Financial Advisors: Things to Look Out For When Hiring an SEO Firm

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When using search engines, 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results (Search Engine Journal).  As a Financial Advisor, the higher your search engine ranking, the more traffic your website will receive. So yes, you want to be on that first page – but how do you get there? You can get there by improving your search engine optimization (SEO).

Some Financial Advisors hire companies that specialize in SEO and see tremendous results. Although, just like anything you invest in, you want to make sure it’s worth the money. There are many SEO firms that focus on getting quick cash without delivering long-term SEO benefits for their clients, and others that tend to focus on making false promises. Here are some things to consider when hiring an SEO firm:

Ask for current and past clients.            

Just like reading customer reviews before buying a new phone, you should find out other clients’ experiences when looking into working with an SEO firm. Find out how successful the SEO firm’s past work has been by asking them to provide you a list of past clients. Read customer reviews, testimonials and case studies. The last thing you want is to blindly commit to a big contract.

How experienced are they?

SEO is a fast-changing industry. You want to hire an expert who is able to adapt to changes and is knowledgeable about the latest developments and trends in SEO. Keep in mind that you should look for quality in their experience and how successful they have been rather than focus on how long they have been in the industry.

Does their website have good content?

Think of it this way: You want to ensure your prospects and clients that you are a knowledgeable and up to date as a Financial Advisor. You do this through content marketing; by writing about topics that are relevant to your industry. Just the same, you want to make sure that the SEO firm you hire is knowledgeable and current in their field.

Establish communication

Paying someone to optimize your website without having any real gains (conversions, new leads, new clients, etc) is as good as nothing.  There are many questions you should be asking to establish better communication throughout the process like:

  • What areas will you focus on to improve my websites’ SEO?
  • How often will I be updated with analytics and your progress?
  • How will you improve our search engine rankings?
  • Will you inform me on all changes you make to my website?

You want to always be on the same page as your consultant and the best time to do that is before you agree to any contracts.

Are they making you unrealistic promises?

One way to set apart an SEO salesmen from a legitimate SEO expert is what promises they are making to you. Many SEO salesmen tell prospects that with their work, your website will rank #1 on search engines. Rankings alone are a bad metric for overall performance. It’s more important that the search results drive relevant visitors that take a desired action – such as signing up for a mailing list or making a purchase – once they land on your page.  Making these kinds of statements are fishy. This could mean that the SEO firm may be using illegitimate ways to get you to #1 such as Black Hat SEO techniques.

What happens post-contract?

Who maintains ownership, of the optimized web content that you paid the consultant to provide, once your contract is up? Make sure to come to an agreement with the SEO firm that once you part ways, they will not remove any of the content they have added, modified, or optimized on your behalf.

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If you choose to hire an SEO firm to better optimize your website, be sure that it is legitimate.  A bad or inexperienced SEO firm can have a negative impact, in the long run, on your business’ online presence and search engine rankings.

10 Tips to Successfully Optimize your Financial Advisor Website: Part 1

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Investopedia, Fidelity, Investment Quorum and Streamline Financial Services. What do these financial advisory sites have in common? A strong optimization and lead generation strategy.

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 is to spend hours on end creating website content only for it to go unnoticed.

Here are 10 ways to optimize your website’s content using SEO (Search Engine Optimization):

  1. Add Call-to–Actions (CTAs)

A CTA is a button, link, or text that can be used to collect important information from prospects and aid in converting them into warm leads or clients. Some effective CTA’s include:

  • Sign up for our monthly newsletter
  • Free Consultation
  • Download This eBook

CTAs aim to push your prospects to share their information with you. This way, you are able to directly communicate with them. For better results, make sure your CTA stands out. Quicksprout does a great job with this with their large and colourful buttons below:

CTA example from Quicksprout

  1. Use Headlines

Headlines are your attention grabber. If your headlines are ordinary and don’t spark curiosity, then it is likely that traffic may be steered away, right to another Advisor website. The key is to use adjectives, numbers, and make bold statements. “10 reasons to retire right now.”

  1. Use a Meta Description

Headlines grab your audience’s attention while meta descriptions give your prospects more insights into what your webpage is all about. They provide a concise preview of a website page’s content, and are used on search engine result pages.

Meta descriptions must be short, unique and relevant. It is beneficial to include custom meta descriptions that instills curiosity in your audience, convincing them to click on your website in their search results.

