Based out of Washington, D.C., Dream Financial Planning provides financial planning solutions to minorities and young professionals. Founded by Lamar Watson, C.F.P, Dream Financial delivers planning tailored to the unique goals and aspirations of these groups, from student loan debt to first-time home purchases.
And, like many things, Google is the first place most people will look when searching for a financial planner. This shift towards digital demands a different approach. And when Lamar founded Dream Financial in 2019, he knew he would need a digital platform to reach a larger audience.
5 Techniques That Helped Traffic Explode
When Lamar came to Twenty Over Ten he was looking to revamp his online presence. The challenge was to reach Lamar’s chosen audience, young professionals, minorities and Washington, D.C. locals to generate more leads and subsequent conversions.
To meet the challenge of Lamar’s goals, we performed several on-page and behind the scenes actions to improve search engine optimization. These actions would focus on generating user traffic improving SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ranking to increase website visibility, ultimately driving users to connect with Dream Financial Planning.
1. Building a Positive User Experience
A well-designed website shares similar features. They provide a positive user experience through different elements of design; information transparency, user interface etc. The objective is to show prospects why your services are right for them, all while making the contact process simple and easy.
Once prospects have turned to leads and leads to clients, your website should continue to provide valuable information. This comes in the form of content like blogs, videos, podcasts, etc. Each acts as a channel to communicate information and improve SEO.
Our design team took the time to discuss Lamar’s vision and created an exceptional user experience to communicate it. The video on the home page sets a dramatic first impression and ties into the overall look and feel of Dream Financial Planning’s brand, creating a cohesive and polished feel.
The themes established on the home page continue throughout other elements. Drop-downs and illustrations provide an organized structure by limiting the number of on-page words and preventing visual overload. While images and shape psychology work together to create consistency in tone and branding.
Along with an effective sitemap and transparent services and pricing, the design of the Dream Financial Planning website makes exploration enjoyable and easy.
2. Setting User-Focused Title Tags
Let’s imagine you go to Google and type “Financial advisor” in the search bar:
Google is going to provide you with a SERP. But not all of the results on this page will be the same for everyone. Google provides answers based on perceived user intent. In other words, if I search the keyword “Financial advisor” I will receive a list of advisors in my area.
This is because Google believes the intention behind my search is to find an advisor or to understand what an advisor does. But Google also believes that most people prefer to visit their advisor in person. in response, the results page answers both of these intentions, providing informative links, along with local advisors.
The first organic result from this SERP is this article from Investopedia:
The blue text that you would click on is called the title tag. These tags are optimized for keywords and user intention. Notice the keyword we searched is in the title? Now, this result didn’t appear from keywords alone, it’s also here because of a variety of other factors measured by Google. But, by targetting the user’s intent, we can make sure pages aren’t being lost in the lower SERP rankings.
Examining SERPS and determining a few keywords, Twenty Over Ten established user-focused title tags for Dream Financial’s site. These tags consist of three things:
- The firm’s location: Providing a location helps limit geographic competition and answers the user intent for visiting their advisor
- Targeted keywords: Including user-focused keywords improves the chances of the page appearing in the SERP
- Name of the firm: Adding Dream Financial Planning to the title reinforces consistency between pages and allows users to easily discover the firm by searching the name
This process was repeated for every page of the website, with keywords changing between pages to target specific search terms.
3. Modifying Meta Descriptions
Along with title tags, the other SEO friendly feature that appears on the SERP is the meta description. We went incognito and typed in the query “Washington dc financial advisor for minorities,” and Google displayed Lamar’s website and their meta description is the section boxed in green:
Meta descriptions are a short synopsis of a page and will often be packed full of the other keywords a website is targetting. For example, you’ll notice “minorities” is bolded in the image above.
The meta descriptions of each page of the Dream Financial Planning site were optimized in this fashion, providing a keyword-packed summary within 160 characters, including spaces. Why 160? This is the limit that Google sets before cutting off a description with ellipses, like the example above. By keeping these descriptions to that limit, we ensure that the reader has a clear understanding of the page.
4. Establishing Blogging Best Practices
Title tags and meta descriptions help a website rank, but the largest SEO impact comes from blogging. Blogs provide advisors the opportunity to answer specific problems for their clients and prospects. Common questions can be turned into articles. And, when someone searches for that question on Google, there is a chance the article will appear, taking the user to the firm’s site.
Working alongside Lamar, Twenty Over Ten helped establish SEO friendly blogging practices which include:
- Blog description: Functioning like a meta description, the blog description provides a summary and space to include keywords
- Images and alt text: Images help improve the user experience by breaking up the page and making it visually interesting. But images should always include alt text. First, for the convenience of readers with visual impairment and ADA compliance. Second, for more keyword real estate
- Headers: Like images, headers break up content and make it skimmable. Google will also crawl headers first, in order of size from H2 to normal text. This means more important keywords should be included in your larger headers
- Links: In-bound and out-bound, or external and internal links are beneficial to SEO. They show Google your article and website are trustworthy. Plus, connecting your content internally allows visitors to move between one article to another with ease
Google loves when websites are updated, and blogging consistently helps update your website. It shows that your site is active and fresh, which helps improve SEO efforts. But blogging schedules are difficult for financial advisors, given the time needed to create quality content.
