Learn the basics of SEO
What are people typing into a search engine?
When someone wants to learn about something, they head to Google to get information. The words typed into a search bar are keywords, keyphrases, or long-tail keywords.
Keywords tend to be more general and use one to two words (financial advisor), whereas a keyphrase tends to be longer (what does a financial advisor do?). And lastly, a long-tail keyword is a highly targeted phrase. An example of a long-tail keyword/phrase would be, “Financial advisor specialized in retirement planning near me.”
How many people are using a specific keyword, keyphrase, or long-tail keyword?
You can learn a term's popularity by looking at the search volume of a keyword or phrase. The search volume is the number of search queries for a specific keyword or keyphrase, typically over a month. All you need to do is plug the term into a free tool like ahrefs or ubersuggest, and either will give you information about the words.
Regarding broader keywords in finance, it might be impossible to rank for them, given the dominance of sites such as Investopedia, Nerdwallet, etc. To better understand which keywords are best to rank for, you should look at the keyword difficulty when you assess keywords.
Also, long-tails tend to get less search traffic because they are so specific, but they have a higher conversion value–meaning more motivated prospects will find your site.
Will I be able to rank on the first page?
To rank on the first page will depend on the keyword difficulty (KD). The KD metric estimates how hard (or easy) it will be to rank on the first page in a search engine. It’s measured on a scale from 0-100, with 100 being the most difficult. A difficult keyword to rank for would be “personal financial advisor” (KD of 87) vs an easy keyword such as “should I hire a financial advisor” (KD of 27).
As an advisor, this is an important metric to pay attention to. Knowing how hard or easy it will be to rank will help you select the right keywords for your site. In other words, the lower the KD, the more achievable it will be.
How do I increase my chances of ranking on the first page?
To help increase your chances, you should optimize the headers, URL, meta tags & descriptions on the page (more on these shortly). These coding elements help search engines learn about your site. They provide information about what someone will discover on your pages. The goal is to ensure each field accurately represents your firm and who you serve.
When it comes to content, you must ensure it’s high quality and the more aligned it is with their search intent, the better the chance of your content being shown on the first search page.
What are headers?
Headers are the titles you will use on your site or blog posts to explain the page. Headers should be short and concise–something that can quickly be read and understood. The main header on your site is known as an H1 tag. A sub-headline is an H2 tag, a sub-sub-headline is an H3, and so on. In SEO, Google will crawl your headers, looking for keywords and phrases that the searcher has requested in the search engine.
How do you optimize a URL?
A good URL contains your company name plus a keyword or phrase about that page—for example, www.altruist.com/become-an-ria/.
Any URL you create, keep it simple. Don’t overcomplicate it with unnecessary keywords or use special characters. Only use terms relevant to the site because search engines also look for keywords in URLs.
How do you optimize meta tags & descriptions?
Meta tags and descriptions help search engines recognize what your page(s) is about. These tags are invisible on the site and only appear when the content shows up in Google results. These tags and descriptions must be enticing enough for someone to click on the result. If you’re struggling to develop “click-worthy” descriptions, try ChatGPT to create some ideas.
If you’re using a platform like Hubspot, WordPress, Wix, etc., they’ll have a dedicated section for adding meta tags & descriptions.
You will need to optimize your meta tags in two places: Page title and Tags.
The page title will appear as the headline in a search result, and the tags are keywords that help Google sort the page.
The meta description is limited to about 115-120 characters. Since it’s limited, focus on describing the page and enticing your audience to click on your result. Aim to include at least one keyword, but don’t use this space for keyword stuffing (inserting as many keywords into one space all at once).
What’s search intent and why does it matter?
Search intent is the intention behind why someone is searching for something. There are four primary search intents to keep in mind: Informational, Transactional, Commercial, and Navigational.
Informational intent (I) is someone seeking more information about a topic they aren’t familiar with. An example would be, “What does a financial advisor do?” Most often, the content you create for your audience will satisfy this intent. Content can range from blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc. Incorporating informational intent keywords into your content may have a better chance of ranking on the first page of the search results.
Commercial intent (C) is when someone is about to buy something but wants to research and compare more. A commercial intent would be, “Best financial advisors near me.”
