We get a lot of questions from financial advisors about search engine optimization (SEO). This punchy term has wooed and romanced just about everyone with a website, especially businesses that are looking toward the Internet for new clients. Well meaning advisors have spent tens of thousands of dollars in hopes of increasing their SEO and seeing their website rank at the the top of a Google search. If you master SEO, you’ll appear on the first page of a Google search and see massive website traffic and prospects from across the country calling (or so the myth goes). If you’re feeling skeptical, you may be right to trust your instincts.

HangGlider

First, SEO is constantly evolving and even SEO companies can’t always keep up.

Many advisors have a preconceived notion on what SEO is, based on what it used to be. In the early days, you could effectively “trick” the search engines. Today, SEO has greatly matured. What was once a simple game of discovering the “right” keywords is now a multifaceted discipline. As Entrepreneur magazine explains, “the focus is now on content and branding rather than manipulation and trickery.” This means an advisor’s main goal for their website should be better content, not higher rankings. As they say, if you build it, they will come.

Second, the financial services industry isn’t your typical industry.

By and large, an advisor’s business is and will continue to be referral-based. Unlike most other industries, someone can’t easily find advisor reviews on websites like Yelp. When it comes to something as personal as one’s finances, people want to work with someone they can trust. They are much more likely to trust an advisor their friend recommends, as opposed to the advisor they found by a keyword search on Google. The main goal of an advisor’s marketing should be to convert those referrals with great content like resources, tools, and education.

Third, ranking first on Google won’t convert; you need a great website.

A good SEO score doesn’t directly correlate with effective marketing. Rather than entirely focus on maximizing SEO, advisors should create their website with SEO and site visitors in mind. Prospects will naturally be able to locate the site and find insightful resources that don’t scream “sales pitch!” Search engines are looking to match a search with relevant content, so the information on a website should accurately reflect what an advisor does and who they do it for. Advisors should keep in mind what search engines are looking for (valuable information) as they build their sites.

If advisors are confident in the usefulness of their site’s content and want to integrate SEO best practices (those that Google prioritizes and are therefore less likely to change) into their website and marketing, we recommend these four techniques.

Step One: Use Keywords

When writing website content, advisors should use keywords that prospects might use to search. For example, “wealth management,” “asset allocation,” etc. The more specific, the better. For example, “comprehensive financial and tax planning for women,” “San Diego 401(k) specialist,” etc. List the firm name, location, and the services offered multiple times in headings, copy, and page titles for maximum effect.

Step Two: Create Unique and Accurate Page Titles

Search engines value the titles of pages higher than other information on a site. Write descriptive and accurate titles that describe the firm and the content that appears on each page.

Step Three: Update Your Site with Fresh New Content

Ideally, advisors should be adding new content to their site weekly, or at the very least, monthly. This is easy to do if they leverage writing they do for client emails or mailings into a blog. Search engines will favor a site that is timely and up-to-date.

Step Four: Use Images and Video

Search engines favor sites with video and images. Using video on a site improves SEO and the user experience. Advisors should also aim to leverage images, especially of the firm’s specific location, and title them with relevant and descriptive names.

Once an advisor writes their content with SEO in mind and features relevant and engaging content, they shouldn’t worry too much about further optimizing their site. The time and energy they could spend in trying to get their site to rank higher in search results is likely better spent creating valuable content for clients and prospects that will naturally draw in site visitors and convert them.