6 Website SEO Pitfalls To Avoid During Your Next Web Project

Are you considering redesigning your website? Avoid common mistakes that can hurt your web presence. The actionable advice in this eBook will help you improve your existing or new website. Download this eBook today!

In today’s digital world, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an essential part of driving quality traffic to your website. SEO is the process of making your website rank higher in search engine results. Basically, SEO is a way of fine-tuning your site to target the buying patterns and preferences of your audience to maximize your discoverability.

When designing or redesigning your website, certain activities can derail your efforts to optimize for search engines, and as a result, your website traffic will suffer. Be sure to avoid these 6 common SEO pitfalls during your website redesign.

What are your plans for improving your website’s SEO?  Looking to revisit your website’s SEO process but aren’t sure where to start? We’d love to help. Get in touch with us today! 

Website SEO

9 Characteristics of Successful Content

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Creating engaging content can be a difficult task for any marketer. However, there are several steps that you can take to ensure your content experiences the most success possible. To get the best return from the time and resources invested in an attempt to attract customers, try to create each piece of content with these nine points in mind.

  • Targeted

Before you even begin writing, you should know WHO you are writing for and center the content around a topic that will peak their interest. Having a comprehensive understanding of your target audience will allow content to speak to their unique needs and interests. By targeting content at a particular group, you can highlight specific benefits and information that will be relevant to them.

One can target content at their audience by utilizing buyer personas for each segment of their target audience. Also, website analytics can be used to see who is visiting your site and viewing your content.

Half the challenge of content marketing is getting an audience to consume the content. In addition to writing directly to a specific audience, you can use search optimization to make your content more discoverable.

  • Optimized

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a strategy to have your original content rank higher in search results. It is used by individuals and organizations to increase the visibility of their content. It has become so common that an industry of “growth hackers” and “SEO gurus” has developed to help businesses rank higher in search results.

SEO has proven to bring results. Keywords, the quality of the content, how much activity the website that hosts the content experiences, and several other factors contribute to the success of SEO efforts. Another form of optimization is Social Media Optimization (SMO). SMO deals with increasing your business’ visibility and improving your reputation using social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Successful content needs to be written for the audience first, with optimization in the back of your mind throughout the process. You put in the effort to create valuable, high-performing content. SEO and SMO will make it easily discoverable by members of the intended audience.

  • Provides Value

Perhaps the most important question to ask about content is “Does it provide value to the intended audience?” You can provide value in many ways. To provide value, you should educate, entertain or solve a problem your audience might be having. Your content should not only be used to promote your services. It should be created to benefit your audience. If the target audience does not see value in what you are sharing, they will ignore you.

To learn more about providing value through content, take a look at our article: The One Thing You Need To Include in Your Newsletter. Newsletters are just like any other form of content; they need to be a valuable use of the reader’s’ time.

  • Tells a Story

Storytelling is among the most effective methods for communicating information. The way stories speak to the human brain is unique, effectively motivating action centers within the brain. This phenomenon does not occur with any other methods of communicating information. It might not always be possible to tell a story through your content, but the more you can do it, the more value you can add to your content marketing efforts.

To learn more about how to tell engaging stories in your business, our article: The Power of Storytelling in the Business World examines why storytelling can be a great tool for businesses to communicate information to their audience.

  • Educational

Your content should be somewhat educational for your audience. There is little point in simply rehashing information that the user already knows. Content should have the purpose of informing your readers about something they need to know about your product, service, business or industry. You can educate your audience with any content imaginable.

Content written well below your audience’s level of knowledge may offend them, pushing them away from your website and towards your competitors.

  • Captivating

Capturing your audience’s attention is a difficult task, something that many content marketers struggle with on a daily basis. You want to captivate the attention of your readers, so they become engaged with the message. Engaged users are members of your audience who actively pay attention to your content. Those users are “listening” to what you are saying.

How can you captivate an audience? Some tactics go a long way towards engaging your readers. By speaking directly to your audience, asking them questions and using a consistent tone of voice, you can engage and captivate your readers. Content should always aim to grab and hold the attention of an audience.

  • Shareable

Your content needs to find a way to get in front of the of members of your target audience. One way for that to happen is by creating highly shareable content. You need to distribute content through channels where you know you can find your audience. At the very least you should use digital channels where you know your content can get in front of the users with interest.

If your content is flawless but doesn’t get seen, is it as valuable as it should be? Writing content that aligns with your business strategy does not have to be an overly complicated endeavor. Just create a website that can host your content (a blog or resources section) and share that content across various social platforms, email and other relevant forums.

If your audience can find your content, and that content is high-quality, then they will share it with other individuals. Thus, spreading the reach of your content.

  • Persuasive

Regardless of which stage of the buyer’s journey the reader is in, your content should aim to motivate action. If the reader is in the early stages of the purchase cycle, your content should convince them to learn more about your brand (or products/services). If they are in the later legs of the journey, it should persuade or motivate them to take that next step, finally becoming a customer. Target every piece of content towards a particular stage of the sales process with a focus on the beginning and ending stages.

