SEO Best Practices

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For Professionals in the Financial Industry

As more and more prospects go online to research and find a service provider, being found is an increasingly important component of your overall marketing strategy. Search engine optimization (SEO) is essentially making your website easy for search engines to understand and find important details. This will make your website appear closer to the top of relevant search results since the search engine knows your website is full of relevant and valuable information.

User experience is a key aspect of the highly-advanced technology behind search engines. Keep user experience top of mind as you are making website changes rather than working to include as many keywords and tags as possible. SEO is not the best place to follow the rule that if one must be good that more is better. If the search engine thinks you are trying to fool it, it will flag your website to knock you off any searches.

Google and other search engines learn what is on your website by ‘crawling’ or ‘indexing’ the content. Robots called spiders follow all the links associated with your website, reading the content and determining when it is important to show as a result of someone searching for related words.

We suggest implementing a quarterly SEO review of your full website and integrating these best practices for all new content being adding to your website:

Image Text

Image alt text exampleAlthough the technology associated with crawling pages is continually improving, there are some parts of websites that these robots can’t understand; the most common are images and forms. One way to help Google understand the content of an image is with alt text. These are easy to create and are what the spider will read when it comes across an image. Without alt text, images show up as empty and irrelevant space to spiders.

WordPress makes it very simple to add alt text to images directly on the backend of the website. All you need to do is fill in the alt text box when media is uploaded or added to a webpage. Remember a title isn’t enough for spiders to understand what is in the image; you need to add alt text. If your website maintenance is managed by a third-party, always include alt text with any image you request to be added to your website, and request that they do an edit of your alt text.

Duplicate Content

In the early days of SEO, many people took content that was delivering top search results and posted it multiple times. Google and other search engines noticed this issue and worked to prevent it. Now, you will be penalized if there is duplicate content on your website.

Although you can have content that has the same message, the exact terminology needs to be different. If you need to have the same content in different places on your website, consider linking to it. Please note that this is not true for password-protected content. If you have information on your website where a password is needed to access it, search engines will not see that information, so these rules will not apply.

Links

Spiders sent by search engines use links to navigate around your website and ensure it is easy for visitors to travel as well. It is important to check that all the links on your website are functioning properly. Search engines will penalize you if you have a large number of dysfunctional links. There are multiple tools available to crawl your website and check for these links, including Google’s free Search Console.

In additional to traveling through links, Google looks twice at links within your content. It is important to hyperlink your links with valuable anchor text. A hyperlink is a link where the text that is displayed isn’t the link itself, and the anchor text is the text that is displayed. An example of a hyperlink is “Google’s free Search Console,” and Search Console is the anchor text. It is important that

  1. the anchor text is related to the content the link will take you to and
  2. is related to your website.

If either of those two things is not true, that will result in a lower ranking.

If your target market is less technology-savvy and less comfortable with hyperlinks, you can include “click here” within the link, but you will also want to include other terms in the anchor text as well. An example of this is: to access Google’s free Search Console tool, click here.

Keywords

Keywords are one of the best ways to let search engines know what your company and website content is about. Keywords are words or phrases that are naturally repeated and integrated into your website content. It is important to avoid keyword stuffing, which is just adding keywords into content without regard to when it makes sense for the readers. Keyword stuffing, just like duplicate content, will lower your results on search engines and hurt the reputation of your website.

It is important to create a balance between having relevant keywords integrated into your content without taking away from the experience of the reader. Blogs are the easiest place to create keyword-focused content. Create a blog about a problem that your company can help solve and include terms that people would search when they are trying to solve that problem.

You should try to focus your content around five keywords or less to help search engines know the value of these terms. It is also a good idea to try to integrate these keywords into your image alt text and links. If you are unsure what keywords to use, you can use Google to help you come up with ideas, or there are keywords tools in Google AdWords that can also help you generate some ideas. Some website options will also allow you to type them directly into the backend of your website. Contact your web developer to see if you have that functionality, and ensure you include only relevant terms.

Titles

Titles for your pages and within your content are all given more importance than just content by search engine robot spiders. This is simply because when you read content, you focus more on the titles, both for the overall page as well as the titles of the sections and areas within the content.

Your webpage titles should clearly define what the page or piece of content is about, without being lengthy. These titles should be around 50 characters or less. If possible, you should try to integrate a keyword into your title.

Within your website content, there are also H titles. These are the section headings like the TITLES text above in this post. These will appear differently based on the design of your website. On average, websites have five different H titles. The lower numbers of H titles tend to be more predominant (such as H1 and H2) and are more important to your search engine optimization. Try to incorporate keywords in these titles as well.

Backlinks

Backlinks are links from other websites that direct people to your website. These have a large impact on your SEO. Although quantity is important, so is the quality of the other website. Social media platforms are a great resource to help create backlinks, but can’t be the only backlink opportunity included in your SEO plan. Along with social media, you will want to ensure your website is properly listed in any relevant directory listings, especially Google My Business.

It is possible to purchase backlinks where other websites will direct traffic to your website, but that will most likely hurt your SEO. Search engines take the quality of the website into determining the value of the backlink. If the links are purchased, they will probably be marked as SPAM and damage your reputation and rank. Be very cautious if you decide to purchase backlinks to your website.

For financial services, it can be difficult to find relevant backlink opportunities, but they are out there. Find relevant websites within your industry and determine if there is a way to collaborate with them and create backlink opportunities. Public relations, press releases, guest blogs, podcast interviews, industry forums, awards, sponsorships, non-profit partnerships and more are great ways to build backlinks. Focus your efforts on client-facing education or local businesses or organizations your clients would be familiar with.

Resources

Since SEO is increasingly important and ever-changing, there are many companies and industry pros that are learning the newest tricks and sharing them. These companies are typically marketers who sell SEO as a service or relevant services like pay-per-click advertising, so SEO is literally an SEO-focused keyword for them. Although it is impossible to become an SEO guru, there are many people who are sharing their knowledge.

Here are some of our favorite free resources (and because they create great content, here’s a free backlink for them):

Always remember to collaborate with your web developer and have any website changes preapproved by your compliance. Since digital promotion is so regulated for financial professionals, SEO is more complex for you than other industries, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible. SEO should be a portion of a fully-integrated marketing strategy. If you need help defining your marketing goals and objectives or implementing SEO best practices as a part of your overall strategy, contact AdvisorPR at (866) 888-5333 or email us at Info@advisorpr.com.

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