How Financial Advisors Use GMB to Leverage Local Search
There’s no getting around the fact that for any business with a digital presence – large or small – dealing with Google’s control over your online visibility is inevitable. From analytics tools and advertising to online document storage, apps, Google is way more than just a search engine. You might even say Google is the 800-pound gorilla that dominates online search - at least 72% of it.
And when it comes to small businesses, such as financial advisors with a local client base, GMB (Google My Business) is one of the most important assets Google has to offer.
Read on to learn more about Google My Business and how it can benefit your firm's financial advisor marketing.
What is Google My Business?
GMB is a free tool offered by Google that profiles your financial advisor business as a local service entity. And while it might be easy to dismiss GMB as simply another business listing, it’s much, much more than that. A GMB listing offers more than just the basics about your business. And by integrating across Google search, you can amplify the visibility of a business by combining that information with other services on the web.
A GMB business listing also includes photos, hours of operation, messaging, appointment scheduling, posts, reviews, and questions and answers. And while it’s not required to use all those options, it will benefit your financial advisor listing to complete as many as possible. And don’t forget your best keywords – it is still Google after all!
Having an incomplete GMB profile is tantamount to leaving money on the table since it’s essentially free advertising being served up to those searching locally for financial advisor firms. Take the time to include a profile and photos of your business. Make sure they’re professional and current. If your hours of operation have changed, be sure to update that on your GMB profile and website at the same time.
Covid may have impacted some of your business practices. Make sure your GMB account has been updated to reflect your most current business practices.
How to Get Started with GMB
That depends on whether your financial advisor firm already has a GMB listing or not. If there is already a listing, you need to go through the steps to “claim” it with Google. This is a verification process that proves to Google that you are in fact the owner of the business. If your business is not listed, you simply create a new listing.
Pro tip: If your business already has a listing, don’t create a new one to avoid the (albeit tedious) verification process. Google will recognize the duplicate entry and more than likely will penalize your business. It’s best to take the time to claim the original listing and then update and optimize it based on your new information.
As a financial advisor, there may be some questions as to how best to approach some of the GMB features, in particular reviews. While it’s always best to check current compliance regulations, and your firm’s interpretation of the “regs”, it is also important to note these regs have eased up a little and reviews may be allowed on financial advisor GMB profiles.
Keep in mind that it is still prohibited by the SEC for financial advisors to respond, edit, encourage or suppress reviews. That means that good or bad, a review is staying on your profile. The good news, reviews can enhance your SEO and lend credibility to your GMB listing and your reputation with Google.
The bad news is poor reviews also stay, so there is a definite trade-off and the decision is yours. The more comfortable you are with your client’s satisfaction the higher the probability you will want reviews on your listing. But, it also stands to reason anyone can have a bad relationship that results in a bad review.
Google My Business Posts
Considered by some marketing professionals to be an underutilized feature of GMB, Google My Business Posts are another way to take advantage of getting greater local search exposure.
A GMB Post is a way to make an announcement, share an event, or even just promote a new blog article via your GMB page. Rather than being directed to your website, these posts live on your GMB profile for 7 days (events excluded) and can appear directly within search results.
Appointment bookings are yet another way that GMB allows visitors a “one-stop shopping” experience through GMB. If this function is turned on, it allows visitors to schedule an actual appointment with your financial advisor firm without picking up the phone or even having to visit your website.
If you have an existing online booking program, you can integrate it with GMB, or you can choose from one of their recommended providers. By allowing visitors to make appointments with just a few clicks and even without leaving your GMB listing, you’re making it easy for people to get in touch right away. Delays can cost you business when potential clients have second thoughts.
With the addition of GMB to local search, you can see from the examples above that this listing is sometimes all someone uses to determine if they are going to reach out – meaning they may never even make it to your website.
Considering that your GMB listing could not only be your first – but only impression to potential prospects, the accuracy and quality of your listing are critical. But that doesn’t mean you neglect your website, either. Google compares all information about your business across the board, so make sure GMB information is identical to what appears on your website.
Otherwise, your business could be penalized in search rankings if Google isn’t able to authenticate information. If it seems harsh, you have to remember that Google’s main objective above all else is to provide the most relevant, accurate, timely information possible within seconds and at the exact point in time when a Google user is looking for it.
No Google service would be complete without the ability to track data and analytics. This is why it should come as no surprise that GMB also features an insights tool. These insights offer detailed information about the ways your visitors found your listing, what search queries were used (which can help you with your keyword strategy), what actions that person took, who called you, who viewed content on your website, and much more.
Paying attention to these insights and frequently monitoring them can provide key information on how your financial advisor's digital marketing strategy is working on GBM, as well as across all Google platforms.
While it may seem like a major effort to get going, Google My Business is well worth it for the payback in the form of enhanced visibility on Google. Remember that reputable digital marketing firms can help you get started and you could be up and running with GMB in no time.