A technique exists called pre-suasion, which means priming your audience to convert to customers using content. This method positions your message so that before you even deliver it,  the audience already agrees. “Pre-suasion” involves using visuals, phrasing, how you order details in the content and understanding why your brand (or content) appeals to customers. The book, Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, by Robert Cialdini,  examines how effective persuasion does not lie in the message itself, but in the critical moment right before the delivery of that message. Persuasive content can lead to conversions, helping you gain customers and grow your business.

  • Converting

What’s the end goal of content marketing? It’s likely to attract profitable customers to your business. That’s why it’s important for your content to contain a call-to-action CTA. That CTA does not have to motivate a purchase, that is not always appropriate, but a good marketer will always include a call-to-action.

That might mean asking your audience to like, comment, share or retweet your content on social media. The CTA might encourage the audience to visit other resources or to subscribe to your newsletter or Youtube channel. Regardless of what you want to motivate, your content should nudge the audience into the next step of the journey. For more information on creating CTA’s, read our article: 6 Tips for Creating Better Calls-to-Action for Financial Advisors.

If your content has these nine characteristics, and you aim to consistently create content that engages and converts your audience into customers, your content marketing efforts can lead to fantastic success.

Does the content your business produces have any of these nine characteristics? Do you produce engaging content? Have you found success in content marketing? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ! If you thought this article was helpful, check out our eBook: Unlocking Digital: How Financial Companies Master Modern Marketing

10 Technology Trends & Predictions You Should Pay Attention to in 2017 (Part 2)

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Welcome to Part 2 of our 10 Trends To Watch: 2017 series. In part 1 we talked about some technologies that have the potential to disrupt markets and a business model that appears to be on the rise. In this article, we’re going to talk about a few more technologies and business models that might change the world, a growing trend to be concerned about, and the ongoing trend of shifting demographics across the consumer market.

6. Voice Search

Voice search technology has been around for a few years now (can you believe Siri is about 5 years old?) but with developments in Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, as well as evolving consumer habits, voice search is becoming more common. In turn, it is becoming more integral to Search Engine Optimization. Major tech companies are realizing this trend, especially with the proliferation of mobile device use and the convenience of an accurate voice search bringing value to users, not only to the “mobile-centric” millennials and Generation Z but also to older generations. 55% of teenagers and 56% of adults use voice search daily and the trend is not showing signs of slowing down.

Amazon, Microsoft and Apple each currently have their own digital assistant, Alexa, Cortana and Siri respectively. They allmake voice search a more pleasant experience for theuser by communicating results back verbally, limiting the amount of focus the user needs to put on their screen. Other technology companies are not far behind, either developing their own digital assistant or working out a deal with one of the 3 companies previously mentioned in order to use their digital assistant.

These developments in voice search and digital assistant technology are occurring in large part due to advances in AI and voice recognition which makes the search more accurate and user friendly, providing them with the results they wanted.

With Alexa being introduced by Amazon, continual improvements in AI and voice recognition, there is very little doubt that voice search will continue to be a major focus for technology companies in 2017. Marketers also need to embrace the trend, tailoring their terms and SEO strategy to embrace voice search.  After all, it’s the future of mobile in a mobile future.

7. Cybersecurity

2016 was a year where several high-profile cyber attacks dominated the news cycle. Anyone, from private individuals, to businesses, to government organizations; it seems that nothing is safe from hackers.

With the huge amount of personal, confidential, or strategic business information online even the least technologically inclined people are aware of online threats and that they have information that could be lost to hackers. The risks of lax cybersecurity are there for everyone using the internet and while security experts and long-time internet users have been aware of the problem for decades, it seems as a result of highly publicized events that everybody and their grandmother is aware of risks online.

Nefarious groups and individuals attacking businesses with a variety of ransomware, phishing attacks and other methods of breaking online-security is nothing new. 2016 brought a new level of attention to the subject thanks to cyber attacks on power companies, hospitals and most notably the attack on the Democratic National Convention and the many email controversies surrounding the last Presidential election.

In 2017, organizations of all kinds should reconsider the defenses and systems in place to deal with a potential cyber attack. While there is very little anyone can do to preemptively strike against potential hackers, you can can invest in top of the line security, use cloud storage and maintain high employee awareness about potential threats. There must be a protocol in place for when a hack does occur to limit the damage and protect confidential information as much as possible.

In a report sponsored by Intel’s cybersecurity solutions provider McAfee, called “Net Losses – Estimating the global cost of cybercrime” released by the Centre of Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), it was estimated that cybercrime costs businesses $400 billion worldwide.

For these reasons, organizations will open a dialogue (and their wallets via investments) about internal cybersecurity this year. Security experts and firms will be in high demand and there will be plenty of discussion on how to motivate employee awareness about the threats.