 Meta Description Example - Digital Agent

  1. Choose Keywords wisely

As a Financial Advisor, using relevant keywords is vital to driving your target audience to your website. These keywords should not be general, broad, misleading or overused. You should use specific keywords, and use them in as many ways as possible, when relevant.  Some great areas to use your keywords would be:

  • Title tags
  • Sub-headers
  • Links
  • Alternate texts (images)
  • Content

The use of relevant keywords can assist in increasing Google’s ranking when they assess your website. Use keywords appropriately and don’t overuse them as Google may penalize you for “keyword stuffing,” which may decrease your ranking.  Keyword stuffing refers to when websites cram as many words as possible into a webpage’s text without intent to provide useful information to the reader.

   5. Optimize Images by using ALT tags

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 and make your pages look more appealing. With this in mind, it is vital to include alternative text tags, also known as an ALT tag. These tags are used on images with no links to provide information about the image when a viewer hovers their cursor over it. The tags help increase your SEO, overall search ranking and makes your website more accessible.

As Matt Cutts, the former head of Google’s Web spam team once said, “SEO is like a resume. You polish it so you have your best foot forward.

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For more ways to optimize your Financial Advisor website for search engines, check out part 2 of the series.

A Daily 10 Minute LinkedIn Checklist for Advisors

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LinkedIn is a community of business professionals with over 330 million active users; making it the world’s largest professional network. Of LinkedIn’s users, 40% check it daily.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, of course it is not too late to establish a presence but I would consider doing it sooner rather than later. Most likely your competitors have already done so and have begun establishing themselves as thought leaders as well as generating leads in the process. If you haven’t read our post on 5 Quick Ways to Optimize Advisor’s LinkedIn Profiles, check it out first before moving on to this one.

Like other social networks, success on LinkedIn requires that you be present regularly. The Digital FA has provided a quick 10 minutes a day LinkedIn Checklist below for Financial Advisors:

Respond to Messages: Check your LinkedIn inbox just as you do email. Be professional and timely in your responses and make sure your replies are meaningful.   

Share Content: Share links to articles or videos to educate, inform, and empower your connections.

Invite Others to Connect: Invite people you have met to connect with you. Personalize your invitation with a brief message mentioning how you met or reflect on a discussion you had. Avoid using the canned default message for invitations.

Engage: Scan posts made by your connections. If you see something you like, let them know. You don’t need to make a comment every time; give a “like” to their update. Doing so will show you are interested in what others have to say.

See Who Your Connections Are Connecting With: This is a great opportunity to search for potential clients, centers of influence, or other people you want to connect with. Ask your connection to introduce you.

Take Action: LinkedIn provides a great feature that allows you to see when your connections are promoted, leave a company, or were mentioned in the news. Congratulate them on their success and take it a step further by sending a handwritten note. Human interaction still remains valuable.

This is a great checklist to keep your profile up to date and engaging. If you follow this daily checklist, you are sure to increase engagement with your audience and make more connections over time.

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How are you engaging followers on LinkedIn? Share your comments below.

The Benefits Of “Google My Business” To The Financial Advisor

Google My Business is a great way to connect your business to web users looking for your service. In a previous post, I explained just exactly what Google My Business is all about. Here are 3 key reasons why you shouldn’t wait any longer to get your practice on Google My Business.

Reason #1: Produce Better Search Result Information

When you list your business on Google My Business, it gives Google more awareness of who you are, what you do, and most importantly, where you are located. Here’s an example of what you can expect your search result to look like when not using this Google service. In this example, I did a search for “beaufort planning”.

Search results with no Google My Places listing

Ok, so what, right? It produced search results and if you’re “The Beaufort Group” you’re doing a happy dance since you’re listed at the top. But what about the information it provides to the user? There’s a link, some preview text describing the firm and the website address to their website. Is this useful?

Now, here’s another example search I did on “veriday”.

Enhanced search results using Veriday

With this example, there are 3 distinct visual enhancements between the first and second example provided by simply getting listed on Google My Business.

