SEO strategy for financial advisors: Five must-haves

By Loic Jeanjean

Advisor Websites

The following are five critical steps to boost the effectiveness of your SEO. In no way is this article meant to be a silver bullet or cookie-cutter solution. You will have to think strategically and equip yourself with patience. Bear in mind that there is so much more to SEO than these five must-haves, and you should definitely educate yourself before jumping in or contracting the services of a Web marketing agency or consultant.

The first thing you want to do is take a good look at your assets (website, blog, social media properties) and see if you are well-equipped (i.e. Can these three work seamlessly together?). Once this is done, spend 30 to 45 minutes thinking about goals and/or objectives for your search engine optimization efforts, write them down and rank them in order of priority. In order to be meaningful, these goals must be concrete, measurable and have a clear value or ROI (dollar amount or brand exposure). You can start with the following goals:
  • Increase website traffic by 10 percent or by 100 unique visitors a month (start small and adjust accordingly).

  • Increase leads by shooting for a website's conversion rate of 1 percent. Let's say that your website receives 500 visits a month and that your "free consultation" Web form send two prospects your way each month. Then you are currently converting at 0.4 percent. Taking your conversion rate up to 1 percent would result in a monthly net increase of three prospects.

  • Increase blog readership by 10 percent. Writing articles that resonate with your target audience will help increase the potential shares of your content, which will allow you to reach broader audiences and grow your blog readers.
Tip: Always go for low hanging fruit first and implement quick wins (i.e. linking all your social networks with your blog and website, etc.), then see if the most advanced/time consuming tactics can be performed in house or will require third-party involvement.

Here are five must-haves for your SEO strategy:

1. Start a blog, build a community and increase your brand exposure

Blogging is a great way to increase your website ranking in the search engines, your brand exposure and generate real customers in the long run. Numerous surveys show how blog frequency and customer acquisition are related. Start by brainstorming topics of interest, then writing down blog post ideas and titles and finally coming up with a release schedule to which you can commit. Commitment and persistence are two key components!

2. Consider optimizing your site for local search

Local search marketing is the way to go if you are looking to increase your Web exposure as a brick and mortar business. Remember to leverage your blog and post geo-specific articles such as an upcoming event or local breaking news. A statistic from ComScore says there are more than three billion searches performed monthly with local terms as part of the keyword.
3. Publish your content on social media

Leading search engines highly value the activity that a site has on social media. Making your website and blog content easy to share (i.e use buttons like "add this") will empower your visitors to spread the word about your website, which will ultimately increase your Web traffic over time. Note that results will not happen overnight, especially if your content is off target or you forget to monitor and interact with your followers or fans.

4. Be specific with your keywords

The more specific you get with your keywords, the better your chances for ranking high in the search engine result pages (SERP), because you will most likely have less competition. You can tie this in with those local terms (suggestion number two) in your page title, url, tags, pages and blog posts. Make sure you use your keywords in a natural, strategic way throughout your pages. For example, if you target the key phrase "rrsp contribution," then include content about rrsp itself, but also ideas and steps to increase your contribution, or how to build a balanced plan with mutual funds or bonds.

Important: Do not stuff keywords all over the place, especially in unrelated pages of content, as this is considered "black hat SEO" and could result in your website getting temporarily banned or worse, permanently removed from search engines' databases!

5. Set up Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a web marketer's dream and best friend. I am not asking you to share the same passion I have for Google's software, but at the very least, you should start tracking the following metrics:
  • Visits from search engines vs referring sites -- learn where to focus your efforts
  • What keywords send traffic to your site -- optimize and discover new trends
  • What pages are receiving the most visits -- build on your success and work on your failures
One last piece of advice: If you decide to hire the services of an SEO agency, here are a few tips that will help you sort the good apples from the bad . The bad ones make promises and guarantee first page results. They pitch linking schemes (placing links on hundreds of pages nowhere near relevant to your business), and they want to list your site in directories (which are most likely link building farms with no real SEO juice to pass onto your site).

Now it's your turn to share your success or failures in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!