Over the past two decades, search engines have become a critical starting point for investors seeking assistance from professional advisors. Are you easy to find? There are many ways to use search engines to maximize your visibility and web presence.
According to StatCounter, 81% of desktop web traffic and 96% of mobile web traffic came from Google’s search engine as of February 2017. Google search results typically fall into three areas: paid search, local search, and organic search.
Paid search is the quickest way to attain immediate visibility when someone searches for a website. Also known as “sponsored search” or “pay-per-click ads,” these are the small advertisements on Google that are triggered when certain keywords are used. For example, a recent search found at least four advertisers bidding on the keyword, “Financial Advisor Woburn, MA.”
Paid search highlights:
- Paid search can offer lucrative positioning, with ads typically appearing at the top of the search results page.
- Paid search is an auction process. If you choose to bid, you will compete against others bidding on similar keyword placements.
- Google evaluates bids on how much an advertiser is willing to pay, the relevancy of the keyword, the copy in the ad, and the landing page.
- Google assigns “quality scores,” which are continually evaluated. As a result, the positioning of the ads rotates and fluctuates.
- Ads are “pay-per-click,” which means you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. This can be more economical than more traditional ad campaigns.
- There is no minimum spend requirement, and you can turn a campaign on or off at any time, offering attractive marketing flexibility for financial advisors.
For select search queries, part of the page may be carved out to include Google maps, which could showcase information on local financial advisors.
Local search highlights:
- Local search results may be triggered when a user enters regional phrases such as a “financial advisor in Boston MA.”
- Placements may also be triggered by a user’s IP address — the physical location of the user’s computer or network.
- To boost your chances of appearing in a local search, include contact information on your web page, such as a street address and phone number. Also, set up additional profiles of your business on relevant third-party sites. If you are the domain owner, set up a “Google My Business” page.
- Local results are especially critical in a mobile setting, where travelers may be searching. If your website is “mobile-friendly,” you may have an advantage.
Organic search is the most common and trusted type of search result. These typically appear below paid search and local search placements.
Organic search highlights:
- Organic search is a no-cost way to boost traffic to your website.
- Placement of these results is determined by Google based on website analysis using hundreds of variables.
- Organic search visibility will not happen overnight, but will evolve as Google evaluates many factors, including the overall quality of the website.
- To get a sense of organic search results, type in a phrase relevant to your business. You may find “aggregator” sites, i.e., Planner Search, Wiser Advisor. If appropriate, consider placing your information on these sites.
- Organic search listings will also fluctuate in positioning, but much more gradually than paid search ads.
Become more visible — Steps to consider
- Evaluate the overall quality of your website — or your profile page within a website. To avoid a “cookie cutter” look and feel, consider adding timely and engaging content such as videos, interactive features, and infographics.
- Be sure your site or page includes complete contact information, including a street address and other regionally relevant keywords to help with local search results.
- The quantity and quality of links that point to your site or page is important for search results. Make sure your information is linked from a prominent page, and consider also linking from reputable third-party websites.
- Don’t forget to ask new clients or prospects how they heard about your site. If the answer is Google search, you have done your job in search marketing.
Note: To avoid a conflict of interest, check in with your firm’s marketing department, technology teams, and the domain owner. Steps you take to boost your visibility should be carefully planned, reviewed, and supported with appropriate resources.