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Should Financial Advisors Use the Google Screened Service?

In the competitive landscape that is SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Google doesn’t have a shortage of ways your firm can show up at the top of page one in different situations. 

Financial advisor marketing strategies have included search engine optimization for organic search as well as paying to be in a top spot via Google’s paid search ads. 

And while those are all effective ways to increase online visibility and website traffic, there are newer ways to achieve additional online visibility for financial advisors. Google Screened is one of the ways financial advisors can achieve online credibility via Google and enhance their online visibility. 

Read on for more about Google Screened and if (and how) financial advisors can take advantage.

 

LSAs (Local Service Ads)

The goal of financial advisors using Google Screened lives under the larger umbrella of Google LSAs. LSAs are paid listings for service providers. Originally only for home services (Google Guaranteed), the categories have recently expanded to include other professional service categories, including financial advisors. 

These ads go beyond a GMB (Google My Business) listing because, in order to be included, an advertiser must pass certain verification checks and meet various requirements in order to be listed. For financial advisors to become Google Screened and thus become eligible to purchase LSAs, the following checks are conducted and reviewed:

  • Business-level background check
  • Business-owner background check
  • License check for every professional in the business
  • Background check for every professional in the business
  • Professional liability insurance verification

Once the verification process is completed, that professional is able to pay for inclusion in Google’s LSAs. This includes preference on Google searches as well as a listing on Google’s Local Services site. 

Being Google Screened means that financial advisors will have a green checkmark next to their listing, confirming that they have been verified by Google. This validation can give consumers the confidence that those advisors appearing within the LSA listings are more trustworthy than financial advisors who do not appear there. 

From here, there can be arguments made both ways if Google Screened should be used as part of a larger financial advisor digital marketing/search strategy. While the answer to that question is unique to each financial advisor firm and their specific budgets and goals.

The question is unique and so are some of the benefits and drawbacks for financial advisors using Google Screened and LSA marketing strategies.

 

What Are The Top Benefits When Financial Advisors Use Google Screened?

How Flexible is Budgeting Amounts of Money for Paid Advertising Campaigns?

When it comes to budgeting, every business has some limitations. For this reason, professionals who are using Google Screened and paying to be listed in the LSAs are able to set a budget for each campaign. As with traditional Google ads, this budget can be set and adjusted throughout the campaign. This is especially helpful for smaller financial advisor firms with limited digital marketing resources that want to build smaller amounts of online visibility and website traffic over longer time periods.

Do SEM Advertising Campaigns Produce Faster Results Than Organic SEO Marketing Efforts?

As with any paid vs. organic search engine marketing efforts, paying to be screened and listed on Google's LSA page is definitely a quicker way to see faster results. You are buying the visibility that produces the leads. Getting leads from Google Screened/LSA works the same way. If you are willing to pay Google enough money, you can be on the top page one on the first day. This is important because according to Google 91.5% of its users do not scroll to page two. Only 4.8% of its users click on the next page. 

Does Google Screened Enhance Financial Advisors Credibility in the Eyes of Consumers

What does Google know about validating the quality of financial advisors? Probably not much, but it is a pervasive brand name that has practically become a verb in our culture. While professional service providers must pay to be listed, they can’t “pay” to be Google Screened. That means no matter what the ad costs, the verification process has to be completed beforehand. If all of the qualification criteria aren’t met, then that financial advisor is excluded from the Google Screened service. For this reason, having the green check mark next to a financial advisor listing means this is more than just finding financial advisors. Investors are finding validated financial advisors. 

Do LSAs Promote Customer Reviews and Testimonials?

With the new SEC Marketing Rule taking effect, promoting financial advisor reviews and testimonials with Google Screened/LSAs can compound the impact of these marketing efforts. Be sure to check with compliance before using these marketing tactics.

Can Professional Services Listings Use Headshots?

Unlike home service providers, professional service providers (such as financial advisors) who are Google Screened and pay for inclusion in LSAs, are able to include a professional headshot with their listing. Due to the nature of financial advising client/advisor relationships, this personal touch can add an extra layer of credibility for financial advisors who want to use the Internet to produce leads for their businesses.


What are the Drawbacks When Financial Advisors Use Google Screened?

Are Google Ads Costly?

While the ability to set a budget and manage spending is convenient, getting leads can be costly. This is simply the nature of paid vs. organic search marketing. That is not to say the price is not worth the benefit, but not every advisor will be able to afford this type of lead generation.

Leads May Not Be Qualified

While Google Screened does give financial advisors access to leads looking specifically for their types of services, the leads aren’t necessarily vetted for anything more than the services they are seeking. For some financial advisors, especially those with higher minimums, choosing to spend marketing dollars on SEO may be a more productive approach. SEO is the front-end of an Inbound Marketing solution that targets their ideal types of clients. What is the issue? There is a good chance the leads will not meet many advisors’ minimum asset requirements. This means the services may have more applicability for advisors with no minimums (less than $100,000 of available assets) or relatively low minimums.

Competition Can Be Tough 

Another consideration worth noting is financial advisors in Google Screened listings do not have to be located in a service area to show up in a Google LSA search. This means that local financial advisors are competing with national financial advisor firms that are licensed to do business in that area. For this reason, putting more effort into GMB listings and Google ads with a local focus may produce better results.

While no two financial advisor firms have identical needs, it’s widely considered that Google Screened is used as one piece of an overall SEO/search marketing strategy and likely not sustainable as the main source of legitimate, quality, and cost-effective leads for the average financial advisor firm with a local focus. 

For some financial advisors, having a digital marketing partner can make a big difference. Not only can they take some of the confusion out of the process for getting Google Screened, but also dedicate the time and resources to a digital marketing strategy that most financial advisors simply don’t have.

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