SEO for Financial Advisors

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1 SEO for Financial Advisors This guide is designed to help give financial advisors a roadmap to better SEO success, gaining you more local attention and, eventually, customers.

2 2 CORPORATE BROCHURE BUILD A SEARCH ENGINE FRIENDLY WEBSITE Contractors draw solely from their local markets, so SEO for financial advisors need to make sure that they have strong local signals on their website and branding materials. Whatever your business, your website can be your ultimate marketing tool if you build it using search engine friendly strategies. The key areas to pay attention to are: atitle Tags ameta Descriptions asitemaps aurl Structure awritten Content (text on static pages and blogs) These areas are fundamental for users and therefore search engines, which are becoming more and more attuned to user-friendly features and content.

3 TITLE TAGS This is one of the most important places to use keywords and descriptors for the page. Every title tag on your website should be unique and specifically describe the page it is assigned to. This helps both users and search engines easily identify what to expect on a page. An interesting or informative title may help convince users to choose that page over others displayed in search results. If the length of the title tag exceeds a search engine s maximum pixel length, the tag will be cut off with an ellipses (...). The page title should also precede the official company/website name to prioritize the content of that specific page. CORPORATE BROCHURE Title tags are the web page titles that appear in blue in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Title tags should be about characters long, including spaces. 3

4 4 CORPORATE BROCHURE META DESCRIPTIONS Meta descriptions appear in black below title tags in the SERPs, giving a brief description of the page. Meta descriptions are not crawled by search engine bots because of past abuses with keyword stuffing, but they remain important for users to identify the content of a page. With slightly more space than is allowed in title tags, the meta description may provide a clearer understanding of the page s content. Meta descriptions should be around 160 characters including spaces. As with title tags, if the length exceeds the maximum pixel length, the description will be curtailed. If a meta description is non-existent or is too short, search engines may pull what they deem as relevant information from the page to display as the meta description instead. This may be the first sentence on the page. It could also be the address from the footer. In any case, it s best not to leave it up to the search engines. Every web page should have a unique meta description that specifically explains a single page, not the website as a whole.

5 CORPORATE BROCHURE 5 SITEMAPS A sitemap also allows website owners to control how bots crawl their website. It s not desirable to have some pages, such as administrative pages, appear in search results, especially when chosen over other pages on the site. A sitemap can help direct bots away from these pages so they focus on the ones you want to lead traffic to. After the XML sitemap is created, you should submit it to the major search engines. While this does not guarantee that every page will be indexed or that pages will be indexed more quickly, it can have this effect. Regardless, your sitemap should be updated periodically so that it accurately reflects the content displayed on your website. HOMEPAGE HISTORY SERVICES PRODUCTS CAREERS CONTACT US HISTORY INFO PAGES SERVICES INFO PAGES PRODUCTS INFO PAGES CAREERS INFO PAGES CONTACT US INFO PAGES URL STRUCTURE URL Structure can play a big role in usability. Clean URLs are the best way to go. In a clean URL, the numbers and punctuation marks present in conventional URLs are replaced with worded descriptions of the page s location. Traditional URL: Clean URL: The clearer the URL looks and sounds, the better for users. Clean URLs allow users to more easily find and return to helpful pages, and they are also more willing to share content that is linked to a short, understandable URL. The URL should be obvious, concise, and contain relevant keywords, if possible. Some search engines also appear to favor websites that use clean URLs for their usability.

6 6 CORPORATE BROCHURE WRITTEN CONTENT The content of your web pages is a critical part of SEO. Marketing Sherpa released a case study of how a comprehensive content marketing strategy increased blog traffic by 2000% and revenue by 40% for one technology company. In short, content gets results. Content is what users visit your site to access. Good content will keep them coming back for more information and sometimes even lead to business inquiries. 40% 2000% INCREASED REVENUE CONTENT MARKETING CASE STUDY INCREASED BLOG TRAFFIC Search engines place high value on good content, too, and they have developed sophisticated ways of determining its worth. Well-written text with technical language, few if any grammar/punctuation issues, and suitable length to cover the topic adequately will receive significantly more credibility and authority than simply written, mistake-filled text that spans a paragraph. Content should have descriptive headers and relate to a single topic. This allows search engines to identify specifically what a page is about, and it helps users find the information they want quickly. Your website should be updated with new or revised content every week. This can be done more easily if your site contains a blog or press section. Keep in mind that all content should be substantial and provide useful or interesting information. Adding a lot of new pages with light content may do more to hurt your site than help it.

