The Great Wealth Transfer – Financial Advisor SEO & Social Media Marketing

The Great Wealth Transfer – Financial Advisor SEO & Social Media Marketing

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$30 Trillion Wealth Transfer Looms

 
The intergenerational transfer of wealth on the horizon will create both risks and opportunities for the financial planning industry.  Around $30 trillion in assets are expected to pass from the baby boomers, one of the wealthiest and largest generations in U.S. history, to Gen Xers and Millennials.  Preparing for this transition will be critical for any financial advisory firm.  How advisory firms prepare and handle this long-term trend will determine which succeed and which falter.
 
 
 

Future Market Shares Are Up For Grabs

This issue of aging baby boomer clients looms over the financial advisory.  “Studies regularly show that when wealth passes to another generation, in the majority of cases, the heirs change financial advisors,” said Gauthier Vincent, head of Deloitte’s U.S. Wealth Management practice. “The relationship between assets, asset owners and financial advisors is unraveling before our eyes.”

 

How advisory firms prepare for this transition will determine which succeed and which falter.  The oldest baby boomers are entering their 70’s, so the transition has only just begun.  As it accelerates, there will be an unprecedented amount of assets and clients up for grabs.  It’s inevitable that there will be a huge shift in market shares and there will be winners and losers.

 

Millennials Have Financial Advisor Trust Issues

The truth is, all financial advisors have their work cut out for them.  A 2017 Scottrade study conducted by Harris Poll found that 67 % of Millennials and 64% of Gen Xers feel their advisors sometime recommend products and solutions that are in their advisor’s own best interest.  The same study found that only 22% of Baby Boomers and 15% of Seniors feel the same way.

 

Just 18% of financial advisers say they are prospecting Millennials.  Ignore Millennials at your own risk, someday this will come back to haunt you.  There is no debating that at some point Millennials will be the largest generational segment of high net worth clients.  The “Great Wealth Transfer” is already underway & Robo Advisors are coming for you!

Millennials Are the Future

Relative to their elder counterparts, millennials may have fewer assets currently, but don’t let that fool you.  It’s a common misconception that appealing to them takes an unreasonable amount of time and money.   Yes it will take a effort.  Yes you will have to invest time and in certain cases money, but there are very few things in life or business worth doing that are easy or free.

 

Financial Advisor Social Media Marketing

 

The current perception is that most Financial Advisors work with people with a minimum of $500k to $1 million in investible assets and it’s ok for them to ignore everyone else.  I’m not here to tell you that appealing to the next generation is going to produce real ROI in the short term.  I’m not telling you to go out there and sign as many Millennial clients as possible, regardless of their net worth.  I’m just telling you not to ignore them completely.  Learn to speak their language now.  That way when the wealth does transfer to the next generation, you’ve positioned yourself to do business with them when it will equate to real ROI.  It’s similar to contributing to an IRA or qualified plan in your twenties.  It’s all about preparing for the future.

 

If you completely ignore appealing to the next generation of clients, I guarantee some of your competitors will.  I’m already seeing a huge uptick in the number of RIA’s that are implementing a more modern approach to their marketing efforts online.   SEO & Social Media Marketing do take time, so those who start now have a competitive advantage over those who are late to the game.  You also have to consider that not all of your competitors are human.

Robo Advisors Vs Human Financial Advisors

Robo Advisors should scare you.  They are already engaging the next generation of clients by affording them access to low cost, automated investment opportunities that were generally reserved for the ultra wealthy, like tax-loss harvesting.  Betterment, one of the behemoths in the industry, already has over $10 Billion AUM. Another example, Personal Capital, is an all in one platform that provides free financial planning tool in addition to access to an actual human financial advisor.  They have $5 billion in AUM as of October 2017.

 

Robo Advisors are carving out huge chunks of market share.  According to the consulting firm A.T. Kearney, AUM by robo-advisors will grow by 68% annually to $2.2 trillion in the next five years.  When it comes to Millennials in particular, consider the burden of hiring a real life Financial Advisor vs going to the App Store and scanning your fingerprint. 

