Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of getting traffic to your website from the listings on search engines.
To facilitate our clients’ understanding of SEO, I often describe the most popular engines—Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.—as the librarians of the Internet. Their core task is to collect information and catalog it in a way that helps people immediately find what they are searching for. To store information, every search engine employs an algorithm; think of it as a secret recipe that turns information into search results. Therefore, SEO is the process of ensuring that your website possesses all the ingredients that match search engines’ recipes (algorithms). For financial advisers, like other business owners, search results are very important, as they increase the odds that their business is easily found on the Internet.
How can you assess whether or not your website has a suitable online presence? Here are a couple of very simple tests to conduct on your own:
- Type the name of your business in your favorite search engine. If that name does not show up in the first page of the ensuing search, you need to implement SEO.
- Conduct an Internet search using popular terms that your prospects may use to locate an adviser—financial adviser, financial planner, investment plan, retirement solution—and add the name of the city/town where your business is domiciled. If the name of your practice does not appear in the first result page, you need to implement SEO.
Analysis of Your Social Media Assets
If both tests yield a “positive” result, you may want to seriously consider creating a SEO strategy. However, before you hire a firm to help you with that, I suggest you do a quick analysis of your social media assets.
In addition to your website, do you have a blog and/or a presence on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook? Are these platforms working in synchrony? The correct approach in using social media is to establish an ongoing and consistent conversation that drives traffic to your website with the ultimate goal of converting visitors into clients. In marketing lingo, this is defined as a hub-and-spoke model.
It will also be extremely beneficial for you to establish the core objectives of your SEO efforts. The clearer these goals are, the easier it will be to measure them and assess if your SEO strategy is working for you.
What follows is a series of suggestions and zero-cost ideas you can implement to create an SEO strategy that will help you achieve an effective online presence:
1. Get Google Analytics
Go to Google and set up Google Analytics (www.Google.com/analytics) to find out the most common terms/search words people use to find a financial adviser (it is free), and ensure that such terms are included in your website and social media interactions. The more specific you get with your keywords, the better your chances of ranking high in search engines. Strategically place those keywords throughout your website content. For example, if you target the key phrase “529 plan,” make sure you create content about it and provide ideas and tips on how to open a plan and maximize contributions.
Optimize your website for local search by ensuring that you have a detailed listing of your practice on Google Local (www.Google.com/local/add) and other engines such as Yahoo, Bing, etc.
3. Blog It
If you do not have a blog yet, consider creating one as way to increase your website ranking in the search engines and boost your brand exposure. Managing a blog can be time consuming. However, it will help you to attract potential clients.
4. Use Video
Consider using videos on your website and/or blog. It will enable you to achieve two key strategic goals: increase the time visitors spend on your site, and boost your SEO ranking. Google’s algorithms assign higher ranking to those web pages more frequently visited and where surfers spend above-average time. Algorithms work on the assumption that the longer a visitor stays on a page, the higher the quality of that page’s content must be. A YouOn TV study revealed that web surfers spend on average 48 seconds on a specific website. When a site features a video, average time jumps to 5 minutes and 50 seconds. This is especially true for educational/informative videos versus those just selling a product. Consequently, creating a video that addresses your key audience’s problems and issues and provides tips and actionable ideas will help you drive prospects to your website, keep them on it and achieve your SEO goals.
As always, questions and comments are welcome.
i-Impact Group Inc.