8. Autonomous Vehicles

If the Consumer Electronics Show 2017 was any indication it will be a big year for automakers utilizing technology and preparing for the era of autonomous vehicles. Google has been exploring the technology for quite a while now but 2017 has signaled that other automakers and new entrants to the automotive industry will begin exploring the technology. Companies like Uber, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple are investing in self-driving technology. Automakers are also leading the trend with firms like Ford, GM, Honda, Tesla and new entrant to the autonomous-electric vehicle segment, Faraday Future, exhibiting their progress with the technology at CES 2017.

In addition to the cars themselves, ancillary technologies for these vehicles are being developed to support efforts of the automakers with companies developing sensors, bandwidth solutions and software to operate the vehicles. These technologies, while by no means new, need to be refined before they can safely be sold to consumers. The internet connection of the cars must be perfect and the software must be flawless, with any failure likely to lead to a crash, potentially tarnishing public perception of the technology.

While we won’t see any self-driving cars on the road this year, 2017 is the year that self-driving vehicles will become mainstream. Governments will consider their potential implications, companies will continue to refine and develop the necessary technologies to operate the vehicles, keeping the terms “autonomous vehicles” and “self-driving cars” in the news for 2017.

9. Drone Delivery

Another technology that may not make its official debut in 2017, but will be at the heart of 2017 conversations about supply chain management, delivering goods and the potential for automated delivery with no need for human hands (or eyes).

The reason it may not debut in 2017 is not because the technology is not available yet, drones have been in use by the military for years now, and consumer drones are available to the public at a fairly low cost. Sure, the technology for automated drone delivery is still a few years away but that’s expected.

Right now the issue with drone delivery is the fact that governments ban the flying of drones over populated areas in the United States and the fact that non-commercial drones (owned by hobbyists) have had some run-ins with air traffic.

Drone delivery will be a popular topic in 2017. Many companies including Amazon, Google, Walmart and many VC funded startups are right on the precipice of being able to utilize drones for delivery. The biggest issue and conversation points will involve the general safety of drones (you don’t want them to land on someone by accident or fall out of the sky), the ability for drones and other aircrafts to coexist in the same airspace (or the ability for governments to split the airspace in a way that works for both human controlled aircraft and drones) and ensuring a positive public perception of drone delivery in general.

The conversation regarding drone delivery in 2017 will center around the legality and safety issues of drones. Once those issues are dealt with the delivery industry should be able to continue full steam ahead. The current regulatory situation, mixed with the willingness of companies to invest in drone delivery makes this  a very interesting trend to monitor.

10. Millennials and Generation Z

It’s not exactly a trend, but definitely a shift in power, momentum and the beginning of a drastic change in the demographics of many markets. In 2017, millennials are projected to spend $200 Billion worldwide, and are projected to collectively spend $10 Trillion dollars in their lifetime. This fact coupled with the fact that 10,000 baby boomers retire daily (with the oldest members of the group beginning to age into their 70s) means that businesses are going to need to begin replacing their current generation of customers with a new generation, one that is mobile-centric, tech-savvy and responsive to different factors then the baby-boomers.

Gen Z, while its members range from recent college grads to toddlers, will have (and already has) an extreme impact on the economy. While this generation will be more educated, more likely to multitask and slightly more ambitious (in regards to owning a business or changing the world) than millennials, the two groups still have much in common; from their love of screens, to their social decision making style and constant viewing of content. A lot of the traits that make millennials seem “millennial” are present in Gen Z, just more extreme.

Compared to Baby-Boomers and Gen Xers, Millennials and Gen Zers are focused on technology, are extremely social, and listen to their networks when making decisions. They do not like to be interrupted or bombarded with ads and they do not wish to be solicited by companies. If they have a question they will ask, likely over Facebook, and expect a response ASAP.

This means that brands must begin to cater to these generations to continue to grow and thrive as businesses. That means engaging with them through creative, fun content that they can share with their friends. It means being present on the newest, coolest social media platforms to get an audience for your product. For some firms it might mean a complete overhaul of your business strategy.

It may not be a trend, but the youngest Baby-Boomer is 53 today, the youngest member of Gen X will turn 40 within the next 5 years. The future is now, and 2017 is the year to adapt.

 

So what do you think about my Top 10 Trends of 2017? Do you agree with them? What trend are you most excited about this coming year? Is it AR? (Mines AR). What trend most concerns you? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ #TrendsToWatch

10 Technology Trends & Predictions You Should Pay Attention to in 2017 (Part 1)

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Another year  is upon us and another year of trends are soon to unfold. In 2016 we saw the proliferation of wearable technology, “Smart” homes, cyber attacks and 3-D printing. What will hit it big in 2017?

