By: Abby Salameh, Chief Marketing Officer
Published March 28, 2018
Every advisor knows all he or she could be doing for their online presence. You have no doubt heard that Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media, email marketing, videos, and content marketing can be powerful tools to differentiate your firm, generate leads, and stay relevant. In addition to managing your firm and serving your clients, trying to stay on top of digital marketing can seem impossible. One Google search yields thousands upon thousands of results with a never-ending laundry list of strategies and tactics you can do to compete with other firms.
Many advisors don’t engage in online marketing because of these four reasons:
- Competing online is too expensive
- Without a certain level of technical knowledge, it’s too complicated
- Assume Google updates information automatically
- Simply don’t have the time to manage or monitor it
What if I told you there was a way to set yourself apart that doesn’t cost anything, requires very little technical knowledge (basic computer skills will suffice), and takes less than an hour to complete?
Introducing Google My Business for Local SEO
Google is the foundation for getting your business found online. Google My Business is a free tool that allows brick-and-mortar businesses to manage their reputation on Google Maps and Google Search. If your advisory firm isn’t listed, or worse, is promoting outdated or incorrect information, you could be missing out on valuable local clients who are searching for your services.
By taking advantage of this free platform for business owners, you will be able to provide your online users with a positive interaction with your firm before they ever contact you! Think about it: when you need a phone number for a business, driving directions, or hours of operation, where do you go? You likely head to Google. If the information you’re after isn’t available with a click or two, you might get frustrated and give up. You want to make sure your advisory firm’s information is accurate and easily accessible, removing any barriers for your potential clients. Even if your customer was referred to you, it’s highly likely that they will explore your business online before making a decision to contact you.
Take for example Private Advisor Group’s search experience. We have taken advantage of every opportunity Google My Business provides, and when you Google our firm there is plenty of information and opportunity for our users to take some sort of action. If we’ve convinced you to take a serious look at Google My Business, you’re in luck. Here are the step-by-step directions to getting your financial advisory business a shot at the top local listings on Google.
Set up a Google My Business Profile for your Advisory Firm
It’s important to understand that Google My Business (GMB) is one of many applications in the arsenal Google has to offer businesses. Others that are well known include Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google AdWords. If you manage all of your business’ Google applications from one account, be sure you are logged into that Google account before setting up your GMB profile. Don’t have a Google account yet for your firm? Create one and then proceed. You’ll head over to google.com/business, click the start now button and simply follow the directions. Fill in your business name and Google will search their directory to see if there is a match already listed. If not, follow the prompts to enter your firm’s information. It’s important that your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number) is consistent across all online platforms, so be sure you are referenced exactly the same anywhere your business information is found. For example, now is a good time to decide if you will reference “NE” or spell out “Northeast.” If possible, use your local firm number instead of a generic 800 number.
Verify your Ownership
Google wants to make sure you are who you say you are. There are several ways to go about verifying your GMB listing, but the two most popular options are either verification via phone or mail. You have the option to receive a verification PIN to the phone address you listed, or you can receive your PIN by postcard to your listed address. Note that you cannot direct the incoming call to a number different than the one you have provided. If your firm’s phone number is answered by an automated system, you’ll need to choose the option to verify by mail.
Utilize your GMB Listing to its Full Potential
Many business owners stop before they reach this crucial point. There is much more to GMB than simply verifying your business. Once you have your verification code, your listing will be “unlocked,” and added functionality is now at your disposal. Take advantage by fully optimizing your business listing by adding your website address, filling out your office hours, choosing a category that best fits your business and service offerings, and uploading high-quality photos of your office, employees, and your logo. The more information you provide, the more likely your listing will show above your competition. Recently, GMB has added updates that allow you to post regular updates, similar to other social media applications. This is an opportunity to add any new content in the form of blogs or business announcements.
Now when you search for your firm name + city you should see your firm’s profile appear. If you have any trouble along the way, check out Google’s easy-to-use guide. Building your GMB profile can help you show up more frequently in search results not only for your firm name but also for what GMB Insights refer to as “discovery” searches. These are customers who find your listing searching for your services, rather than your brand. Who wouldn’t want additional exposure and website traffic for free? Your profile is also a vote of credibility. Like I mentioned before, consumers are much more likely to research your firm before they ever pick up the phone. Make sure you’re represented well in the most popular search engine. Google is not the only free listing you can take advantage of. Optimize your digital footprint for your advisory firm by completing this same process through Bing’s system called Bing Places for Business.