What is search engine optimisation (SEO) for financial planners, and how does it work?
Is it truly effective for generating brand exposure and new clients?
This guide intends to answer some of those questions, specifically for small financial planning businesses which tend to focus their marketing efforts within their regional/local area.
First of all, let’s start with defining what SEO is:
Defining SEO for Financial Planners
SEO refers to the practice of using various digital tactics to increase your natural (or “organic”) search engine rankings. It is this “natural” part of the definition which makes SEO different, say, from Google Ads, which involves paying Google to feature your link at/near the top of the search results.
Rather, with SEO you have got to “earn” the top spots in the search engines. By offering great value to prospects and clients on your financial website, you’re more likely to be ranked higher up.
One important thing to remember is that Google ranks web pages, not websites. That means you should focus on making each web page on your website as search engine “friendly” as possible, to give each one the best chance of hitting the top spots.
What determines my search engine rankings?
Ten years ago, things were much more straightforward. More or less everyone would see the same set of search engine results when they typed a keyword or search phrase into Google, for instance.
Nowadays, there are more internet-enabled devices and search engine algorithms have advanced significantly. As a result, the links you see on the first page of Google might well differ from someone else making the exact same search as you.
This might be due to your physical location at the time you made the search, and your browsing history also plays an important part. So, it’s important to remember that some aspects of SEO are simply outside of your control due to each user’s location and overall internet behaviour.
However, most of your organic search engine ranking positions (SERPs) are influenced by your own financial website. There are at least 200 factors which can influence your SERPs, but at the time of writing there are four which are generally regarded as the most important:
- Valuable, original an relevant content which is regularly published on your website.
- High-quality backlinks to your website, from other relevant websites.
- Great user experience on your website.
- A strong Google My Business profile linked to your website.
How hard is SEO & how long does it take?
SEO is generally not easy and it takes time to build up your organic rankings.
Remember, there are at least 200 factors influencing your SERPs (a lot of plates to spin!), and other financial planners will be clambering for the same search engine real estate.
So you’re going to need to prove to Google that your web pages and content is more relevant, valuable and helpful to the search engine queries you are targeting if you want to be on top.
That said, some financial planners face a low amount of local competition with their SEO, or already have a fairly strong search engine profile. These firms might see desired results in as little as 3 months with a solid SEO strategy.
In most cases, however, you should allow at least 3-6 months. For really competitive areas like inner London, you are going to need even more resource and time.
Does SEO work if you hit the top spots?
Assuming you get your web pages into the position 1-3 bracket, what results can you expect? Will the floodgates open and will the phone start ringing off the hook?
Most small financial planning businesses which hit the top of their local search results are unlikely to be deluged with leads, but you should expect to see a steady stream of enquiries each month.
Generally speaking, enquiries which come from organic search tend to be of a higher quality than those which come from Google Ads or other PPC channels. It’s not completely clear why, but we have certainly noticed a trend here at CreativeAdviser!
We find that most financial planners do not want to be inundated with enquiries, but would rather have a lower volume of higher-quality inbound leads coming in which they can properly qualify. Local SEO tends to fit quite well with that.
The important thing is to not simply rely on SEO – or any single marketing channel – for your lead generation efforts. Just like you advise your clients about their investments, it’s vital that you diversify and consider additional marketing channels to pick up the slack when one or more of them is lagging.
For instance, Google Ads, Facebook Ads and email marketing could all form an important part of your marketing mix, in addition to any offline efforts (e.g. seminars and events).
Can I do SEO myself?
You can. Just as people can sort out their own finances, or try and fix faulty plumbing in their home, it is possible to go it alone if you have a good foundation of knowledge and confidence.
However, as in the cases above, you are always going to get the best results if you hand over the work to someone who really knows what they’re doing and who has the time to properly commit to it.
Expensive mistakes are often made during a learning curve, and you do need to consider whether you can reasonably spend hours each week writing content, building backlinks, optimising your on-site SEO (e.g. alt tags etc.), reviewing your Google Analytics and ranking data to strategise the next steps, and so on. Financial planners are typically busy owners of small businesses, whose attention would be better served elsewhere (e.g. helping clients).
If you are interested in discussing a possible SEO strategy for your financial planning business, then we invite you to get in touch to arrange a free, no-commitment marketing review with a member of our team here at CreativeAdviser.