SEO stands for “search engine optimization”. The term refers to optimizing a company’s web presence to make it easier for individuals to search and find information about the company. This information could be the company’s website or social media channels. When a website is “optimized,” it shows up higher in search results.
While the financial industry is one of the most regulated industries in the U.S., having an online presence is still valuable and critical for any organization. Most advisors fall into two categories relating to SEO:
- Advisors who believe that SEO does not matter much because their business is and will continue to be referral-based;
- Advisors who believe referrals are a great source for qualified leads but feel that, since the financial industry is shifting to the online space, referrals shouldn’t be the only source for new business.
Advisors in the second category have a higher chance of coming out on top during this digital evolution of the financial industry. These advisors understand that, while referrals are still a huge source for new business, online marketing strategies can help guide a new prospect to a company’s website and provide better brand exposure.
SEO is constantly evolving. Strategies that worked for a company in 2016 would not work for a company in 2019. Client search patterns are changing as digital device technology continues to advance. To help understand why SEO is important, let’s look at some search patterns that have been studied.
Search Patterns that Affect SEO:
- Online web searches have changed the game for individuals looking for goods and services. In fact, 93% of all website traffic is driven by search engines. This high percentage of people using search engines to land on a specific website proves that it is vital for an advisor’s site to appear high up in search results and be as relevant as possible.
- Responsive website design is defined as a website design that expands and shrinks depending on the visitor’s screen size and orientation. This design is typically targeted toward mobile users. A mobile user is anyone who is visiting a website from any device that is not a laptop or desktop computer, e.g. someone using their cell phone or tablet to access a webpage. Not surprisingly with the rise of smart mobile devices, mobile responsiveness is expected. Today, 52% of global internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Due to Google’s SEO algorithm changes, the search engine giant has begun to reward businesses with mobile sites, specifically sites that have optimized the speed expectations of the modern consumer.
- Voice-Search allows users to speak into a device and generate search queries without actually typing the message. This technology has been around for a while. Programs such as Google Assistant, Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Microsoft Cortana have capitalized on the voice-search technology. By the year 2020, half of all online searches will be made through voice-search.
- Local searches have also seen a large uptick for Google users with 46% of all online searches having “local intent”. For these types of search queries, which characteristically include “near me”, the search engine understands that the searcher wants business suggestions or lists based on their location. In fact, 72% of consumers who performed a local search visited a store within five miles.
So, what does this mean for financial advisors?
The way individuals are finding new services has changed. As technology continues to develop, so will the way consumers interact with brands. Referrals are still important, but for exponential growth, having a solid online SEO strategy can only help improve business as a whole. A business that ranks high in search results has managed its SEO well.
Ways You Can Improve SEO:
- Make sure your website loads quickly. Slow-loading pages lead to higher bounce rates, loss of traffic, and a decrease in customer trust. To see how well your website passes the test, click here.
- Create a mobile-friendly responsive design. Having a website with responsive design makes your website much easier for visitors to read and navigate. This ease in navigation will increase the time a visitor remains on your site. The longer an individual remains on your webpage, the greater the chances for increased conversions. Conversions in SEO terms happen every time a visitor completes a desired action on your webpage, i.e. filling out the “contact us” form or subscribing to your newsletter.
- Write the way that you speak. This is especially useful when optimizing a website for voice search. Use long tail keywords that sound natural versus shorter keywords. Keep phrases short and simple.
- Focus on your content. High quality content should be unique, valuable and relevant to your business. Create content for your readers and the search engine rank results will follow. Add images and videos to your content. The images will generate traffic through google images and videos can garner you traffic, links, and mentions from sites such as YouTube and Vimeo.
- Create a Google My Business page. This will help your business location pop up on the side of any local search results. To learn how to add and create a Google My Business page, click here.
There are many small ways a financial advisor can better build an SEO-friendly website. Through the use of these practices you may be able to see a notable difference in the number of visitors to your website. The increase of visitors could help with converting these valuable leads into new clients.
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