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Adviser Blackout: Why Isn’t Your Site Showing Up in Google Results?

One of the top reasons advisers come to us for help is to get their site to show up early in Google search results. It makes perfect sense. You’re a great adviser, so you want to be front and center when someone searches for “financial adviser [your city].”

Before we get started, let’s look at why search engine optimization, commonly referred to as SEO, matters. (Many thanks to Hubspot for compiling all these statistics.)

  • Google gets more than 100 billion searches per month
  • 81 percent of shoppers do online research before making a decision
  • 51 percent of smartphone users have discovered a new company while performing a search on their phone

With so many people researching and finding new companies through search engines—especially Google—advisers need to make search ranking a priority.

The problem is that Google’s algorithms (which determine the results of searches) are constantly evolving. According to Google, they change their algorithm at least once a day, and they’re reported to make up to 600 changes per year.

So how are we supposed to keep up? These three factors have been proven to play a big role in determining results.

1.) Establish Authority. SEO experts are always talking about the importance of establishing something called authority. It can seem like a vague and difficult concept when it comes to web search, but it’s really fairly simple.

For the same reason I don’t show up until page six of the results when I Google “Zach McDonald,” you have to prove that you are one of the items people want to find when they search for “financial adviser [city/state].”

If your site is brand new and your visits are fairly minimal, Google won’t ascribe much importance to you.

You have to establish authority first by publishing useful blogs and promoting those blogs via social and paid ads. After that, you have to give Google a little time to recognize that people now want to see your website. Once that’s established, you’ll see your rankings rise. And when I say “give Google a little time,” I mean anywhere from six months to more than a year.

2.) Make Sure Your Mobile and Desktop Sites Match Up. Mobile searches first outpaced desktop a couple years ago and have continued to do so ever since. As a result, Google has continuously tweaked their algorithms to place more and more importance on mobile sites.

Last November, Google announced they will be adopting a mobile-first indexing strategy.

Basically, they’ve been evaluating websites using desktop content for years, but a lot of sites have “lite” mobile versions to make them easier to navigate on a phone. That leads to issues when the majority of people use their phones for searches, then get results based on desktop content, and end up on the mobile site, which may or may not have the content they searched for.

So Google’s going mobile-first (probably sometime in 2018), and that means your mobile site needs to have the same information as your desktop site. While they may not fully implement mobile-first indexing for a little while, chances are their algorithms are already leaning heavily in that direction, so now’s the time to fix this problem.

Bottom line: You don’t want Google’s bots, which determine if you belong in their search results, scanning your mobile “lite” site and missing essential blogs and other information that could boost your standing.

If you have a responsive site—where your website looks different on mobile than desktop but the content is all the same—then you’re fine. That’s one of the reasons we only develop websites in WordPress: responsiveness comes standard.

If you have different mobile and desktop versions, here are some tips from Google on how you can bring your site up to speed.

Want to talk about how we can help your website achieve true mobile-friendliness? Drop us a line.

3.) Follow These Three Simple Rules of Local SEO. One of the first rules of SEO is that content is king. Produce quality blogs and videos regularly, attract people to your site, and your search ranking will improve.

And that’s absolutely true—except when it comes to local SEO. Getting into local searches has little to nothing to do with blogs (although getting to the top of those searches is a different story). It’s typically established through your site’s pages.

Here are three simple things you (or even your intern!) can do today that can make a big difference when people search for “financial adviser [your city].”

Make sure your firm name, address, and phone number are on every page, and that they’re always cited in the same way. This one’s so important that SEO experts have even designated an acronym for it: NAP (name, address, phone number). It’s easy to do—just insert that info into your site’s footer. As simple as that seems, this is one of the most common mistakes on business websites. Wherever you insert your NAP info, do your best to keep it consistent. There is some debate in the SEO community over whether NAP formatting inconsistencies affect your site’s rankings, but it’s better better to be safe than sorry.

Register with Google My Business and Bing Places. This takes just a few minutes. Fill out your profile using the links above, and make it as full as possible. Google loves it when people play by their rules, so if you only put your name and phone number in there, chances are they’re dinging you for that. Put in your website, appointment URL, phone number, address, office hours, and even add a couple pictures. Same with Bing.