This year appears to be the year that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning hit their full stride, moving past the prototype phase and beginning to appear in consumer technology. Another massive trend to expect is increased focus on cybersecurity, both for private firms and for government institutions. After the Russian hacking scandal involving the Democratic National Convention, the general population is now aware of the risks cybersecurity aims to curtail.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 trends that I’ve picked to take over in 2017:

  1. Block chain
    One technology that has really started coming into its own is the development of blockchain. Blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of ordered records, called blocks. It was initially described in the early 1990s but only first came to use in 2008, as the database behind bitcoin, an online cryptocurrency. The distributed ledger records transactions publicly and the most attractive facet of blockchain is that records are maintained automatically with no trusted administrator needed.Why are blockchains trending this year? Companies are beginning to see the value that the database can provide, keeping paper trails of all transactions.  Whether financially related or not, blockchain has a lot of value in today’s increasingly digital world. There are 3 main reasons why blockchain is a valuable database with potential for widespread use:

    1. The first benefit of blockchain is that any type of asset can be transferred using the database. It is not limited to financial transactions (as it is currently used for with Bitcoin) so it is a valuable tool for trade.
    2. The second benefit of blockchain is its use as a “truth-machine”. The database itself is quite complicated and difficult to explain. It’s more of a thesis paper than a blog post, but the automated method in which transactions are recorded using “nodes” has a high level of reliability and openness. Companies add additional information to a blockchain transaction, embedding that information in the ledger. Once a block is updated, it can’t be changed; creating a permanent, unalterable record. This application of the database could be used as a registry of anything needing to be tracked such as land titles, luxury goods or any good the user wishes to track.
    3. The third main benefit to companies using blockchain, and the third reason why it will be a trend in 2017 is the most ambitious application with the most potential upside. The third potential benefit is using blockchain as a database to execute “smart contracts”, programming conditions into the blockchain (which is already done by Bitcoin) that will execute transactions automatically given certain conditions. This would have many uses, both in financial services and in other industries, such as delaying payment until services are rendered, recording and automatically transferring funds and managing partner relationships.

    While these applications of blockchain would operate slightly differently from Bitcoin, the general use would be the same, an automated secure ledger. Banks and technology companies across many industries are exploring potential uses for blockchain such as issuing credits or tokens as part of a customer reward program, automatically transferring capital between funds given certain conditions or simply as a smart-ledger that can issue payments to accounts automatically.

    While traditional financial institutions may not be able to adopt the technology into their service offerings this year, 2017 will be a year when blockchain is investigated and developed for use by those institutions in the future. In 2017 expect to see financial service and technology start-ups begin to fully utilize blockchain, using it to capture market share in both developing markets and in established sectors of the FinServ industry.