Transactional intent (T) is when someone wants to take action and buy. An example would be, “Hire an advisor.” They’re looking for the next step to complete their purchase.
Navigational intent (N) is when someone wants to visit a particular site. For example, “Altruist.”
Knowing the intent behind the search is important because it helps advisors construct their sites to align with their prospects. Giving prospects exactly what they want can attract quality leads, increased engagement, client conversion, and ideas to generate compelling content that speaks to the audience.
Now that you have a good grasp of basic SEO terminology, let’s walk through how to implement these concepts into a strategy.
Tip #1: Add long-tail keywords with an achievable KD and commercial intent to your website
Why is it important to incorporate long-tail keywords into your SEO strategy? First and foremost, they’re easier to rank for, and you’re more likely to get in front of the people you want to work with.
As recently explained, long-tail keywords are highly specific phrases that tend to have a lower search volume because they’re niche. The people using them are probably more motivated and planning to take tangible action. For advisors, most long-tail keywords will have a commercial or transactional intent.
Here are some examples of long-tail keywords:
“Fee-based only advisors in [city]”
“Best advisors for financial planning in [city]”
“Best investment advisors in [city]”
“Best certified financial advisors in [city]”
“Best certified financial planners near me”
“Fiduciary advisors specialized in [your expertise] in [city]”
How do you use long-tail keywords effectively?
First, aim to optimize your meta tags and descriptions. Doing so allows you to strategically use the long-tail keywords that Google can crawl in your coding.
For example, someone uses the long-tail keyword: “Fee-based advisors for financial planning in Denver.” Your meta title tag can say, “Certified Financial Advisor serving clients in Denver, Colorado.” And your meta description can say, “[Name of your firm] provides fee-based financial planning to families in Denver, CO, for [list the services you provide].”
On your front-facing website, incorporating long-tail keywords might be tricky to add verbatim, so be strategic about where you place them. In this case, aim to include them as naturally as possible while trying to match them closely. Using the same example above, here’s how you can write the main header on your site, “Providing fee-based financial planning to families in Denver, Colorado.” And then the following header could be, “We aim to provide our clients with the best possible service to help them attain their financial goals.”
As you may have noticed, most of the examples provided include the city/state you serve. This brings us to our next strategy tip, incorporating local SEO into your strategy.
Tip #2: Take advantage of online directories to improve local SEO
Your information must appear in local searches as an advisor serving a particular city. If your firm is 100% virtual, this section may not apply, and you can skip to the next tip.
So how does an advisor optimize for local SEO to appear in searches such as “financial advisors near me”?
First, start by creating and optimizing a Google Business profile. This is a free platform for local businesses that helps your business get discovered and can drive more website traffic and generate customer reviews.
To make the most of your profile, here’s what to include: business name, business address, phone numbers, a link to your website, any images that relate to your business, hours of operation, and the services you offer. By doing this, you’ll take advantage of fully optimizing your listing for local SEO.
In addition to the Google Business listing, submit or set up profiles on other directories, such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, Bing Places, etc. The goal of adding your profile to any directory is to make sure your business information is correct and consistent across all platforms. Plus, Local SEO not only increases your visibility in the city you serve but can also improve your overall SEO efforts. By including your URL in online directories, you’re getting backlinks from reputable sources to your site, which search engines favor.
Finally, be sure that your business information can be found on your website.
Tip #3: Develop blog content around a collection of long-tail keywords
Developing content that scales can be challenging, especially for general keywords in the financial advice industry. However, there are ways advisors can garner success for their SEO. With the help of SEMRush (or a similar tool), you can pinpoint keywords with a KD below 50.
This video demonstrates how you can use SEMRush to find related keywords to those highly popular keywords that are hard to rank for. From there, sort by KD and pick the keywords that have the highest search volume with a low KD.
Here are some rankable examples pulled from SEMRush. These have a low KD and a search volume between 100-1000:
"How to prepare for a recession if you are retired"
"Retirement and estate planning"
"Retirement planning for women"
"Cash flow-based retirement planning"
"What's the first step in financial planning?"
