Investing in a website for your firm is a waste of money unless it can perform well on search engines.
While searches for terms such as 'independent financial advisers' may not exactly be setting the web alight, it is nevertheless crucial for IFAs to capture any potential business online.
Here are our top tips to help you make the most of your web presence:
Find the Keywords
At the heart of search engine optimisation (SEO) are keywords. These are the terms potential clients are searching for and will hopefully bring them to a website. To find out what these keywords are, as well as the latest search trends, try Google's AdWords Keyword tool. Then make sure every page of the site has them, although excessive use can lead to being labelled as spam.
Another key aspect of SEO is making sure a website is kept up to date with fresh content. Leave a website unchanged for too long and it will plummet down the Google rankings, so plenty of new copy and information is always welcome.
A blog can be a useful way of keeping sites up to date and it provides an opportunity to use some of the keywords that people may be searching as a result of the news agenda. Free tools such as Blogger and Wordpress can make blogging easy.
Google recently adjusted its search algorithm to take into account the speed of websites, meaning excruciatingly slow loading times should be a thing of the past. This can come down to choosing the right web hosting company and level of service to cope with visitor numbers. Avoiding too much video of animation can also increase speeds.
Make website easier to navigate
Search engines do mimic human behaviour to a large engine to some extent, so websites that are easier to navigate and well-indexed are more likely to perform well on Google.
Getting other websites to link back is a crucial part of SEO. Social media is a great way of doing this, so sharing buttons for Twitter and Facebook are vital. Of course, this requires content that visitors will feel is worth sharing in the first place.
Use web analytics and webmaster tools
There is a wide range of analytics and webmaster tools that website owners can use to find out exactly how they are performing online and whether any investments in SEO or advertising are actually paying off. Google Analytics provides data ranging from basic hit numbers to in-depth conversion and bounce rates.
The alternative to organic SEO is pay-per-click advertising. In Google, AdWords links are posted at the top and along the right-hand side. The same keywords are relevant in both, although the price will depend on the demand and ‘auction depth'.
Know your seasons
As with any aspect of businesses, activity online changes throughout the year, so it is vital that, before committing to any pay-per-click campaign, IFAs know they are doing it at the right time. A recent white paper from Google sets out when people are searching for financial advice.
According to Lighthouse Temple IFA Richard Bishop, who blogs on marketing, it is important to make sure websites meet local demand by mentioning nearby towns or cities. This ensures that visitors are potential clients rather that being on the other side of the country.
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