 

Low Fees & Minimums Have Millennial Appeal

Robo Advisors have much lower account minimums if they have minimums at all.  Not to mention they usually have much lower fees.  A traditional financial advisor will typically charge somewhere around a 1 percent annual fee to manage your portfolio. Robo-advisors generally charge an annual fee between 0.25 percent and 0.50 percent of assets.  

 

Combine those factors with the fact that Millennials don’t depend on face to face human interaction and you can see why they are gaining so much market share.  Andy Rachleff, the CEO of Wealthfront, which has $5.5 billion AUM, recently said, “Young people would prefer to deal with software rather than people.”  As it turns out, he may have a point.  If you don’t believe me, read this and then check out the comments section.  Millennials have serious trust issues when it comes to financial institutions, including financial advisors.

The Market Gets to Decide

There is obviously another side to this argument.   There are a litany of articles stating that robo advisors will always fall short of their human counterparts.  Three guesses who wrote most of those articles.  Surprise surprise, a considerable amount are written by a Financial Advisors themselves.  So obviously there is a little bias depending on who you ask. The truth could lie somewhere in the middle.  Hybrid models that combine the best of both worlds could very well be the wave of the future.

 

As one of my mentors Gary Vaynerchuck always says, “The market gets to decide…  The cream always rises.” Financial Advisors can talk about why they are superior to robo advisors until they are blue in the face and vice versa.  In the end it’s not going to be up to any of them.  The market gets to decide.

Millennials Live & Communicate Online

 

Financial Advisor Social Media Marketing

 

As the wealth does transfer to Millennials and Gen Xers they will have to decide where and who to invest with.  Millennials communicate and do business in a completely different way than their baby boomer counterparts.   As I have discussed before, they grew up online and with social media.  So when they are making the decision of where to invest their newly found wealth, where do you think they will go to do their research?  Advisors need to understand how truly connected this new generation is.  Not just to each other, but to information.

 

Millennials want anyone they do business with to have a presence online.   That absolutely includes Financial Advisors.  The first thing they’ll do when considering investing with you is Google you.  They’ll review your social media profiles and comb through forums looking for reviews of your firm.  These generations trust businesses that have clean websites, robust social media profiles & positive reviews.  Businesses that lack these things are merely an afterthought.  The financial advisors that have the foresight to build up their online presence now will have a clear competitive advantage over the ones that do not.  

 

Especially when you consider that Millennials and Gen Xers are much more likely to NOT trust Financial Advisors compared to their predecessors.  So you can count on them doing in depth research of your firm ONLINE before they sign with you.  If you don’t manage your online presence, there could be negative reviews hurting your firm that you aren’t even aware of.

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Put Your Content Where The Eyeballs Are

Everyone has a smartphone these days.  People are glued to their mobile devices.  If we have a second of downtime, we pick up our phone.  That’s just the way it is nowadays.  Next time you’re at a restaurant, count how many people are looking at their phones.  People barely put down their phones to drive, it’s crazy.  A huge chunk of that time is spent scrolling through their various Social Media platforms.  

 

Plenty of Financial Advisors are rolling out premium content.  The problem is they aren’t putting it where the eyeballs are.  Why not share that amazing content you are already producing in places where it will get way more reach.  Sites like StumbleUpon, Medium & Flipboard are popping up everyday.    The more places your content lives, the more reach you will have.  It also happens to be a huge boost for your SEO too.

Get A Head Start On Your Competition

 Creating a robust online presence doesn’t happen overnight.  It takes consistent effort over an extended period of time.  SEO campaigns can take months to really take hold depending on the keywords you’re going after.  It takes even longer to build social media profiles with real depth and actual followers.  You also have to consider that if people aren’t getting their financial news & advice from you, they’ll be getting it from your competitors.
 
