The first page of Google’s search results has grown to become a valuable piece of real estate – especially in highly competitive fields like Financial Planning.
- There are over 100 Billion searches being conducted globally each month
- 75% of all searchers, 95% of those that click on a search result, never scroll past the first page of search results
- Search is the number one driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by more than 300%
- Search competitiveness – how difficult it is to rank for a search term – is measured from .01-1.0 with 1.0 being the most difficult. Currently, “Financial Advisor” is .97, “Financial Planning” is .96, and “Financial Adviser” is .99.
It is no longer enough just to have a website to rank well. Although the search engine marketing (SEM) industry sometimes seems to be trying to make it as complicated and confusing as possible with constant updates, changes, and conflicting information, there are really only 3 ways to appear on Google’s search engine results pages.
The Anatomy of a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
1) Pay Per Click Advertising (PPC, Google Adwords): the area outlined in red is paid advertising. There are usually 3 ads at the top of the page, and additional PPC ads running down the right-hand side of the SERP. To appear in these positions, Advisors are required to set up an Adwords account, select your keywords, and set your budget.
Advantages of Pay Per Click Advertising:
- Fast Acting: your ads can start appearing in SERP’s the same day that you set them up.
- Allows you to appear for the highly competitive search terms: successful SEO for highly competitive terms can take a lot of time. PPC can allow you to appear on the first page while you wait for SEO to work.
- Control Your Budget: Adwords allows you to set your daily and monthly spending limits.
- Pay only when your ad is clicked on: although your ad may appear many times (branding?), you only pay when someone clicks on it.
- Re-marketing: allows you to show display ads to identified groups (i.e. people that visited your site) as they move around the web.
2) Traditional Organic SEO: the orange area displays the organic listings – those listings appear because Google recognizes them as a site that is relevant and authoritative for that search query. Depending on the search subject, there will be 0-4 organic listings after the PPC ads, but before the “local” listings. There are usually more after the “local’ listings as well.
Traditional SEO has 3 components:
- On-Page: keyword based work that involves changes to your actual web pages. Primarily affects Google’s perception of your relevance.
- Off-Page: as suggested by its name, off-page elements are those SEO factors that occur away from your website – you generally have less control over these factors. Examples of off-page factors include encouraging backlinks through outreach, blogging, social media, etc.
- Technical SEO: making sure your site functions well, that it loads quickly, and that the search engines are able to index your pages.
Advantages of Traditional SEO:
- You don’t have to pay when your listing is clicked on.
- More searchers click on organic ads (compared to PPC ads).
- You can be optimized for more keywords
- You can optimize for multiple locations.
3) “Local” SEO: Realizing that most searches have a local intent – the searcher is looking for a local solution to their problem – Google created “local” listings for those businesses that have a physical address in the geographic location that the search involves. Local listings are shorter, include the address and phone number off to the right, and are tied to the Google Map. There are usually only 3 local listings, and they appear in the middle of the SERP. The Local optimization process combines specific local optimization and organic elements of optimization.
Advantages of Local SEO:
- process is more straight forward (compared to traditional SEO)
- your listing are tied to the Google Map, and displays your address and phone number, directions to your office, and a link to your website.
Thanks for reading. As always, questions and comments are both welcomed and appreciated.
Latest posts by Brent Carnduff (see all)
- Financial Planning Keywords that Trigger Google Maps - October 13, 2018
- The Ultimate Guide to SEO for Financial Advisors - September 10, 2018
- The 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing for Financial Advisors - September 3, 2018
- Why Financial Advisors Should Include Pricing Information on their Website - July 6, 2018
- Use Professional Photos for your Digital Financial Products - June 13, 2018