As an independent financial advisor, you know that competition is stiff. There is no shortage of options out there for anyone looking for financial advice. And with the personal financial advisor group expected to grow at an above-average pace of 15% between 2018 and 2024,* the race to win and retain clients will only intensify.
That’s why you have a website, one with clear navigation and relevant content that accurately reflects you and your advisor business. But have you updated it recently? Not just with a new photo or blog post, but with current Search Engine Optimization, or SEO? That is, have you maximized the SEO that determines your ranking in online search results?
No? Well, you’re not alone. But because Google alone makes more than 500 modifications to its algorithm each year, and because the traffic drop from ranking number one to number three in search results is an average of 20%, your website’s SEO should be an ongoing factor in your business’s overall marketing strategy. Here are some tactics to set this process in motion either independently or with the help of a partner specializing in SEO.
Update keyword strategy
As with most things, the products, themes and concerns tied to the finance industry are constantly changing. Not just for those in the industry but also for your clients – current and potential. So the keywords used for your website’s SEO five, 10 years ago probably have some notable differences today. Differences tied to cultural and economic shifts that can affect the content of online search queries and therefore how you attract new clients. There are a number of keyword discovery tools available to help you compile and hone a list of marketing keywords that are relevant to your business, geography and target audience in current time.
Utilize page titles and headings
Incorporating accurate keywords in select title tags and headings on your site can prompt search engines to favor those elements over regular text. The increased weightings can, in turn, boost your site’s overall search rankings. Such optimization of content and source code is part of a coordinated practice called on-page or on-site SEO, which includes improving URL structures, page load times and other factors to facilitate search engines’ analysis and indexing of your site.
While on-page SEO refers to the managing of elements on your own site’s pages, off-page SEO refers to the building of links from other sites back to your own. This can be part of your networking efforts as you intentionally promote and distribute content. Such links can be “natural” from another business in your community, included in a guest post by you on another site and by social sharing. The weightings applied to such links are not treated equally. Instead, weightings are based not only on their number and popularity but also on the originating site’s expertise and authority. What’s more, algorithm modifications have improved a search engine’s capability to accurately identify trustworthy versus paid-for and “spammy” links.
Your site’s ranking in search results isn’t the only metric you should be monitoring. Google tracks user engagement on your site and you should, too. Metrics such as click-through, time on site and bounce rates can be valuable indicators not only of your site’s effectiveness but of overall business trends and the ultimate conversion of site visitor to client as well. Also, a search bar on your site can be a helpful tool in identifying what people are looking for and perhaps not finding.
What not to do, or, quality over quantity
Don’t stuff keywords. While producing fresh content can increase your ranking, doing so stuffed with numerous keywords can raise red flags. Instead, publish content focused on one, maybe two keywords. Make sure it’s well written, easy to consume and not leveraged from a third party.
Don’t ignore broken links. Fix any and all questionable or broken links on your site. And ensure those off-site links clearly connect back to your site. Ideally, the majority of information on your site can be reached with two or three clicks. Test your site from a variety of operating systems and platforms, especially mobile devices. Also, build and submit a sitemap to aid search engine crawlers, also known as bots or spiders, which scan and analyze websites.
Don’t forget your neighbors. We live in a global, interconnected world but don’t overlook the power of your physical community. Make sure your name, contact information, and website link are up to date in online local directories, neighborhood associations and industry organizations. Given the personal nature of money, it’s more than likely that the financial services industry will continue to be driven in large part by word of mouth. Be sure to review the comments section of anything you publish.
It is said that the goal of Google and most search engines is to uncover and present what is most relevant to their users. That same goal should hopefully be said of your website. And that’s why taking the time and resources to optimize your website’s SEO is so important. It’s not a process that happens overnight, but develops with regular, strategic reviews. It takes time to build an SEO strategy that will not only increase the number of people who view your website but also focuses on those visitors who will become clients and help grow your business over time.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Personal Financial Advisors.