7 CORPORATE BROCHURE 7 KEEP AN ACTIVE BLOG When new content is posted on your website, it s like lighting up an Open sign to search engines and letting them know that someone is still minding the shop. If you are already happy with how your current website is set up, a blog is a great way to keep content fresh. It also gives you a way to deliver more information to users that doesn t necessarily belong on your static pages (the main pages of your website). A blog gives you the opportunity to expand on service information, related topics, and recent news items that are hard to squeeze into other areas of the site. Ideally, website owners or other contributors should post new content at least once a week. However, posting a couple times a month will also let search engines and users know that you are maintaining your site with up-to-date content. Be sure that you are only posting content that adds value to your site. Posts that thoroughly explain their topic, give usable advice, and are otherwise interesting add value to the site. Posts that a content writer dashes off for the sake of an update do more to dilute the site s value than create a better ranking. More companies are taking advantage of blogging opportunities every day. In 2008, 16% of Fortune 500 companies maintained public facing blogs. By 2012, that figure had risen to 28%, almost doubling in four years. 16% 28% Fortune 500 companies that blog.

8 8 CORPORATE BROCHURE GOOGLE ANALYTICS AND WEBMASTER TOOLS Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools are two online tools essential for monitoring the performance of different features of a site. These tools can help you view how well your site works as well as how popular your website is. Currently, 20% of all websites use Google Analytics to track their progress. This tool monitors how visitors use your site as well as conversions. Main measurements include: traffic volume, visitor stats, keywords, content, and conversions. Traffic is measured on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis, allowing comparisons over time or from year to year. Visitor information focuses on length of visit, new vs. returning users, number of pages viewed, bounce rate, geographic user location, and referring websites. Keyword stats focus on keywords that drive traffic, keywords that lead to conversions, keywords with a high bounce rate, and keywords that lead to longer onpage stays. Content measures top landing pages, top viewed pages, and pages that visitors leave your site from. Conversions vary by site, so these are goals that website owners set themselves. Commonly they include online sales and lead generation (requesting information, signing on for a newsletter, submitting contact information, etc.). Conversions are tracked both as a rate and an absolute number. Google Webmaster Tools looks at the technical aspects of the website itself, showing you how search engines, specifically Google, view your site. It identifies crawling errors, HTML errors, malware infections, external links (other sites that link to yours), and search query information. The first three can be used to fix issues that can prevent users from viewing a web page or search engines from properly crawling a web page. External links and search queries, though, provide valuable SEO information to help you identify how well your site is received from a search engine perspective. Search queries are an often undervalued set of figures that list the number of queries that brought up your website pages, the number of times your website was viewed in Google SERPs, the click-through rate and number of clicks to your site, and the average position for a given search query. 20%

9 CORPORATE BROCHURE 9 CONTROL YOUR LOCAL LISTINGS The more readily you are found online, the greater your chances will be of attracting customers. A particularly trusted area of Google searches for local businesses is in the Local Listings section of the first result page. Not only do you want to get onto the first page of Google, HVAC businesses need regional traffic, so placement within the Local Listings section is critical to let clients know you operate within the area. The listing provides a link to your website, a link to reviews, your address (also pinned to the map in the upper righthand corner of the page), and your phone number. Search engines rely on multiple sources to get business contact information. Local listings as seen in the SERPs. You want to be here! 97% CONSUMERS SEARCH LOCAL BUSINESSES CONSUMER SEARCHES ON MOBILE DEVICES HAVE LOCAL INTENT 50% 20% CONSUMER SEARCHES ON DESKTOPS HAVE LOCAL INTENT

