Like it or not, Google has a lot of power over any firm or business that wants an online presence. The foundation for this power is a 72% market share for online searches.
However, there is even more at stake for businesses that primarily conduct business in their local markets, for example doctors, lawyers, and financial advisors.
It is important to note increasing numbers of advisors are using virtual marketing to sell their services outside their local markets.
But, as is often the case with Google, simply having an online presence isn’t enough. Financial advisors need page one visibility to make them easy to find. SEO is the key to getting your financial advisor website or listing at the top of local searches. Moreover, an integral part of a broader SEO strategy should make local search results a high priority. That’s because 24.7% of Google’s ranking algorithm is based on local visibility.
Keep reading to learn more about ways you can expand local search in your financial advisor marketing, and what aspects of local SEO are most important for financial advisors.
Why SEO Matters
As a rule, SEO matters because it serves as a gauge for Google to choose the most relevant response to a user’s search query. While there are many aspects to SEO, here are the basic concepts any financial advisor should consider for implementation.
Semantic Search: As one of the more recent advancements from Google, semantic search takes into account what the user’s intent was when conducting a search using a particular phrase or set of keywords. This is an increasingly important feature when you produce online content for blog articles, pillar pages, and websites.
Meta Details: An often overlooked aspect of SEO, meta details are the “behind the scenes” components because they are not seen by end-users. However, these details include tags, descriptions, and markup language.
Keywords: It’s true that keywords are no longer the holy grail of SEO, but they still matter and shouldn’t be forgotten about altogether. They still have value when investors enter keywords to search for financial advisors and information.
Why Local Matters
While Google reaches billions of users in hundreds of countries around the globe, when it comes to your financial advisor business, showing up at the top of a local search is what matters the most. On a national basis, there are tens of thousands of competitors that provide financial advice and services, but most of them are not in your city. Local is the low-hanging fruit because it is easier to achieve higher ranks due to reduced competition.
And while a large, national financial advisory firm may be interested in getting leads from all over the country, a local financial advisory firm may be more interested in local searches made by people looking for financial advisory services in their community. That’s why it’s imperative for local financial advisors to do everything they can to show up when potential clients input “find a financial advisor near me” in a search engine.
Google My Business (GMB)
If you’ve never heard of Google My Business, it may be because you know it as Google Places or as part of the failed Google social platform, Google+. GMB has evolved into a powerful local online directory with all of Google’s bells and whistles (and of course, algorithms).
By creating a free profile, financial advisors can create a listing for their local financial advisor business and make their online presence that much greater in terms of local searches. While there is much that can be done with a GMB profile, the most important parts of a GMB listing for Google are a profile that is based on current complete and accurate information.
Remember, Google can instantly search the entire web for any mention of your financial advisor firm. If incorrect or inconsistent information is found – even as minor as an old phone number or address – it can damage where a business stands in local SEO. From a Google perspective it means you are not managing your online footprint. That’s why the very first task that is recommended for GMB is to get a profile set up and make it as current and complete as possible.
Arguably the most important part of any SEO strategy is high-quality content that meets all of Google’s ranking criteria. This encompasses blog posts, webpage copy, and listing information. And it’s not just how much content, but how relevant it is, how current it is, how accurate it is, and also how many other people have viewed and shared the content with others.
Making your content easily shareable across social channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn is a great way to get more eyes on your content as well as score points with Google.
Even if you have great content that’s evergreen, if it hasn’t been updated recently, it’s time for a refresh.
Without seeing any updates to your content, Google will assume your page has become stagnant and out of date and this can hurt your local SEO search rankings. Bottom line: Google wants to see high-quality, relevant content that is current and updated on a regular basis. Meeting Google's expectations is the key to online visibility.
On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO
The best way to differentiate between on-page SEO and off-page SEO is to understand that the former is SEO derived from the content on your own web pages or listings. Off-page SEO is when your content is found in other places around the web.
Examples of this are placing ads on other websites, partnering with other websites for backlinks to your website, or even being listed in professional directories.
Pro tip: know the difference between a legitimate paid ad and a website that simply will list any website, regardless of relevance, to get a payday. Google is constantly finding and banning these sites, and those businesses that sponsor them are often penalized as well. SEO isn’t easy to fake and takes significant amounts of time to be done correctly.
How Google Determines Your Local Ranking
While Google isn’t 100% transparent about the “secret recipe” to their search algorithms, they do give quite a bit of information when it comes to local search.
According to Google, there are three major components that are taken into consideration for local search rankings. While not the only things taken into consideration for local search results, it’s a great place to start!
Relevance: As it sounds, relevance is how much a business profile on GMB matches what the user is searching for. Think about this when filling out your GMB profile.
Distance: Since distance is considered, and closer businesses will get placed higher, this emphasizes the importance of accurate address information on a GMB profile.
Prominence: While a bit harder to define, prominence is how your business is viewed and regarded, both online and offline. This includes links, articles, directories, reviews, and even your position in web searches.