  2. Artificial Intelligence
    It seems nearly everything can be made to be “smart” these days; from the development of autonomous vehicles, to digital assistants giving near human-like answers, to fridges that know how cold they should be. Every product under the sun is being developed with an internet connection so it can collect data to help make better choices.This data clearly needs to be analyzed before decisions can be made and people don’t want to access logs and spreadsheets to do that. In some applications, that isn’t even possible. That is where AI technology comes into place. 2016 saw some fantastic developments in this field and 2017 should expect the same.Machine learning and artificial intelligence will revolutionize the way connected objects can communicate and make decisions with no human input. In order for the technologies on the cusp of existence to come into fruition, AI technology will need to improve. Cars will need to make their own decisions in real time, toilets will need to know when to flush, chat-bots and robo-advisors will need to be able to understand what you are asking them and how they can reply in a realistic way, without a major delay.Artificial Intelligence lies at the heart of each of those situations. Devices, systems and objects are being designed that can process information, deal with new information and actually learn. AI can become integrated into every part of life. Major companies like Google, Tesla, Apple, Samsung, major automakers, banks and insurance brokers all rely on improvements to AI in order to make their next big innovation.2017 will be the year of AI; helping our smart-products communicate with each other to achieve the efficiency we first imagined when the IoT was first theorized. To take our next major steps we will need intelligent machines to lower wait times, increase energy and cost efficiencies, and make their own decisions to maintain our safety.Discussions about how AI will affect the economy, both short-term (as systems begin using AI) and long-term (due to automation and phasing out jobs) will also become common this year as lawmakers, and individuals fully realize the new reality of where businesses want to go next. People will have to fight back their Terminator flashbacks and realize that AI can be a great thing if we use it right and prepare for it.
  3. “As-a-Service”
    The “As-a-service” revenue model will heavily increase in popularity in 2017. Currently it is mainly used in two situations, when providing actual services (maintenance, etc) or when selling software. The model has benefits for both parties of the transaction. We will explain why using software as an example.The party providing the software benefits because they have a long-term revenue stream and can build a lasting customer relationship. If they sold the software as a product instead of a service they would get a one-time influx of cash and nothing after that until the customer decides to purchase another program (if they come to you at all). The party purchasing the software benefits from lower up-front costs, potential savings from eliminating elements of the software that aren’t needed or won’t work with that party’s system and some assurance of long-term maintenance and updating of the software.In 2017 “as-a-service” or subscription revenue models will become common across industries. Cadillac just announced the “Cadillac Book”, a new ownership model that will charge a monthly fee to provide on-demand-delivery of a Cadillac with a variety of booking options that can be done through a smartphone. The service they plan to provide (which has not been rolled out yet) is very similar to Zipcar but with a higher service level (delivery instead of pick-up).Cadillac is not the only automaker that has considered alternative ownership models. Other industries that provide high-value/high-cost products may begin to move towards the “as-a-service” or subscription based revenue model. 2017 is a time of mass personalization. Customers want every action to feel personal. They want to be in complete control of the purchase decision at all times and they do not want to be tied down with no flexibility, exactly what subscription or “as-a-service” provides. These alternative ownership models can help the spread of a product, both when dealing with consumers or selling products between businesses. The fact that the initial cost of a product is vastly reduced when sold as a service can motivate purchases. In 2017, companies will begin to sell everything from cars, to machinery, to technology as a service, giving the customer the ability to manage their needs and pay a monthly fee instead of forking out insane sums of cash to see if a product is worth it to them.
  4. Virtual & Augmented Reality
    Virtual reality (VR) is an artificial, computer-generated simulation or recreation of a real life environment or situation, like the holodeck in Star Trek. Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that layers computer-generated enhancement on top of existing reality, you probably saw it (or at least heard about it) this summer with the release of Pokemon Go. It’s the real-time equivalent to mixing CGI with real-world footage in movies.VR and AR technologies were one of the hottest trends in tech in 2016, there is no doubt about that. In 2017, I fully expect both technologies to really take off, not only in the entertainment sector, but in other aspects of life (and even business).VR, while extremely (extremely) cool does not need to rely on its cool factor to be useful in business. It can be a great tool to showcase products and services (at tradeshows, or by creating early content for VR platforms) and it could also be used to as a service itself (seeing events in other cities) or as a platform to provide more immersion in movies or games. VR can also be used as a training tool to train employees or students in high-intensity, life-and-death situations. By immersing themselves in the situation they would be able to better prepare for the real thing.AR, while slightly less cool (in my opinion) than VR has a more practical use that I believe will be explored in 2017. AR can be used to provide information and context to users in their day to day life. Their smartphone can turn into a lense that when looked through provides the user with information about their surroundings, various buildings, comments from other people about their location, and information about other people using the same program. The possibilities are endless. AR could provide more context in day-to-day life while revolutionizing information services, providing a real-time portal with any information the user may need.These technologies will definitely have a spot in entertainment over the next few years (because they’re really cool) due to the success of Pokemon Go and the hype surrounding VR. It has been proven that these technologies (especially AR) can be easily understood and utilized by the masses (thanks in no small part to our mobile devices). It is only a matter of time before they begin to trickle into other industries. 2017 is the year, watch out for AR and VR at your workplace!
  5. Internet of Things
    “Hasn’t the Internet of Things been trending for a few years now? I feel like all I hear about is how the latest, greatest device is now “smart” and can be connected to fully integrate everything in your life on one system. What do you think I’ve been under a rock for the last few years?”If that was your reaction to this section, I 100% understand. Smart objects have been around for a few years now. Instead of just recording information now many objects can “think” for themselves. The issue is not with the objects themselves, nor the ability for the devices they’re ultimately connected to to handle the data. The issue has always been around connecting the many different objects into an organized ecosystem, where the information works in harmony to provide the user with the most pleasant experience possible.With current technology this is not quite possible. Our machines are not quite smart enough to fully comprehend the world they live in. They still have flaws, more data will be tested and improvements will be made but all of that effort will be useless if a system to organize and use all the information these smart objects collect is not available.2017 is the year that the ecosystem design of the IoT will take place. Companies have already been working on creating an ecosystem but the work is not easy. There are gaps in the data, certain relationships are not yet understood and the development of “sentient tools” throws another variable in the equation however, we are rising to the challenge. The people working on these technologies see a world with ever-increasing AI abilities, a world where we understand more and more each day. They understand that for all our efforts creating a toilet that can tell you details about your nutrition after using it that a system will need to do something with all that data in order to make the data useful to us.There is great potential for cost and energy savings, better health information, better education and so many other potential benefits that can be provided by the internet of things. In 2017, the “mesh” that humanity has been working towards for so many years will take another step towards completion.

 

 

What do you think of the first 5? Do you think “As-a-service” economies have a place in 2017? Which of these technologies are you most excited about? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ #TrendsToWatch

Financial Advisors: Beginner’s Guide to Improving your Website’s Local SEO

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Local SEO is one of the most important (and free!) online activities that you can do when building an online presence for your business. As a Financial Advisor, it is critical that you are found by your local market. By searching just one phrase, “financial advisors”, Google will output a map with all the local Financial Advisors’ business that have taken the steps to set up their business using online Google tools.  Bonus: it shows up at the very top too!

The statistics for local search alone are a reason to put in the effort to improve your local SEO. In Hubspot’s Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics, the numbers reflect how local SEO optimization can give your business an edge:

  • 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles. (WordStream, 2016)
  • 30% of mobile searches are related to a location. (Google, 2016)
  • 28% of searches for something nearby result in a purchase. (Google, 2016)
  • Local searches lead 50% of mobile visitors to visit stores within one day. (Google, 2014)
  • 78% of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases. (Search Engine Land, 2014)

To help you get started on local SEO, we’ve compiled a small beginners guide to help boost your Advisory business online.