You won’t see results immediately on this one. After you register, they’ll mail you a postcard with a PIN to confirm that you’re actually affiliated with the business. It took about two weeks for our postcard to come when we registered.

Register with online directories. Claim your firm’s profile on sites like MerchantCircle, Yelp, Local.com, your local newspaper’s directory, and chamber of commerce, just to name a few. That way you can make sure your firm’s information is correct (not to mention you can easily respond to reviews if you feel so inclined). When your NAP information on directory listings matches the information on your website, the Google gods will smile upon thee. If Yelp has your number wrong and somebody tries to call you, they’ll probably either assume you went out of business or just move on to another firm.

Don’t expect overnight results. SEO is a long process. We helped a client edit, publish and release a book last year. Now, almost a year later, their book is at the top of Google results. That success story required planning, strategizing and promotion (and patience), but the end result is worth it.

Your digital presence doesn’t just happen; it’s what you make it. Follow these three steps and you’ll be on your way up in Google’s results.

zach-mcdonald
Zach McDonald is the editorial director at Mineral Interactive, which partners with client-focused firms looking for custom marketing solutions.  


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3 Ways to Manage Your Time on Social Media to Get Results

You’ve heard social media marketing is a must. You know you need to engage potential clients in the places where they are: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the like. You understand there is value participating in the social sphere, but you haven’t quite cracked the code on how and where to invest your energy to make it pay off.

Rather than espouse theory on what could work, I want to share exactly what I do. This combination of three ways to engage has returned exponentially to me in direct clients and opportunities I could not have anticipated.

By implementing all three ways outlined below, you will know where to spend your time and gain the most leverage out of your effort:

1: Daily interaction
You’ve been told to spend 10 or 15 minutes a day on social media, and you can have an impact. While I don’t subscribe to this tactic as your only engagement, allocate time each day for commenting, sharing and otherwise participating in the social media ecosystem. Daily interaction is almost always ‘reactive’ as you respond to what others post.

Examples:

  • You attend an industry event and Tweet a photo, tagging others in the shot.
  • You congratulate a client on a recent promotion you read about on LinkedIn.
  • You comment on a post an estate planning attorney shares on her firm’s Facebook page.
  • You “retweet” and “favorite” an article published by a journalist you want to meet
  • You read an article that is spot-on for your target audience and you post an update on your company LinkedIn page.

2: Weekly Sharing
An effective adviser marketing plan starts with weekly content creation or curation aimed specifically at the concerns and aspirations of your target client.

Whether you create a blog post, a video or a podcast, social media expands your distribution pushing your message from the limited traffic of your website out to your social followers. This often overlooked act opens up the number of people who may view, like and share your content. Each time you upload a blog post or publish a new video, be sure to share it across all of your social media accounts.

Examples:

3: Quarterly Campaigns
Proactive sharing of the story you want your target audience to hear comes alive through your quarterly content campaigns. Take a page from the advertising agency media playbook where you carve out a distinct time periods across the year (quarterly works well) where you focus your content on a single theme. Plan and set it up in advance, streamlining the time you invest in the effort.

Here’s how:

  • Select your first topic that you want to share (e.g. The 20 Financial Tasks Middle Managers Must Complete before Retirement)
  • Identify all of the content you already have that fits this topic (blog posts, newsletter articles, write-ups from a financial plan or client email excerpts)
  • Craft new content (think “tips”)
  • Pinpoint the “holes” in your campaign. Find resources, articles, photos, or other professionals who can provide the content. Fill in any remaining blanks with your advice.
  • Break down the content into posts for Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, or whichever platforms your audiences uses.
  • Set up and schedule the content distribution in advance through Hootsuite (http://www.hootsuite.com) or Buffer (http://www.buffer.com)
  • Announce the campaign at the start of each quarter to let your prospect email list, your clients, and your followers know what to expect.

The quarterly campaign is where you gain leverage in your marketing. You repurpose existing content, you have a reason to craft new content that you can reuse, and you guarantee that you will show up regularly with a message that reinforces what you want your target audience to read or see from you.

