Financial Advisor Marketing & Technology

Marketing & Technology For Independent Financial Advisors

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Taking The Snake Oil Out Of Search Engine Services

Companies providing search engine services are often snake-oil salesmen. Making your website appear at the top of search engine rankings and effectively advertising your services on the internet is dependent on a complex formula. The complexity involved lends itself to claims to having a magic potion for success. While it would take a book or two to give you the whole story, here’s an abridged version of what advisors need to know about search engines.

1. Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) are two different things. People who work in SEM and SEO cringe when these two terms are used interchangeably. SEM is pay-per-click marketing, like Google AdWords, the Web’s most popular SEM product. With Google AdWords, you bid on search terms (keywords) that you think people will use to find a firm like yours. When someone actually uses the terms that you placed a winning bid on in a search, your ad appears in the results of the search in the “Sponsored Links” areas at the top and right side of the results page. Coming up with the keywords that will trigger your ads on Google requires:

· time, thought, and an understanding of AdWords campaign techniques

· well-defined target clients and niches


If you want to create your own SEM campaign, read AdWords For Dummies by Howie Jacobson. I’ve interviewed Jacobson and he’s funny and personable, and his book is easy to read. (The interview will be published soon.) But just knowing Google AdWords won’t be enough to succeed. To create a successful AdWords campaign, you must first have a strategic marketing plan. You must know who your ideal clients are. That’s the tougher part of creating an SEM campaign. You can learn some basics of keyword advertising by watching Google's AdWords videos


2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a constant battle that most advisors don’t want to fight. The operative word in this phrase is optimization. SEO is an effort to optimize your website to attract traffic from search engines by writing the right words on your website. Google, Yahoo! and other search engines are always scanning the Web with “bots” and use complicated and unique algorithms to rank them. The algorithms rank your site based on how frequently you keywords are repeated in your site’s copy. So an advisory firm that uses the phrase, “Florida Power & Light executives with stocks options” on its site repeatedly would have a good chance of coming up high in search results if an FP&L executive searches for advice about his stock options by using that phrase in a search. Other factors influence the optimization of your site for search engines, including:

· URL. It is itself an influential search term in search engine algorithms.

· Frames. Search engines don’t like sites with frames.

· Originality. Search engines don’t like copy duplicated on other websites.

· Change. Search engines like new content (or content that has been altered).

· Broken Links. Any broken links hurt your ranking.

· Links To You. The more sites that link to your site, the better.


The algorithms weighting the many factors used by search engines in ranking sites are secret, change periodically, and experts differ about their relative importance in influencing site optimization. But because SEO is so byzantine, the field is rife with snake oil salesmen who collect money and may not do very much. SEOmoz.com, a reputable SEO company, published a ranking of SEO factors and an in-depth guide, which can help you better understand this important but complex area of internet marketing.

Advisor Products offers advisors SEO and SEM services offerings. If we host your website, you’ll find our search engine services priced fairly, and they are implemented by search engine specialists. Because of our focus on providing marketing solutions to independent advisors, we add value as domain experts when compared with other providers that do not know the financial advisory business. Moreover, with a 12-year record of integrity in serving independent advisors, you have the comfort of knowing we’re not selling you snake oil.

If you have questions about SEO or SEM for advisors, please feel free to ask me. That's what this blog is for.

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