SEO for Financial Advisors: 3 Things You MUST Know
NOTE: If you’re a new financial advisor, make sure you check out Your First Year As A Financial Advisor, where I reveal several things every new financial advisor ought to know.
SEO can be one of the best marketing tools a financial advisor can use. It’s powerful because it can help you stand above your competition in the search results. It’s low-cost because it can drive traffic to your site that would otherwise cost thousands if you paid for it with ads.
What is SEO?
SEO is the process of affecting a website’s visibility in a search engine’s unpaid results. This is often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” traffic. In a nutshell, SEO is when you try to rank for certain keywords. The most popular search engine is Google, so financial advisors looking to perform SEO often want to rank on the first page of Google.
SEO is important because it can help financial advisors:
Not many financial services professionals are taking advantage of proper SEO right now. I don’t just mean financial advisors, either – I mean banks, credit unions, insurance agencies, real estate firms, and much more.
I realize that I could make this article much longer and more complicated than it already is, but I want to give you the main ingredients of what you need to know about SEO as a financial advisor. Plus, a lot of the SEO intricacies are changing on a basis. I wanted to write something that will (hopefully) stand the test of time.
Buckle your seat belt, because I am going to give you incredibly valuable information that, if applied, will help you grow your business. I’m even going to include a few screenshots of exactly what to do.
1. Perform keyword research.
This is by far the most important step. Keywords are the flesh and blood of search engines. Whenever you search for something on Google, you do it by typing keywords into the search bar. Potential clients are doing the same thing whenever they’re looking for a financial advisor.
The two most important metrics (in my opinion) when it comes to keyword research are volume and keyword difficulty. Volume tells you approximately how many times a search is performed for a given keyword, on average, each month. Keyword difficulty gives you a rough estimate of how difficult it is to rank for a certain keyword. I always use SEMrush for keyword research. Here is an example for you:
In this example, you see that the most-searched keyword is “financial advisor Dallas”, with 170 searches per month with a keyword difficulty of 55.68, which means that it shouldn’t be TOO hard to rank. The lower the number, the easier it is to rank. If I was brand new to SEO, I would shoot for 60 and below. However, I want you to note that a simple change in the word order to “Dallas financial advisor” results in only 10 searches per month with roughly the same keyword difficulty.
If you didn’t do your keyword research and tried to rank for “Dallas financial advisor”, you would be missing out on all of those extra searches.
The reason I’m emphasizing keyword difficulty is because it’s unlikely that you’re an SEO expert who wants to spend hours on your website. Leave that to the pros. It’s critical to get the low-hanging fruit to get some SEO juice. I’m showing you “financial advisor Chicago” keywords to elaborate on keyword difficulty. Financial advisor keywords are more difficult to rank in Chicago than Dallas – you need to know this going in because the higher your keyword difficulty number is, the more work it will take to rank in the search engines.
Again, I want to keep this simple. I know there are tons of tools and metrics that can be used in keyword research, but these are the two that I’ve found that give you the biggest ROI.
2. Create high-quality content.
This whole “content is king” thing has been overused so much this past decade, but it’s true. Content is the ruler of the internet, and the goal of a search engine is to organize and deliver relevant content.
In order to prove to the search engine that your content is relevant, you want to integrate your chosen keywords into your content. However, make sure that you don’t stuff your page full of the keywords. This is literally called “keyword stuffing”, and search engines can penalize you for it. Instead, focus on providing well-written content that includes a few natural but strategically placed keywords.
A lot of financial advisors (and any other business-minded individual) might start thinking, “Okay, so I need content. How can I get this as easily and cheaply as possible?” Be careful! Don’t just hop over to a freelancer website and outsource your content for six bucks an article. You cannot outsource cheap (more like almost slave labor) content writers to write amazing content. You get what you pay for.
Write your own content whenever possible, and if you can’t, don’t be cheap. You can either spend a few dollars PER CLICK or you can spend $100-300 for a quality piece that will consistently deliver and keep traffic. If you want to win, you have to play the long game.
SEO demands content. The biggest fundamental of SEO is its use of keywords, and content is a practical use of keywords. Great content marketing is all about writing content for real people, with real value, that just so happens use the keywords that you’re targeting.
Oh, by the way, this article was written with the keyword “financial advisor SEO” and “SEO tips for financial advisors” in mind. These keywords don’t have a huge search volume, but by creating a decent piece of content that people will share, I will gain visibility. I can be completely transparent about this stuff because it works.
3. Build high-quality backlinks.
Hmmm… there’s that “high-quality” phrase again. When it comes to SEO, everything needs to be high-quality, or white-hat, to avoid getting penalized by future search engine updates. People who try to game the system end up getting crushed.
Another fundamental of SEO is building backlinks. Backlinks are incoming links to your site from another site. They basically let search engines know that another site finds your content valuable enough to link to it, which helps signify authority and allows you to rank higher.
A search engine also considers the content of linking sites to determine the quality of a link. When inbound links to your site come from other sites, and those sites have content related to yours, these links are considered more relevant. If your links are coming from sites with completely unrelated content, they aren't considered relevant. The more relevant the linking site, the better the quality of your backlink. That's why it's not a good idea to spam websites and directories for backlinks.
