My family and I were lucky enough to get away to St. John recently, and, for anyone who’s never been, it’s beautiful. We did nothing but go to the pool and the beach every day, and we had a blast. But, with three young kids, it wasn’t exactly “relaxing.” Still, it was so calm and pretty there, I thought it was a great spot for us to get lost—but just for a week.
Back at home, in speaking with our advisors about their websites, this is actually the exact opposite of what I usually hear. No one wants to get lost, everyone wants to be found (online, anyway). And we get a lot of questions on the best way to have a website show up in search engine results.
It’s important to note that the way someone searches for a financial advisor can be different from other research he or she might do online. It typically starts with a referral from a friend, family member, or other trusted source. Given that, our recommendation is for our advisors to focus their efforts on being associated with their names and the names of their firms. We refer to this as a “warm” lead because those searching usually know something about you. This is different from “cold” Internet traffic or someone stumbling upon your site when searching for a financial advisor and with no prior knowledge of you or your company. In those situations, the chances are less likely that the searchers would be ideal fits as potential clients.
But it can be a little confusing and even overwhelming to get started. How can you make your site as search-engine friendly as possible? Here are some tips:
- Do a thorough content review. We are consistently looking to find new ways to make content available for our advisors so that they can keep their sites as fresh and up to date as possible. Nevertheless, anyone with a website should also be reviewing his or her own content periodically to ensure that all information is accurate (i.e., biographies, company and contact information).
- Look your site over every six months or so to determine whether any updates are needed.
- Because you know your audience better than anyone, contribute additional information that you know your clients (and prospects) will find useful or interesting.
- Review Meta tag information. This information resides behind the scenes in the code on your website pages. Search engines pay attention to these tags for clues as to what kind of content is on your site.
- Review page names and title tags, which are important to search engines. And, if there are keywords with which you want to be associated, incorporate them in those page names and titles.
- Your keywords and terms should also be reinforced within the content on your site. When you’re conducting your content review (see the first bullet), be sure to include them in appropriate places on the site.
- Set up link exchanges. When it comes to search engines, it can be a bit of a popularity contest. If they see that other sites are linking to your site, they assume that the content must be good and will assign a better ranking in results. So work on identifying other professionals in your area that you can approach about including a link to their websites (and they can link back to yours).
- Take advantage of social media opportunities. Social media is quickly becoming one of the most effective ways that you can enhance your visibility in search results.Here are a few ways to use social media effectively for search engine optimization (SEO):
- If you’re posting information on LinkedIn and Facebook, link back to your website as much as possible in order to help drive traffic.
- Be sure that you have set up LinkedIn profiles. LinkedIn helps improve search results for name recognition, which is one of the primary goals of our advisors (i.e., to be found in searches for their names). LinkedIn makes it easy for you to go through each section of its profiles, step-by-step, so be sure that yours is complete and accurate.
- Include a professional photo and your website address wherever you can.
When it comes to search engines, things are always changing, so be sure to keep up with the latest news and trends to ensure that your online presence is as optimized as possible. You never want a good thing to get lost in the crowd!