  1. The Address information (i.e. where it reads 5450 Explorer Dr., etc.) This is inserted below the description of the website on the left hand side. Google is pulling this information directly out of Veriday’s “My Business” listing.
  2. Interactive map. Google will automatically create this map on your behalf using the address information you’ve provided. This provides your potential audience with relevant location information about your business. Additionally, Google will also grab images from your profile and drop it into this search result which is a great way to present your brand to the user without requiring them to visit your website.
  3. Listing information about Veriday. This will vary from company to company depending on the amount of information provided. Everything from the address, to hours of operation, phone number and in some cases, the latest post in Google+ will display.  You can also have customer reviews show up. All of this is customizable.

Note: There is a 4th visual difference but that one isn’t directly influenced by having a Google My Business listing.  I’ll be sure to cover this in another post.

So, what makes the result in example 2 more useful than example 1? Simple, location information and contact information are the most common pieces of content that users are looking for when searching a business both on their desktop and mobile devices. By presenting this information instantly to the user, it saves them the time they would otherwise spend looking for that information on the website. In the “beaufort planning” example, I would need to hit Beaufort’s website to find more information.

Reason #2: Enhanced Mobile Search Experience

There’s plenty of data that points to the reasons why delivering a mobile experience is important for users. Luckily, Google has already taken this into account. Creating a Google My Business listing helps you deliver an integrated experience across smartphone, tablet and desktop. The best part is that you don’t need to know a single line of code to do that. Notice how the exact same example produces a very similar experience when I perform the search on my smartphone. The location and contact information is present first in the case of “veriday”, where a Google My Business listing exists.

Beaufort Planning mobile search Veriday Mobile search results

Note the 3 links that Google provides:

  1. A “Call” link. When users click on this link, it provides a single click to call function.
  2. A “Directions” link. Clicking on this link will bring up the mobile version of Google Maps and provide the driving directions to (in this example) Veriday from my current location.
  3. A direct link to Veriday’s website in case I’m not looking for telephone or address information. This is even more of a justification to have a mobile website since you want to maintain a consistent mobile experience for your visitors.

Reason #3: It’s Free

Yep. How about that. Google provides this service to advisor practices and businesses for free. What’s the catch? Well, it really is all about data, and the accuracy of data. In particular, location based data. The data that drives 1 in 3 searches performed online on Google (not including Google Maps). Google has always been about delivering simple and useful user experiences, hence why their search results don’t have a lot of bells and whistles. Here’s one last thought. If Google believes that the accuracy of location based data is an important part of search, is it safe to assume that if you have a business name similar to another business (who may or may not be a competitors) in the same geographic area and only one of you have a Google My Business listing, that Google will list you higher in search results? Looking back at Example 1 of my desktop search, where “Beaufort Group” appeared higher than “Beaufort Planning”, imagine the result if “Beaufort Planning” had a Google My Business listing. How do you think that would change?

Advisors: A Guide to SEO Keyword Research [Infographic]

While Google keeps us on our toes with constant Google algorithm changes and updates, one thing that remains consistent when developing a website, or creating content for a website is keyword research. Keyword research refers to the process of determining what keywords your potential customers use in search engines when searching for information. Keyword research is quite possibly the most important part of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) since you cannot begin to plan for the content on your website unless you know which words and phrases you are targeting.

Some 91% of online adults use search engines to find information on the web. And, among search users, 91% always or most of the time find the information they are looking for (Marketing Profs, 2013). They do this by typing in a keyword or keyword phrase.  In return, a search engine’s complex set of algorithms sifts through the enormous amount of webpages in order to find the most relevant pages. This is why keyword research is so important.  Keywords are used in the process of matching your website content to what your targeted viewers are looking for.  For SEO, keywords are the connector, the relationship between you and your prospects, established and indexed by the search engine.

If you want your Financial Advisory practice to be successful in online marketing, SEO remains one of the single most important component’s of any organization’s branding efforts and online presence. When developing your strategy, however, it is important to keep in mind that search engine optimization is a process that takes time to come into effect. Check out the Infographic below, courtesy of ClearSkySEO, which is a quick guide to Search Engine Optimization and keyword research.

guide-to-seo-keyword-research_558ac9e19772c

 

 

The Anatomy of an Optimized Web Page

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Website Optimizing is a phrase that describes the techniques and strategies used to effect the visibility of a website or web page in search engine results.

So, why optimize your website?  The fact is, if you aren’t optimizing your web pages, you’re ultimately losing business. Optimizing your website properly is crucial to getting your website seen and clicked on in search engines. Your website must be optimized so that your target market can find it, and use it effectively, even if they don’t yet know it exists.  Ultimately, optimizing your web pages will increase the quantity and quality of traffic you are getting.