As a rule of thumb, search engines tend to look for natural links built slowly over time. Don't try to build hundreds of low-quality backlinks, and definitely don't buy them. Unscrupulous people have tried everything over the years to game the system, from link farms to buying other domains to hidden links. Search engines are getting smarter every day, and doing something like this runs the risk of getting your site banned entirely.
Here’s your secret weapon...
What I'm about to share with you is something that will change the way you "do SEO" and dramatically cut your learning curve. I suggest that you really read this and take action if you're serious. This is an awesome way to get links quickly.
What you want to do is study your competition's backlinks. Think about it – other people have already done the hard work for you. They've already gotten valuable links. All you have to do is look at their backlinks and see if they are worth your time.
I am NOT suggesting that you copy everything that your competitors are doing. In fact, if your competitors have low-quality, spammy backlinks, you definitely DO NOT want to copy them. What you want to do is be aware of your competitors' links and look for opportunities. Look for high quality pages where the competitor earned (key word, earned) links.
Replicating your competition's backlinks takes a lot of the hard work out of link building and SEO. Plus, it's easy for a newbie to do. This is how you do it...
1. Make a list of the top search results.
The first thing you need to do is type in your desired keyword and get the URLs for the top search results. Just do a quick Google search and make a note of each URL.
In this example, I am going to search “financial advisor Chicago”. Here are my results – I’m pointing out the link I’m going to research.
2. Check the competitor backlinks.
I personally use SEMrush to research competitor backlinks, simply because they are the easiest to use and give a TON of data.
SEMrush offers a free trial - you can take advantage of that here.
What you want to do is take your list of URLs and check them, one by one, in your tool.
Just to be clear – I have no relation whatsoever to D3 Financial Counselors. Until I performed this Google search, I had never heard of them. I think it’s great that they are ranking so high for a valuable keyword, so kudos to them. With that being said, it’s time for me to plug their URL into SEMrush to see what backlinks they have.
As soon as you enter any URL into SEMrush, you are given a general overview, which is what you see above. Depending on the information you’re looking for, you can navigate to go more in-depth. In this case, I click on the “backlinks” tab and then click on the “dofollow” links. Why did I click on just the dofollow links? Well, those are the only links that provide any SEO benefit, so I want to cut right to the chase.
Here’s what I see after I research their backlinks:
I clicked on the very first backlink just to check it out. Turns out they are listed in a list of the best financial advisors in Chicago. Awesome!
So what I would do, just as an example, is reach out to AdvisoryHQ and see if there is any way I could be considered for a 2017 list, get published as a guest post, give some free advice, become a contributor, etc. The whole idea is to get a link from this website.
3. Study the links and make a judgement call.
Now all that's left is to go through each of the links one at a time and use your head. Are the links high-quality? Are they spammy? If a competitor has left a blog comment on a relevant site, just register and leave your own comment. Note: blog comments carry very little, if any, SEO juice, but I'd rather have every advantage possible.
Sometimes your competitors will have guest posts. If that's the case, send an email to submit your own guest post and stress that it will be similar content. If you catch "earned" links on sites, reach out to the site owner and let them know that you have similar/better content and can be a valuable resource for them. As you work through your list, you'll get a good feel for the process.
When you do this, you uncover and create awesome links that you wouldn't have gotten otherwise. You'll also build some understanding of SEO in general. Be sure that you keep track of everything you do and all of the people you email. I suggest you keep track of everything in a CRM like Capsule. That way you can see what works and what doesn't.
Finally, do not rely on this one strategy. The whole purpose of link building is to overtake your competition, not just catch up with them.
Even if you get 100% of their links, which you probably won't, you need to gain new links that your competitors don't have.
BONUS TIP: Get active on social media.
Even in the financial services industry, failing to establish a significant social media presence can negatively impact your brand and put you at a disadvantage.
It has been found that presence on social networking sites (which includes likes, shares, comments, etc.) is correlated with better rankings. This means that the higher up the website ranks in the search engine, the higher the chances are that there's a large social media presence.
The reason I didn't include this as one of the tips is because that correlation doesn't mean causation. The theory is that content that gets shared a lot on social media may be seen as more valuable by the search engines. But Google has repeatedly denied that they're using social signals for SEO ranking purposes. Plus, social media sites use nofollow links, which don't give you any link juice.
Like I said, correlation isn't causation. There's a strong correlation between eating ice cream and drowning deaths. The reason is because they both happen in warm weather, but eating ice cream does not CAUSE you to drown. The same thinking can be applied for social signals.
In any case, you should be sharing your high-quality content on social media to encourage sharing and to drive organic traffic.
Those are the top 3 best SEO tips for financial advisors. If you're interested in using SEMrush to do keyword research of your own, they do offer a free trial.
P.S. If you're a financial advisor who wants to get more clients from LinkedIn, make sure you check out How to Get Clients With LinkedIn: How Financial Advisors Can Set Appointments and Convert Prospects With LinkedIn