This guide is written by Corey Batt, who moved into helping businesses dominate Google after a career in owning and managing successful mortgage broking and financial planning businesses. At ClickBurst, Corey specialises in helping financial services businesses grow their web presence and increase the uptake of new clients to bring new blood into existing client books.
Ask any financial planning practice what the number one issue for their business is, and invariably it will be how to attract and secure new clients. Traditionally referral businesses was and still remains a strong means of building a financial planning business, however there is a finite number of referrals an existing client base can provide before the number of new clients begin to drop off. (your clients only have so many siblings, friends and work colleagues) This can particularly be an issue with multi-advisor offices which have newer planners, who may not have as strong client base or network to leverage off.
This is where a comprehensive online marketing strategy comes in. This strategy should combine proven search engine optimisation strategies for effective Google search positioning, ongoing new content creation and an active social media presence.
Why online – can SEO actually work?
As always, there are winners and losers in all industries, SEO is no exception. Some digital marketing businesses use old tired techniques which are no longer relevant to Google’s algorithms, or do not provide a strong return on investment. But much like misconceptions of some members of the public on financial planning, there can be significant value gained by partnering with an SEO expert who understands your business, needs and the industry you operate in. With this partnership, you can leverage your marketing budget to multiples of what traditional marketing strategies could achieve.
Fundamentally SEO is just like any other marketing strategy, it just involves using the most used source of knowledge that your future clients use – the internet. If you’re not in-front of them in this valuable market, your competitor will be.
Online Marketing Strategy
Building an online marketing strategy doesn’t have to be difficult and can still be extremely effective. Through combining the value gained from each part of your strategy (SEO-Content-Social), you can multiply the value without increasing the workload.
Here’s an outline of the three components and simples ways you can start improving your new client-intake immediately.
Most businesses in Australia don’t understand what SEO is or how it works – but it’s quite simple. SEO fundamentally is about building your website and content so that you fit Google’s algorithms which determine who is ranked on the front page of Google. By following closely the parameters Google sets for businesses, you will be rewarded with more prominent positioning. Deviate from the parameters you will be penalised with lower ranking on Google. As a financial planning business, what are some of the things you can do to follow Google’s algorithms?
Keywords are the most fundamental and significant element of optimising your financial planning businesses google ranking. Keywords are the words used by a search engine in its search for relevant web pages. It’s essential to understand what your potential future clients are searching so your website is displayed in their searches. Seeding strong search terms within your website and content will help Google preference your website above your competitors.
As an example – having terms like advisor, wealth, planner, superannuation and other terms will allow Google to understand the nature of your business. Also using geographic based terms will help – for example if your firm is based in Adelaide, you would benefit from having “Adelaide” and “South Australia” within your websites content.
Don’t go overboard however, if Google sees an unnatural amount of repetitive use of keywords it can reverse any benefits and actually penalise your website, reducing your websites presence on Google. As a rule of thumb, keep any keywords being mentioned once or twice at a maximum on a page.
SEO specialists have access to subscription data which can show you exactly what your potential clients are searching so your website and content can use the best keywords to attract new business. This is a combination of looking for the highest volume search terms, but also balancing how competitive the keywords are – sometimes it’s better to dominate a lower volume keyword and take majority of the market share, than fight over a high competition term and spend significantly more of your budget to achieve the same results.
Link Building – internal and external
Google likes to understand how trustworthy and valuable your website is to its users and one of the ways it does this is through looking at who links to your website. The more quality websites which link to your website and its pages, generally the higher you will rank on Google. Not all links are the same however – the higher the quality the website that is linking to you the more ‘link juice’ transfer to your website. For instance if your financial planning practice’s website is linked in an article by a news source like the Sydney Morning Herald, it will provide significant more value to your ability to rank than a link from a website from your friends local bakery website.