In the Infographic below, courtesy of  SurePayroll, you will learn which elements of your web pages you should focus on optimizing, and what you can do to optimize them.

The Anatomy of an Optimized Web Page

So what do you think of the anatomy of an optimized web page? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ

The Periodic Table of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  We hear it all the time and know it has to be done to achieve better results on Google search.  But what is it, and what elements effect its success? There is a science to SEO.  The good news is that it is fairly easy to get a basic understanding of what it takes to improve your SEO.

The team over at Search Engine Land have put together the Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors to break down SEO and make it seem a little less like rocket-science. In their Infographic below, they include some of the most important ranking factors and best practises that can help your website to rank higher in search engines. It is important to keep in mind that no single factor guarantees top rankings, but many SEO elements working together can increase your website’s chances.

For a comprehensive guide on the SEO pitfalls to avoid during your website (re)design, you can also download our free e-book.

The Periodic Table of SEO

 

 

 

Old SEO vs. New SEO: Why your approach may need to change

The Search Engine Optimization landscape has evolved and changed over the years. In fact, according to Moz, Google changes its search algorithm approximately 500-600 times each year. While most of these changes are very minor and most aspects have remained relatively consistent, some parts have evolved dramatically.   One of the biggest game changers in SEO over the years has been content marketing simply because content marketing works to drive stronger SEO results.  Content Marketing and SEO are so tightly integrated with 90% of digital agencies saying their SEO efforts are either somewhat or highly integrated with their content marketing.

SEO has always been a moving target that requires different analysis to hit the target consistently. It is important to keep up with the times in order to ensure your SEO strategy is evolving along with Google’s. One thing that we know for sure is that what used to work , doesn’t work anymore. Understanding how you can evolve your strategy with search engine optimization starts with recognizing how it has changed in the first place. The Infographic below, by QuickSprout, breaks down what SEO used to be versus what SEO is now.  In part 2, we will look at how the new SEO is actually all about content marketing.

SEOThenVsNow

 

Part 2:  Old SEO vs. New SEO: Content Marketing 

 

5 Quick Ways to Optimize Advisor’s LinkedIn Profiles

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With over 330 million active users globally and a targeted user base of business professionals, LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. LinkedIn is no longer just a tool for recruiters, but has evolved into a powerful marketing platform that provides a professional ground for Advisors looking to network. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, you are missing out on opportunities to connect with clients, prospects and industry professionals.

Hubspot reports that over 560,000 professionals visit the LinkedIn homepage daily and that 41% of people using LinkedIn for marketing have generated business with it. LinkedIn states that ‘’close to 90% of people with assets between $100k-1m turn to social media to help them make important financial decisions.’’ As discussed in our article on the Buyer Journey, people are 60% along in their decision-making process before they decide to engage with a salesperson. This means that there is a very high likelihood that prospects have checked out your profile before deciding to engage with you. Your profile is the first stop that new business contacts are going to use to evaluate you as a businessperson so it is imperative that you are putting your best foot forward.

Here are 5 easy ways to optimize your LinkedIn profile and enhance your personal branding:

Claim your Vanity URL

LinkedIn will assign you a random URL with a million confusing numbers. Instead of a URL with meaningless numbers, customize your URL to make yourself more searchable on Google. Your page will become far more optimized from an Search Engine Optimization point of view and also helps your profile to rank higher in Google to make it easier for people to find you. To change your URL, follow these steps:

  1. Under your profile, choose ‘’Edit Profile’’.
  2. Next to public profile, you’ll see your LinkedIn URL.
  3. Click ‘’Edit’’ to change the URL.
  4. To the right, in the ‘’Your public profile’’ URL dialog box, click ‘’Customize your public profile URL’’.
  5. Choose a URL that matches your name as closely as possible.
  6. Click ‘’Set Custom URL’’ to save your change.

Upload a Professional Photo

Upload a photo where you are in a professional setting and dressed appropriately. You want to present a personable and professional image that conveys who you are as a professional.  You don’t necessarily need to hire a professional photographer to make a great impression. Your best bet is to upload a smiling photo that communicates professionalism.