 
Acorns is a great example.  They’re a micro investing app that you can download in the app store.  They have a growing social media presence that is only going to get bigger as time goes on.  They already have have over 100,000 followers on Facebook & 10,000 followers on Instagram.  Millennials and Gen Xers get their news from their Facebook feeds.  Now they can get their financial news there too.  It’s time to dive in.  If you don’t, the future high net worth individuals of the world will be getting their financial advice from your competitors, human or robotic.

Conclusion

As you can probably tell already, I’m pretty passionate about this.  You may be asking yourself, “What authority does this guy really have?”  Well, I spent 8 years working in Financial Services and I still have active FINRA series 7 & 63 licenses.  I was the dedicated service contact to a RIA with over $2 billion under management for close to 2 years.  It was even a part of my life growing up as my Mother actually worked as the Operations Manager for a couple of Financial Advisors in the Bay Area.  So it’s safe to say I’m no stranger to the industry.  On the flip side, I also have the advantage of being Mark Zuckerburg’s original target audience.  Facebook launched in February 2004 when I was a freshman in college.  So you’ll be hardpressed to find anyone who has been using social media longer than I have.

 

The gist of what I’m getting at is that the industry is going to change because the client base is going to change.  Baby Boomers can’t live forever.  Things like SEO and Social Media Marketing take time to implement and those are the tools you need to appeal to the next generation of clients.  The firms that implement them now will have a serious competitive advantage over the ones that do not.  

Why Financial Advisors Should Be Utilizing SEO & Digital Marketing

Why Financial Advisors Should Be Utilizing SEO & Digital Marketing

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Financial Advisor SEO & Social Media Marketing

By and large, the financial advisor business has mostly been referral-based. Unlike most other industries, someone can’t easily find advisor reviews on websites like Yelp.  Just because that is the current landscape does not mean that will be the future landscape.  All business is moving online. 

That’s why Amazon scares the hell out of every brick and mortar retailer out there.  The fact of the matter is there is a huge void online in the financial advisor industry.  The first wave of advisors to shift their focus to internet marketing are going to cash in the most.  Mark my words.  Financial Advisor SEO & social media marketing are going to be an integral part of generating leads for all Financial Advisors in the future.

If your business is 100% referral based offline, you count on the kind words of your current customer base spreading to their friends and family by word of mouth.  Almost all communications are done electronically in this era, that’s just the truth.  The next wave of high net worth clients grew up communicating on Facebook, not on a landline phone.  This approaching faster than you think. 

For example, I was a freshman in college when Facebook was in it’s infancy and I’m almost 33 years old now! My Mom is almost 70 and she complains about how her best friend is always on her phone when they hang out, constantly scrolling through her news feed.  The future of all business is online, so get with it or be prepared to get crushed by it.  

What About FINRA and the SEC?

FINRA and the SEC have done an amazing job making it difficult for Financial Advisors to market online.  Anyone who has had the pleasure of obtaining their FINRA Series 7 & 63 licenses like I have is probably aware of FINRA Rule 2210.  Obviously you have to be careful what information you put out on your website & social media pages.  There is definitely plenty of wiggle room though.

 

FINRA Exceptions

FINRA defines retail communication as any communication (written or electronic) that is distributed or made available to more than 25 retail investors within any 30 calendar-day period.  A retail investor is any person other than an institutional investor. Regardless of whether the person has an account with the firm.  The rule also stipulates that all retail communications must be approved by an appropriately qualified registered principal.  Luckily there are exceptions to this stipulation.

 

The following retail communications are excluded from the filing requirements:

 

  • Communications that refer to types of investments solely as a listing of the products or services offered by the firm.
  • Retail communications that do not make any financial or investment recommendation or promote a product or service of the firm.
  • Any reprint or excerpt of an article issued by a publisher that has not been materially altered in content.  Except to comply with regulatory standards or correct errors and when the member has not commissioned the reprint and is not affiliated with the publisher.
  • Retail communications that do no more than identify the member or offer a specific security at a stated price.
  • General market commentaries or economic discussions that are not used for the purpose of promoting a product or service of the firm would be considered retail communications that do not make any financial or investment recommendation or otherwise promote a product or service of the member.

