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There are two camps when it comes to SEO for financial advisors:
- Those advisors who think it doesn’t matter much because an advisor or financial firm’s business is and will continue to be referral-based
- Those advisors who think that while referrals are a great source of leads, advisors shouldn’t depend on them as the only source of business since the financial services industry is quickly shifting to the online space.
Those advisors and firms in the second camp are the ones that will beat their competitors and come out on top of the search results.
Yes, referrals are a huge source of new business for financial advisors and one of the better drivers of new leads—I’ll give the first camp that. That’s why ONE of your online marketing strategies should be review and testimonial generation—but not your ONLY strategy.
First, there are already more than 700,000 U.S.-based online searches for wealth management and financial advisor-related keywords per month, and more than 90,000 U.S.-based searches for the term “financial advisor” alone:
Second, recent research from Deloitte found millennials prefer to do their own research when it comes to wealth management, and the place they go to do it is the same place the majority of the population goes when they need to research something: a search engine like Google.
And how do you get your website to the top of the Google search engine results page?
With search engine optimization (SEO).
When it comes to SEO, finance is a different beast than other industries. Below you’ll find a guide to help you succeed with financial services SEO—including seven SEO tips proven to make your financial website rank higher in search results, attract more leads, and close more new clients:
- Make your website mobile-friendly, fast, and secure
- Use past search behavior to find your top financial advisor keywords
- Optimize your website’s content, title tags, headings, and meta descriptions for your top keywords
- Claim and completely fill out your Google My Business profile
- Claim and fill out your local directory listings with the exact same business information
- Create a key-phrase-optimized blog with high-quality content, and update it regularly
- Take advantage of (SEO-optimized) photos and videos
Learn more about financial services marketing here »
First Off, What Is the Definition of SEO for Financial Advisors?
SEO stands for search engine optimization, and the SEO definition for finance refers to the process of altering your financial website’s code and content to help search engine crawlers better understand what your pages are about. The better search crawlers can understand your page, the more connections they’ll draw between it and related search queries, thus leading to higher rankings. There are more than 200 factors that affect a page’s ranking, but the ones that matter the most are:
- Whether or not your website is secure (HTTPS vs. HTTP)
- Whether or not your website is mobile-friendly
- How fast web pages load on your site
- Whether a web page has the correct schema markup (a type of website code)
- The quality of your web pages’ content
- The length of your web pages’ content
- Presence of social signals that point back to your website
- Presence of quality backlinks that point back to your website
- Whether or not you have optimized images on your web pages
- Past user behavior for similar queries (Google’s RankBrain)
How do you influence all these factors? The tips below cover all these ranking factors and (if executed right) should boost your web pages’ SEO “score.”
7 SEO Tips for Financial Services Firms and Financial Advisors
Financial SEO Tip #1: Make Your Website Fast, Mobile-Friendly, and Secure
Three statistics sum up why website speed, mobile-friendliness, and security are ranking factors:
- 47 percent of people expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less and will leave if it takes longer
- Consumers now spend more than five hours a day on their smartphones, and 57 percent of all U.S. online traffic now comes from smartphones and tablets
- There is a cyber attack every 39 seconds, and 43 percent of cyber attacks target small businesses
No, really—that about sums it up. Dive deeper into those topics by catching up on the following blogs:
- What Is a Mobile Friendly Website?
- How Fast Should Your Website Be?
- Why Should You Secure Your Website?
Financial SEO Tip #2: Use Past Search Behavior to find your top Keywords
Google built its current algorithm around RankBrain, a machine learning (AI) algorithm Google uses to help sort and improve the search results. Backlinko condensed it pretty well:
In short, RankBrain tweaks the algorithm on its own.
Depending on the keyword, RankBrain will increase or decrease the importance of backlinks, content freshness, content length, domain authority, etc.
Then, it looks at how Google searchers interact with the new search results. If users like the new algorithm better, it stays. If not, RankBrain rolls back the old algorithm.
If you don’t have access to advanced SEO analysis software (like Blue Corona uses for our financial clients), you can patch together a keyword and content plan by taking cues from RankBrain’s past search behavior by analyzing two sections on the Google search results page, the “people also ask” section, and the “keywords related to” section:
If you want to go a step further, you can use software like Google Ads’ Keyword Planner, or the free tool Keywords Everywhere. I went ahead and pulled the top keywords for financial advisors as well as the top keywords for financial services and wealth management:
Financial SEO Tip #3: Optimize All Titles, Headings, and Content for Your Top Keywords
Much like you read the headings of news articles to get the gist of what the content is about, search crawlers read the titles, headings, and descriptions of your pages. Make sure each page has titles and headings that include your top key phrases and are descriptive of the content (no keyword stuffing).
Most content management systems (like WordPress) have plugins or native ability to add these in the backend, but if you’re confused, shoot us an email or ask your webmaster.
Financial SEO Tip #4: Claim and Optimize Your Google My Business Page
One thing you’re going to want is local SEO. Finance companies that want more local business need to get in the local pack—chances are, you’ve seen that pack of local map listings in the search results. Those local listings come from a business’s Google My Business Page.
