Optimizing your advisor website for search engines like Google is certainly a hot topic lately and for a good reason! When it comes to SEO (search engine optimization), this is something that many financial planning firms want to excel in so that they can drive more traffic to their website, which in turn, can mean more potential leads. So, what exactly do you begin? There’s hundreds if not more factors that play into where your site ranks in search engines. Today we’re distilling the top 10 site-level SEO ranking factors for advisors and sharing instructions on how to implement these SEO boosts in a matter of minutes within the Twenty Over Ten platform.
1. Content is King
You have probably heard the saying “content is king” for a very long time now. When it comes to SEO in 2018, this has still not changed. Google recognizes and rewards content that will ultimately help its users. As marketers, the most important thing for us to remember is that we should be creating content that is relevant and helpful to our site users as well as searchers.
At Twenty Over Ten, we want to help make content creation easier for our users, that’s why we launched Content Assist. With Content Assist, our users have access to content that is fast, affordable and customizable. Built into Twenty Over Ten’s proprietary website-builder, users are able to choose blog posts by category (retirement, home-buying, young adults, etc.), load them into their website, and then edit and further optimize the content for search engines. Advisors have the ability to customize and edit the content to add their voice, SEO keywords, and further promote their expertise, or use the content as-is.
While you’ll often hear us say to keep it short and sweet, with SEO, it is a good rule of thumb to have at least 2,000 words on your webpages to be SEO-friendly. Research by Quicksprout found that the average content length for a webpage that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words. The higher up you go on the search listings page, the more content each webpage has. Why is this so? We’re seeing that search engines and the social web prefers content rich pages and often times these more content rich sites get more clicks, which in turn, leads to more content. This also applies for your blog posts. However, remember not to ramble! You want to give your visitors and searchers the information they’re seeking in a timely and informational manner.
When creating content, it’s important to always keep your site visitors and anyone that may be perusing google in mind! What type of information will they be searching for? Is the content on your website relevant to them? Do not fill your blog, website or landing pages with useless jargon or long words that don’t actually bring anything pertinent to the table. Google has even stated that they will penalize any site that doesn’t bring anything new or useful to the table. They want sites that will provide value to readers, not just something that will take up space.
2. The Importance of External and Internal Links
What makes links so important to a website and blogs? If there is a legitimate backlink that your website is associated with, then it also makes your site look more trustworthy to search engines. Google keeps score of what sites have quality backlinks through PageRank. According to Search Engine Land, PageRank is Google’s system of counting link votes and determining which pages are most important based on them. These scores are then used along with many other things to determine if a page will rank well in a search. In addition, having a presence on social media and sharing on those platforms is another great way to increase inbound links to your site. As mentioned above, this can improve your credibility and will signal to Google that the content you post is popular and helpful, which in turn can help boost your company’s social profiles to the top of branded searches.
3. User Intent
In the simplest of terms, user intent is basically what motivates the user. And to say that Google’s algorithms are smart would be an understatement. They have evolved so much and now they can better understand what people mean when they type in particular queries as well as how different words interact with one another. As an advisor, it’s important to create content that will align with your target audience that may be searching for help or any type of topics that may align with their needs. For example, let’s say that someone is searching for the broad term “financial plan.” If the user is a younger millennial they may be hoping to find “how-to’s” on how to create their own financial plan. Someone who may be older could be looking for someone to help with a financial plan to prepare for retirement.
4. Understanding Clickthrough Rates (CTR)
Pages that get clicked more in clickthrough rates may get a boost in Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for that particular keyword. Clickthrough rates reveal how often people who view your ad end up actually clicking it. Each of the ads and keywords on your site have their own CTR. High CTR’s are relevant, because they are a good indication that users are finding the information on your website relevant and helpful. You can use CTR to gauge words that do well for your site and other ones that need to be changed or improved.
5. User Experience
Ever since Google released its mobile-friendly update in 2015, webmasters and SEOs have had to take “mobile-friendliness” into account as a ranking factor. With the mobile-first index said to be coming in 2018, your mobile site will be considered your “main” website when Google’s algorithm is calculating rankings, which will make a positive user experience even more crucial. When searching on a mobile device, users want to find what they are looking for both quickly and efficiently. When browsing the web on your computer versus a mobile device or tablet, the design will appear very different. For example, the size of the buttons will vary different, which can impact the way that you search. Every element on your website impacts a user’s experience and directly (or indirectly) affects SEO as well. Regardless if a user is on their mobile device, tablet, or their computer, they need to be able to be able to navigate quickly, even if they are not on the homepage.
6. Title Tags
A website’s title tag is an HTML element that specifies the title of a webpage. Title tags are displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs) as the clickable headline for a given result, and are important for usability, SEO, and social sharing. The title tag of a webpage is meant to be an accurate and concise description of a page’s content. It is important to start a title tags with a keyword, as these tend to perform better than title tags that include keywords toward the end of the tag. We recommend formatting title tags as such: Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name.
For example: “Key West, Florida – Financial Advisor | XYZ Planning”
7. Page Speed
Page loading speed is also a ranking factor for both Google and Bing. Search engine spiders can estimate your site speed fairly accurately based on your page’s HTML code. These are also known as crawlers and are used by Internet search engines to collect information about websites and individual webpages. Google has also been known to use Chrome user data to get a better handle on a page’s loading time. That way, they can measure how quickly a page actually loads to users.
Here are Twenty Over Ten we optimize all of our frameworks for fast loading speeds. Additionally, all images and uploaded assets utilize a global Content Delivery Network to ensure your page loads swiftly at all times.
8. Keep It Fresh
Many SEOs believe that website updates, especially when new content is added to the site allows for a website-wide “freshness factor.” It is important to update new content, such as blog posts on a regular basis, because this will often times result in more traffic to your site. If you continue to update the material on your site, then this will garner a trust between your advisor site and your users. You want customers to know that the information they are seeking can be found on your site. Frequently updated information also helps build your domain authority, which in a nut-shell is how much of an authority on a particular subject your website is.
9. Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness (EAT)
According to Google, E-A-T is among the top three considerations for page quality. When building content on your pages, you should always keep this acronym in mind. First, you need to show that you have the essential credentials and that you are an expert in your field. Next, it is important to show that you are an authority in the subject, and the quality of the conversations that you are having with users can show this. Lastly, show users that they can trust the page that they are visiting.
10. SSL Encryption
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, which creates a secure, encrypted connection between your web browser and the website you’re visiting. This allows both you and the website visitors to feel confident that all visitor information is secure. Back in 2014, Google announced HTTPS as a ranking signal.
There are four main benefits to using SSL on your website:
- Authentication – Ensures the servers we are talking to are who they claim to be.
- Data Integrity – Makes sure the data is not modified in transit between your client and the servers
- Encryption – Protects the actual communication from eavesdroppers so that they cannot tell what the communication is about
- SEO Ranking – Google now provides a slight ranking boost to websites using HTTPS.
We see many financial advisors incorporating client portals, file-sharing, or client forms on their websites, increasing the importance of a site with an SSL certificate. Even if your client portal takes users to an outside link (such as eMoney or MoneyGuide Pro login opening in a new window), users who are not aware of the difference (of being directed to a third party site versus staying on the advisors’ website) may get the impression that you are asking them to enter sensitive information over an unsecure network. At Twenty Over Ten, we understand the importance of keeping your website secure and also want to give you the best chance to optimize your site for SEO. That’s why we provide FREE SSL Certificates to all of our clients.
Need Help With SEO?
At Twenty Over Ten we can help! Our team of experts can help with all aspects of your firm’s local SEO.