Being Seen (and Heard) Online

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Being Seen and Heard Online

This post was authored by Marie Swift and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

Current and prospective clients are bombarded with massive quantities of advertising and marketing, most of which they discount, little of which they trust. In this noisy world, the smartest financial advisors work hard to stand out as different and better, by establishing and continually increasing credibility.

One way they do this is through more varied use of electronic communications, which can enhance virtually every aspect of a financial advisory business. A tactic to explore is adding key-word rich news releases, in addition to the thoughtful blogs and other social media channels.

This become especially important as search engines continually update the algorithms they use to index, categorize and rank online content. Whether you know it or not, people are “Googling you” … and could even be talking about you, positively or negatively, on discussion boards, social media sites, and rating services such as Yelp.

As the old song goes, how can you ‘accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative”?

STILL RELEVANT IN THE DIGITAL REALM

While many advisors have embraced blogging as a way to produce unique content that not only helps to boost their search engine page rankings (SERP) but also positions them as an authority on one or more subjects, others adhere to the time-honored tradition of issuing news releases whenever they have (1) an announcement (such as a new hire or receiving an award) or (2) a topic on which they can credibility write (such as tax tips in the spring or budgeting tips as the holidays approach).

The smartest advisors use both a thoughtful blog and keyword-rich news releases to help the right people find them online.

If properly crafted and distributed, a well-timed news release can:

  • Provide credible content that newswire syndicates will publish, thus producing numerous inbound links to your website and impressive content that you can “buzz up” in social media circles
  • Generate specific information for the search engines to catalog and rank, thus making it more likely that the right people will see you during online keyword searches
  • Draw attention from journalists who may be on the receiving end of a personalized email – which could result in an article or audio/video interview that will end up online and create even more credibility

TWO STYLES TO CONSIDER

While in the past news releases where reserved for use only when one had something truly news worthy to announce, today many smart advisors are generating topical news releases and syndicating them – as a public service – via a newswire service such as PR Newswire.

Online news releases that have a twist or dovetail on a current event are more likely to go viral and gain extra exposure.

Study the way these two news releases were built and think about the reasons the issuing company (in this case, GuideVine.com) published a traditional announcement-style news release in one instance and a more topical news release in a subsequent distribution:

TIPS FROM A PR PRO

I’ve been writing news releases (and every other conceivable type of marketing communications, including books, white papers, websites, speeches, client letters, advertisements, articles and brochures) for financial firms for over 25 years. Here are a few tips for writing and distributing a good news release:

  1. Put on your journalist hat. Write the piece as if a media outlet had interviewed you and written the piece. Skip the flowery language, adjectives and opinion – these are the hallmarks of an amateur, and readers (especially journalists) will discount both the content of the release and its creator. If you do use adjectives and opinion, put that content in quotes (from yourself or another entity). All of the top-tier newswire services will reject poorly written and/or overly self-promotional news releases; some will require that the release adhere to AP Style Guidelines.
    Good example: Marie Swift Joins Sheryl Garrett on Wealthminder Board
  1. Think long and hard about the headline and the subhead. You only have a few seconds to capture the reader’s attention. In the subhead, try not to repeat any of the keywords in the headline. Think like a newspaper headline writer or magazine editor – what would he or she write in a concise and compelling way?
    Good example: RightSize Solutions Announces Industry-Leading Two-Factor Authentication at T3 Conference
  1. Write for people first, and search engine spiders second. Writing with a specific audience in mind will increase your chances of being found in relevant keyword searches. Don’t try to “game the system” by jamming in keywords and phrases as search engines typically penalize over-optimized content. Write a good piece and you’ll probably be in good shape when it comes to keywords. Put the most important keyword phrase as close to the beginning of the headline and repeat it somewhere toward the top of the release. Search engines tend to place more weight on words and phrases found at the top of the page. Use synonyms, just as you would in normal speech – search engines understand synonyms so you can use them with confidence.
    Good example: Implications of Oil Bust on Fossil Fuel Divestment and Socially Responsible Investing
  1. Include images and links. Research from SEO-experts shows that links and images are good to include. First off, they make your content more compelling for human viewers. Secondly, they boost visibility on social media sites such as Google+ and Facebook, which favor multimedia. Finally, search engines like them when used in moderation and if relevant to the verbiage in the release.
    Good examples: https://plus.google.com/+MarieSwift/posts
  1. Generate online visibility by using a good newswire service. While you could go cheap and use something like PR.com or 24-7 Press Release, you will get better results on the SEO side of things (and impress more people) if you syndicate your news release through a higher quality service. Marketwired, Globe Newswire, PRWeb and PR Newswire syndicate to reputable news sites. This kind of syndication results in higher search engine rankings. Once the news release has been syndicated via the newswire service, select the best link and share that on social media – search engines are paying attention to social interaction so that is another very important factor in building online visibility (they assume that content generating a lot of interaction is valuable and timely, so that content gets a boost in search engine results).You will also want to email a personalized version to targeted media outlets. If you’ve done a good job crafting the release and targeting the right journalist(s), you might just get a call or email asking for an interview … which could lead to a another article in a credible third-party media outlet … and that will produce another virtuous cycle and benefits to your firm.
    Good example: Laura Pierson Takes the Helm at Peak Advisor Alliance (news release) led to Carson Revamps Management Structure (media article)

Building your online presence is important. A bad online presence can damage your reputation. As Richard Branson has famously said, “Your brand name is only as good as your reputation.” Using thoughtful blog content and news releases can help financial advisors build stronger perceptions and drive traffic to their website, which should in almost all cases serve as the digital marketing hub.

The FInancial and Insurance Advisor's Guide to Blogging

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