In the age of digital marketing, being found online is the difference between success and failure. And never more so than today, with online interactions and remote working looking likely to stay for the foreseeable future.
If your clients and prosects are looking for wealth management advice, they are going to look online – researching possible advisers and solutions, and seeking information to narrow down their choice.
With digital marketing predicted to again grow in importance during 2021, it’s more crucial than ever that your firm’s name is immediately visible when people search for wealth management advisers online.
What is SEO and how does it work?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), is the process of making your website easily found in Google – and, to a lesser extent, other search engines, but today it’s the ubiquitous Google that matters most. As of February 2021, it was calculated that 92% of all searches were done via Google. Making sure your website is seen – which means making it onto the first page of search results, and as high up as possible – is essential.
The organic results you see in search engines; that is, the results that aren’t a result of paid links, are built via a complex mathematical algorithm the search engine uses to rank web pages.
Every page on every website is ranked by a ‘spider’ (sometimes referred to as a crawler or robot), whose job is to trawl websites, following links from one page and one site to another. The results of this trawl feed into the search engine index and determine where your page appears in the ranks, based on a number of criteria including:
- Your website content
- How easily navigable the site is
- Whether it is linked to from other websites, and how highly Google values these other sites
Essentially, a points system collates the spider’s findings and allocates you a rank accordingly.
And this rank isn’t static; it can change daily or more often, depending on the content you and others have on your sites. Every so often, the search engines introduce updates that amend their algorithms, making it even more important that you look at your SEO rankings on a regular basis and fix any issues that might be affecting your position.
Why is SEO important for wealth management firms?
The financial services market, and wealth management in particular, is highly-competitive. With increasing numbers of searches being done online – not just for wealth management or financial advice, but across the board – remaining visible online is vital.
As well as being a very competitive sector, wealth management is a very internet-friendly one. Financial services overall is an area where people are used to going online for answers: to compare insurance costs; to research loans and bank accounts; to look for credit cards and financial advisers.
SEO can make you visible to the people who are looking for you, and in this sense is a very cost-effective investment of your time and budget.
How to improve SEO
There are two aspects when it comes to SEO – the technical elements, and the less technical, more content-led ones.
Without going too deeply into the technical aspects – a good SEO agency will be able to advise you on issues like missing H1/H2 tags, crawl errors and HTTPS status – there are a number of key, less technical steps you should take to improve your website’s SEO.
- Make sure your content is SEO-friendly
The content you post, the words you use and where you place them on your site can all have a huge impact on SEO.
Google ranks sites using a complex hierarchy that uses keywords and keyphrases to assess a site’s relevance to the user’s search.
Keywords and keyphrases are the words, phrases and questions you think your potential customers will use when searching for the products and services you offer. Identify these and make they are well-represented in your site content. Don’t go over the top though! – ‘keyword stuffing’, where sites simply flood their writing with keyphrases, is a recognised thing, and something Google will mark you down for.
There are numerous free keyword research tools (including Google’s own) which you can use to identify the important words, phrases and sentences for your clients.
Once you’ve done your research, make sure you include a range of keyphrases in your content. ‘Naturally’ is the watchword here – as above, no keyword stuffing, and make sure any you do use are in context and uncontrived. Search engine spiders can easily recognise where keywords have been shoe-horned into text, or where too many have been used in an attempt to boost rankings.
Pages like glossaries – where you can legitimately add lots of keywords – can be a helpful addition to your site if you’re struggling to include some of the terms you identify.
- Keep it current
Having SEO-friendly content isn’t a one-time job: you also need to update your site frequently. Search engine spiders crawl your site regularly; if they detect that content rarely changes, you will be marked down.
Some good ways to keep your content fresh include:
- Writing a blog on a weekly or monthly basis
- Sharing thoughts on relevant news stories
- Publishing press releases online
- Writing regular articles or thought pieces
As well as impressing search engine spiders, this type of content will provide site visitors with a reason to return. This brings us to an important point – you should always write for your reader. In your case, your audience is individuals looking for wealth management advice.
The fundamental aim of your content shouldn’t be to impress Google, it should be to provide a relevant and useful experience for your readers. This, ultimately, is what Google’s assessments are aiming to measure; how good is your site at giving its users what they’re searching for. Write for your reader – bearing in mind these SEO tips – and search engine success should follow.
- Have the right content in the right place
This is erring towards the more technical aspects of SEO, but alongside the right words, you also need to make sure you include your keyphrases in the right places.
Every web page has a Title Tag (the title of the web page), a Meta Tag (the summary information that you see in search engine results) and a Description Tag (the content of the actual webpage). By default, the website will create these tags – but by going into the html code (again, depending on how tech-savvy you are, this may be a job for an external web agency), you can edit them so they include the keywords you want to be associated with.
- Optimise your site structure
The way your site is configured will also have a big impact on SEO. Adding a site map will work to your advantage; spiders will use this to make sense of your webpages and work out where to go. Ideally, all pages should only be one click away from your homepage, for ease of navigation.
- Increase the number of internal and external links
In part, search engine spiders assess a website by the number of external links it has – i.e. the number of other pages that point people to the site. Google and other search engines use links from other credible sites as shorthand that your site is offering something valuable and respected.
Encouraging other sites to link to yours can pay dividends in terms of your ranking. ‘Credible’ is the all-important word here; search engine spiders can tell if the pages linking to yours are relevant and trustworthy and won’t give you credit if they’re not.
Links between pages on your site are also important. Cross-linking the various pages on your website will also boost your SEO; the more links a page has, the higher the search engine spiders will score that page. Cross-links can also make it easier for spiders to crawl your pages, helping with navigation brownie points. But as with the keywords and external links – don’t go overboard. It’s a fine balance, and Google will penalise sites with too many cross-linking pages.
- Mobile compatibility
By June 2019, over half of all online searches were done on mobile devices. One of Google’s criteria when ranking sites is the mobile-friendliness of a site; making sure yours works as well on the move as it does on a PC or laptop is an important step in your SEO journey.
Make sure your site that meets Google’s mobile compatibility standards if you want to be ranked above your competitors.
Site accessibility – making your site usable and accessible for everyone – is also an important point. And not just from an SEO perspective; having an accessible website is obviously good practice, and is a legal requirement in many places, including the EU under the European Accessibility Act.
But in the context of SEO, whether your site provides a good experience for people with any auditory, cognitive, physical, neurological or visual issues also impacts how you are judged in search engine rankings. Accessibility also covers things like situational impairments – whether you are accessing a site on the move, with varying internet connection, for instance, or reading it in bright sunlight.
As with web content more broadly, SEO shouldn’t be your primary concern when looking at the accessibility of your site – but improving accessibility to drive a better user experience will have the positive side-effect of improving your SEO.
Make SEO work for your wealth management business
Hopefully this has given you a quick overview of SEO’s benefits, and how you can achieve them for your firm.
It might seem like another job on a never-ending marketing ‘to-do’ list, but investing your time in SEO will pay dividends in terms of your visibility. Streamlining other aspects of your marketing execution could help you to free up time for this; that’s where Perivan can help.
We can help you with a range of marketing services, including our market-leading Enable software, which allows you to create professional marketing collateral more quickly and simply, our brand and design expertise and experienced design studio. Partnering with Perivan will lighten the load for you – giving you time to focus on new projects, like SEO. Just get in touch to find out more.