To help you format your articles to make it easier for Google to crawl, here’s a quick checklist:
- Include keywords/phrases in the headline and intro paragraph, meta tags, and URL.
- Add a "key takeaways" section at the beginning of the article.
- Make it skimmable and easy to read.
- Make it relatable, including real-life examples.
- Make sure to proofread. Services like Grammarly or Writer are excellent for editing.
- If you're using images, fill in the "alt text" with your keyword/phrase related to the picture.
- Include a CTA on every piece of content. It can be as simple as subscribing to your blog, or you want them to schedule a consultation with you. You always want to entice your visitors to take the next step.
One final thought about creating articles is to get to the point, don't deviate from the question you're trying to answer for your audience. It’s important that your articles stay on track and give your audience the information they’re looking for; otherwise, you risk losing their attention, and they’ll jump off the page.
Check out our Content Marketing Playbook for more helpful tips on optimizing other types of content.
Tip #4: Start establishing credible backlinks
Backlinking is when another site links to your website or a page on your site. Also, consider this a long-game strategy for SEO. It’s not the easiest to implement quickly so be patient.
According to research conducted by Backlinko, “The #1 result in Google has an average of 3.8x more backlinks than positions #2-#10”. So how do you get a site to link to yours? For starters, the more quality content you create, the higher the chance of people linking to it. Here are three ways to get started with backlinks:
- Reach out to publications your audience or peers follow and offer to write a guest post on a relevant topic. Chances are you will be able to link to your site in your bio.
- As with Local SEO, the financial industry has networks to which you can add your profile. For example, if you’re a fee-only advisor, you can add your profile and URL. Also, in some cases, these directories will allow you to link to additional pages on your site that your audience will find valuable.
- If you’ve created a stellar piece that could add value to someone else’s site, reach out and ask if they would link to it. The best way to approach this is to craft an authentic email without being pushy. Here’s an example email for inspiration:
Hi [Insert name],
I hope this message finds you well. I’ve been following your work and recently saw your latest post about [XYZ]. I found it interesting and thought it paired well with a recent article I wrote on the topic.
Here’s a link for you to check it out, and I would sincerely appreciate any feedback you have, as I think this would be a great piece that can add additional value to your audience.
Thanks in advance, and I look forward to hearing from you.
One last thing about backlinks, your aim should be to receive links from reputable sites. Google and other search engines keep an eye on backlinks to ensure they’re not spam. So remember, the more reputable the source linking to your site, the better it is for your ranking.
Tip #5: Track your progress
The last piece of your SEO strategy is to measure performance. Doing so helps you track what you need to change, optimize, or test (such as headlines, tags, etc.). You can track most of this in Google Analytics, or another similar tool.
Below are the main metrics you should keep an eye on and why.
Top keyword ranking
This metric looks at the keywords you aim to rank for. You’ll be able to see whether or not you have moved up in position since you optimized. Or if your volume has increased or decreased. If you don’t see any change or see a decline, it could be the KD metric is difficult to rank for.
This number shows how many people come to your site without paying for an ad. If your SEO strategy works, you should see this number increase monthly. You may need to optimize or test new ideas if you're not seeing an increase.
Click-through rate (CTR)
This is the average of clicks to your site. It’s calculated by dividing how many clicks your site got by the number of people who see it in the results (impressions). If your CTR is low, it may indicate that your headlines or meta descriptions aren’t enticing. In that case, testing out new ideas would be best.
This is the last thing your audience sees before jumping off your website. If you have a high exit rate, your content may not be sufficient for what they’re searching for. This may mean you need to spend more time optimizing and adding valuable information to your site.
As we mentioned, this is a long game, but it’s nice to see this number gradually increase over time–especially from credible sources in the industry.
These metrics will help you see what's happening with your SEO. Remember, SEO takes time, but consistent effort and monitoring will ultimately lead to success.
By implementing an SEO strategy, financial advisors can improve their website's visibility on search engines and drive quality traffic to their site. Key considerations for a successful SEO strategy include integrating keyphrases and local components, optimizing headers, meta tags, and descriptions, creating valuable content, and measuring and optimizing for success. By following these tips, financial advisors can effectively reach their target audience and increase their chances of converting prospects into clients.