In an increasingly digital business landscape, now is the time for financial advisors to readjust their branding and lead generation focus to search engine optimization (SEO) and online reputation management (ORM). With that said, it takes more than hiring a so-called SEO wizard to tinker with the backend of your website. Your business must actually be relevant in real life to grab those highly coveted top spots on the search engine results page, or SERP, to bring in customers.
These efforts are especially integral to the strength of small businesses, otherwise they can be lost in the mix of bigger businesses. This means engaging in SEO and ORM efforts like never before and finding a public relations firm that prioritizes building third-party credibility and the subsequent digital relevance that comes with it.
Google’s algorithms change constantly. Google is in the business of relevance, and no short-cut can trick the algorithm. An integrated public relations firm can manage your online reputation and find opportunities for success through Google more successfully than any other marketing vendor. Financial advisors must be relevant to improve their organic search rankings, and public relations efforts such as backlinking and earned media in credible outlets are what will drive SEO and ORM efforts.
Search Engine Optimization
To take advantage of SEO and rank high on the SERP, your business has to be relevant. To be relevant, you must earn and leverage digital media visibility. 80 percent of people use search engines for information on local businesses, so if your small business is not taking full advantage of Google’s features, you will be pushed to the bottom of the SERP. 92% of search traffic clicks go to the first page of Google’s search page, while under 6% go to the second page. It is important to be as high up on the SERP to establish you as a reputable expert in your industry.
With over 175 million internet searches per hour, over 40 percent of all click-through traffic is received by the top four results on Google. In simpler terms, if Google does not find you relevant, you’re missing out on a ton of internet traffic which could have helped you bypass your competitors, build reputable brand awareness and drive conversions.
Online Reputation Management
Anyone can fall victim to bad press nowadays. ORM is all about controlling what searchers (and potential clients) will see. 60 percent of financial service companies are investing in data and media monitoring that focuses on reputation risk to catch potentially damaging media and manage it, so their business can quickly bounce back.
To take full advantage of ORM and ensure that negative press isn’t showing up on the first page of search results for you or your firm, you need to secure coverage and publish content that is more relevant than the negative content (which requires strong public relations efforts).
“In a highly connected world where… reputations can be globally attacked with just a few keystrokes – A company’s reputation should be managed like a priceless asset and protected as if it’s a matter of life and death because, from a business and career perspective, that’s exactly what it is,” according to a reputation risk report by Delloite.
Bad press lingers in consumers’ minds more often than good press. In fact, consumers tell 15 others about poor service, but only tell 11 people about good service. If you do happen to have a couple of negative articles written about you, don’t fret. Public relations professionals are equipped to push that content away from the SERP and bring good press back on top so that your reputation is salvaged.
Where PR Comes Into Play
When working with multiple marketing vendors, one of them must be responsible for both SEO and ORM efforts. SEO and ORM go hand in hand; ORM leverages SEO, and without SEO, ORM is virtually useless. When using both tactics cohesively, maximum success will be driven by content, website and most importantly, SERPs. Because public relations is essential to gain relevance, it should be a public relations firm quarterbacking these efforts.
Backlinks, media mentions and other similar public relations efforts establish third-party credibility and improve your business’s reputation and relevance both online and offline. Consistently securing high authority backlinks from trusted third-party websites helps power websites and webpages up the Google ladder toward first page rankings for targeted search terms and key phrases.
Lexie Kilpatrick is an Assistant Account Coordinator at Flackable, an award-winning public relations agency representing financial and professional services brands nationwide. To learn more about Flackable, please visit flackable.com.