This is why Dream Financial opted to use Twenty Over Ten’s Content Assist library. Utilizing this content allowed Dream Financial to update their blog every week, without having to take the extra time to research and create content:
5. Connecting Social Channels
We often discuss the importance of social media for financial advisors. But this is because of its impact on improving lead generation and directing traffic towards your site. We won’t discuss using social media here, as we have far more comprehensive articles on the subject.
But, when working with Dream Financial, we made sure to connect all related social channels to Lamar’s main home page. Content shared via social channels also often leads directly to Dream Financial’s website, individual blog posts, etc. The point here is that your prospects aren’t only using search engines to do their research. With robust search functionalities, social media platforms also serve as valuable search engines themselves. There may be people who discover your business page, or content through doing a search on social media thus indirectly impacting your SEO.
The Final Results
SEO is a long-term investment. Many times, the effects of an SEO plan are not apparent because the real change can take a while. There isn’t an exact amount of time, but six to eight months is the general time frame. We began working with Lamar in 2019. After a little over a year’s worth of data, we have enough information to examine the impact of our SEO efforts. Here are the results:
Boosted Web Traffic by 222%
Measuring from the first half of 2020 to the second half, we saw a significant increase in organic traffic directly to the website. Traffic in a six month period went from just under 400 visitors to 1,230:
The pages receiving the highest amount of traffic were the home page, the blog and the contact page. Visits to these pages indicate that users are discovering the site as a result of our SEO improvements. And, by viewing which specific blog pages are successful, Dream Financial can understand what topics their visitors are searching for to discover them.
Enhanced SEO Efforts Through Blog Content
Amongst these pages, keyword queries leading toward blog content showed some of the highest performance between the first and second half of 2020:
Topical queries like 401k planning and preparing financially for a baby received some of the highest performance, with queries like “financial planning for a baby” going from 0 impressions and clicks to 1,254 impressions and 8 clicks alone.
We also saw the impact of localized SEO, with an increase in impressions and clicks as a result of searches like “financial planner dc”. This trend continued with similar keyword queries, demonstrating the impact of blog content on SEO:
Improved Average Position
Measuring the same time frame as clicks, the average position of Dream Financial Planning improved by roughly 5 points.
Average position is the average ranking of all your website’s pages across multiple queries. So seeing a decrease like this is a good thing! But it’s not necessary to examine the average position daily. Yes, it’s true that ranking impacts your website’s performance and is an important metric. But, the average position will fluctuate every day and is impacted by how many keywords a page ranks for.
Ranking for a new keyword is a good thing. But, if your page begins ranking for a new keyword, that new keyword could temporarily damage your average ranking.
This is why it’s always best to examine the average position over a longer period of time, as shown above. Make sure you’ve given your website enough time to accumulate data before making any serious adjustments.
Meeting the Goal
The metrics above demonstrate the effects of our SEO improvements and Lamar’s ongoing commitment to content marketing.
However, SEO is an ongoing act. Analyzing your data and adjusting appropriately is important. So, using the current data, let’s see what other improvements could be made.
Continuing To Improve
Generally, a drop in click-through-rate is not a good thing. It indicates that your website is appearing to searchers, but not being clicked. But click-through-rate (CTR) should never be viewed as a standalone metric. Instead, it should be examined alongside impressions, as these metrics affect each other and can sometimes have an inverse relationship.
But what are impressions and CTR exactly?
- Impressions: These are the websites that appear on a search results page. Google will count an impression only if you click on a website or scroll past it. But, impressions will not be counted on pages that you don’t visit. For example, the first website on page two of a result page will not count as an impression if you only visit page one
- Click-Through-Rate (CTR): This is the percentage rate of how often a link appears (impressions) and how often it is clicked
Impressions increase whenever your website appears on a user’s search engine results page or SERP.
Impressions will also often increase as your website ranks for new keywords. This can reduce your overall CTR, as new keywords create more listings, similar to the impact on ranking.
This exact situation occurred with Dream Financial Planning. Notice the steady decrease in CTR (green) just as Impressions (purple) begin to rise?
As you can see from Advanced Web Ranking’s CTR curve, there’s a steady drop in clicks following the first result of a SERP. If a page is not ranking in the top results, then it may appear as an impression but receive very little clicks.
To improve situations like this, advisors should begin modifying their underperforming pages. These can be found by discovering pages with a low CTA, but high Impressions. This tells you the page is ranking, as it’s appearing in front of people and on their SERPs, but they aren’t clicking.
One of the best ways to fix this is to perform the search yourself. Examine the queries used to discover the page and conduct a Google search for them. What does the SERP look like? What is the perceived intent of the user? Now, does your page follow this intent? If not, then consider adjusting your page to searcher intent.
Wrapping It Up
Dream Financial Planning’s original goal was to increase web traffic. By optimizing the site for SEO, we saw significant improvements across the site in just one year, not only accomplishing Lamar’s original objective but setting up Dream Financial for long-term online success. Lamar’s story is just one example of how Twenty Over Ten is able to deliver value for financial advisors with our modern website designs and SEO services.
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About The Author
Stuart is a Content Marketing Specialist at Twenty Over Ten and enjoys creating content that both entertains and educates. A Game Designer at heart, he can be found pursuing one of his many hobbies during his free time.