Claire Akin runs Indigo Marketing Agency, a marketing firm serving top independent financial advisors.
We all know how valuable appearing at the top of Google searches is, but how do you get there? Allow me to share a few tips with you!
The idea for this post came to me from John Stanton of Seacrest Wealth Management. He wanted to know if there’s a way to write blog posts so they will show up for a given keyword search in Google. John provides annuity reviews in his practice, so he would like to rank for searches such as “Should I keep my annuity?”
This practice is known as search engine optimization (SEO). Showing up for keyword searches helps people find you when they need your help. But, of course, there’s a lot of competition for hot keywords and SEO isn’t as straightforward as it used to be. Here’s what you can to do today to get your blog posts to show up for specific Google searches.
1. Understand the Role of Google
It’s helpful to first consider this challenge from Google’s perspective. They aim to be the best search engine, which means they want to deliver the most helpful results. Google judges how helpful their results are by how long you stay on a given website, how much of a blog post you read, or whether you click through to other content on a particular site. They also consider website credibility indicators, like the total traffic to your website, how many other websites link to your site, and whether your site is connected to active social media profiles.
All of these factors give Google a glimpse into how legitimate and helpful your website is. Their algorithm for determining which search results to return for a given keyword search is constantly being updated to make their search engine better. No one knows exactly how it works, and SEO experts are constantly trying to play catchup.
2. Create Valuable Blog Posts
In the old days, you could stuff “keywords” into your website so that Google would think your site was highly relevant for specific search terms. This meant that you could put “Financial Planning” over and over on the pages of your site to show up for those keyword searches. But Google got wise, and now “keyword stuffing” is actually penalized.
Google calculates your keyword density, or the percentage of times a keyword is used in relation to the total words on that page. If you have a keyword density of higher than around 2%, your post will be punished by the Google gods.
The only way to show up for search results today is to create valuable and helpful content. Google knows if your content is helpful by watching the behavior of people who search for something and end up on your site. Answering a question well and keeping people on your site longer can help your blog posts show up higher in search results. For example, my blog post titled Ten Secrets to Promoting Your Event is one of the highest ranked posts on my site because it thoroughly answers a common search question of how best to promote your event online.
3. Focus on Only One or Two Keywords
For each blog post, focus on one or two keywords to write about. It could be “key person life insurance” or “ETF investing.” By targeting your content to specific keywords, you’re more likely to come up for those searches.
4. Put Those Keywords in the Title, Headings, and URL
Once you choose the keywords you’d like to focus on, it’s important to use them in the right areas of your post. Google gives hierarchical credibility to your post’s title, headings, and URL, so you’ll want to use your keywords in all three: the title, the paragraph headings, and the web address.
5. Add a Meta Description
A meta description is a 160-character (or less) summary of your blog post. Your meta description actually shows up below the title of your post in search results. It’s important to create an accurate meta description so Google knows what the post is about and so that people will click on your post in their search results. Most websites for advisors have areas to add your meta description. If you have a WordPress site, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin to optimize your meta description.
6. Make Sure Your Blog Is Mobile-Friendly
Because the majority of website traffic comes from mobile devices today, Google will penalize sites that are not mobile-friendly because they don’t provide a good user experience. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly, and if you’re not sure, check using this tool.
7. Optimize Your Images
I had a professor in business school that would fail students if they used irrelevant imagery in their PowerPoint presentations. He was so tired of seeing generic profit charts or a thumbs-up sign that he finally snapped. If your image was not relevant to the slide at hand, you would fail.
Like my professor, Google also likes image relevancy. They prefer that you use a relevant image and title your image appropriately. Did you know that screen readers used by blind and visually impaired people depend on images being labeled properly? Adding an accurate label to your images helps your SEO score. You can do this by editing the “alt text” for each image in your post.
8. Create a Lot of Content on the Same Topic
I wish there were shortcuts to mastering search engine optimization, but there aren’t. The best way to be seen as credible and helpful in Google’s eyes is to create a lot of great content on the topic of your specialty.
One of my clients does this as well as anyone. Steven H. Kobrin, LUTCF, is also known as the life insurance guru. His blog posts cover everything you’d ever want to know about life insurance, including:
- The Guide to Buying Life Insurance (eBook)
- How Business Owners Use Life Insurance to Fund Buy-Sell Agreements
- Get Life Insurance if You’re a Cancer Survivor
- How to Evaluate the Credentials of Your Life Insurance Broker
- Will Your Life Insurance Cover Your Emotional Needs?
- Should Your Children Be Your Life Insurance Beneficiary?
- Premium Financing for Life Insurance
- The Blunt Truth About Marijuana and Life Insurance
I’m not kidding, Steve does an incredible job covering this topic. Each blog post you create on the same topic adds to your site’s total SEO credibility.
9. Link to Your Related Blog Posts
Remember when I said that Google judges how helpful your site is by how long someone is on your site and whether they click through to your other content? That’s where internal linking comes in. You’ll want to link to your other blog posts on related topics to give readers helpful information and keep them on your site longer. Aim for at least three internal links per post.
10. Get Others to Link to Your Post
Getting other websites to link to your site, or “backlinking,” used to be the biggest trick in the SEO book. But then SEO specialists spent their time adding links to their clients’ posts in the comments of other websites and Google got wise.
Today, backlinking isn’t as powerful as it used to be, but having other credible sites link to your post will help your SEO. Publish your posts on other related sites, share with professional partners, and let key influencers know about your content. Every time an industry leader like Michael Kitces links to one of my blog posts, that post gets a big SEO boost.
11. Share by Email and Social Media
If you found an incredibly valuable blog post on a topic that interested you, what’s the first thing you would do? You’d share it via email or on social media. A lot of “shares” gives Google a big clue that your post is valuable. Share each of your blog posts with everyone in your network by email and on social media.