Former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famously said that “all politics is local.” And so it is with marketing. Recent changes to Google’s search algorithm have made geographic proximity the most important variable when it comes to search engine rankings. So, how do you use local SEO for financial advisors and get the most out of your efforts?
Providers with local addresses have a natural advantage when it comes to doing business in their own hometowns.
According to HubSpot, 46 percent of all search engine inquiries are potential customers seeking local information. And 97 percent of individuals have used search engines to find local businesses. Many of these queries turn into leads … and leads turn into sales. Studies show that nine out of 10 consumers who search and find local businesses on the Web either call or visit the business within 24 hours.
Successful RIAs who are best positioned to get in front of these organic local search terms are those whose Inbound Marketing strategies are set up to turn lookers into leads.
Start With Your Website
Step one, of course, is to build a compelling website, complete with powerful landing pages that help lead searchers to contact you or provide you with enough information to contact them.
But to maximize the effectiveness of your website for local traffic, it’s important to highlight your local identity within your site itself.
Here are some ways you or your marketing team can do this:
- Complete your site’s meta titles and descriptions to include your location and key practice information.
- Use a local phone number – not an 800 number.
- Update your blog and video content frequently – and highlight local topics and events. One of the most effective SEO tactics for many financial advisors is regular, relevant content creation.
- Sponsor local youth sports teams, arts projects, fundraisers and other events – and write them up on your blog and press areas on your website.
As you can see, a solid content marketing strategy is a big part of successful SEO for financial advisors. But your content – blogs, events, press releases, FAQs, videos and other media – should be tilted in strong support of this local effort.
Master Google My Business
Google continues to dominate the search engine space. And it’s not even a close race. Bing still isn’t capturing even 10 percent of the online search market, and Yahoo and DuckDuckGo are fighting for table scraps.
Google’s My Business platform is the primary tool by which you can let search-engine crawlers know who and where you are and what you do. Think of My Business as a bridge that connects your website and its content with your local user’s search results.
Success will mean your site is featured prominently in the top half of the search page, and possibly in a sidebar featuring your business logo, location, link and phone number.
Claim and Verify Your Page
You’ll also want to create or claim your Google My Business account. You’ll find the step-by-step instructions here. Then you’ll need to go through a verification process, detailed here. (If you’re working with a Digital Marketing firm like Paladin Digital Marketing, your team should take care of this for you.)
Completing this process will enable Google’s engines to include your firm on Google Maps for local searches and in features like the Local Pack – the three or four businesses that Google commonly prominently displays on the map right next to the results on the search page. It also helps boost your firm’s placement in organic local search rankings.
Update Your My Business Profile
You can edit your business information on Google My Business using the instructions here. A few tips from Google include:
- Represent your business online just as it’s represented and branded in the real world. Use the same imagery, logo, colors and branding elements that you use everywhere else.
- Doublecheck your business address and make sure it’s accurate. (P.O. boxes don’t cut it when it comes to local SEO. Use a hard, physical address, if possible.)
- Don’t check off 50 different service categories, thinking you’re casting a wider net. Google recommends choosing the fewest number of categories possible while still describing your overall core services and products.
Other considerations include:
- When creating your profile (or when your team does this for you), make sure content quality is high. Spelling mistakes will hurt your results!
- No links of any kind are allowed within the business description. You also cannot include unnecessary information within your business name. Violations can result in your suspension from the My Business platform.
- Do not provide phone numbers or URLs that redirect or “refer” users to landing pages or phone numbers other than those of the actual business, including pages created on social media sites.
- Use your own images. Studies show that images, including your own logo, improve engagement significantly. Get rid of the generic My Business image and use your own logo. You may also want to include a few images of your office, including the exterior, so people know what they’re looking for when they show up for an appointment!
- Images should be high-quality and have a minimum resolution of 720x720p.
Again, if working with a marketing firm that is skilled in SEO for financial advisors, an expert team should provide these services for you.
Get on Relevant Directories
Online directories like Yelp, WhitePages and SuperPages, are simply convenient lists of related businesses curated by third parties. They can be strictly industry-related, or they can be focused on location. Google compares how your business is listed in roughly 75 of the top online directories and uses that as part of their ranking algorithm. In order to have a fighting chance of having good local SEO ranking, you need to have consistent, accurate rankings across all 75 of these directories.
Most of these directories offer free listings, but some require payment. Those that do require payment, may offer an advantage, as paid directories can help weed out the less serious competition and give you a bigger market share from a paid directory. Just be sure the directory is relevant and has a compelling value proposition for you before you pay any money.
Make sure your listing information across all sites is identical. If you have different information listed on different sites, Google reads it as representing different businesses, which hurts your SEO ranking.
A good Digital Marketing agency with a specific focus on the financial planning industry can help you identify and get listed in all relevant directories that may benefit your business. A generalist agency may help you with regional directories (if they’re local), but you’ll probably be on your own when it comes to finding industry-specific directories that serve the financial planning world.