Financial firms such as financial planners are typically very keen to increase their local search engine presence, and understandably so. If a potential client is looking on Google for a local, experienced financial adviser or planner, then you want to be appearing at the top!
The challenge for financial firms and their marketing is knowing how to get into this position, and then maintain it when Google’s algorithm and competitor activity is constantly changing.
So, what are the most important factors underlying a financial adviser’s position in local search?
#1 Google My Business
Your Google My Business profile (GMB) is arguably the most important factor influencing your search local search engine rankings. If you do not have a profile or the information is inaccurate/incomplete, then it’s time to set one up and make sure it is as comprehensive as possible.
You might think your profile is up to date, but Google is constantly adding new features which you need to keep on top of. Recently, for instance, they have added Google Q&A, Google Posts and descriptions to GMB – giving the opportunity to provide your prospects and clients with a lot more useful information.
Here are some quick takeaways on the GMB front for financial adviser marketing:
#1 Google Posts
Write some! These are a little bit like blog posts, except they live on your GMB profile instead of on your financial website. Make sure you write at least a couple of Google posts and make them relevant to your primary target keywords. This will help ensure that Google associates these keywords with your website.
#2 Populate your Q&A
Do you offer pension transfer advice? Do you specialise in QROPS? Your target audience might have lots of questions like these, and providing answers in the Q&A section of your GMB profile is a fantastic way to answer them early on so that your prospects qualify themselves.
You might already have a Q&A section on your financial website. That’s fine. Just take some of the main ones from here, paraphrase them and place them in your GMB Q&A section.
#3 Use the media section
You have the opportunity to post images, photos and videos associated with your company to your GMB profile. A lot of financial services firms skip over this, so it’s a great way to show your brand’s more human side and differentiate yourself from the competition in Google search.
#1 Google Reviews
Financial advisers are not alone in wanting lots of 4-5 star reviews next to their GMB listing – and for good reason. It inspires consumer confidence in your brand, and it is also arguably the second most important search engine ranking factor when it comes to local search.
Here are some quick tips on improving the profile of your reviews, for local SEO benefits:
#1 Use keywords
If your clients are kind enough to take the time to review your business on Google, ask them if they would consider mentioning the service they used when they transacted with you.
This is a great way to work more of your target keywords into your GMB listing, such as “pension transfer” or “investment advice”.
#2 Get more
If you have two or three Google reviews, then that’s a great start. However, if you can gather up more 4-5 reviews then it inspires more trust in your brand and also builds more local SEO weight.
If a client reviews your business, then don’t simply leave things there. Make sure you take the time to reply to their review and thank them for the kind words they have put in.
Not only with this build client relationships and make your business look more personal to prospective clients. It will also signal to Google that you are an active and engaged business.
#4 Look further afield
Make sure your financial planning business goes beyond Google Reviews (as important as they are). Consider other directories or search engines which your potential clients might use to find your services, and invest in building a glowing profile there are well.
Getting good reviews for your Facebook page (if you have one) might be a good place to start.
#3 Build Links
Backlinks to your financial website have always been an important aspect of SEO and continue to be important for local SEO.
Are there any industry websites or local sponsorship opportunities you could use to generate some useful links to your financial services website?
One of our clients recently sponsored a local golfing champion and attained some useful links that way. They also partner with their local football club in the Midlands for many initiatives and sponsorship events, which also provide regular and useful backlinks.
These are some of the top local SEO ranking factors currently in play on Google. However, what does the future look like for local SEO? Are there any important, pending developments which financial planners would do well to be aware of?
Whilst we at CreativeAdviser are not privy to the plans of Google, we do perceive a number of trends which we believe are likely to continue into the coming years:
#1 More Google
If there’s one thing Google is almost certain to continue doing into the future, it is to keep users within the search engine itself. Rather than users needing to click on your financial website, they can find the answer themselves immediately within the search results.
That means financial websites are likely to see a decline in organic traffic as time goes on. However, this means you need to adapt your digital strategy so your target market can find your website content (and GMB profile) more readily in Google’s search results.
#2 More focus on behaviour
Google is now increasingly looking at how users behave on a website when deciding how to rank the latter in its search engine. Do people dwell on the site for a while, reading the content on various pages? Or, do they bounce off straight after they arrive on the website because they cannot find what they need?
Bear in mind that Google is likely to continue developing its algorithm to analyse how users are interacting with your content, website and GMB profile when determining how to rank your brand in the search results. This means focusing your efforts on producing quality content.
Google is like any business in that it is out to make money. Therefore, expect local search to be increasingly dominated by paid advertising (e.g. Google AdWords).