Some links can even do harm – suspicious or known websites used to link-farm can pull your rank down as Google will determine the links to be malicious or being used to artificially increase your position on google – effectively gaming the system. This is where ‘gig/one time’ SEO scammers have been known to use these links to give short term benefits, only until Googles robots shortly after work out the true nature of the links and penalise the unsuspecting business owners website.
Technical on page SEO – titles, URLS, meta tags, image optimisation
The most nitty gritty of the SEO factors – having your website optimised for SEO will allow you to make significant strides in improving your position on Google. Ensure that you have relevant titles for all pages and blog posts – Google places a lot of emphasis on any keywords in a title so a well written title can make all the difference.
The same goes for your URL’s on your website – make sure you have permalinks set up which have relevant naming conventions. If you wrote an article about superannuation rollovers – having a url such as yourdomain.com.au/superannuation-rollovers-2018 is going to rank more highly than randomised URLS such as yourdomain.com.au/2425324324.html
All image file names, titles and alt texts give information to Google. Google can’t understand what the image shows, so is reliant on this information to get a broad understanding of the web page. Ensure you use relevant titles on your images to bolster the page profile. Having your profile picture called “Joe-Blogs-adelaide-advisor.jpg” is better than “image07.jpg”
All these small changes will help understand what your website is about and the value it can give its Google users. Just remember as I’ve noted in the keyword section, you don’t want to just make every title, URL and image the same keywords otherwise Google will start penalising your website.
Diversify the use of words with synonyms and other keywords – for example if you have a blog post about financial planning in Adelaide – you can call the post ‘Financial Planning in Adelaide, the URL can be /financial-advice-Adelaide and the image within the post could be called ‘South Australian Financial advisor’
Create new content
A huge factor that Google considers with deciding on which websites to rank at the top of Google is how actively they are updated. Google wants interesting fresh content for its users, so active blogs are highly regarded.
This does not mean however its just a case of copy pasting articles from other sources – even if it’s from your Licencee or other source – Google has robots which crawl across the entire internet and will find any duplicate content. Any content which is too similar/the same as other content already on the internet doesn’t count towards ranking your website higher and can even result in your being ranked LOWER.
In general, at a minimum financial planning practice blogs should be updated at least quarterly, with posts being at least 500 words and contain a minimum of one image. Preferably you will want the content to link to another article or page on your blog, and an external link to another source.
If as a busy financial advisor you cannot commit to writing new content, outsource this job to professionals who can write relevant, Google and client friendly content which will improve your positioning and highlight your expertise in the field.
Whilst there has been an uptake in financial planning firms taking up the use of social media, it still remains relatively underutilised. Considering that studies have shown that on average users in Australia spend almost two hours a day on social media , this is a great gateway to connect with your existing and future clients. With current apps and the ability to schedule posts, you can run effective social media campaigns with minimal interference to your business time commitments. If you combine this with active content production, you can have increased flow of views from social media, to your website and follow on contact.
Outside of SEO, I recommend all financial planning practices integrate live chat features on their website. Studies have consistently shown that clients are more likely to make contact with a brand if there is a live chat feature, which can then be converted to phone/email or direct appointments. Especially in the case of what can be considered more difficult/stressful transaction – financial services can gain significant inroads to taking on new customers through these features. If you’d like to read more about live chat – read my article on the benefits of live chat for businesses.
Don’t have the time, knowledge or expertise to setup and run a comprehensive Online Marketing Strategy?
When running an efficient business important that all professions focus their time on doing what their good at and outsource as much to the relevant experts – marketing is no different.
Clickburst are experts at helping financial planning businesses grow their online presence to capture fresh clients to their brands. With a strong understanding of financial services in Australia, we can maximise your ability to gain and convert leads, have relevant content and remain compliant with legislative and licensee requirements.
Our SEO packages are tailored to ensure you retain a strong return on investment for your business.
How do you know ClickBurst can work for you? Just look at this very article – it’s in the top position for it’s key term.
ClickBurst only takes up one financial planning brand per city to maximise our focus on that businesses success in dominating their market. If you would like to see if we currently have your area available, contact us today.