When you set up a campaign each quarter, you can rest assured that if your daily interactions fall to every few days, your weekly sharing slips to semi-monthly, you have to deal with the quarter end, or you want to take a vacation, you will have a campaign supporting you in the background.

Sounds like it’s worth the time, right?

Kristin Harad 2014Kristin Harad, CFP®
Marketing trainer for advisers
www.kristinharad.com
implement-now.com
San Francisco

Editor’s Note: Kristin Harad has several great pieces on how to branch out and attract and engage clients virtually, including this one that was published in our March 2015 issue titled, “9 Steps to Building a Client-Attraction Virtual Event.” 

For more educational opportunities, check out our webinar titled “Introduction to LinkedIn for Business,” presented by Susan Catalano. Or register for FPA BE Boston 2015 to meet one-on-one with social media and websites business coach Maggie Crowley of Advisor Websites


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Information Overload and Content Marketing

Organized MindIn his book, The Organized Mind, Montreal neuroscientist Daniel Levitin posits that we now consume the equivalent of 174 newspapers’ worth of information a day—five times what we consumed back in 1986. Unfortunately our brains still have the same limited processing capacity.

This may help explain why we’re exhausted after spending a day online, even if most of that day is spent looking at pictures of cats.

A few things are at play here. The advent of the Internet has given us instant access to information—no more waking up to the morning newspaper, hitting up the local library, or waiting for the nightly news. Missed your favorite radio show? No matter, it is waiting for you. The concept of time, namely its passing, ceases to exist in the realm of the Internet. The Internet is always, always present—both in ubiquity and in tense. It is now.

And boy, do we love it. Not only do humans have a natural thirst for knowledge but we are hard-wired for novelty, and all of this online information is hitting that pleasure center and leaving us insatiably hungry for more.

And with demand comes supply.

Enter stage left: content marketing.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, which we found on Google (via a search that took a slothful 0.38 seconds to perform), content marketing is defined as:

“The marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

People want information that tells them who you are, what you do, and why they should trust you. At that point, maybe then they’ll part with their hard-earned sheckles in your direction. Creating content that delivers this information is a great approach. It combines the technology of the times with the demands of the day.

But maybe you’re starting to see the potential catch inherent in the plan.

As so many businesses have embarked upon a content marketing strategy, surfers of the web have gotten exactly what they asked for—a metric ton of information.

In fact, more information than they know what to do with.

There is so much information that supply has now arguably surpassed demand. And while technology might be operating in the future, our ability to actually process all of this information is still stuck in the Stone Age. We’re not very advanced machines.

But there’s no going home. Now that we’ve been given exactly what we want, there’s no going back. As a business, you can’t simply stop producing information (the cost and devaluing of this information is a discussion for another time).

So in a space flooded with information, what are some ways to navigate content marketing without running yourself ragged and inundating your readers?

  1. Think it through. What kind of content are you producing? Is it directly related to your product or service, or only tangentially so? While informing your readers and establishing yourself as a trustworthy source are important aspects of content marketing, conversion is essential. If your content is not converting visitors into leads, you need to re-evaluate your strategy. A good approach is to use your content to teach the value of your product or service.
  2. Produce quality over quantity. It may seem counterintuitive, what with the sheer amount of content you have to fight with to be seen, but by and large, good content performs better than more content. It’s hard to do both but if you have the time and resources, keep at it; if you have to sacrifice one for the other, quality should win over quantity every time. It’s important to note that ‘good’ and ‘quality’ depend on your approach—the BBC and Buzzfeed operate on entirely different concepts of each, and both are wildly popular.
  3. Create incentive. Make it worth the wait. If you are producing thoughtful, engaging content, your visitors will want to keep returning to see if there’s more, and will be delighted when you have delivered. If you’re producing an abundance with little value, the incentive decreases and visitors might only check back occasionally—if at all.

Another approach is to erect a barrier between visitors and your content. Build a call-to-action that requires their email or phone number in exchange for an e-book or whitepaper. This might sound strange, but arbitrarily ascribing value makes something valuable, and therefore more enticing to visitors. Just don’t disappoint.

Kellie Gibson

Kellie Gibson
Marketing Writer
Advisor Websites