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By Blair Kelly SEC Ad Rule

SEO for Financial Advisors: Everything You Need To Know About Google Reviews

16 minute read
SEO for Financial Advisors: Everything You Need To Know About Google Reviews Featured Image

As a financial advisor, it can be difficult to market your firm and get your message out, especially with the rules and regulations that come with working within the financial industry. However, with the recently passed SEC rule on advertising, which is set in motion on May 4th, advisors can now acquire and leverage Google Reviews on your website and in their marketing efforts.

This is going to bring about big changes. We work with a lot of advisors on their organic search rankings and the discussion of Google and online reviews is one that comes up constantly and will now be even more talked about. Online reviews have been a big question mark for advisors, especially in such a highly regulated industry, and while there are still going to be questioned in terms of compliance and usage, it will much easier to leverage them moving forward.

And while many advisors do still get clients from referrals, word of mouth, etc. they are now getting more and more clients from their website, inbound marketing, and other digital marketing efforts versus the traditional.

Additionally, the power of a customer testimonial is so incredibly strong for your advisor business. In fact, according to Inc. 91 percent of people regularly or occasionally read online reviews, and 84 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Furthermore, 68 percent of people form an opinion after reading between one and six online reviews. So, when getting around the red tape of the industry and trying to go beyond your website, how do you go about getting these Google reviews that are so important? Check out the video below for additional tips on getting more Google Reviews and how the updated SEC Ad rule will change these marketing tactics in the future.

Why are Google Reviews Important for Financial Advisors?

Online reviews are not testimonials because you (the advisor) cannot control them. ANYONE can leave a review for your business on Google (and many other sites for that matter). And as long as you are not responding to the reviews at all (either positively or negatively), then you are not in breach of Section 206(4) of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. That’s because when a client writes and publishes a Google review, THEY (the client) are the publisher. Google is the owner and administrator.

This is important to keep in mind when dealing with compliance standards. But why should financial advisors use Google reviews in the first place? Here are three strong reasons why they’re so important:

1. Reviews Build Prospects’ Confidence

When leads turn to Google to search for an advisory firm, they will more than likely check out the reviews and those with more stars will bring more confidence to the searcher, as this proves that many people have found the work with your business to be favorable.

2. Reviews Help build Reputation

In a sense, reviews serve as a referral for businesses. Prospects are able to read why your firm is a good choice from people who themselves have tried your service and can vouch for it – what we refer to in marketing as “Social Proof”.  According to a Pew Research Center report about reviews:

  • About 82% of American adults consult online ratings and reviews when making a first-time purchase
  • 40% of Americans indicate that they nearly always turn to online reviews when buying something new
  • Almost 50% of Americans feel that customer reviews help “a lot” to make consumers feel confident about their purchases (46%) and to make companies more accountable to their customers (45%).

Retirement Matters reviews

In the above image, Retirement Matters has great reviews with strong write-ups. Not all reviews receive write-ups, as well, but it’s a great way to go even further into detail about why someone chose to give a company a 5-star review. It builds trust and accountability when you can read about someone else’s great experience, and this will really boost rankings.

3. Reviews Can Impact Local SEO rankings

Advisors who have collected reviews will be well-positioned because Google reviews also improve search rankings. Why? Think about it – Google wants to give its users the best possible experience. There are essentially 3 things that google reviews do that work to improve your SEO.

1. Local customer reviews build trust

Google trusts what other people say about your business much more than what you say about it yourself. Of course, you can taut all the benefits of working with you on your advisory firm’s website, and explain the value that you provide to investors — but when those same investors freely offer the same opinion via a review, Google sees their feedback as more trustworthy.

2. Positive Customer Ratings Drive More Traffic

Think of your own search behavior – whether checking out a new restaurant, searching for a hotel, or finding a lawyer – how important are the reviews of that business in making your choice? For many people, reviews from other customers or clients mean everything. In fact,  BrightLocal found that 57% of consumers will only use a business if it has 4 stars or more. If your business has a solid star rating with lots of detailed reviews, searchers are more likely to trust and click on your website. This added traffic sends a signal to Google that your website is authoritative, and thus worthy of a strong search ranking.

Forward Thinking Wealth Management

In the review above for Forward Thinking Wealth Management, having a review like this is a great way to boost rankings. Hiring a financial advisor can be a very big step for someone, after all, they are going to be dealing with your money and helping you plan your future. So when you see this kind of positive review about the great advice and how transparent he is, that really helps build accountability and trust for an advisor.

