Many financial advisory firms and accounting firms ask us if they really need to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on their website. We always answer this question with an enthusiastic yes. What may vary from firm to firm is how much SEO they need, and the only way to assess this answer is to determine what your firm’s growth goals are. Are you hoping for aggressive growth this year and beyond or are you just trying to remain visible online to your prospects as they are referred to you? We have found that most professionals do not fully understand what SEO is and how it can help them. We know it can be very confusing. In a nutshell, SEO is basically what happens on and behind your website to ensure its visibility online. Most financial advisory and accounting firms get top benefits from organic SEO because it is an excellent way for prospects to find your online content and to improve the quality and quantity of traffic to your website.
Before you begin planning your firm’s approach to SEO, you need to understand the terminology and what it all means. Two types of online search strategies are Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). SEO is an approach based on content and keywords as a means to appearing in search results, while SEM is more or less the “pay to play” online strategy to appearing in online searches. In short, SEM is the term for paid search advertising tactics whereas SEO is a created strategy to attract targeted, qualified prospects to your website using your website’s structure, content, keywords and link building. While SEM can provide you with more immediate results, they are likely not going to be the high-level, quality prospects you want to attract. That is why we almost always implement organic, content-driven SEO tactics with our clients. Our clients (financial advisory firms and accounting firms) are almost always looking to attract a high-net worth investor or a specific type of business owner. These people are not going to click on a paid ad to find you; rather, they’re going to ask a trusted advisor for a recommendation or even do an online search based on a question they have. Organic SEO can direct these individuals to your website if you a solid SEO content strategy in place.
Steps to Creating a Successful SEO Strategy:
- Create a strategic growth plan for your firm. While creating your growth plan, take into consideration the type of revenue you are hoping to achieve. As you are doing this, also identify the specific characteristics of your target A-Level prospects.
- Brainstorm potential keywords or phrases that your target prospects might be using in an online search. The power of keyword development lies in really understanding your target market and how they search for content and services. Once you have created a list of potential keywords, it’s ideal to enter them into a SEO keyword research tool that will help predict how much volume a specific keyword will have. Our SEO team does this for our clients, but if you are doing this on your own you will need to find a keyword research tool.
- Research your competitors. Begin by making a list of your competitors, looking specifically at the firms with high-ranking websites. You can check out your competitors services and use these as your top keywords. Look at firms with niches that you are either in already or would like to focus on going forward. Also, look at firms that are larger than yours to see what successful keywords and phrases they use since they likely have larger audiences and more credibility with Google. Remember not to look at the firms who have “paid to play” because they will be at the top of the Google search results only due to the “ad” notation in their result.
- Create quality original content. Fresh, original content gives Google an ongoing reason to look at your website. And original content showcases your unique perspective and expertise to website visitors and enables them to build a relationship with you. The more often new content is published on a site, the more Google will come back and trust the site. The content that is published needs to include specific terms and phrases that Google can find to match with the user’s search. The more content we have, the more times the website can be matched to a user’s search. To achieve this, you need to have an ongoing content strategy. This is typically done through blogging on relevant, informative topics that include your keywords. Ideally your website pages and blogs will have a minimum of 300 words with a goal of 1,000 words. Developing original content has long-term value, which will continue to be relevant and generate traffic over a long period. Your pertinent content is the gift that will keep on giving because it continues to produce results while your focus is on serving your clients.
- Keep your website fresh. Remember that when a prospect visits your website, it’s essential to the closing of the sale, meaning that’s the opportunity for your website to either entice the visitor to contact you – or drop off your site altogether. Therefore, it’s important to have fresh website design combined with compelling, educational content and appealing page headers. The analytics we’ve reviewed on our clients’ websites have shown us that visitors do not typically read all the content on a site, with the exception of a blog posts which are usually read more thoroughly.
- Be patient! We cannot emphasize this point enough. We have found that for SEO to work its magic on your website, it usually takes around 8-12 months. Believe me, I’ve even complained about this myself as our SEO team is working on our own firm’s website. It’s hard to spend time and money on an organic SEO strategy without seeing immediate results. However, for those that are patient and are willing to stay the course, their efforts do pay off. Contact us if you’d like to hear our client success stories about how their SEO efforts have paid off.
If you want your website to consistently produce high quality, targeted, inbound prospects, then you need SEO, period. Even for our experienced digital marketing and SEO team, mastering SEO is a process of constant learning, experimentation, and creativity. Use these tips to produce the results you want and generate the type of growth you desire for your business. Good luck!