Step 1: Get your business onto Google My Business.

What is Google My Business? Google My Business is a service offered by Google that helps connect businesses and organizations to individuals. It provides a consistent user experience across all of Google’s key search related applications and across all devices like smartphones, tablets and desktops.

The “Google My Business” service includes Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Pages. For more information on what each service is, click here.

As for how to get your business onto Google My Business, first verify your business within Google My Business. It may take 1-2 weeks but it will give you access to many more features to help get your business into the forefront.

guide-to-seo-1

Simply fill out your information through this service to get your business onto Google. The more information, the better! That way your business is better categorized and appears in more searches. Another important part of Google My Business is to get your business onto Google Maps. For a more in depth look at Google Maps, click here.

Google may be the king of search, but forgetting about other channels can reduce the amount of consumers that can find you. Remember Bing Places for Business!

guide-to-seo-2

Step 1.5: Create a Facebook and Yelp page

This is much easier to do and only takes a few minutes to get up and running! Don’t forget to take good photos that show off both the exterior and interior of your business.

Step 2: Include consistent information on Google, Bing, Yelp, and Facebook (and any other channels that I haven’t included)

Much like having your information on as many search engines as possible, having consistent information across the many channels that your business could be on allows all potential customers to reach you effectively. Having different information across these platforms leads to an inconsistent and unprofessional image.

Step 3: Get your customers to leave reviews!

Ask your happy customers to leave reviews – the more real reviews, the better ranking you will get locally. You can do this in many ways, for example, you can include a widget on your website to allow them to submit a review easily.

Getting genuine and consistent reviews helps your business stand out online since it indicates a high quality business. After all, 88% of consumers read reviews to determine the quality of a local business meaning reviews are regarded as highly influential in consumer’s buying decisions.


As a Financial Advisor, many of your previous clients may have come from word of mouth. However, for the digitally savvy generations, being findable online is crucial. These days, only 49% of Millennials trust recommendations from family and friends, but, instead, they trust multiple customer reviews found on the internet. The easier it is to find your local business and see local reviews, the more likely they will be to choose you as a Financial Advisor!

Financial Advisors: How do I add my business to Google Maps?

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With so much information readily available to us on the Internet, it has become a natural reaction for individuals to go to search engines first to find the information that they are looking for.  Have you ever found yourself doing any of the following? Using Google Maps to find a store, or get directions to it.  […]

8 Common SEO Mistakes that Advisors are Making (and how to avoid them)

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As a Financial Advisor, you want your website to be optimized for search engines so that you can be easily found by prospects. The last thing you want to do is spend hours on end creating website content only for it to go unnoticed. However, it’s not all about what you should do to optimize your website, but also what you shouldn’t do to avoid getting penalized by search engines.

Below are 8 common Search Engine Optimization (SEO) mistakes and how you can avoid (or fix) them:

  1. Not optimizing for local search

In such a digitally connected world, businesses try to market to anyone and everyone. Although, in the process of doing so, some lose sight of their local audience. According to Search Engine Land, 67% of smartphone users want ads customized by city and 61% want ads customized to their immediate surroundings. As a Financial Advisor, you likely work with clients within your region (and they’re probably searching for local Advisors). It’s especially important for you to optimize your website for local search to reach your target audience.

Things you can do to get started:

  • Include region-specific keywords in your page titles and meta descriptions
  • Include an address and local number on your pages, and in the header or footer
  • List yourself on Google My Business

Google-my-business

  1. Not optimizing for the right keywords

What are your prospects searching for online? What key terms are they typing into Google when looking for the services that you offer? Keyword research is vital to your search engine ranking success. If you aren’t focusing on specific and relevant keywords throughout your website, it will make it very difficult for your prospects to find you.

Some things to think about to get you started on picking the right keywords:

  • Do you specialize in a specific area (life insurance, health insurance, retirement)?
  • Are your services focused on a specific region or city?
  • Do you target a specific demographic (women, doctors, millennials)?

When answering these questions, you may end up with answers similar to the following:

  • Toronto Financial Advisor specializing in women’s life insurance
  • Victoria and Vancouver Health Insurance Advisor for women
  • Retirement planning services for new graduates in New York City

When focusing on keywords, it’s best to be as specific as possible. Focusing on generic keywords might bring you more traffic, but it may not necessarily be the right traffic for your Advisory firm. The more specific you are, the higher the quality of your traffic will be.

  1. Keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing refers to when websites cram as many keywords as possible into a webpage’s text without intent to provide useful information to the reader. Practicing this can lead to your website being penalized or even banned in search rankings on major search engines like Google.

Google’s ranking algorithm has become very complex and intricate. If you want your website to rank higher on search engine rankings, you’ll need to ensure that you are not keyword stuffing on your website. By proving your readers with content that is valuable, natural, and unique, your target keywords should naturally appear in your content.

