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.