Google My Business (GMB) is your best bet to get your firm listed on Google Maps for local searches, depending on your location and the competitive landscape for your area. Google uses the data on your Google My Business page to display your firm’s:
- Phone number
- Business hours
- Average reviews
- Specials, coupons, and updates (Google Posts)
To optimize your Google My Business page, follow these steps:
- Choose the appropriate business categories on GMB.
- Write a long (200–300 words), keyword rich description for your business.
- Include the correct NAP information (Name, Address, Phone number).
- Add a link to your website
- Connect your social media and online review profiles
- Add photos. Lots and lots of photos.
Learn more about getting your website to the top of Google’s local listings »
FINANCIAL SEO TIP #5: Complete All Directory and Social Media Listings
Google pulls local information from all of your directory listings, including ones you may not know exist. I recommend finding and claiming (or creating) all of your online profiles, including the ones at:
Financial SEO Tip #6: Create a Blog or Regularly Add and Update HIGH-Quality Content to Your Website
Not only does having a blog increase your chances of ranking on search engines by 434 percent, but it also enhances user experience. Up above I mentioned how millennials like to do their own research. They’re not the only ones, either. According to Forbes, about 60 percent of Baby Boomers spend time reading blogs and online articles as a source of information and intrigue, and about 70 percent enjoy watching videos about products and services. Digital Trends also found that Baby Boomers are 19 percent more likely to share content compared to any other generation.
I mentioned how you could use the two sections “people also ask” and “searches related to” to find keywords your target audience uses. You should also create blogs that answer those questions and deal with those related topics. Thanks to Google, you already know your target audience is searching for them.
High-Quality Content + Financial Industry = Higher Rankings
Google looks at some websites and web pages with a higher level of scrutiny because of their potential to affect a person’s well-being and happiness. Thes pages are called YMYL, or Your Money, Your Life pages. Any web pages that have to do with financial advice or wealth management qualify as YMYL pages and are thus harder to rank well. This is especially true after an August 2018 Google algorithm update—dubbed the Google Medic update—that drastically affected the financial industry’s search rankings.
Here’s how Google defines quality content, as outlined by their Search Quality Guidelines:
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines
- Don’t deceive your users
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field
Avoid the following techniques:
- Automatically generated content
- Participating in link schemes
- Creating pages with little or no original content
- Sneaky redirects
- Hidden text or links
- Doorway pages
- Scraped content
- Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value
- Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
- Creating pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware
- Abusing rich snippets markup
- Sending automated queries to Google
Follow good practices like these:
- Monitoring your site for hacking and removing hacked content as soon as it appears
- Preventing and removing user-generated spam on your site
Financial SEO Tip #7: Take Advantage of Optimized Images and Videos
Images increase a user’s experience on your website, but search crawlers can’t actually “see” images and videos, so they rely on additional bits of information to understand what an image is about. Make sure that you optimize the following:
- Image alt tag
- Image file name
- Image title
- Image description
Questions to Ask a Financial SEO Firm Before Hiring Them
Not all SEO companies live up to their promises of more traffic, better rankings, and more leads. Some SEO firms achieve results, but they do so by using “black-hat SEO” techniques. These unethical strategies can hurt your website’s rankings—and ultimately your business.
Before selecting your SEO company, make sure to ask the following questions:
- What’s in my current contract?
- What’s the process if I cancel?
- How will we communicate and how often?
- Do I have full access to my site and Analytics/Ads accounts?
- Will I own my website?
- Do you provide guarantees?
- Have you done work like this for companies similar to mine?
- What contracts and options are available? How do I determine the right budget?
- What are all your fees and payment options?
Avoid any search engine optimization companies that “guarantee” any of the following:
- Overnight rankings
- Doubled traffic within a certain amount of time
- Instant leads
- Search engine submissions
- A certain amount of backlinks in a certain amount of time
SIGNS OF BLACK HAT SEO: FInance Companies Beware!
A red flag should go up anytime an SEO company makes certain claims or promises about results. The SEOs that give our industry a bad name for gaming rankings do it by:
- Buying a ton of links from random, crappy websites
- Keyword stuffing
- Cloaking content so users and search engines see different things
- Using a computer program to generate hundreds of pages of garbage
- Using duplicate or scraped content
- Submitting fake press releases to spam links
Next Steps: Claim Your Free Audit and Get Started with SEO for Financial Services Companies
You can’t win the game if you don’t know the current score, which is why I STRONGLY recommend you get an SEO audit before jumping into the deep end. Bonus points if it’s free (like our SEO analyses are).
In your audit, you’ll find out how your website compares to your top competitors as well as actionable insights on how you can improve your search performance. From there, you can see the areas you need to fix first, as well as what’s a lower priority to be dealt with after you get your feet under you.
Contact us here to get an analysis with our proprietary SEO software, and we look forward to seeing you t the top of the search results!
About The Author: Betsy is Blue Corona's in-house Digital Marketing Specialist. When she’s not directing Blue Corona's corporate digital content campaigns she’s urban exploring with her wife, diving into the latest marketing trends, or teaching horseback riding lessons. Twitter: @educatedbets
View more blogs by Betsy McLeod