Financial Advisor Marketing & Technology

Marketing & Technology For Independent Financial Advisors

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Archive for November, 2010

SEO For Financial Advisors Without The Hype

To financial advisors, search engine optimization (SEO) is arcane. As a result, financial advisors seeking SEO assistance are often sold on hype.

A couple of months ago, for example, an advisor who’s been a client of Advisor Products for years, told me that he was thinking of moving his website. A consultant, who is now making the rounds with advisors, had told him Advisor Products could not build a blog site for him with social media features to help boost his website’s search engine rankings. 

So I asked the advisor exactly what the consultant was offering him. The answer: a WordPress blog site. WordPress is a free open-source content management system. Anyone can use it! If he wanted a WordPress blog, we could build it for him. Any web developer can! (A WordPress blog can’t integrate the Advisor Products compliance engine used by broker/dealers—at least not now—but he this advisor is not affiliated with a B/D and did not need the compliance engine. So we added a WordPress blog to his website with all of the social media features he was looking for and saved him from rebuilding his site from scratch.

Still, the episode alerted me to the fact that Advisor Products needed to make social media and SEO more understandable and accessible to advisors. Although we had produced about 10 educational webinars for advisors over the last couple of years addressing social media and SEO for financial advisors, we needed to do something make it easier to get started with SEO and social media marketing—something that would  it less arcane and more affordable.  

After months of planning, Advisor Products last week began offering a comprehensive suite of practical SEO and social media services geared specifically to financial advisors.  

Our approach is modular. It allows a firm with a tight budget to get started with search engine optimization of their website for local listings and map listings. But we also allow an advisory firm that already has done some SEO work to improve their search engine rankings by adding a series of blog posts packed with their keywords, profiling their target clients in SEO-friendly write-ups, or utilizing social media marketing. The six SEO services are:

Advisor Products’ suite of SEO services is different from others because we have clearly defined a full range of SEO engagements for advisors, eliminating the mystery so you understand what you’re getting. We’re not hiding behind a bunch of jargon and making promises we can’t keep.

One other way our service is different is that we’re going to teach you SEO techniques that you can use every day. Simple tips, like telling you to post comments on consumer financial websites like Mint or Motley Fool with a back-link to related information on your website, can improve your search engine rankings. We’ve written blog entries and provided educational webinars about ideas like this for many months, and we are now going to provide educational content regularly to advisors using our SEO services.

SEO is no longer something you can outsource to a firm and let them handle. The growing popularity of blogs, status updates, and information sharing on social means advisors and their staff must get involved in creating content to improve your search engine rankings.

What do you think? Are you mystified by SEO? Have the educational blog posts and webinars we’ve been conducting helping you? Are you going planning on using SEO techniques on 2011?

The Semantic Web And Financial Advisors

The Semantic Web automates activities that now require human intervention by structuring information on the Internet. In a few years, Semantic Web will enable your phone to alert you when you’re out of milk, locate a mobile grocery service cruising your neighborhood, and request a milk delivery to your door. The Semantic Web is a long way off from realizing its potential, but it is now powering search engines and that’s why advisors need to know about it.

The Semantic Web, a phrase coined in 1999 by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Internet, will utilize many computer languages and technologies to make machines talk to each other. One of the languages is HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language), the language of used to develop web pages.

In Web 2.0, standards are taking hold governing the use of HTML to program Web pages. For instance, the standard way of marking up text you want to emphasize on a Web page has been using <i> to format a font with italics or <b> boldface type. While tagging text with that code formats the typeface, it does not indicate how important the italicized or boldface information is.

Now, with the Semantic Web taking hold, the tag <em> (emphasis) is used instead of <i> or <b>. The <em> tag is one of many Semantic HTML tags that can be used by search engines to index information on the Web.

Web crawlers used by search engines to index information on the Internet now look for Semantic HTML tags to determine the most important ideas on a page. The Semantic Web thus automates a process that once could only be accomplished with human interaction and allows search engine algorithms to make information the Web more useable and seaerchable.

For advisors, understanding the Semantic Web is important because it enables creating a site that is easy to be indexed by search engines. The easier it is for search engines to index your website and understand the information it contains, the better your search engine results will be.

At Advisor Products, we now program websites using Semantic HTML. This makes it more likely that advisors with Advisor Products websites will be ranked higher by search engines.

In addition, our BackOffice content management system, which is packed with features for managing financial advisor websites, includes a user-friendly “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) editor that creates Semantic HTML.  

WYSIWYG Web-page editors allow advisors and their staff to changes on their website. These user-friendly editors are used throughout the Web to post text to blogs, status updates, profiles and other Web pages. But they are controversial because they often don’t produce clean, Semantic HTML.

Advisor Products’ BackOffice HTML editor is programmed to allow financial advisors to produce Semantic HTML and boost advisor search engine rankings.

Semantic HTML provides six levels of heading tags, tagged as H1 through H6.Search engines will give more weight to the text within these tags. But you must select Heading 1 through Heading 6 to use these Semantic HTML tags.

In addition to making it easy for you to post Semantic HTML, we are hand-coding HTML tags where needed when financial advisors purchase any of our search engine optimized (SEO) copywriting solutions.

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