  1. Focusing on link quantity over quality

Links are another important aspect of SEO. The higher number of quality links leading back to your website, the higher your web pages will rank. To a search engine, the more trustworthy, non-spammy, and relevant websites linking back to you, the more authority you must have on the topic.

Some things to note:

  • Links within content are more effective than links in a sidebar or footer
  • Links from related websites are better than links from non relevant websites (ex. Another Advisor website linking back to you versus a pet store website linking back to you)
  • Buying links can get you banned from a search engine

A great way to build more links is through social media. Make sure that your blog is socially shareable so that it is more likely to get shared on different social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, and Pinterest. In turn, this will help to increase traffic to your website and help you build a better reputation with search engines.

  1. Broken links

Does this look familiar?

SEO Common Mistakes Advisors Make 404 error notice

Broken links are the ones that bring you to a “404 error” page. According to Siteimprove, the most common, self-inflicted, causes of broken links are:

  • Renaming or moving a webpage and forgetting to change your internal links
  • Linking to content (PDFs, videos, etc.) that have been moved or deleted
  • Linking to a third party page, and not knowing when they change the URL or move the page

There are many causes for broken links and although Google has stated that having a broken link or two on your website won’t hurt your rankings, it can still negatively impact your website in other ways.

  • It can stop search engine crawlers from crawling the rest of that page. Crawlers would move on to the next resulting in some content not get indexed
  • Users favour sites that work (that includes your links)
  • Broken links diminishes trust with your visitors and leads to lower return traffic (which could mean a lower search engine ranking)

It may be time consuming, but it’s good to QA (quality assurance) your website once every quarter. This way you can ensure that you don’t have broken links and that your website is up to date with SEO requirements.

  1. Content that is not useful

Google’s (and other search engines) ultimate goal is to help the user answer their question or satisfy their information needs by providing the best and most trusted answer on its first page of results. This is why there is such a heavy focus on creating useful and valuable content on your Advisor website. Although, it is important that the content you are providing on your website is relevant to what your target audience is looking for.

Unlike before, the new SEO puts focus on value, quality and engagement. High quality content offers Advisor’s clients and prospects unique and applicable information that they can engage with. To get started, write out a list of common questions your clients ask you. Answer them. Once you’ve written out your answers, go over them again and include more detail. Before you know it, you’ll have a unique and valuable blog post to share with your online audiences.

  1. Not using ALT-Tags for images

Researchers found that coloured visuals increase a person’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80& (Xerox). Using images will enhance a viewer’s experience on your website while making your pages look more visually appealing. With this in mind, it’s critical that you not only include images around your website, but use alternative text tags, also known as ALT tags. These tags are used on images without links to provide information about the image to a viewer and to search engine crawlers. ALT tags can help increase your SEO, overall search ranking, and makes your website more accessible.

  1. Not using analytics to see what converts

It’s easy to get caught up watching which phrases and keywords are sending you the most traffic. But it’s important to note that traffic isn’t all that matters. A lot of the time, lower traffic phrases will actually convert better because they are more specific and are able to better hone in on your target audience. Knowing more about what makes your visitors convert will help you increase your ROI. Whether it’s KPI metrics, analytics about your blog, or your email marketing efforts, it’s important to be aware of what metrics will help you measure your online marketing and how to apply that knowledge for further success.

 

Take the time to go through your website and see if you’ve made any of these common SEO mistakes. Research what keywords you want to focus on and start to incorporate them naturally into your website’s content. There is a lot you can do to optimize your website for search engines. It’s important to keep in mind that increasing your search engine ranking will take time, but if you implement these SEO techniques, you’re sure to rank higher in the long run.

The Road to Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Success

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On the path to marketing a business, people can lose sight of their local audience. According to a study done by the National Public Radio, localized content had 6 times more Facebook shares than non-localized content. From increasing your website traffic to improving your clients overall experience with your business – localized marketing can do wonders for your Advisory Firm.

According to Search Engine Land, 67% of smartphone users want ads customized by city and 61% want ads customized to their immediate surroundings. With SEO continuously evolving, it’s hard to keep track of how to best optimize your Advisor website and content – especially with a local focus.

There are many elements that go into a building a strong and effective local SEO strategy. One of the most important features to have for your Advisor website is to be mobile responsive as Google now ranks responsive websites higher than those that aren’t in search engine rankings.

The infographic below, courtesy of 99MediaLab, takes you on a visual journey down the road to local SEO success for your business. As a Financial Advisor, be sure to take note of what you are currently doing with your SEO strategy, and what you need to start doing to successfully market to your local audience.

The Road to Local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Success Infographic

Financial Advisors: Is an SEO firm for you?

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According to imFORZA, 93% of online searches begin with a search engine. As a Financial Advisor, it is important to utilize this powerful tool to your advantage. When users search through Google, 18% of organic clicks go to the first link that pops up. Through the use of an effective SEO strategy (search engine optimization), you can improve your website’s ranking in order to receive more organic clicks.

