Search engine optimization is a very broad concept in and of itself, and it’s one that creates a lot of confusion.
I’m going to give you 4 tips that work for optimizing your online presence. These are general tips, but they will provide you with a framework for how to start thinking about your current digital portfolio, and which activities might be more important to focus on going forward.
Four Tips for Optimizing Your Online Presence
#1)Optimize locally for your website, blog, and social media profiles
Most financial advisors and firms are focused on developing client relationships where they live and work. Of course there are always exceptions to this. However, a best practice is to make sure all of your digital assets are optimized for where you do your work so that you have a better opportunity to be found in that geographical location. Remember, Google places a big emphasis on showing “local” search results.
To optimize your website and/or blog for local search, be sure to include your location in the title tag, meta description, and keywords for your sites. If possible, include your local business address on every page of your blog and your website. Also, embed a Google map on your sites.
For your social media profiles, make sure to include your location in your titles and bios.
#2)Optimize your blog content with keyword phrases for what you want to be known as the expert in
Fresh, relevant, high quality content is essential to getting found by your target markets. A professional blog is by far the most effective way to publish content frequently that can be found and shared by the people in your target markets. When you create content for your blog, do your keyword research to determine what phrases those people are actually searching for on search engines. What language are they using?
If you don’t know where to start with this, begin with thinking about the questions that your clients ask most frequently, and turn those into blog posts.
Given that no two people get the same search results anymore (results are based on location, search history, and social connections), it’s less important to try to dominate a handful of keywords. Rather, focus on ranking for many keywords that you’d like to be found for, and that people in your target markets might search for. If you can achieve a good standing with 100 different keyword phrases related to your business and get 5 visits per keyword phrase to your blog each month, that’s 500 visits total. It all adds up.
Decide what you want to become the known expert for and do your keyword research. A free tool to start with is the Google Adwords Tool. There are many other keyword research tools out there as well.
Above all, high quality content is the best search engine optimization technique. Even Google’s own Matt Cutts says great content trumps SEO. Make sure you’re not spitting out canned content. Consumers and Google will know the difference!
#3)Build Quality Inbound Links Into Your Blog
Quality inbound links into your blog still matter, and obtaining these links requires some work. In many cases though, if you’re consistently producing great content for your target markets, you’re going to attract high quality links from other blogs and websites.
Be careful of spammy link building tactics and advice. Google is looking closely at “over optimization” in this area and will apply penalties to sites who don’t acquire links authentically.
The quality of inbound links that your site has is also extremely important. For example, getting a link back to your blog from an academic institution or an established online media publication can be very valuable in pushing up your site’s value!
Also think about finding local opportunities to develop inbound links for your blog such as guest blogging opportunities with other local bloggers, local charities or charitable events you participate in, and local organizations that you belong to.
#4)Be Everywhere in Social Media
I see a lot of recommendations from marketing people in the financial advisory industry instructing you to only focus on one social network. You can certainly prioritize your participation in the various social networks, but I’m a big believer in being everywhere, and developing a comprehensive presence. You have no way of knowing what networks that are here today that might be gone tomorrow (remember My Space?).
If you bank everything on one or two social networks, that’s a bit like investing all of your assets in one asset class. Diversify your social media presence, and allocate your time accordingly. There are great tools to help manage your social media activities such as Hootsuite and Buffer.
Building a presence on multiple networks not only helps you own search results for your name and your firm, but it prevents others from grabbing those digital assets that are yours if you claim them first.
Equally as important is the fact that Google is using social signals to deliver more personalized search results based on who you are connected to. For the most part these signals are gathered from Google+ and the +1 button (which you need to have on your blog). As Google places more emphasis on your social graph, they are keeping keyword information private for those who are logged into Google. This makes it more difficult to determine how people are finding you online, and underscores the importance of activating your social presence on Google and other networks.
Being active on multiple social networks gives you the best opportunity for success with the least amount of risk. Sound familiar? It’s a bit like the practice of modern portfolio theory. Asset allocate and diversify your digital presence.
All social media roads should lead back to your blog as it serves as the central hub of your digital marketing strategy.
There are additional ways to optimize your online presence, but these 4 tips should help you start thinking about where to begin! What do you think? Are you implementing best practices for optimizing your online presence?