shutterstock_325621916Over the course of our years working with thousands of financial advisors, we’ve received a lot of questions about SEO (search engine optimization). How does SEO work? How much should I pay a company to help with my SEO? How can I improve my SEO? If I pay enough for SEO, will I get new clients? How can I get to the first page of Google?

The Mystery of SEO

SEO can seem very cloaks and daggers. It’s shrouded in mystery but we’ve all been trained to put it on a pedestal and constantly strive to master it. However, for the small business owner, including financial advisors and insurance agents, there’s no winning the SEO game. Unless you have tens of thousands of dollars to waste, it is impossible to compete against national wirehouses and large firms that have been established for decades. SEO is a numbers game and a money game. Even worse, the algorithms for success are constantly changing so no one company can dominate the search engines.

Over the last few years, Google has increasingly placed more and more emphasis on authoritative content, and less on traditional search engine optimization tricks (such as keyword density). Other search engines, like Bing, are following suit and focusing more on quality content.

All of this means one thing for advisors: content marketing will get you much more bang for your buck than SEO.

This trend is good news for advisors and other small business owners and service professionals because it’s much less expensive and more effective to focus on creating strong, engaging, and authoritative content than throwing money at a SEO company and hoping a strategy sticks. And with any content you create, you can easily incorporate SEO-friendly tactics, such as adding keywords, using strong headlines, and including subheads.

Creating Authoritative Content

One of the key things to take from this is that the emphasis is on “authoritative content.” This refers to content that is relevant, newsworthy, and comes from a legitimate source (whether it’s a person or company). Here’s how you can get started.

  1. Be Knowledgeable. Write about what you know and take the time to research any topics requiring statistics. You should come across as a trusted authority on the topic you’re covering.
  1. Be Relevant. Don’t create content for content’s sake. Everything you produce should have a purpose. Why would someone want to read this? How will it benefit a client or prospect? What new information can someone take from this piece?
  1. Double Check for Errors. The best content is well-written and error-free. Make sure your content is well-written. Use a grammar checker, like Grammarly, or work with a professional writer.
  1. Share. Creating your content is just the first step. The second is sharing it with your online community. Post it on social media, share it within a LinkedIn Group or online forum, and send it via email to your contacts. The best way to build authority is to make it easy for people to find your content.

For small businesses and service professionals, SEO can quickly eat up your marketing budget without producing results. Content marketing, on the other hand, offers the greatest ROI for advisors.