Your Headline Matters

Write a great headline. Your headline is the first thing someone will see about you so make it catchy and attention grabbing. The LinkedIn search provides users with the ability to search using keywords and location to find prospective clients or networking contacts. ‘’Financial Advisor’’ should appear in your headline but go beyond just your title and communicate to prospects, in 120 characters, what you do or what makes you different. Your LinkedIn headline is one of the most significant factors that will help your page show up in LinkedIn search results.

LinkedIn Summary

You have up to 2000 characters to create an engaging LinkedIn summary, which provides an opportunity for you to expand on what you do, your experience, success stories, what makes you different, and your goals and objectives. You can also use the summary section to integrate keywords that you’d like to be ranked for in search engine results.

Update your Status Regularly

By updating regularly, you are increasing your engagement with your LinkedIn community. By updating regularly, you are also going to show up on news feeds more often, which keeps you relevant and top of mind for your connections. Update your profile with relevant articles, industry updates, blog posts, curated content. or updates about you and your business.

LinkedIn can be a very powerful marketing tool that should be checked just as often as your email. These 5 tips will help you optimize your profile for maximum exposure and help set you up for effective LinkedIn engagement. There are over 250 million active LinkedIn members, use these tips to help yourself stand out and increase your chances of being found.

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Do you use LinkedIn? How have you used LinkedIn to grow your business? Share your success stories below.

 

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How To Leverage The Buyer Journey To Increase Your AUM

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What’s the relationship between the buyer journey and selling? (if you haven’t read my post on the definition of the buyer journey, make sure you read that one first before moving on.)

Well, as it turns out, the entire profession is changing and traditional selling and relationship techniques are becoming less effective because buyers are becoming more knowledgeable. In fact, they’re coming to the table with more knowledge than ever before and it’s making sales people too transactionally focused (i.e. order takers — please make this trade or please sell this fund).

Understanding the journey can help you connect with your client or prospect on a much more fundamental level. If you’re a financial or insurance advisor who excels, you’ve likely adopted the technique of understanding your buyer’s journey without even knowing it. When you connect with your clients or prospects throughout this journey, it will help you build trust. Why? Because each stage is buyer centric and not sales centric. The buyer doesn’t physically buy or decide to buy until after they diagnosed their problem and are satisfied with their list of solutions to solve that problem. Asking for the sale too early, makes you disingenuous and breaks trust because you’re just in front of the client or prospect for you, not them.

What does this have to do with AUM? What is the relationship between AUM and trust? Well, with my limited financial advice knowledge, AUM is basically all about the amount of money (measured in market value) that an investment company manages on behalf of investors. Is it safe to assume that the more trust that a client or prospect has with you the more they are willing to invest with you and thus increase your AUM? Well, according to Joachim I. Krueger, from Psychology Today, interpersonal trust is defined as the willingness to invest in another in hopes of being rewarded with reciprocity, while accepting the risk of being betrayed. According to this definition, increasing trust levels with your clients, enables a desire to invest in you as an individual and by doing so, they hope to be rewarded with, for example, the reciprocity of service, advice and financial gain and they accept the risk of loss. Higher trust = higher willingness to invest (i.e. higher AUMs).

Here are 3 rules I follow when working your way towards serving your clients or prospects at each stage of the buyer journey:

  1. Be helpful. If they are in the awareness stage, work with them to help them identify the complete picture of their symptoms. If they are in the consideration stage, send them helpful articles or connect them to people who might know more about problem they are experiencing than you do.
  2. Don’t ask for the sale too early. In the movie Glengarry Glen Ross you hear the term ABC – Always Be Closing. This only applies to buyers who are at the end of their buying journey. Yes, I know, you want to make the sale, you want to be the solution to your buyer’s problem, but that might not serve the interests of your buyer and it won’t help you establish trust. Asking too early could actually break trust.
  3. Be authentic. If they are in the decision stage, presenting them with 2 solutions you know they’ll never choose and then your solution isn’t authentic. Have confidence in your practice and business and place competitive solutions beside yours. It will help you weed out customers who might not fit your business and it will help you improve your services or products. Remember the relationship you are trying to establish and the types of individuals you are looking to acquire as clients. For example, clients who are price shopping (vs value shopping) will always choose the cheapest option no matter what. Even if you win their business today, they are bound to be troublesome and costly later.

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Have you ever used any of these techniques in your selling practice?

 

How to Drive Sales Using the Customer Buyer Journey