10 10 CORPORATE BROCHURE CONTROL YOUR LOCAL LISTINGS (CONT.) Fortunately, as a business owner, you automatically have access to Google s channel for business listings: Google Places. If you haven t already, claim your Google Places profile immediately. After you submit your listing, Google will send a notice to your location to confirm your ownership of Google Local business page. Manage business information and respond to customer reviews. the business. Afterward, you can use this tool to post pictures of your office, the work you ve done, your equipment, etc. It also allows customers a forum to write reviews. If you receive a complaint, you have the opportunity to respond to the issue and resolve the problem. Prospective clients who view the exchange will also gain a favorable impression of your business by seeing the effort that goes into customer satisfaction. The profile also serves as a tool to post information about your site for location and contact information. Have your account set to you notifications about comments and other forms of user interaction on your Google Local page to help you stay involved. If you change locations, make sure that you update your contact information across all listings. If you notice that search engines display incorrect contact information for your business, other sources of business information may have posted incorrect or outdated contact data. If that is the case, you should verify your information with the government office where your business is registered (a high authority for online information) as well as major business data collectors, particularly Infogroup, Neustar, and Acxiom. These three companies publish their data across a number of websites, so it s critical that they have the correct information. For your existing local listings across the web visit:

11 CORPORATE BROCHURE 11 MAINTAIN SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES In addition to maintaining your Google Local page, set up and maintain social media profiles. One of the indicators of a strong brand is off-page signals from social media platforms. Your activity, number of followers, and social media interaction can let search engines know that people are interested in your brand, which may help your site s pages rank higher. Owing to these benefits, there is a growing trend among businesses to participate in social media. Facilitate social media activity by including social media buttons on the homepage of your website and on any blog posts or other forms of digital content you publish on your site. There are more social media platforms emerging every day, but you should at least maintain profiles on: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. 66% of F500 companies have set up a Facebook profile, increasing 8% since the previous year. 62% also have corporate Youtube accounts. As of 2013, 73% of F500 companies owned a Twitter account with at least one tweet in the past month, an increase of 11% since the year before. 62% 66% 73%

12 12 CORPORATE BROCHURE GENERATE PERIODIC ONLINE PRESS Getting noticed by major news sources is highly beneficial to a site s credibility. The more links you have from respected, authoritative sources, the more trusted your brand will be online by search engines. If you win an award, give an interview, participate in a community event, or make a major change in services or business practices, let the world know by writing a press release and submitting it to an online press release distributor. When you have a newsworthy story -- share it! A few good resources for this are: PR Leap, PR Web, and Online PR News. Just remember to include a link back to your website. Aside from press releases, guest blogs may be another way to receive links from respected websites. If you write an interesting or useful article, you may be able to find a blog owner who talks about a related subject to host the blog. For example, if you write a post on how to test for poor indoor air quality, you may be able to find HVAC/R bloggers who are interested in publishing it on their own websites. Sometimes receiving online press will happen naturally as you are more active in the community. If you sponsor an event, the event website may link to your site. If you give an interview that s published online, you may receive a link from that post. Watch out for opportunities in your community where you will be able to give a demonstration, lend some advice, or somehow get involved.

13 CORPORATE BROCHURE 13 CREATE LINKABLE ASSETS DIGITAL ASSETS E-BOOKS WHITEPAPERS HOW TO VIDEOS DETAILED ARTICLES One of the keys to gaining popularity online is to create linkable assets. This means creating tools that people can use freely as a resource. Linkable assets can take on many forms, including how-to videos and demonstrations, detailed articles, whitepapers, and ebooks. By providing these materials on your website, you set yourself up as an authority in your field who is willing to take the time to educate your consumers. The concept of freely giving away information may seem counterintuitive to some business owners. However, by giving useful advice and showing off your knowledge, you will be creating a community who will be supportive of your real product plumbing installation, air conditioning repair, ventilation troubleshooting, or any other services you provide. After you are able to establish a community that comes to you for information, who do you think they ll come to when they have a problem they can t solve on their own? Here s one last statistic to consider. According to imforza, SEO leads have a 14.7% close rate compared to outbound leads (mail, print media, etc.) with a close rate of 1.7%. This guide for optimizing a skilled trades website should give you an idea of the work involved in creating and maintaining a user-friendly website as well as why it s worth the investment. By following these guidelines, you ll be able to build up an online community that will continue to attract more users and potential customers. While it may take a lot of initial effort to put these steps into action, eventually you will see that your marketing efforts are going farther and have a greater impact than you were able to achieve before.

14 14 CORPORATE BROCHURE FOR HELP WITH THESE SEO STRATEGIES CONTACT

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