Social media and search engine optimization (SEO) are two of the most frequently heard buzzwords when it comes to online marketing. While many financial advisors are likely familiar with the terms, relatively few have successfully designed and implemented campaigns. The good news is that search engine optimization and social media outreach doesn’t have to be a difficult or time-consuming task. They’re within the reach of any advisor.
In this article, we will take a closer look at some tips for improving social media and search engine optimization, as well as look at how they can work in unison to drive real results.
Search engine optimization – or SEO – is a process designed to help companies rank highly for relevant search queries. For example, a Boston-based financial advisor may want to rank highly for the keyword phrase “Boston Financial Advisor” or “Retirement Planning in Boston” since the people making those searches represent highly targeted potential leads. (For more, see: Top SEO Tips for Advisors.)
There are many different techniques involved with search engine optimization and they have changed dramatically over time as search engines have evolved. For instance, a popular technique in the past was submitting a website to search engine directories like Moz that search engines like Google looked towards for ranking purposes. The process is much more complicated these days with a variety of different factors coming into play. (For related reading, see: What Advisors, Clients Should Expect from a Low-Return Future)
Some tips for improving search optimization include:
- Use the Right Structure – Search engines rely on organized code in order to assess the information on a given web page, which means that it’s important for web developers to use the right structure on those pages.
- Attract Legitimate Backlinks – Backlinks are the core of Google’s original search algorithms and continue to be important in ranking web pages, which means that it’s important to get others to link back to your content.
- Target Keywords – Search engines look at key words and phrases on a page in order to assess the topic of the page. If a keyword appears more frequently, or appears in backlinks, search engines may assign a higher weight to that phrase.
- Be Consistent – Search engines tend to prefer websites that are consistently kept up to date rather than those that don’t post content frequently. This is especially true when looking at blogs or article websites where content is timely in nature.
The best way for a financial advisor to get started with search engine optimization is to engage with a software development firm that can ensure their website meets some minimum criteria (e.g. the structure mentioned above). After that’s in place, it’s a good idea to install a simple content management system like WordPress along with plugins to help with optimizing for keywords. And finally, advisors should block out time in their schedules to write each week. (For more, see: How Financial Advisors Get Atop Search Results.)
Social media has become extremely popular over the past several years. According to a Putnam Investments 2015 Social Advisor Study of over 800 financial advisors, more than 80% use social media for business purposes – up from 75% the year before. The median assets gained from social media activity was estimated to be $1.9 million, which is up from $1.2 million in 2014 and demonstrates the success that some parties are seeing with the technology. (For related reading, see: Managing Client Expectations in a Volatile Environment.)
Most financial advisors that are just starting out with social media find it incredibly simple to use – just write up a message and post it. Unfortunately, many get stuck in the trap of posting messages without adhering to best practices or tracking their results over time. (For more, see: How Financial Advisors Are Leveraging Social Media.)
Some tips for maximizing social media outreach include:
- It’s a Two Way Street – Social media is designed to be a two-way communication channel rather than a one-way broadcasting channel, which means that it’s important to focus on interacting with others through these channels.
- Experiment with Timing – Many businesses have difficulty determining exactly how frequently they should be posting to these channels, which means that it may be a good opportunity to experiment with different times of the day.
- It’s Not an Afterthought – A lot of businesses post to social media as an afterthought by simply sharing a link to thought for the day, but the most successful businesses carefully plan and test things like titles and frequency.
- Track the Results – Many businesses don’t bother to track the success of their outreach, but doing so can help dramatically improve over time. Using tools like Bit.ly and Google Analytics, it’s possible to track click-throughs all the way though conversions.
The best way to get started with social media outreach is to acquire some basic software to manage all social media accounts in the same place, such as Buffer or HootSuite. Next, be sure to follow friends, colleagues, and industry thought leaders and begin to engage with them by responding to their messages or sharing links with them. And finally, it’s a good idea to block out some time each day or week to schedule posts out over time and keep up to date. (For more, see: How Advisors Can Carve Out a Social Media Niche.)
Social media may or may not have an effect on search engine algorithms, but they certainly influence search engine marketing. After all, many companies find their social media accounts on the first page of search results, which makes them important to keep up to date with relevant information. Social media channels are also search engines of their own, with the ability to search by hash tags and other keywords. (For related reading, see: What Your Clients Must Know About ETFs.)
When it comes to developing a cohesive strategy, many financial advisors choose to write blog posts to bolster SEO and then share those posts through social media channels. High quality content will generate both traffic and increasing numbers of followers, which helps push both SEO and social media initiatives forward over time. These tasks can also be automated in order to save time and ensure consistent outreach. (For related reading, see: Crowdfunding: What Advisors and Clients Must Know.)
The Bottom Line
Search engine optimization and social media are more than just buzzwords – they can have a direct bottom line impact on a financial advisor’s business. By using the strategies and tips outlined in this article, advisors can increase the odds of success and ultimately generate an increasing number of tangible business leads over the long term. (For more, see: Top Digital Age Tips for Financial Advisors.)