FINRA Acknowledges That Native Advertising Is The Future

In April of 2017 FINRA released Regulatory Notice 17-18 regarding Social Media & Digital Communications that expanded upon the Regulatory Notice 10-06 released in January of 2010.  In the more recent notice FINRA acknowledges that Social Media Marketing is the wave of the future.  

They cite an October 2015 study from the Pew Research Center that indicates that 65 percent of adults use social networking sites as compared to 7 percent in 2005.  They also reference a Business Insider article which indicates that “Native Ads” will drive 74% of all ad revenue by 2021. 

That article states that, “The rapid uptick in native’s share of display ad revenue can largely be attributed to the dominance of social platforms like Facebook and Twitter — which were early champions of native and rely almost entirely on native formats — as well as the introduction of new programmatic technologies that are making it easier for publishers and advertisers to scale native campaigns.”  It’s not the wild west, there are obviously rules that apply.  However the opportunity is there for those willing to go after it.

The Future is Online

When I was in highschool I knew a Financial Advisor (I won’t disclose the name) that had a genius old school marketing plan.  He and his partner would teach a class on Retirement Planning at local community colleges.  At the end of the course they would offer any of their students a free consultation. 

This strategy is amazing in one specific way to me.  They spent weeks demonstrating their value to their students.  Building up their trust and becoming an authority in the eyes of their students.  The value of their teachings far outweighed the monetary cost of the course itself.  By giving away all this amazing knowledge for a bargain price, they were able to build that trust factor.  Which created a perfect funnel ensuring people would actually show up to the free consultations. It also made it that much easier to convert that consultation into a client.

I urge you to implement the same strategy.  Only instead of in a classroom, do it online.  Don’t implement a sales strategy.  Give away information with real value for free. Discuss market conditions all while abiding by FINRA rule 2210 of course.  Build up trust with your audience online.  In the process you will create a huge internet paper trail. Even better, you will never have to sell because you built a brand instead.

SEO & Social Media Marketing is Word of Mouth Marketing At Scale

A lot of old school advisors are pretty staunch in their stance that their business is word of mouth referral based.  While I respect this opinion, I wholeheartedly disagree. What’s the real difference between being referral based offline and being referral based online?  The internet has greatly enhanced and optimized communication and it’s a lot more efficient. 

Think about how long it would take you to go to every friend you had and tell them something in person.   Now think how much easier it would be to give them each a call or text.  Now think how much more efficient posting a status to your facebook wall compared to any of that.  The internet is just a way to create these same referrals people are already giving you, but creating that conversation online in a way that is much more efficient and can scale in a way that word of mouth will never be able to.

SEO allows you to drive targeted traffic to your website consistently over time.  If you are a financial advisor who services a specific niche of clients, like medical professionals for example.  Ranking your website number one for the keyword, “financial advisor for doctors” and other variations of that keyword would bring your website visitors from ideal clients consistently over long periods of time.  

Financial Advisor Lead Generation

Reputation Management

Another important aspect of creating an online presence for your financial advisory business is reputation management.  If you do not set up profiles on all of the major platforms, what’s to stop someone else for doing that for you and then leaving you a bunch of negative reviews? 

 

Having a robust online presence allows one to get out of front of these conversations and create a narrative that paints a positive picture of your brand and creates a pipeline of future client leads.  It’s a lot better to be proactive than reactive when it comes to reputation management.  A negative review can really hurt you, especially if you don’t know it exists.

 
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Be the First Wave to Hit the Market

It is driving me crazy every single day thinking about how untapped the SEO & Digital Marketing space is to Financial Advisors.  These are both long term strategies.  There is no quick payoff, but just like any other great idea, the first ones to cash in always make the most. 

