Financial advisors looking to rank higher in Google searches have long known that search engine optimization is the lifeblood of digital marketing. SEO plays a massive role in where their website ranks within relevant search queries. Search engines such as Google are constantly evolving and changing their search algorithms to deliver the best possible result to the end-user.
Semantic search is an example of this.
Read on to learn more about semantic search and why every financial advisor website needs to implement this SEO strategy to stay relevant online and not get left behind by the competition.
What is Semantic SEO?
Semantic SEO is Google’s way of understanding the user’s intent when searching a word or phrase. By having a better understanding of the search context, Google can deliver even more accurate search results to the end-user. The computers that makeup Google’s search engine tool are – in fact – computers and not human beings.
Before semantic SEO, there was a gap between what the computers saw regarding keywords and what a human would be able to infer about the same search query. This resulted in less-than-optimal search results at times when the computers didn’t have enough information to understand the users’ intent.
With semantic SEO, Google’s algorithms are looking at more than simple keywords or phrases, which includes looking at the website’s overall structure and authority for “topically relevant” content. Essentially, it digs deeper than ever before and rewards websites with the type of content it believes the end-user is searching for.
What does this mean for financial advisor websites? While the keyword is most definitely not dead, it’s no longer enough to build a strong SEO strategy solely on keywords to enhance and maintain a solid SEO strategy.
Mobile Devices and Voice Search
An important factor contributing to the need for semantic SEO is the rise in the use of mobile devices for search. These devices, and the technology behind them, have made living and communicating on the go possible. So, it should be no surprise that people are conducting online searches via mobile devices more and more.
With that shift from traditional desktop computer searches comes changes to the search queries themselves. This is due in large part to voice technology.
When using the voice search option, the way people search often looks different than if they were to type the same question into the search bar. This is because using voice search, it’s more natural to ask your question in a more conversational tone.
Here’s an example: If someone is searching for a financial advisor with expertise in estate planning, an online search when typed into a box, might simply say “estate planning.” When looking for that same information using voice search, that same person might say, “Where can I find a financial advisor who specializes in estate planning?” To deliver the most relevant and timely results to users, Google has to decipher the intent of each of those search queries, even though they look very different.
If your financial advisor website is only using keywords to optimize for the “estate planning” search query, you could be missing out on valuable SERP (search engine results page) real estate. This is because without optimizing for semantic search, your financial advisor website will not be seen as covering the topics that the user’s search “intended” to find. These nuances may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of SEO, but they’re huge when you consider that the “old” way of optimizing for SEO was 100% keyword based.
How to Optimize Your Financial Advisor Website for Semantic SEO
Now that you understand the importance of SEO, the next step is to implement it on your financial advisor's website. There are many ways to go about this, and where you start is entirely up to you. Here are some tips for utilizing semantic SEO on your financial advisor website.
Use Keyword Clusters
While Google no longer focuses on single keywords, semantic search SEO can be improved by using keyword clusters. These are keyword groups that represent searchers who have similar buying intent. By getting your web page to rank for primary keywords, long-tail variants, and related subtopics, a financial advisor’s website can rank for ten to 20 times the amount of keywords to gain more traffic.
Go Deeper Into Your Financial Advisor Content
While covering many topics can be helpful for both SEO and user experience, for semantic SEO purposes, Google wants to see in-depth knowledge on the topics users are searching. But there’s no need to start from scratch with entirely new content.
A good practice for financial advisors is to go back through existing content and expand on specific topics by going into greater detail, all with semantic search in mind.
Answer Anticipated Questions in Your Content
Google’s job is to determine what the user is asking, even if they don’t actually ask the question in the search. Your job is to answer the questions Google infers users ask within your website content. While this may sound like it requires a mind reader, the reality is that you already know many of the questions being asked, and more can easily be figured out with a little online reconnaissance.
Think about the common questions you get asked by clients or potential clients. Now incorporate those questions into your website content throughout, not just on selected pages or sections. Remember, Google is scanning an entire site when considering search results.
Don’t Forget the Basics of Traditional SEO
While semantic SEO is where search is headed, it’s important to remember that SEO fundamentals are still necessary. While semantic SEO changes the way people search and how Google interprets their intent, search engine algorithms are still looking for basic information to understand your financial advisor's website and where it should appear in searches.
These essential elements of SEO include but are not limited to keywords, alt tags, meta descriptions, title tags, backlinks, and internal links. Because of this, financial advisors will do well to consider semantic SEO as an addition to their current financial advisor website SEO strategies rather than a replacement.