SEO is a hot topic in the world of digital marketing. We’ve frequently covered SEO and shared our recommendations for optimizing your website for search engines. One of the tips we often highlight is the importance of updating your site on a regular basis. The simplest way to do this is through blogging. Rather than rewrite your website content or add new pages, a blog post is a great way to share timely information that covers a specific, relevant topic. Not only does it help you present yourself as a thought leader and knowledgeable resource for clients, but it also helps boost your SEO.

Let’s dive into the key elements of a SEO friendly blog post:

Start with Quality Content
First and foremost, your article must be well-written and original. An article with spelling and grammatical errors, repetitive information, and sentences copied and pasted from other sources not only won’t help your SEO, but it can actually hurt it. Not to mention, it doesn’t look professional. If you are having trouble deciding what to write about, think about the questions your clients ask. Are they looking at financial aid options for their child’s college tuition? Are they uncertain about Social Security? Do they worry about the markets? Think about the questions they may be typing into Google and answer those questions.

The Right Length
Aim for a blog post that is at least 300 words. If it’s too short, it won’t help your SEO. Why? First, it’s difficult to maximize your keywords in such a limited space. Ideally, you should include your keywords multiple times in your blog post. But if your article is only a few hundred words long, you don’t have the space to include those keywords more than once or twice. Second, Google and other search engines are looking for content in order to rank your website. A number of studies show that more text correlates with higher search engine rankings. Aim for a blog post that is between 500 and 1,000 words. It’s long enough to capture several keywords and other SEO friendly elements, but it is not so long that it becomes overwhelming for your visitor to read. According to Medium, the optimal blog post (meaning the blog post that receives the most views) takes between three and seven minutes to read. After the seven minute mark, readers start to drop off and leave the page. If your blog post surpasses this length, your audience may not be reading your entire article and could be missing the critical concluding remarks or one of your calls to action.

Make Your Important Statements First
While we all enjoy a little mystery in life, a SEO friendly blog post is not the place for that. Rather than beginning with a lengthy introduction relaying a story that leads to your key point, start backwards. Make your most important points first. Start with a powerful statement (with punchy keywords, of course) and then dive into your personal story or other details you want to incorporate.

Strategically Link
Your blog post should include links. A general rule of thumb is to link no more than once per one hundred words. This doesn’t mean you need five links if your post is 500 words, but you may want to sprinkle in two or three links throughout. When you do link, avoid writing a nondescript “check it out here” or “visit this link.” Use keywords or descriptive terms for your links, such as “investment management FAQs” or “Social Security eBook.” While you can link to external websites, what really matters for your SEO is linking to other pages within your website, particularly those you believe are most important for prospects to visit.

Use Headings, Subheadings, Lists, and Bolded Words
At its simplest, SEO is quite intuitive. Google assumes that whatever words you bold, italicize, underline, or use in a heading or list, are relatively important, as you are calling attention to them. When creating your blog post, add variety to your paragraphs. Include a header, subhead, and a few bullet points. Bold a few keywords you want to highlight, such as “retirement income planning” or “stretch IRAs.”

Add Images (and Optimize Them)

Within your blog post, include a relevant image. It adds a nice design element to your post and also helps with your SEO when you optimize it with relevant keywords. How do you do this? If you are using the FMG Suite dashboard, upload a photo and insert it into your post. Once the image is in place, click on “Set Image Properties” icon.

Fill in the “Alt Text” space and “Long Description” space. In the “Alt Text” space, include a brief name for the image using your keywords. For this advisor offering a retirement readiness kit, we kept the “Alt Text” short and simple, naming it “Retirement Readiness Kit.” For the “Long Description,” expand on the “Alt Text,” like “Download your free Retirement Readiness Kit from ABC Financial.”

Go Above and Beyond
To pack an extra punch, share each blog post you publish with your audience! Share the post on social media and send out an email to your clients with the link. This will help you drive more traffic to your site.

The most important thing to remember about SEO is that it’s not all about SEO. Ultimately, you are a financial advisor in a business that is largely referral-driven. Don’t sacrifice informative and engaging content for the chance to rank one position higher on Google. Appearing on the first page of Google isn’t the end goal; it’s an opportunity for prospects and referrals to find you online and learn more about you. You can find the right balance by creating an informative article that answers a common question and includes several keywords, links, headers, and images.

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