 

In the near future, people are going to be able to research financial advisors like they research their next big purchase.  Instead of asking a wealthy friend who manages their money, they will go online and ask their facebook friends.  The advisors that embrace this and are the first to create an online presence on these platforms will quickly become an authority. 

 

Think of the possibilities of no longer being limited to your geographic location when it comes to client prospecting.  The internet is global, becoming an authority online helps you cast a much wider net than just being the authority in your local community.  Quality leads are really hard to come by. The internet gives you the ability to scale these leads in a big way.  

 

Financial Advisor SEO & Digital Marketing Strategies

Hopefully I’ve convinced you this is a viable strategy at this point.  Let’s break down how it actually works and list actionable steps that you can take right now.

Financial Advisor SEO

Local SEO is going to be a crucial part of your strategy.  While not all clients are going to need to be able and sit down with their financial advisor, let’s assume that most of them will.  The search term “Financial Advisor + Your City” is going to be gold.  There are a lot of factors that go into local seo.  You’ll need to focus on being in the organic listings as well as the “Maps”. 

To get the ball rolling you will need to set up Google My Business.  From there build out as many citations as you can.  Research what citations your competitors are utilizing and duplicate their efforts.  Then start to develope a link building strategy by commenting on niche related blog posts.  Commenting on these Blogs also helps doing outreach to get guest posts.  Guest posts are a big part of the secret sauce for Financial Advisor SEO.  You can also implement more advanced strategies like PBNs (Private Blog Network) or sniping broken links.  You may want to outsource some of this to an expert as some of these strategies are complex and time consuming.

Create A Blog

Creating a blog is the key piece in generating authority online.  It also feeds into every other aspect of building your online presence, from SEO to Social Media Marketing.  Consistently creating blog content greatly enhances the SEO of your advisor website.  It’s also great because it easily creates content that you can share across all of your social media platforms. 

Roll out a blog post once at least once a week.   Then simply share it across all of your social media pages.   This creates a huge digital paper trail.  Doing this consistently over the long term is not only a great way to communicate with existing clients, it can also create a long lasting pipeline to future clients as well. 

 

Investopedia

Creating a profile on Investopedia can boost your online presence in several ways.  Finding and answering questions posed by other investopedia users is great way to demonstrate your knowledge in a way that brings real value to people.  Becoming an authority is a way to build up trust with your audience and potential clients.  Commenting on these investopedia threads and creating your own posts are both great ways to generate backlinks to your website.  Having backlinks from an industry relevant  website like Investopedia will be a big boost to your local and global SEO.

 

Social Media Marketing

Once you have a blog that is consistently rolling out content on the latests financial trends and current market conditions, you will need to set up all your social media profiles.  Every time you post a new article, tweet about it, share it on Facebook & LinkedIn.  Through up an Instagram post, pin an infographic on Pinterest.  If you’re an allstar, you will have a video element to your blog which you can then share on Youtube as well.  Rinse and then repeat.  Your blog is where your content lives, but social media is where you spread it to the masses.  Social Media is also a great opportunity to interact with your peers and build connections.

Conclusion

Financial Advisor Digital Marketing

 

The truth is this strategy is not for everyone.  If you are an Advisor who’s completely content with the status quo, then this definitely isn’t for you.  However, if you’re an Advisor that is still looking to grow your book of clients.  If you have your eye on long term sustainable growth, then you can’t afford to miss out on this opportunity.  The market is still wide open for financial advisors online.  The next generation of wealth grew up on Twitter and Instagram and they are definitely in need of common sense financial advice.  Grow your online presence, create authority, build trust and create a never ending stream of client leads.

How To Get Local SEO Rankings in 2017

How To Get Local SEO Rankings in 2017

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The Importance of Ranking Locally

If your business has a location or a service area, ranking your website locally is imperative to your long term success.  Doing local SEO is one of the most cost effective ways to generate leads over the long term.   There are two areas to focus on when it comes to local SEO, ranking your website organically and in Google Maps.  By doing so, you make it that much easier for people who are looking for your goods and services to find you.  The first step in making this happen is understanding the difference between the two.

