Enhancing Your Digital Footprint: Smart Advice from SEO Expert Allan Slider of FeeOnlyNetwork.com
As internet searches increase exponentially, it is vital that financial advisors pay attention to their online presence. Platforms such as the FeeOnlyNetwork.com are dedicated to ensuring that independent, fiduciary advisors are optimally visible online and thus ever more accessible to the general public.
Every advisor profile works together to raise the visibility of a network of information that promotes the fee-only model. In addition, FON is among the most visible find-a-planner sites, serving a half million profile views in the past year. It also educates consumers about the importance of selecting a fee-only and fiduciary advisor.
FREE PROFILE VERSUS PREMIUM PROFILE
Swift: All NAPFA members (www.NAPFA.org) have access to a free profile and can upgrade to Premium features and service. What’s the difference?
Slider: All NAPFA-Registered Advisors and associate members have a free basic profile as a NAPFA member benefit. The free profile helps create a presence beyond the advisor’s website to promote their fee-only model and NAPFA affiliation. It includes their biography and contact information with links to their website and profile on NAPFA.org. These links can help accelerate search engine visibility and visitor interest and are critical to our overall linking strategy. Every NAPFA member should claim their free profile to take advantage of this unique resource.
Our Premium service, for an annual fee, provides all our features. We handle the setup which includes photo, logo, and additional information about them and their firm. The linking strategy becomes more sophisticated to increase search engine visibility and improve their website rankings. We craft a concise and structured introduction paragraph describing who they are, what they do, where they do it and why they are qualified. Important key words are linked to their website which further improves their search engine ranking, in part because of how well-established we are with the search engines.
Premium members get listed in zip code search and gain an enhanced listing in city directory pages.
SEO MAGIC ON PREMIUM PROFILES
Swift: Can you explain how you create your SEO magic on the Premium profiles?
Slider: Foremost, we provide visitors information about the advisor that they might not otherwise find. It’s the way that we link to outside profiles (NAPFA, XYPN, Garrett, ACP, FPA, CFP, AIF, CPA, etc.) that creates an extensive network of high quality and relevent pages, building the advisor’s credibility through the bona fides of those organizations
Our linking method is favored by search engines helping these outside profiles rank higher for the advisor’s key search terms. We also bring in any other webpages that reflect well on the advisor, for instance, we link directly to articles they've written or been quoted like on Kiplinger or Forbes, even niche blogs and local publications. We include their social media pages, Q & A forums, news releases, and community involvement – anything that helps demonstrate and validate their credibility, expertise and engagement. This creates a beautiful, comprehensive, and compelling single page overview. And the linking benefit is quite powerful.
Currently we have over 21,000 links from FON, including links to the websites and NAPFA profiles of every NAPFA member (3600 and growing). This significantly helps to promote fee-only advisors individually, and collectively, and promotes the fee-only model to anyone searching for financial services. Five years ago, if you searched for “financial planner” in a specific location you’d get mostly broker/dealer sites and social sites like LinkedIn and Angie's List. Today, because of our established network and methodical approach, the majority of first page results are FON pages, NAPFA member websites, and the advisors’ affiliation profiles.
FON has become a powerful force in putting the fee-only model and fiduciary standard front and center to the searching public.
WHY UPGRADE TO PREMIUM
Swift: If I'm a NAPFA advisor with a free basic profile, why would I want to pay up to the premium level?
Slider: With all of the expanded features, a Premium profile is a simple but powerful way for an advisor to grow their online footprint, raise search engine rankings, and get in front of prospects that are actively searching for financial advisory services. We build out the profile, do the necessary research to capture all the reputational assets that we talked about earlier, and apply the linking strategy. Premium profiles get about 5 times the views because of their enhanced directory listings and more compelete search engine optimization.
Plus, a Premium profile becomes a valuable personal marketing asset that evolves with the advisor’s fee-only career. It uniquely belongs to the individual – not a specific firm or
I personally do a consulting call with premium members to ensure we know everything about them. We review all of their online assets, provide feedback and recommendations on their website, and discuss their website SEO efforts.
