Picture the scene; the phone rings with an enquiry from a potential new client.

    You eagerly take the call, keen to understand how you can help, only to be greeted with the opening line:

    “How much will it cost…”

    Your heart sinks immediately. You know it’s going to be an uphill struggle to switch the focus of the discussion from cost to value.

    No doubt there will be other opening lines guaranteed to increase your blood pressure. The same applies to us. Top of my list right now: “How do I get on the first page of Google?”

    Don’t misunderstand me, appearing on the first page of Google for relevant search terms isn’t a bad thing. Quite the opposite. However, there might be easier ways to achieve your aim.

    The problem lies in the question itself, which focuses on a specific tactic to achieve an unspecified aim.

    By the way, if you’ve not already noticed, I’ve written this blog while perched firmly on my soapbox. However, if you stick with me until the end you’ll be rewarded with some useful and simple actions to help increase your website’s traffic levels.

    Back to your world

    You receive a call from someone referred to you by an existing client. The conversation begins: “I’d like to invest in a venture capital trust.”

    Slightly taken aback you agree to a meeting as, after all, it’s a referral from an existing client. Yet the chances of them walking out of your office after that meeting with a VCT are slim. It’s far more likely you will build a financial plan (the strategy) to achieve their aims, part of which might include various financial products (tactics).

    The same applies to your marketing.  

    Far better to develop a strategy and then decide which tactics to employ, of which search engine optimisation (SEO) might be one.

    Nevertheless, it’s worth understanding why so many advisers and planners assume they need to be on the first page of Google.

    There are probably two main reasons:

    1) Gut feel: It’s only natural to feel, and with some justification, that appearing on page one of Google for certain key search terms will generate new enquiries

    2) FOMO: The fear of missing out will lead some advisers and planners to make poor decisions and spend money on dubious tactics in the hope of appearing on the first page of Google

    Easier alternatives?

    Ranking well for relevant search terms (“financial adviser near me” for example) is a good thing. After all, people visiting your website following an organic search probably have an immediate need and will be highly engaged.

    However, it isn’t easy and there are probably easier ways of generating new enquiries. 

    That’s why it’s important to think strategically while understanding the basics of SEO.

    The most common misconception is that SEO is a product you can buy. It isn’t. It’s essentially a series of sub-tactics to achieve a desired outcome; ranking highly for given search terms. These terms fall into two categories:

    1) People who already know of your business, perhaps because they’ve been referred to you, who carry out an online search to find out more about you

    2) People looking for an adviser or planner because they believe they need professional advice

    The first is frankly more important; if people who have been referred to you can’t find you online, will that increase or decrease the chances of them getting in touch? However, it’s often overlooked.

    Strategy first

    So, if being found online is part of your marketing strategy, even if that’s just for brand searches, what should you do? Rush out and blow your entire marketing budget on the first SEO guru to email you?

    No. As an aside, isn’t it ironic that so many of these ‘gurus’ use email marketing and not SEO to win new business? But we digress.

    We recommend starting with these simple steps, which in our experience will significantly improve your search engine rankings.

    1) Establish a baseline; use Google Analytics to understand your current levels of organic search traffic and the effect of the following six steps

    2) Add page titles; along with the text on the page, the title helps Google decide which search terms your page should rank for

    3) Add page descriptions; these will help potential website visitors understand what each page is about

    4) Identify keywords and include them in your copy; these are a list of terms which you would like your website to be found for

    5) Review your team and testimonial pages; these are golden opportunities to include relevant keywords and place names, which are important if you want local search traffic

    6) Consistently request Google reviews; not only will these impress potential clients by setting you apart from other advisers and planners, but reviews are also thought to be a factor in Google’s algorithm

    7) Add new content regularly; while fads come and go (for example, Google now frowns on many forms of link-building for SEO purposes) the regular addition of content to websites has always been a significant a significant ranking factor

    The importance of content

    It’s the last of these which is so important. In fact, if you aren’t prepared to add content on a regular basis, you can forget about improving your search engine ranking.

    Two and a half years before Google was formed Bill Gates said: “Content is king.”

    He was right then, and he’s right now. In our experience adding relevant, long-form content to your website on a regular basis is the thing which will have the biggest effect on your organic search traffic.

    However, while content might be king, it’s also…

    • Hard work
    • Vital to remain consistent
    • Crucial you don’t run out of patience

    The next steps

    Take a step back and think strategically; what do you want to achieve and what are the tactics likely to get you there quickest and in the most cost-effective way?

    Next, ensure you can be found for brand searches. Every marketing strategy should be built on the foundation of effective referral generation and online invisibility will make that harder.  

    Then, if being found online for other search terms is important, remember there are no quick wins. Put the hard yards in, add content, and measure the results.

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