When Agencies Talk Nonsense
I recently read an interesting blog about digital marketing in financial services. It’s main claim was that SEO does not work for financial advisers and wealth managers. My first thought was: “really?”
I won’t name the agency here which made the claims. But I will, shortly, and briefly, outline their arguments before explaining why I disagree. But first, for the uninitiated, what is SEO?
SEO is shorthand for “search engine optimisation,” and refers to the practice of refining your website in order to make it appear higher up, organically, in search engines such as Google.
“Organically” means you do not pay Google or Bing to have your website appear high up in search engine results. When you do this, it’s known as “pay per click” advertising and you use platforms such as Google AdWords and Bing Ads to manage your campaigns.
Organic SEO is difficult to do well, especially when it comes to digital marketing in financial services. The competition is often fierce over keywords, and there are over 200 factors that Google considers when deciding how to rank your financial website.
Moreover, Google keeps changing the rules, and user behaviour changes. Altogether, it does make SEO a challenging marketing channel. So I can understand on one level why the blog I read argues against SEO for IFAs. It’s just too difficult, and the implicit claim therefore is that you shouldn’t engage in it.
However, we all know that just because something is difficult, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. If you’re an IFA founder, for instance, think of when you started your business That wasn’t easy. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right move.
Besides, although digital marketing in financial services is often difficult, there are, frequently, opportunities for quick SEO “wins” where the competition is currently inactive, or unaware.
With all that said, let’s now look at the claims of this digital agency. Does SEO work for financial advisers? Here is the case against, before I outline a different case.
The Case Against SEO For IFAs
First of all, the agency in question argued that search volumes are simply too low to make SEO worthwhile for IFAs and financial planners.
For instance, take a keyword like “Independent financial adviser Nottingham”. There are “only” 110 searches for this keyword every month.
In their eyes, this search volume is simply too low. If SEO is going to be used in digital marketing for financial services, then you need to be dealing with search volumes in the thousands.
The second argument against SEO for financial advisers goes as follows. Namely, if you spend money on SEO, there is no guarantee it will work.
Moreover, any boost you see in your search engine rankings is likely to be temporary. Why? Because Google constantly changes its algorithm, which could then shift the SEO goalposts and wipe out all of your hard work.
So, where does this leave us?
Digital Marketing In Financial Services: The Case For SEO
Let’s take these points each in turn. First of all, are search volumes too low to make SEO worthwhile for IFAs and financial planners?
#1 Putting Search Volume In Perspective
Let’s take the example above: “Independent financial adviser Nottingham”. 110 searches per month might sound fairly low on its own, but when you factor in 15-20 other keywords, does the overall search potential for your financial website still sound small?
By building up a solid, strategically-selected list of 15-20 local keywords, search volumes can be made sufficiently high enough to make SEO work for IFAs. The search volumes certainly aren’t always there in every area of the country, but in many cases they are. You just have to look.
Let’s give an example. Imagine you are an IFA in Bristol, and you build up a list of 20 keywords you could target (e.g. “financial adviser Bristol”). When you look at the combined, potential search volume, you might see that around 800 people search for your keywords every month around Bristol.
Imagine, then, that you got onto page one for each of your keywords in local search around Bristol. Say a quarter of these people clicked on your website links when they ran their searches. That’s potentially 200 people visiting your website every month, with an immediate need you can address.
Suppose then that you can achieve a 10% conversion rate on your website, because your financial brand is epic and your financial website is so compelling, attractive and easy to use. That’s potentially 20 leads a month.
The good news is this. The above just deals with exact match keywords (i.e. people who type in the exact phrases you’ve listed). It doesn’t account for variations around your keywords, such as “financial adviser near me,” which Google does tend to rank locally based on the searcher’s location. So, potentially you’re looking at even higher search volumes, traffic and conversions.
Needless to say, I do not agree that search volumes are too small when it comes to digital marketing in financial services. You need to do an investigation into the digital landscape, especially the local search potential.
If you need help with discerning your SEO potential, we can provide a free analysis for you during your free, no-obligation marketing consultation with us here at MarketingAdviser.
#2 Addressing The Issue Of “No Guarantees”
Forgive me if I come across as blunt, but I do find it ironic when IFAs bring up the problem of uncertainty when it comes to digital marketing in financial services.
After all, IFAs and financial planners spend lots of time in the world of pensions and investments, where there are no certainties for their clients. Can you guarantee a client, for instance, that the investments in their portfolio will definitely always go up?
Of course, the answer is no. But most IFAs would counter that they construct their financial plans based on solid financial data, historic performances of certain funds, the client’s appetite for risk, and so on. In other words, whilst there are no guarantees, you can outline a great strategy based on informed decision-making and financial evidence.
I would argue that a similar dynamic is at work when it comes to digital marketing in financial services, and especially in the world of financial SEO.
Whilst you cannot guarantee that your website will hit the top positions in Google search, there are ways to research whether you have a realistic chance of doing so for your chosen keywords.
Moreover, by looking at historic search volumes, you can estimate how many visitors this effort might bring to your website, and how many of these are likely to convert into leads. From there, you can judge whether investing in SEO is likely to provide you with a solid return on your investment.
Finally, on the subject of changes to Google’s algorithm. Unless you have been engaging in dodgy “black hat” SEO practices (e.g. keyword stuffing), you are very unlikely to be punished by Google if you are anticipating what they want now from your website, and what they are likely to want from it in the future.
It might be that your SEO takes a small hit from time to time due to an algorithm change. It actually happened to us recently. In those cases, you make sure you are working with a specialist who can identify the problem and address it. For us, it was a backlink issue. Easily fixable.
And there you have it. SEO holds great potential for IFAs, financial planners and wealth managers. It should not be inherently feared or treated with suspicion. However, it does need to be approached wisely and with strategic thinking to make it work effectively.