As an Advisor, you don’t always have the time to fully dedicate yourself to focusing on your website’s SEO.  After all, it can be very time consuming and complicated. Luckily for you, there are many firms out there who focus purely on SEO.

So what is an SEO firm and why should you care?

Simply put, an SEO firm’s aim is to help companies get business from search engines. Through content creation, building high quality links, analyzing results and adjusting accordingly, a good SEO firm can help you rank higher in search engine rankings and increase website traffic from your target audience. Other ways to help boost your SEO include:

  • Meta descriptions
  • Headlines
  • H1tags
  • Link building
  • Using relevant keywords
  • And many more

Some key benefits to hiring an SEO firm include:

Saves time, money, and resources

To really see results through SEO, you must have a good understanding of how search engines work. As a Financial Advisor, your time is money. By hiring an SEO firm, you can get the results you want while still being able to use your time to focus on your clients, business, and different elements of your website such as content creation.

Helps you better understand your clients

When it comes to the Internet, everything is measurable. An SEO firm can provide you with useful insights about your audiences, prospects, and clients – from their needs and challenges to their online behaviours.

Improves your website’s user experience

With the help of an SEO firm, your website can become more accessible and user friendly. A big benefit of SEO is that it can increase the usability of a website. A more user friendly website leads to better user experience and in turn can generate more sales and conversions for you.

 

An SEO firm can do wonders for your website by increasing your reach, traffic, and conversion rates. However, not all SEO companies are what they seem.  There are many SEO companies that have bad reputations for engaging in shady tactics that could actually get your website penalized by Google, or other search engines.  For something as important as your online presence, make sure to invest the time and research to find an SEO company with a good and honest reputation, and one that cares about the long-term success of your business.

Advisors: Why The New SEO Is Actually All About Content Marketing

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In part 1 of this series, we looked briefly at an overview of what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) used to be versus what Search Engine Optimization is now. One thing that we know for sure is that what used to work, doesn’t work anymore. One of the biggest game changers in SEO over the years has been content marketing.

The old SEO was largely focused on researching your target keywords and then building an SEO campaign around those focused keywords. It was understood that search crawlers looked for keywords in website content, and that it was most effective to use those keywords in titles, meta-descriptions and the first 100 words of an article. Content was created and those targeted keywords were inserted in all the right places. If you were an Advisor that was early to market, and there wasn’t a lot of competition around your keywords, chances are you would see some success.  Traditional SEO focused more on trying to rank high using target keywords and less on trying to fulfill the needs and requirements of the people using these keywords to make searches.

SEO used to be a strategy that was fairly easy to take advantage of. It didn’t take a rocket science to trick Google into ranking a poorly put together website high on their search results page.

But then…

Online competition increased, consumer awareness improved, and out went the days of a keyword focused SEO strategy.

Unlike old SEO strategies, the new SEO puts focus on value, quality, and engagement. Keyword research has become far less important than good content marketing and content creation. Today’s SEO is in large part a combination of creating and sharing great content. It has become about communicating with your current and future customers without trying to promote your Advisor services, a method of helping your prospects by teaching instead of directly selling. The idea is that if you are creating valuable content focused on questions and topics that are relevant to your business, and your client’s and prospect’s interests and challenges, your content should naturally contain the keywords for which you want to rank.

Google is now looking for more active engagement with your site’s content. This is why unique and valuable content is more effective than ever. High quality content offers Advisor’s clients and prospects unique and applicable information that they can engage with, like and share. If more people are referring and sharing your content, you have a better chance of getting ranked higher in search engines than if you were to solely target the ‘’right’’ keywords.  Additionally, creating high quality and unique traffic helps to drive more traffic to your website, drives client engagement and leads, and has a long-term effect for your web presence.

So, what are three of the most important things Advisors should be doing to get help drive traffic to their website?

  • A dynamic website – Search engines love websites that are constantly being updated with unique and fresh content.  When content is constantly updated that means that your website is always changing.  When Google spiders come to audit your site to see if anything has changed, they report their findings back to Google; they report back whether your website is of high quality (or not) as a result of whether it is constantly updated with new, unique, and quality content. A dynamic and constantly changing website is good for you because this not only means that Google will send spiders to your website more often, it also means that your website has a better chance of ranking for your targeted keywords.
  • Blog, blog blog! The new SEO is all about great content.  New content builds trust and keeps your visitors engaged and coming back. Your blog articles should be focused on quality and share-ability.
  • Be Active on Social Media! Social activity allows you to build links and engagement (likes, shares, tweets etc.) around your website content.
    • Infographics, E-books, Guides, Webinars, How-tos, Case Studies, Interviews, Research and Original Data, Reviews…are all great ways to share information and insights.

Today, SEO is in large part a byproduct of excellent and unique content. By taking time to invest in sharing and creating high quality content, you can educate your clients and prospects, and build a credible, industry-leading business in the process.

I think this is a win-win that we can all agree on.

Guide to Content Marketing