The Savvy Financial Advisor’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

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If you’re a financial advisor, search engine optimization is one of the best marketing tactics you can use to attract well-qualified clients. Full stop.

However, it’s not a matter of shoving some keywords into your website and walking away.

No, you need to be strategic and thoughtful to rise above the competition in Google and have clients come to your financial planning practice.

Understanding Search Engine Optimization for Financial Advisors

Essential Guide - SEO for Savvy Financial Advisors from Sarah Moon and Co; purple and white graphic with a man and woman discussing paperwork

As a Certified Financial Planner® or other highly knowledgable financial advisor, you know the importance of marketing your unique approach and top-notch services—but you also probably are torn in many different directions and aren’t sure where to put your limited marketing resources.

At SM&Co, we absolutely believe that just about any marketing tactic can work, as long as it’s aligned with your strengths and reaches your ideal audience. We’ve seen CFP clients thrive using tactics as diverse as engaging in Facebook groups or tabling at community events.

Opportunities abound if you focus on reaching your clients where they’re at!

However, it’s easy to make the argument that search engine optimization (SEO) should be core part of your marketing ecosystem. Statistically, it’s one of the most effective marketing tactics. While the return on investment varies across industries and individual businesses, we’ve seen reports of the ROI of SEO ranging from 300% up to 1300%, which has proven true for our business here as well.

In this article, I’ll share exactly what SEO is, why it is important for financial planners, what the “secret” to successful financial advisor website search engine optimization is, the most commonly missed piece of financial services SEO, and how it all works together.

What is search engine optimization?

Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your website to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). The goal of SEO is to increase the quantity and quality (remember this bit!) of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.

At SM&Co, we take it a step farther and focused on two other core areas of SEO:

  1. Conversion optimization; and
  2. Thought leadership development.

(I’ll get to why that’s so important in a minute.)

Why is SEO important for Financial Advisors?

In the simplest terms, SEO is important for financial planners because it helps potential clients find your website when they search for financial planning services online. By ranking higher in search engine results, you increase your visibility and credibility, which can lead to more clients and revenue.

However, the simplest definition is rather inadequate in the case of a highly personalized service like financial planning. The real superpower of thoughtfully created SEO strategies for financial advisors lies in effectively “pre-selling” your potential clients on your practice, its people, and its ethos before they ever book a consultation call.  

You’ll find yourself triaging fewer poor-fit leads, signing better clients more quickly, and answering fewer frustrating questions over and over again when your SEO strategy is excellent instead of just okay.

How does SEO work for the financial planning industry?

SEO works by optimizing your website’s content and structure to make it more attractive to search engines. This includes using relevant keywords, creating high-quality content, and potentially building high-quality backlinks. Google uses complex algorithms to determine which websites are most relevant and authoritative for a particular search query. By optimizing your website, you increase your chances of ranking higher in search engine results pages.

Google Search Console Data - 90 Day Trend
A reputable SEO expert will examine at least a ninety day trend from your Google Search Console to identify patterns and opportunities for your financial planner website.

We take a content-first approach to SEO for high level knowledge business like financial planners. This is evergreen, high quality, authoritative content written by real humans to connect with real humans. 

Most SEO advice you’ve found online is probably very generatlized and focused on product sales—not long-term relationships or complex, nuanced services. We call this the “White T-Shirt Problem.” Your business needs far fewer leads than the businesses that most SEO advice is designed for! 

This is why the content-first approach to SEO is so critical to businesses like yours. 

Engineer Luck: The SEO Secret Sauce for Knowledge Businesses & Thought Leaders

Conducting Keyword Research for Financial Planning Services

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is the process of identifying the keywords and phrases that potential clients use when searching for financial planning services online. By understanding the keywords that are most relevant to your business, you can optimize your website’s content to rank higher in search engine results pages.

The key words (ha!) there are “relevant to your business.”

Too often keyword research results in irrelevant batches of keywords just to create vanity metrics for volume-based SEO agencies. At SM&Co, we believe this is absolutely the wrong approach. We provide fewer keywords, but they are always relevant and aligned with your potential clients’ intention when searching. 

On-Page Optimization for Financial Planning Websites

What is on-page optimization?

On-page optimization refers to the process of optimizing your website’s content and structure to make it more attractive to search engines. This includes using relevant keywords, creating high-quality content, and optimizing your website’s structure and meta tags.

This is the first thing we’ll do when diving into a client’s website. We generate some “quick wins” to move you up in the rankings and help more aligned clients discover you. 

How do you optimize website content for search engines?

To optimize your website’s content for search engines, start by using relevant keywords in your page titles, headings, and body text.

Then we recommend that you or your team (or an awesome writer) create high-quality content that provides value to your readers and includes relevant keywords. But it’s not just “create content,” nope! Instead, for knowledge businesses such as wealth managers or financial advisors, we urge you to use the topic cluster approach to build long-term authority in Google.

Best practices for on-page search optimization.

