This article is part of our special focus on the use of technology in financial planning
Your website is your firm’s shop window and a key business generation tool. But is it working as hard as it can? Faith Liversedge discusses the technical foundations every financial adviser’s website needs for it to be at the top of its game
So you’re working hard to build your online presence. You have a website that looks good, sounds good, but it’s still not bringing the clients in.
There could be a number of things that are letting it down, but the best place to start would be to lift the bonnet and see what’s happening from a technical perspective.
The technological foundations of your website are hugely important if you want to attract more clients. That’s because search engines rank websites on things like speed, security and clarity, as well as accuracy, authority, clarity and professionalism.
Why? Well it’s in their interests to deliver search results that most closely match the searcher’s query. If everyone who Googled “dog groomer Chester” was shown “dog walker London” or “puppies for sale Edinburgh” instead, then it wouldn’t be used very much.
But that’s not all, search engines also want to provide a positive experience, so they reward sites that deliver that experience. That means that even if your website is saying the right things, it might still end up on page 5 of the search results if it’s not performing well.
So how does a website perform well?
These criteria change frequently, which is what makes search engine optimisation (SEO) such a highly complex area. But there are certain things that every website should have for it to have the best chance of delivering a good experience – let’s start with the basics:
- Security – make sure your website displays the green padlock symbol. This protects your site, conveys trust and pleases search engines. Some browsers (such as Google Chrome) will warn visitors before they enter a site without an SSL certificate.
- Mobile responsive – does your website look good on all devices? Web design is also fundamental to a positive user experience, which is why Google rewards sites that are mobile ready.
- Fast loading – a slow site is frustrating. Visitors won’t hang around longer than a few seconds before leaving, and if they do, this will also affect your search engine ranking.
You can check all this for free here: https://website.grader.com
So that’s step one, but there are number of additional things you can do to optimise your website from a technical perspective, so that it has the best chance of reaching its target audience organically, and by that I mean for free.
(Warning, there’s a lot of techy, SEO-related vocab coming up!):
Tips for optimisation
- Set up Google Analytics –this will enable you to see how many people visit your site, which pages they’re visiting and how long they spend on each one.
- Set up Google Search Console – this shows you how search engines are viewing your site, from mobile site performance, to traffic queries.
- Submit a sitemap – sitemaps are important because they tell search engines where to find the content on your site.
- Carry out keyword research – this will give you a list of words and phrases your target audience are actually searching for, and how likely it is you’ll be able to ‘rank’ for them. This insight can help you to optimise your website and inform your wider marketing strategy.
- Write short, descriptive URLs –include your keyword in the page URL and make sure they’re short and snappy.
- Add title tags and headers – make sure your keywords are included in the title of your page as well as your H1 and H2 headers (your main and sub headers).
- Add meta descriptions – these are short sentences that describe what the page is about. This enables you to include longer phrases that your audience might be searching for, which search engines will pick up on.
- Optimise your copy – make sure your keywords are included in the first 100 words of the copy on your page. And make sure you have at least 100 words per page (but 500 is ideal). Check for duplicate content, which can harm your site, here: https://www.seoreviewtools.com/duplicate-content-checker/ Of course, you can’t simply ‘stuff’ keywords into the copy and hope for the best – the search engines can sus that. Your copy also has to match the user’s expectations – it must answer their typical questions and be readable and engaging. This increases the time people spend on your site, which reduces the ‘bounce’ rate and improves your ranking.
- Add links – use external and internal links within your content – this helps to show that your site is well-referenced and trustworthy. While you’re there, make sure there aren’t any broken links on your site. These will impact your rankings too.
- Optimise images –make sure your images are named using your keyword and make sure your images have an ‘alt tag’ – this also helps search engines to rank your site.
- Add a Google My Business listing– this lets you manage how your business appears on Google and allows you to invite customers to add reviews – another tick in the box for search engines.
You might still be wondering why you should be putting so much effort into your website.
The reason is because for an invisible service such as financial advice, there are very few tangible places you can express what you do for your clients. But your website is one of them. It has the potential to help you attract new clients, strengthen communications with existing clients and cement bonds with introducers.
But if your firm’s website is not expressing who you are to the right people in the right way, it’s not going to reach its full potential.
So it’s worth spending some time over.
How will you know that all of the above have been covered?
If this sounds like an awful lot of bother, don’t worry. You could send this article to your web developer or you could ask me to run a Digital Marketing Report for you instead. This would tell you exactly how you’re doing against the criteria mentioned here.
It will analyse your security, performance, keywords, traffic, user behaviour, sales funnel, content and design. It will analyse your social media profiles and provide tips on what you can do to improve them.
If that sounds useful to you, contact me on 07920 042240 to order yours now.
Your 6-page Digital Marketing Report is available to IFA Magazine readers for £150 + Vat.
Faith is an experienced communicator with a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the adviser profession.
She was Marketing Manager at Nucleus for 5 years, creating innovative and award-winning campaigns. Before that she worked for Standard Life, Prudential and Royal London.
In 2017 she set up her own consultancy to help forward-thinking financial advisers and planners to become more profitable through websites, communications and other laser-focused marketing techniques.
Find out more at www.faithliversedge.com.