For virtual financial advisors, ranking organically can be a whole different ballgame. Since the services are offered online or virtually rather than being in a physical location the question arises: what is the best way to go about boosting your organic rankings in search results?
According to Mindstream Media, more than 70% of millennials use search engines to do research, while 15% of 18–34 year-olds are turning directly to search engines for financial advice. With statistics like these, it only makes sense that virtual financial advisors are on the rise! Traditional marketing practices are challenged by the virtual advisor because in many cases, they deliver the same advice and services, but the communications are different.
How Can Virtual Financial Advisors Rank Organically?
As SEO continues to change and Google is also constantly updating, then trying to achieve your top listings and rank organically is going to constantly be evolving. If you want to rank higher in your online searches, which you obviously should so that you can increase your traffic and SEO, then check out the below tips on how to go about doing this!
1. Focus on Local Key Markets
We have said this time and time again, as a virtual advisor, we always hear “But I serve clients nationwide, I don’t want to pigeonhole myself to one area.” This study shows that investing hyper-locally in key markets with the most ROI will be the MOST beneficial. It’s so important for you to become involved with those markets, to show that you are a part of them, understand what people in your area want financially and then grow from there.
With local search results, it means transforming how you create content, optimize your site and track performance. What’s the best way to go about doing this?
Be Sure That You Include Meta Descriptions
What exactly is a meta description? It is the text that displays in grey below the URL in a search. These are extremely important, as they can influence the decision of the searcher as to whether they want to click your content from search results or not. You want to ensure they are descriptive and enticing enough to make someone want to click.
In the image below, you can see how important it is to create a strong meta description as that is what people will see before they even click on the link, therefore helping them to decide if they should click or not.
Use Your Local Partnerships
Be sure that you are forming partnerships with local organizations, as this is an awesome opportunity to get backlinks from their websites.
You can also sponsor local events that cater to small businesses, which is HUGE for showing that you care about the community, and it can get you links from the event’s sponsorship page. By doing this, you may stumble across local and community blogs that would love some guest contributors. That’s a win-win situation!
In the above image, Scott Advisory Group, located outside of Boston, MA, partners with Dress For Success Boston, which empowers women to achieve economic independence. This type of partnership really gets your name out in the community, as well as, shows that you really care about bettering those around you.
2. Perform a Keyword Search
What are keywords? They are words throughout your website that define what your content is about and can be put in your bio, on your homepage, or in blog posts. In all honesty, they can be placed almost anywhere on your website and be considered a keyword.
Try to find out what keywords are strong in the area, what is being used often, as search engines will often bold those in results when they are searched. Why are they so important? Well, they communicate to top search engines what information is on your website.
Mountain Pass Planning does a great job of including the right keywords within their meta description allowing them to show on the first-page search results when you search for keyword terms like “Hopewell Junction financial planning” in Google.
So keep in mind, that when a phrase is entered into the search box, search engines want to pull the most relevant and useful websites to populate the search engine results page (SERP). Because of this, they rely on the keywords that you use in their algorithm to determine if your website fits the criteria.
3. Blog or Produce Content on a Regular Basis
Content is king, and you need to be producing “click-worthy” content on a regular basis as a part of your inbound marketing strategy. Inbound marketing can help you reach your most qualified audience in a way that naturally draws people to your website, rather than you going out and trying to push your products on others. What are some of the top reasons that you should produce killer content regularly?
In the below image from C.L. Sheldon & Company, they have a strong blog section this continuously updated and that focuses on their niche market of active and retired military personnel.
Establish yourself as a “thought leader”
With all of the talented advisors in the industry, how do you make yourself stand out? You want to establish yourself as a “thought-leader” in the industry and what better way to do this than by creating amazing content?
You want your visitors to leave your site feeling as though they learned something useful. They will also be more likely to pass along the information to others, and if you are creating meaningful content, this makes others much more likely to link your content.
Form relationships with others
Share third-party articles as part of your blog content. Be sure that it is a reputable source as you want your readers to respect you, and if it is, then they will see you shared their article, which is a great way to “network” or form a relationship with another business. This will also make them much more likely to share your content, which opens you open to a whole other network of followers.
4. Build Quality Backlinks
Backlinks are simply incoming links to your website that come from another site. They let search engines know that another site finds your information so valuable that they chose to link it, which in turn, shows that you are in the authority and create strong content. In addition, the more relevant the linking site, the better the quality of your backlink.
In the above image, IRC Wealth links an article that they wrote in the Atlanta Business Chronicle. This type of media shows that they are respected in the community as they are mentioned in reputable sources.
Keep in mind that it takes time and patience, so backlinks built slowly over time are better than “spamming” and cramming tons of them in all at one time. So, don’t rush it! When you are building backlinks, check out what your competition is doing. Here are 3 tips that can help you build these quality links.
List out the Top Search Results
First, type in the keyword that you want and get the URLs for the top search results. All you have to do a quick search and make note of the URL related to it.
Check out the Backlinks of your Competitors
Find out what your competitors are posting! This doesn’t mean copy them, but just see what works for them! It’s always great to draw on ideas and see how to best increase SEO and make connections.
Study the Links
Be sure that what you are posting is quality, as it is much better than quantity. It is much better to post a few quality links with very helpful content, rather than just littering your website with content that doesn’t add any meaning. This will actually hurt you, as it will make it harder for people to take you seriously as you are only posting “spammy” material.
5. Get Active on Social Media
Social Media is no longer just for fun pictures and posting your selfies. There are SO MANY benefits that your advisor business can get from being on social media. Not only is it a great way to grow your brand and interact with your audience, but it’s also a channel you can use to increase sales traffic to your advisor site. According to Hootsuite, there are now 3.196 billion people using social media, which makes it almost a “no-brainer” as to why you should be using it!
Also, remember to understand your audience and be on the correct platforms. Since most customers are seeking professionalism from a financial advisor, be careful about how you present yourself online. We recommend first focusing on the big three: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. These platforms will give you the opportunity to form professional relationships and create a voice for your firm.
The niche and geographic region might use a certain social media platform more than others, so you need to identify where your target audience is spending the most time. Sprout Social reports that the biggest Facebook users are women (89%), 18-29-year-olds (88%) and those earning less than $30,000 while LinkedIn’s biggest users are men (31%), those earning $75,000 or more (45%) and users with college experience (50%).
Keep in mind that when using social media to increase local SEO, you can also check for local events that are going on in the area, try to become involved in social media. Check hashtags that are trending, just be sure that you are constantly searching for what is going on locally and shape some of your social around that.
So, while it does take work to rank organically as a virtual financial advisor, isn’t it worth it? It’s so important that you show up with strong content and “click-worthy” material so that you can rank highly in search engines, therefore getting more visitors which leads to new clients.
Everything at your business takes effort and patience, and it is definitely a game of “trial and error,” but the benefits that you reap from putting in the work make it all worth it in the end! Put the work in and find out what works best for your business, and go with that!