  • Use meta tags to provide search engines with information about your website’s content and structure.
  • Use relevant keywords in your page titles, headings, and body text
  • Create high-quality content that provides value to your readers
  • Use meta tags to provide search engines with information about your website’s content and structure
  • Optimize your website’s structure and navigation to make it easy for search engines to crawl and index your pages

SEO Pro Tips for Financial Advisors Using Squarespace

Squarespace users have special SEO considerations, and you may not find some of the blanket advice out there particularly useful, as it’s typically operating under the assumption you’re a WordPress user (we love both platforms for your industry!).

  • Squarespace does not have a real SEO plugin (there are some browser-based extensions, but that’s different), so some elements will need to be implemented manually, such as Schema (a technical thing that structures your content in a special way)
  • SEO experts often recommend website structures that are not supported by Squarespace. Our advice is that this is “workaround-able,” and not a reason to change platforms.
  • Thoughtful content strategy is MORE important for Squarespace users, as our longterm data collection efforts (our team is quite literally the original Squarespace SEO agency, so it’s been a loooong time!) indicate that this is the make or break tipping point for Squarespace sites performing well in the search engine.
  • There are certain technical issues related to the faux pages Squarespace generates for categories and tags that consistently pop up on Squarespace websites and we have a few simple fixes related to no-indexing those issues so they don’t cause you harm.
  • Squarespace sites can be a bit slower than WordPress based sites, but speed is only one ranking factor, so we don’t worry too much as long as you’re practicing correct image compression for SEO and similar.

Off-Page Optimization for Financial Planning Websites

What is off-page optimization?

Off-page optimization refers to the process of building high-quality backlinks to your website from other authoritative websites. Backlinks are an important ranking factor for search engines, as they indicate that other websites consider your content to be valuable and authoritative.

Sarah Moon & Co optimized Google Business Profile
Google Business Profiles make a massive difference to service-based businesses like yours and mine. Most aren’t properly optimized, so you have a big opportunity here!

How to build high-quality backlinks for financial planning websites?

To build high-quality backlinks for your financial planning website, start by creating high-quality content that provides value to your readers. Build relationships so you can ask colleagues and other connected businesses to link to your content, appear on their podcasts, or write a guest article. Participate in online forums and communities related to financial planning to build brand awareness. 

Another great tool you have at your disposal for off-page optimizations is your Google Business Profile. This is one of the best ways to reach searchers near to you—proximity is a critical ranking factor too many of us overlook. (I bet a lot of your competitors have!)

Here’s a quick checklist for off-page optimization:

  • Create high-quality content that provides value to your readers using the topic cluster method
  • Build relationships with industry colleagues and related service providers and appear on podcasts, write guest posts, or ask them to link to your fabulous educational content
  • Participate in online forums and communities related to financial planning to build relationships and brand awareness
  • Monitor your backlink profile and disavow any low-quality or spammy backlinks

The “secret” to excellent financial planning website SEO.

Remember how I mentioned thought leadership a few minutes ago? This is where that comes into play.

Much like the industry as a whole, the easiest, most effective way to reach great heights in Google is with smart niching of your content. And strategic thought leadership plays a role here.

Too often we see financial advisors being given SEO strategies that don’t reflect their unique niches or methods. Get specific about your Zone of Genius and let your potential clients know all about it! 

Do you primarily serve childfree folks? LGBTQ professionals? Large families? Small business owners who need succession strategies? Folks who’ve inherited funds? Divorced women? First generation Americans?

These are all amazing niches and your content marketing and SEO should follow your niche. 

Even if you don’t have a demographic profile you serve, you likely have threads that tie your audience together. Maybe your clients care about ESG investments, or are passionate about charitable giving, or have dreams of retiring early. Perhaps you focus on investing versus planning or vice versa. There are always focused opportunities to walk up to your audience and wave hello in the search engine.

Again, speak to these issues and your SEO will be more effective and you’ll have far more successful consultation calls with prospective clients. 

Where do most financial planner website SEO strategies go wrong?

When we audit websites, the most common problem we flag on financial professionals’ sites is SEO implementation with no conversion strategy. With a traffic-only SEO approach, you get website hits, but no authority and no longevity.

I know this is a difficult pill to swallow, but I’ve seen way too many business invest heavily in SEO only focused on traffic numbers, and the ROI has been in the negative, and at times the reputational hit has been hard. 

If your only call to action in your content is making a phone call and there’s no way for your potential clients to explore further or make a less risky move like subscribing to a newsletter (remember, working with a financial advisor is scary and new for much of your audience, so even a consultation call can feel like a risk), then you’re—quite frankly—leaving money on the table. 

Today’s consumers are very savvy and they need to trust you before even filling out an inquiry form. 

Key Takeaways: SEO Strategies for Financial Advisors

  1. SEO is an essential marketing strategy for Certified Financial Planners®.
  2. By optimizing your website for search engines, you increase your visibility and credibility, which can lead to more clients and revenue.
  3. To implement SEO strategies for financial planning services, start by conducting keyword research, optimizing your website’s content and structure, and building high-quality backlinks. Monitor your SEO efforts to measure their success and make adjustments as needed.
  4. Be laser-focused on your niche and clients will come to you.
  5. Remember it’s not just about website traffic—it’s about building a relationship with your audience too!

Learn more about strategic SEO in these articles:

Disclosure: Please note that some links on this website are affiliate links, which generates a small amount of revenue to support the free content we provide.

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