“The best place to hide a dead body is the second page of Google search.” – Anonymous
Search engine optimization is trending in the financial advisor community these days. With the move to online-first businesses over the past several months, the conversations we’re having with advisors are increasingly centered around search.
Before we dive into the 5 areas, here are a few stats to root us in the importance of search.
And the list goes on and on…
Search plays a role in every part of the buying journey, from awareness all the way through research.
But figuring out what do to when it comes to search can be tricky if you don’t have the right process and tools.
Our view is that the formula for any small-midsize advisor should be: own local, own long-tail keywords, rank well for branded searches.
The reality is that ranking for search can be extremely difficult if A) you don’t know where you stand and B) you don’t know what you’re trying to rank for. The reality is that it will be nearly impossible to rank for certain keywords (i.e. retirement income) so the first step is to audit your own properties and conduct proper research.
Don’t want to read? Watch the video.
We tell advisors to audit their website first because it is critical to understanding where they’re strong and weak. If you’re driving a lot of traffic for a specific keyword or a specific piece of content, then you then you don’t need to focus on it. For example, we’re driving strong brand traffic for the keyword Advisor I/O, so we don’t need to focus on branded keywords.
Once you understand where you’re ranking well it’s time to do your keyword research. Our example comes from the keyword “financial advisor San Diego.” As you’ll see, there’s a good number of searches per month on this term, so if you’re an advisor in San Diego, then it will make sense to build content around the local search category.
Keyword research should focus in three places – local terms, long-tail terms (more on that below), and branded terms. When it comes to long-tail the key is to figure out variable phrases that have enough search volume but don’t necessarily have all the competitiveness. Why? Higher conversions, better chance to rank.
Once you’ve done your research it’s time to document. Make a spreadsheet of all keywords that you want to rank for and track them as appropriate as you optimize your website and create new content.
Your website structure is something that is not only critical for investors coming to your website, but it’s also critical for Google. A poorly structured website means it will be harder for the algorithm to crawl pages.
Your website structure is built on a hierarchy of navigation, sub navigation, and page structure.
Successful navigations and sub navigations allow people to find things quickly and easily. This means you need to root your navigation in the view of the investor and not use any internal language. When building your navigation:
Once you have your navigation in order, next up is page structure – yes, page structure. A good page can help a user stay or make a user leave. Whether it’s an article page, or an informational page (i.e. services), build out each page with intention and include a few things to be sure you’re flowing well for investors and Google:
Remember the research you did? Now it’s time to use it to build your content backlog. This is exactly as it sounds – use whatever keywords you’re trying to rank for to build a list of content topics you could write about. This means 15-25 pieces of thoughtful content across all the topics you want to cover – SEO focused, and non-SEO focused. This is just a starting point, this should be a living, breathing document that you can add to over time as you create more content.
The key to good content is rooting it contextually to your audience. Investors are not interested in content unless it specifically relates to them. You need to contextualize whatever piece you’re sharing with the audience you’re going after – through your own experience, data, or social proof.
For example – if you go after doctors:
This makes your piece worth reading for doctors.
Contextual content is the most underrated / important aspect of organic content development, SEO or not.
Document your topics, keep it alive.
Google prioritizes well-structured mobile sites. When’s the last time you checked your website on mobile? You likely have some areas to fix. You can use Google’s page speed insights tool (free) to understand if you’re optimized well for the platform. If not, work with a third party or your agency to fix any issues. The questions to ask yourself? We note them below.
And last but not least, own your local ranking. If you check search volume for financial advisor in _____________ <- your city, I can guarantee you that you’re going to have more than 100 searches for that term. Doesn’t seem like a lot, but 100 searches for a term like that is very high-quality traffic. The best way to do this is to 1) Include local information in your page and 2) Setup your Google my business page.
Complexity in marketing is only something someone tries to create when they’re trying to prove their worth. What it really takes is a simple, disciplined, systematic approach to building a marketing program of value. This applies to all aspects of marketing, SEO included.