It’s probably fair to say that most IFAs want to rank at the top of Google for relevant search results.
SEO – search engine optimisation – is the discipline of enabling your financial website to ascend these search engine ranking positions (SERPS).
At the outset, there are a few things we need to clarify about this form of marketing for financial advisers:
- It takes effort, resources and time to see results – sometimes up to a year.
- The returns, in our experience, are considerable. Organic click through rates are higher than pay per click (e.g. Google AdWords), prospects tend to spend longer on your website, and conversion rates tend to be higher too.
- Many financial advisers have been burned by SEO agencies promising quick results, only to see them “fail” a few months down the line. In our experience, this is usually down to one of three common problems (sometimes both).
- One problem is the agency set unreasonable expectations. As mentioned above, this form of marketing for financial advisers takes time. You should view it as a long-term investment.
- Another problem is that the SEO strategy used is often all wrong from the beginning. For instance, I recently found out that one SEO agency focused on trying to rank an IFA for search terms such “ISA” or “best investments”. These keywords are currently ranked nationally (not locally), and are incredibly competitive – putting the tiny IFA up against the marketing budgets and prowess of Lloyd’s, Halifax and other major banks!
- A third problem is that the SEO agency is using outdated practices, which no longer work when trying to rank financial websites higher up in Google.
This latter point is where we are going to focus attention in this article.
Perhaps you want to outsource this kind of marketing for financial advisers to an agency. Maybe you want to try and do SEO yourself. Regardless, you’ll need to be aware of these problematic SEO practices which are still prevalent, and promoted in the industry.
Be careful, or you might waste your time and money. Possibly you might actually harm your website rankings if you are not prudent. Read on.
#1 Focusing On keywords Instead Of Clicks
Let’s say you’re an IFA based in Lincoln, and you’ve gone and done a ton of keyword research on the kinds of search terms your prospects are typing into Google.
You have 15-20 keywords, including “pension advice lincoln”, “pension adviser lincoln,” and “advice on pensions in lincoln.” So far so good.
However, the mistake lots of IFAs and SEO agencies make at this stage is to focus on getting these keywords into the title element of your page. So your link in the search results would end up looking something like this:
Pension Advice Lincoln | Pension Adviser Lincoln | Advice On Pensions In Lincoln
The fact is, although your title seems to have to right keywords, it’s unlikely to draw many clicks. That’s because there’s no message, and it appears spamming.
People are going to be reluctant to click on it, and because Google uses click rates as a ranking factor, this is likely to push your website further down the search results!
Marketing for financial advisers needs to be invitational, engaging, and able to draw people in. As such, a more appropriate page title for SEO might be:
Bespoke Pension Advice In Lincoln | Plan Your Dream Retirement Today
#2 A Landing Page For Every Keyword Variation
A landing page is, essentially, a specially-designed web page which targets a specific search term used by your prospects. For instance, this blog post is targeting the keyword: “marketing for financial advisers”, which relates to our landing page here.
The trouble is, many SEO agencies think that IFAs need to have a dedicated landing page for every keyword variation used by their potential clients. Such as:
“financial adviser lincoln”
“financial advisers lincoln”
“financial advisor lincoln”
And so on. The fact is, this did actually work up to about 4 years ago. However, these days Google is much smarter and can better discern user intent, when it comes to their search queries.
For the three examples above, for instance, the user intent is the same even though the keywords are slightly different.
This update to Google’s algorithm (called the “Hummingbird update”) has big implications for marketing for financial advisers.
It means you need to group your keywords by theme and user intent once you have compiled your list, and then be strategic about the landing pages you’re going to create in order to target them.
You may well have 15-20 keywords right now, but this set of keyword might only need 7-10 landing pages, for instance.
#3 Backlink Blunders In Marketing For Financial Advisers
Don’t get me wrong. Getting authoritative, relevant backlinks to your financial website is crucial for SEO. However, this is an area where it’s easy to be led astray, and penalised by Google.
SEO directories and generic directories are things you want to steer well clear of in marketing for financial advisers. In fact, anything which has the words “network” or “private” on it, you probably want to steer clear of.
Comments links and reciprocal links are now old-school SEO practices you’ll want to avoid. Social buy links as well. Private networks and article spinners too.
Just be careful.
#4 Separate Domains
Sometimes, we talk to financial advisers who have bought multiple domain names.
They then want to create several microsites which focus on a specific sub-set of financial advice, and link them together for the SEO.
For instance, suppose a hypothetical IFA has bought “pensionadvicelincoln.com” and “inheritancetaxadvicelincoln.com” (not great domains to start with, but run with it!).
The idea here would be to create content around pension advice in Lincoln for the former, and content around IHT advice in Lincoln for the latter. The thinking goes, you can be extra-targeted with your content on these sites and link them to one another, giving each site more domain authority and therefore boosting your SEO for all of them.
The problem is, Google doesn’t work like this. And reality doesn’t work like this either. Think about it. By having three websites, say, you’re going to have to split your efforts between the three of them rather than focusing your efforts on one.
That means you’re going to rank about a third as well as you might otherwise have done. This, in turn, means that the reciprocal links aren’t worth as much.
The main point? When marketing for financial advisers, try and combine your efforts into one domain wherever you can.
We understand, putting your SEO eggs on one basket goes against the common advice in the financial sector, when it comes to diversifying your assets. However, in SEO it really is the better route!