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A Guide to Google Ads (PPC) for Financial Advisors

by Advisor I/O

When we build a marketing plan for a financial advisor, Google Ads (PPC) are often a part of the strategy. They can be a powerful tool, but if not utilized in the right way, Google Ads can be a money pit for your practice.

First, to level set: Google Ads are very different from SEO. This is often something that is misunderstood in the advisor community. They have very different use cases with very different timelines.

A Few of the Differences

Google Ads vs. SEO - Advisors


While SEO and Google Ads should be used in conjunction, knowing when and how to incorporate Google Ads into your marketing mix can be challenging. We get into it.

A few data points to help set the context:

  • There are over 3.8 million searches per minute on Google (Kenshoo)
  • The majority of investors who are under 45, and have $500k in investable assets, start their searches online (The Oechsli Institute)
  • Mobile searches for “financial advisor” have grown 75% over the last two years (Google)
  • Businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on Google Ads (Google Economic Impact Report)

When it comes to different types of Google Ads, we like to have advisors think about them in three ways:


Google Ad Approach

Bidding on branded terms – we don’t usually recommend this for smaller brands unless they aren’t ranking in the first 3 organic results for their own brand name. The reason is because if someone is searching for your brand, the intent is incredibly high and they’re looking for you, so no need to bid on it.

Bidding on local terms – these types of ads can have a great ROI, but the cost of doing this often doesn’t outweigh the opportunity. With local searches such as “financial advisor New York” you can often pay $15, $16, $18 dollars per click, which leaves you paying thousands for the traffic needed to drive a 3-4% conversion rate.

Bidding on topical terms – can improve your reach dramatically, but the traffic coming to the site from these ads can often be lower quality. The reason is that the intent searching topical keywords can often be loosely defined.

We’ll get into our recommendation for ways you can lower costs and still have good reach below. But now that you understand the framework, let’s get into building the ad.

Building the ad Structure Through Goals and Approach

Once you’ve determined your high-level direction, it’s time to determine your goals and approach. You can select a number of types of ads, but we’re going to focus on search in this piece. For your goals, you should select lead generation OR website traffic. The ad types are similar, if you select lead generation, Google will show your ad to people who are more likely to convert on a form vs. traffic will show to people more likely to click on ads. So, you may have more impressions and traffic via website traffic ads, but fewer conversions, and vice versa.

Google Ad Campaign Types Google Ad Ad Types


Once you’ve gotten through this step, it’s time to put in your keywords, but the key here is to do some upfront research in order to determine the best approach for you. Google’s Keyword Planner tool can be incredibly valuable here.

As you’ll see in the example below, you can easily go too broad or too narrow and expensive – so the goal is to find the right spot in between.

What we recommend:

Topical keywords (i.e., retirement income planner, financial planning help, etc.) with a location filter on them (i.e., Austin). This will give you the reach but allow you to spend less on the cost-per-click basis. If you have the budget for local keywords (i.e., financial advisor Austin), do it, but understand as noted above you’re going to be paying $12-22 per CPC on average.


Google Ad Planner


Google Ad Keyword Match


How to Setup Your Keyword Groups

This is often underrated, but we believe that  how you set up your keyword groups is critical to your success. The better the structure, the better your ad groups and campaigns are going to run.

  • Each keyword “theme” should be set up as a separate campaign (i.e. retirement income)
  • Each ad group should include a different type of keyword match type set (i.e. exact match on [retirement income]

Crafting Your Ads

There are three key components to crafting a good Google Ad: the keywords you’re targeting, your ad copy, and your landing page experience. If any one of these is off, it could severely hinder your performance on Google Ads.

As mentioned above, ensure the keywords that you’re bidding against are clearly defined and specific to your business.

Your ads should reference the keyword you’re bidding against, and they should also be actionable and allow customers to understand specifics. Be sure to include site link extensions and structured snippets at the campaign level. Google provides a number of resources on how to approach these. They can be found here. [is there a missing link]

The landing page is an important part of the experience. The key things to for a good landing page: : .

  • Your keywords are referenced in the top section of the page
  • Your value prop for why you’re the solution for them is clear
  • The service tied to the ad is clearly explained and referenced on page
  • You have clear conversion points for contact on the page
  • Bonus: you have multimedia on the page

Once you have everything setup, it’s time to deploy and measure. The trick? Google Ads are not “set it and forget it.” You have to actively monitor every day, week, and month. The platforms and competition are always changing.

What to measure:

  • Cost Per Click
  • Click Through Rate
  • Quality Score
  • Landing Page Performance

The Bottom Line

Google ads are a great way to build brand awareness and convert more high-intent individuals, but the approach, structure, and art-of-the-ad is a formula you have to get right.

If you need help, you can download a sample spreadsheet here which will give you everything you need to build out your Google Ad strategy.

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