the advisor’s name in front of the lead and build credibility.
There is no specific timeline for producing SEO results. What you should expect to see is month-to-month improvement that translates into increased visibility, website traffic, and lead flow. So, a realistic measurement is a monthly improvement that shows the SEO process is working.
There are several factors that can impact this timeline.
The first is a financial advisor’s current visibility on the Internet. How many keywords does an advisor currently rank for and what pages are the rankings? Even if an advisor ranks for 50 keywords on the first three pages, it is a start that will expedite the production of increased visibility and traffic. Google knows the advisor exists.
Second, can be the development of a custom, lead generation website. That can take six to eight weeks based on the number of pages, free offers, and turnaround times. It makes sense that advisors have the right websites before they begin the SEO efforts to produce traffic for their websites.
Third, does an advisor’s firm rank for any relevant keywords that produce the right types of traffic for its website? For example, a firm prefers to work with pre-retirees. Does the firm rank for keywords that generate visitors for websites that provide specialized advice and services for pre-retirees.
Fourth, the amount of digital marketing will impact the timeline. For example, a firm producing four blog articles per month will generate more visibility and traffic than a firm producing one blog article per month. The same is true for pillar pages and social media.
Fifth, is the website designed to convert visitors into leads? Most websites deliver information to visitors, but they do not produce leads for the firms that own them. Free offers and other tactics should be used to encourage visitors to give up their anonymity and submit their contact information.
Certain SEO tactics take more time to produce results. For example, using a content strategy to raise your visibility for competitive keywords takes more time. Some SEO tactics take less time to produce results. For example, local SEO improves your visibility in 75 online directories. Almost 25% of Google’s ranking algorithm is based on local visibility. This feeds a Google system that connects users to local service providers.
A reasonable timeline for seeing improving results would be 60-120 days after the launch of a custom, lead generation website, and increasingly positive results thereafter. These results can be impacted by several variables: for example, location, key personas, minimum asset requirements, the scope of services, local competition, and the digital marketing sophistication of these competitors.
Read our blog article: How Long Does SEO Take to Work on My Financial Advisor Website?