The vast majority of people research everything online, from a car purchase to hiring a financial advisor, in the same spot – Google. While ranking highly for keywords is important for generating inbound leads, the most important starting place is ranking well for one’s own name in Google, since this is the most common search term for potential clients doing their due diligence.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how to manage your Google presence and ensure that the first page of search results shows the right information for you and your company.

Start with a Search

The first step to improving your Google presence is assessing your existing presence to get an idea of how prevalent you are in the search results and identify any problems. The best way to do this is to open a private browser session, such as Google Chrome’s “Incognito Mode” and search for your name in double quotes. By using a private browsing session, you’ll avoid seeing search results that are customized to your Google profile and instead see search results that others are likely to see. The double quotes help ensure that you’re narrowing down the search terms to your specific name. For more, see: Getting the Most Out of Your Web Presence.)

Take note of the first two pages of search results, which is as deep as most people will click through to see when searching. In addition to noting any potential problems, it’s important to take note of how frequently you appear in the search results. A good first impression requires both relevant search results and favorable information being presented. This can be difficult for people with generic names or those that share names with popular individuals.

Address Any Problems

The second step is cleaning up any problem content that can range from old personal photos to defamatory comments appearing on blogs. The good news is Google has a process in place for removing search results and images that may cause problems. By submitting these forms, you can request that Google remove certain search results or images from their index and prevent them from being displayed. The downside is that Google often requires that the information be malicious in nature, which means that websites reporting facts won’t necessarily be removed. (For more, see: Web Site Tips for Financial Advisors.)

Enhance Your Presence

The third step is to improve existing search results by updating social media profiles and actively working to bring relevant content to the front page. Social media profiles are generally the first step in this process, since they tend to rank highly when searching for a person’s name. If you don’t already have social media profiles, you should consider setting them up in order to bolster your presence with a venue that you can control.

Nameplate sites, like About.me, are another great idea for building a search presence without worrying about maintaining a website or blog. With pro plans, these nameplate sites can be put on custom domains like “yourname.me” in order to increase the chances that they rank highly in the search results for your name. (For more, see: Top Digital Age Tips for Financial Advisors.)

A final great way to build an online presence is contributing to popular websites. By doing so, your name will be associated with articles that may help portray you as an expert in a particular topic. Financial advisors might want to consider writing for financial advisor magazines or blogs covering small business topics, for example, in order to be perceived as an expert in small business and potentially generate inbound leads from small business owners.

The Bottom Line

Google has become the go-to source for due diligence on everything from cars to financial advisors. As a result, it’s important for financial advisors to carefully manage their search results and remove any questionable content. Financial advisors should also be sure to consistently revisit these venues and ensure that their social media profiles, websites and contributions are kept up-to-date in order to make a great first impression. (For more, see: How Financial Advisors Get Atop Search Results.)

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