SEO 101, Part II: Ranking For Unbranded Search Terms
If you didn’t read our last blog about SEO, it’s important to note that for most advisors, trying to rank for unbranded search terms (ones where someone isn’t searching for a specific person or business; e.g., “financial advisor near me” or “retirement planning for executives”) isn’t the most effective approach for business growth. That’s because financial planning is a very personal industry, and most people don’t look for an advisor online—they ask their friends and family for recommendations and then search for them by name (a branded search) to vet them before deciding if they want to reach out to them.
That’s not to say that ranking for unbranded terms is wholly ineffective or impossible. It’s doable, and if you’ve evaluated your goals and determined that’s the route you want to take, there are several strategies you can implement both on your website and other places online to improve your rankings. Just know that ranking for unbranded searches requires an aggressive approach to SEO, and you’ll need a decent budget and time commitment to see it through.
ONSITE SEARCH-ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
If you’re looking to improve your rankings for specific unbranded terms, there are a few things you need to know about onsite search-engine optimization
Content is King
For any topic or term you want to show up for, you need to have a decent volume of content about that subject on your website, and it needs to be something you continually add to over time. That might mean adding a static page on your site that talks about the subject you want to rank for and then also publishing regular blog posts about that subject.
For example, if you want your website to show up when someone searches for “special-needs planning,” you should devote a substantial amount of content on your website to that subject. Simply having “special-needs planning” listed on a page of services or adding a short paragraph about it isn’t enough to make you show up in a competitive market.
Videos also work really well for search-engine optimization because they’re “sticky,” meaning they keep people on a webpage longer. Google measures how long people stay on your website, and when people are on your website for a long time, that helps it rank higher. To maximize the use of video content on your site, be sure to include transcriptions of the videos (which makes them ADA compliant, another factor Google measures) and add to the videos regularly over time.
If you want to rank for something like “financial advisor in Dallas, TX,” you have to actually be in Dallas. You can’t be near Dallas. That’s because if someone searches for a financial advisor in Dallas, Google is going to exhaust all of its results for businesses in Dallas before it presents results in surrounding suburbs. That means if you don’t have a physical space in a city, you’re not going to show up for a geographic search term like that.
The exception is if you’re in a small town targeting smaller towns near you. Our headquarters is in Lawton, Oklahoma, a community of about 100,000 people. Nearby is Elgin, a community of about 15,000. If somebody in Elgin searches for “financial advisor near me” or “financial advisor in Elgin,” they could very well get results for businesses in Lawton because there aren’t very many advisors in Elgin to fill up the first page of Google.
Short of that scenario, you have to physically be in the market you want to rank for
Meta Data is Essential
The other key to onsite SEO is making sure you have all your metadata in place—things like title tags, meta descriptions, alt image tags, schema, etc. These are all things any marketing agency or SEO professional can help you with, but they essentially make up the code of a website that helps search engines understand what each page of a website is about
COMPETING IN THE GOOGLE GAME
In the realm of SEO, there are lots of factors that determine who ranks where. If you want to rank high in a competitive market (i.e., most unbranded searches), you have to go “all out” in terms of search-engine optimization. That means having your metadata professionally optimized, creating and publishing a substantial volume of content about the subjects you want to rank for, continually adding to that content over time, and making sure you have a modern website built in a modern code language.
OFFSITE SEARCH-ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
Once you’ve done (or started doing, in the case of ongoing content creation) all these things on your website, you can pivot to offsite search-engine optimization, strategies you implement off your website to help it rank higher. That might include publishing press releases to generate verified backlinks (“trustworthy” links that lead to your website), updating your company information in online directories (consistency across all platforms is essential for good rankings), or creating social media ads to drive traffic to your site.
There are a lot of different elements to SEO, and the approach you take will depend on your target markets and growth goals. If you need help determining the best strategy for you or you’d like help optimizing your website, we’d love to chat with you. You can schedule a consultation with us below and in the meantime, follow us on Facebook for more marketing and branding tips.