3. Local reviews tell Google what your site is about

When you’re building a website, having keyword-rich, detailed copy that describes who you are, what you do, and who you serve is essential to good SEO. Well-written copy (that fully describes what your business is about) and an informative site map make it easier for Google to crawl your website; in turn, this increases the likelihood that Google will serve up your website to online searchers.

The Google reviews your customers leave to serve a similar purpose. These online reviews let Google’s robots know what your site is all about, AND can even help fill in gaps that your website’s content may have missed.

For instance, maybe you have started offering hourly planning or a subscription service, or you have a really great monthly educational training that you do with all your clients – but you have never added information about this to your website. Clients who love this service and mention it in a Google review are providing the search engine with missing information about your business.

So, the next time a potential client searches “hourly financial planning near me” Google will keep you in mind.

What is the New SEC Advertising Rule?

The Security and Exchange Commission’s new rule seeks to update the advertising rule of 1961. This will acknowledge ongoing changes in marketing strategies and technology and mainly online advertising. The updated rule opens up a list of opportunities for financial advisors. And, as long as compliance standards are met, advisors can leverage online reviews, endorsements, testimonials, and performance in their marketing efforts.

For more insights on the updated rule, check out the SEC’s website.

For advisors, new marketing methods mean more chances to create content than ever before and the updated SEC rule will bring about these 5 key opportunities for advisors looking to get a head start on the competition.

Always consult with your compliance team before establishing any new marketing strategies. The new rule will only go into effect 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. This has not happened yet.

1. Google My Business Reviews

Google Reviews can be viewed on your Google My Business listing and by including these, advisors can:

  • Improve their SEO: After your business has been verified by Google, Google My Business helps further your local search engine optimization efforts
  • Serve as an Information Source: As a review catch-all, Google My Business provides valuable opinions when it matters, during a search when visitors are looking for information
  • Contact Hub: Easy access to your website and contacts

2. Client Videos and Testimonies

Videos are a great way to market your firm and you can now use testimonials in client videos. What’s great about videos is that you can include them in blog posts, share them on your social platforms, use them in email marketing, etc. When creating them, use clients that connect best with your audience so that you can resonate with them and touch on their pain points.

Twenty Over Ten webinar

In a past webinar, we focused on advisor websites and lead generation with the help of David Grace of Manulife:

3. Comments On Your Social Media

With an update to advisor advertising, advisors can look forward to the opportunity to proactively connect with their clients. By directly connecting with your visitors, it opens up the chance to leverage some of the best business-building benefits of social media. Advisors can now respond to comments on their social media platforms, as well as, share testimonials of public reviews as long as you have permission from the client.

Roy Larsen Lead Pilot review

We use this strategy on our social channels and recently posted one to promote Lead Pilot by using a testimonial from Roy Larsen, CFP®, AAMS® of Larsen Wealth Management.

4. Client Success Stories

You can create a testimonial blog series or client success stories as a way to leverage your reviews. Case studies and slides in presentations are also great ways to showcase the work that you have done by providing a voice from an outside party that you have worked with.

5. Testimonials on Your Website

Advisors will now be able to include testimonials on their website, which they were not able to do before. They can come from online reviews, client emails, or interviews, which will give visitors more of the confidence that they need to convert a client.

Wrapping It Up

It can be difficult to navigate everything, especially with all of the red tapes in the industry, but with the newly passed SEC Ad rule, we are hoping that these changes as advisors can leverage these reviews as a large part of your marketing. Receiving strong reviews is a great way to market your firm and get more referrals organically, and being able to include these in your marketing strategy will hopefully boost your qualified leads and clients even more. Before taking part in these new opportunities, remember that it’s still important to consult with your compliance team in order to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch.

Editing note: This article was originally published on March 19th, 2021 and has been updated to ensure consistency.

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About the author

Blair Kelly

Blair is a digital marketing assistant at Twenty Over Ten and has a passion for uncovering what drives online traffic and the highest engagement. She follows more animals on Instagram than humans and her greatest achievement is her daughter, Grey.

The content in this blog post is the result of Twenty Over Ten’s interpretation and Twenty Over Ten is not a compliance expert. Information herein should not be considered legal advice and financial advisors should consult with consult the appropriate authorities as needed including the SEC.

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