We began 2012 with 582 million Web sites on the Worldwide Web. That is one website for every twelve human beings on the planet and yes, that includes the estimated 26.5% of the population that is under the age of 15.
So, you’ve built a Web site and you’re wondering why you aren’t generating more traffic. Well, you are certainly not the only business asking that question. In the context of financial services, while passive investing may be valued investment philosophy, you will find that “passivity” is not a viable strategy when it comes to advisor marketing.
Too many financial advisors have built "brochureware" Web sites with limited content offerings that are largely static with infrequent updates. In the end, these sites represent little more than online calling cards. Is this a bad thing? No.
However, while this approach is certainly better than nothing, it will do little to help a firm generate targeted Web traffic. In the words of noted playwright and author Oscar Wilde:
“Moderation is a fatal thing; nothing succeeds like excess.”
The question then becomes one of what can your firm do to generate traffic. Fortunately, there are a number of proven, cost-efficient approaches that a financial advisory firm can employ to boost its visibility and increase Web traffic. Unfortunately, many of these approaches are often outside of the firm’s comfort zone and may require skills that lie beyond the firm’s core competencies. That is OK. There are a number of qualified marketing firms that can assist you in this endeavor.
Let’s start by looking at the primary sources of Web site traffic: 1) search engines; 2) direct traffic; and 3) referred links. The focus then becomes identifying what tactic to use to optimize each traffic source. The available tactics tend to have one common denominator: relevant user content. It should be noted that the content in question, whether keywords or phrases, Web site pages, blog posts, articles or social network posts, should positively enhance the firm’s position, enhance perceptions of subject matter expertise and distinguish the firm from the competition.
Traffic from search engines, whether organic (free) or paid, is typically related to a branded or generic user inquiry. Branded searches would refer to instances where the user types in the name of the firm, an associate of the firm or a proprietary product or service offering. A generic inquiry could be as simple as a user searching on the term “financial advisor” or “financial advisor Dallas.” Thus, in a firm’s bid to get found, a pre-cursor to driving Web site traffic, search engine optimization (SEO) should be viewed as a top priority. There are a number of on-page and off-page techniques that can be employed to enhance organic search performance. However, these are technical in nature and are best handled by your Web development or digital marketing partner.
So, let’s focus on something that the firm can control: content.
Let’s assume that your Web site has been designed with an integrated blog, a key contributor to SEO. Every time the firm publishes a new article or blog post it is adding an indexable page to the site. The number of indexable pages is a key determinant of a site’s relevancy in the eyes of the search engines. Thus in simplistic terms, the higher the number of indexable pages the greater the potential for improved search rankings. Further, links to Web site pages embedded within blog posts and articles will improve both direct traffic and referred links performance, the other primary sources of traffic. Remember, articles which appear in the firm’s own blog also have a likelihood of being posted by others on their blogs.
Publishing and distributing a single article via the firm’s blog, social networking and directory submission efforts can yield multiple links. How, you ask? Given that these articles contain links that point directly back to the firm’s Web site, you will increase traffic from referred links.
To enhance the efficacy of your content creation efforts, start by reviewing your site analytics to identify the top referring keywords and phrases. Then target topics which relate to those keywords for your content development efforts.
In so doing, you will both appeal to site visitors and readers of your blog and assist in attracting investors searching for information on a key topic, whether that pertains to retirement planning, fixed income investing, portfolio diversification or the myriad of items that you might address in your articles.
Once published to your Web site, blog posts and articles can now be repurposed for broader distribution. This can include posts on your social networks, distribution to e-magazines, article submission directories or social bookmarking sites such as Twitter, Reddit and StumbleUpon. Additionally, this content can also be distributed to clients and prospects via your e-mail marketing program. Thus the firm’s investment in content development can be directly leveraged to expand firm visibility and traffic from each of the three primary sources of website traffic.
Cliff Campeau is a partner with Evolutionize LLC and a regular blogger on financial services marketing best practices. Evolutionize specializes in providing independent financial services firms with a suite of proven practice development solutions, including Web site development, inbound and outbound marketing tools and compliant social media marketing program support. Campeau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.