Financial advisors are professionally-trained (and often certified) individuals who help as a kind of counselor regarding all sorts of financial matters. They may be self-employed consultants or they may be employed by a larger company such as an investment firm, bank or even a non-profit organization. Some financial advisors work strictly with individuals and families or they may be retained by a business owner who needs help or guidance in handling a companies' current financial situation as well as to help that business plan for future needs.
Even more than that, financial advisors today may assist their clients with investment portfolio management, property (real estate) transactions, taxation issues, debt consolidation, bankruptcies, researching loan opportunities, estate and even college planning.
But there is a problem on the horizon: As of 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of personal financial advisors stood at 263,030 persons. This naturally translates to much competition in the field. And to make things even more difficult, in recent years we have seen the appearance of online platforms that attempt to formulate investment recommendations based on statistical and mathematical factors alone, without input from humans.
While many SEO-oriented articles stress all sorts of gimmicks and tactics that turn out to be just passing fads, in this presentation we want, instead, to take a deep-dive in understanding a few things about web searchers and the kinds of search queries they are performing. Understanding searcher intent is your key to developing an effective SEO strategy in the financial advisor niche.
Regardless of niche or business focus, all online search queries will fall into one of 3 categories:
SEO has a major focus on searching online, as today that is how people shop for everything. Telephone directory books sit on shelves, unused. TV and radio commercials make up much of the daily noise that we have all learned to ignore. Print ads - does anyone even read newspapers anymore?
No, if people are going to find your financial advisor business, they will find it only because they have found it online - through the searching that they have done, or may do in the future.
In order to get your SEO strategy right, you must think about desired outcomes from searching.
And by desired outcomes we don't mean the outcomes that you want - but what the searcher wants.
For example, when people are looking to buy specific products - such as books, clothing, computer software - things that are not extremely expensive - they will usually be comfortable in completing the purchase entirely online.
For these people, the desired outcome was a successful online purchase without having to navigate too many hurdles, a great product at a good price from a reputable source.
However, if people are purchasing big-ticket items such as air conditioners, home or office furniture, kitchen appliances, vehicles and the like, they may certainly look around online but will usually be comfortable finalizing the purchase only after visiting the business that is selling it.
For this crowd, they are very unlikely (although it is not impossible) that they will finalize their purchase online. You could perhaps buy that a/c unit from an online source, but most people would not. Oftentimes these are for purchases that are difficult to transport or must be installed by a professional.
As a financial advisor, it is important to understand that people searching online for you are not in either of those two groups. When people are interested in securing business services, such as an attorney, roofer, doctor or financial advisor they will not be completing "purchase" transactions online.
For these searchers - and this is your target SEO audience - their desired outcome would be for them to feel good that they have contacted a very reputable business, have had a satisfying conversation/consultation with them, and have agreed to move forward and allow them to provide the needed services.
Here's where it begins to come together. Understanding the various types of searches, and the truth that different types of customers desire different types of outcomes for their online experience will allow you to evaluate the content your site offers site visitors with their needs in mind.
Why do this? Because this is exactly what search engines (Google, Bing and others) are trying to do. For any search that is conducted, search engines are trying to determine which websites "out there" will give the searchers the best outcome. Those are the sites the SE's will rank highly. The SE's may not always do it well (i.e. a spammy site is ranked high) but they are constantly refining their evaluation formula.
So how could you adjust your site content to more accurately match searcher needs?
For navigational searches, which might be for your website or business name, you must ensure that those searches display your site listing, not those of your competition.
Your desired outcome for navigational searches is that people will find YOU when they are searching for your website domain, business name, or even your personal name or the name of key customer-facing staff.
For informational searchers, the situation is entirely different. People doing these types of searches may be just beginning to think about their needs - or even wondering if they have a need - for your services.
You could, for example target searches like:
As for content, you could place a helpful checklist or self-assessment to help them determine if they could benefit from the services of a financial advisor. This information could also be embedded in a larger FAQ section of your site.
Other informational searches could be targeted by posting content on your site that discusses:
Your desired outcome for informational searches is that searchers will visit your site, find it a useful source of information, be favorably impressed with your knowledge and expertise. This will break down barriers and make them more comfortable in coming to you when a real need for your services arises.
For commercial searches, remember that this will include people with a more definite need for your services:"financial advisors in Dallas"
Your desired outcome for commercial searches is to get your information in front of the searcher at the time of their need, when they are ready (or almost ready) to do business with you, and to convince them that you are the better choice than your competition.
Many people think of SEO in terms of bits and pieces. Bits of this - a little of that - spend money here - spend more money over there… Effective SEO is the result of working from the center of a comprehensive plan, outward to the fringes, not throwing a bunch of stuff up against a wall to see what "sticks."
So your SEO strategy and other marketing efforts must, if it is to be effective, reflect differences in searcher intent.
Navigational and informational searching can usually be effectively targeted through traditional (organic) SEO tactics as these types of searches usually have far less direct commercial intent and so are not highly competitive searches. But there is a trade-off here as well, as reaching informational searchers may not bring you a conversion right away - or ever. Navigational searchers (direct-to-site or direct-to-person) are easier to convert as the person searching has an interest in you/your firm and not your competition.
Ancillary SEO methods such as driving traffic from social media can also work well for navigational and informational search queries if you offer information that is truly helpful rather than trying to engage promoting your firm. Social media participants do not react well to obvious promotional pieces, or the "hard-sell" approach in your posts, but they will read - and recommend - useful case studies and engaging research as well as helpful tips and other forms of guidance.
Commercial intent searching is, by nature, more difficult to target through organic SEO tactics due to the high competition associated with these searches. PPC ad placement can be a very useful alternative in situations where the uphill climb for organic listings makes it difficult to make it to the top, or even on page 1 of the SERP's.
If you can get your PPC ad shown for high commercial-intent queries, it will be located at the top of the results pages and will outrank all the organic (non-paid) listings.
If you are planning to invest heavily in PPC Management you should be aware that PPC comes with some built-in limitations:
This means that even if you utilize PPC management cost-effectively, and derive high-quality, converting traffic from it, you should never rely on that as your only source of site traffic.
What we are saying here is that there is always a need to be continually developing the organic "rankability" of your site. That is what a comprehensive SEO plan is all about.
If this presentation has convinced you of anything, perhaps it is this: SEO is not a pursuit for hobbyists and part-timers. After all, would you entrust, as a financial advisor yourself, your own finances to a student accountant mere bookkeeper? The same is true for SEO - you need to put yourself in the hands of professionals, ideally those who have experience in getting financial advisor sites ranked well.
At Posirank we have over a decade of experience in working with all types of businesses and organizations, including financial advisors, tax preparers, investment firms, CPA's and independent financial consultants of all types.
Our onboarding process is simple: Let's talk. You ask questions, and we'll give you all the input you need. If you find SEO a challenge, or just don't have time to mess with all the nuts-and-bolts, we can handle all the details. We'll determine where you are at, what your competition is up to, and put together a comprehensive strategy that is not based on guesswork or opinion, but is data-driven and uses up-to-date and completely 100% ethical ("white-hat") methods.