TOP 3 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DIY SEO
Swift: It sounds like the consulting alone is well worth the cost. I know that search engine services, if purchased elsewhere, can be costly.
Slider: We will find the simplest changes they can make to their website that will have the biggest impact on their rankings and overall online visibility. Advisors can usually implement many of the recommendations themselves. A half-hour consulting call can sometimes accomplish as much as working with an expensive SEO consultant. I wrote an article on our blog on the top 3 recommendations I made after consulting on over 1,500 NAPFA member websites. It is usually the most basic elements of SEO that get overlooked.
DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SERVICES
Swift: How is FON different from matching and lead generation sites?
Slider: The difference is significant and I am glad you asked because this is one of my favorite topics to discuss lately as several “lead generation” and “advisor matching” services have come and gone over the past few years. Some of these sites attempt to gather as much information as possible from the prospect through a slick questionnaire in order to gather and monetize the data. In many cases the visitor’s information is distributed to multiple financial advisors and in some cases, targeted for continued marketing of 3rd party services. This gives an unfavorable experience to people that are seeking a long-term relationship with a qualified financial advisor.
FON’s objective is to give information, not get information - making the advisor’s details readily accessible without the need to register or give up any personal data whatsoever. A FON profile puts the advisor’s website, phone number, location, credentials and service details front and center and encourages prospects to connect on their terms without being bombarded by hard-sell phone calls and annoying emails.
We know that the best prospects typically come from the advisor's website, through referrals and word of mouth, so we set up the profile to support that at every level, showcasing the advisor’s credibility and expertise, hopefully leading to a direct contact from the prospect.
THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING
Slider: How do advisors know the strategy is working?
Slider: They’ll see an overall elevation of their online footprint. Their website will start to rank higher for important search terms. There will be more visibility of their online assets, affiliation profiles, credential profiles and any other articles and media mentions they have. The overall benefit is a larger online footprint and more pathways for prospects to find the advisor and appreciate their credibility and expertise. Also, there will be direct contact from prospects that find advisors through our highly visible search service.
HALO EFFECT SIMILAR TO GOOD PR
Swift: In a sense, this is do-it-yourself PR that enhances reputations through the halo effect. Can you address that?
Slider: Some advisors are frustrated if they can’t determine precisely where a qualified prospect came from. I remind them that they’re not selling chocolate covered strawberries through Facebook ads with a coupon code. They are selling themselves.
Once a prospect finds one morsel of interesting information about the advisor, they’re going to look for more – website, FON profile, outside profiles, industry accolades, etc. They may not recall where they got the initial bit of information, but if you ask them, they’ll say, “the internet.” The larger the advisor’s footprint, the easier it will be for the prospect to find, validate, and contact them.
UPGRADING TO PREMIUM
Swift: What’s the process and cost to upgrade to premium?
Slider: Advisors can upgrade their profile at FeeOnlyNetwork.com/signup for $348 annually. Most NAPFA members are already in the system and only need to select the free or Premium service. If an advisor selects the Premium service we take it from there, building out their profile within a week and following to confirm a time for the consulting call with so I can go over their profile to ensure it supports their efforts, as well as address their website and their marketing objectives.
NEW IN 2019: BLUECHIP WEBSITES
Swift: Is there anything new on the horizon for you in 2019 and beyond?
Slider: In 2019 we will launch a website service for our members through BlueChipSites.com. We’ve learned a great deal about what it takes to create a great website – one that appeals to both web crawlers and human beings. We will build websites on an open platform so that you can truly own your site and not just rent it on a proprietary platform. Our “own it, don’t rent it” model may upset some of the other website providers in the financial services realm.
Swift: Thanks, Allan. I’ve been a big fan for many years and am so very happy to see how well FON is being adopted by fee-only advisors.
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