Organic Vs Maps

When searching on a desktop computer, the first thing that pops up on the corresponding results page is a group of Map rankings.  This is commonly referred to as the “Snack Pack” in SEO communities.  Once you scroll past the map or Snack Pack rankings, you will see the organic rankings.  Ideally you will rank your site in both.  That way potential clients and customers will have two chances to click on your site. 

A common mistake is only focusing on the organic listings and ignoring the Map.  This is a crucial mistake because not only do the Map rankings appear before the organic listings, but when searching on a mobile device, they completely dwarf the organic listings because the screen size has limited space compared to a desktop.  A lot of people do not take the time to scroll past the Map rankings when they’re searching on a mobile device.

Optimize Your Website for SEO

Before you start blasting your site with links, it’s important to optimize your website.  The first and most important thing you do is to set up your NAP.  NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone Number.  I can’t stress enough how important that your NAP is consistent.  Not only across every page on your site, but on every profile you create in the name of your business, whether it’s Social Media or a business directory.  The most common place to list your NAP is on the footer of every page.

San Diego SEO

Another tweak you can make to make ensure you’re ranking in Google Maps is putting an actual google map on your about us or contact page.  Integrating a map into your site helps paint a picture that Google’s algorithm can pick up.  When someone does a mobile search in your area looking for goods or services that your business offers, your site will be that much more likely to appear in the results.

Google My Business

The next step in ensuring your site ranks locally is setting up Google My Business.  This one just makes too much sense.  If you want to rank in the world’s most popular search engine, it’s probably a good idea to register your business in their database.  As I mentioned in the previous section, make sure your NAP is consistent and accurate here.  Once you fill out a robust profile, take the steps to verify your business.  This entails Google actually mailing a code to the physical address of your business.  Once you receive the code in the mail, login to your Google My Business profile and enter the code and your business will officially be verified.

Another step you can take is uploading photos to your profile that have been Geo tagged at your location.  Obviously over time your client’s and customers will do this for you when they share their awesome experiences at your business.  In the beginning it will be up to you to get the ball rolling.  It’s as easy as taking a few photo’s of your store or office with your mobile device or anything else that geo tags your location.

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Citations Citations Citations

The definition of a citation in the world of local SEO is any website that allows you to reference your NAP and links back to your website.  In most instances these are sites allow their users to review your website as well.  The most popular sites out there that can be used for citations are websites like Yelp and Foursquare.  Any site that allows you to clearly list your NAP and also links back to your website can be used as a citation to improve your local SEO efforts.

One of the best citations strategies is to first identify your biggest competitors.  Next find out where what citations they utilize and duplicate their efforts.  Make sure you manage any pages that allow for customers to review your business.  Response times are imperative on sites that allow you to interact with them directly.  That is more relevant to reputation management and customer service, but still worth mentioning.  We all know how a bad Yelp review can influence a potential client or customer’s opinion of your business.  Setting up these profiles is never enough.  Ensure that you also actively manage these profiles to safeguard your business’s sterling reputation.

Local SEO Link Building

Getting quality backlinks to your site is one of the more difficult parts of SEO.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s easy to go out and buy a bunch of links to your site that are coming from irrelevant sources.  That’s a great way to get your website penalized in today’s local SEO landscape. 

As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, Google consistently updates their algorithm to penalize anyone who implements strategies that violate their terms of service.  Here are few ways you can safely build links to your website that will stand the test of time.

Guest Posts

Getting a guest post on a blog relevant to your industry is a huge win.  It allows you to place a link on a site that discusses information that directly relates to your business.  Doing outreach to bloggers in your niche/industry can pay huge dividends in improving your local SEO rankings.  Getting a quality guest post on a high authority blog is not always easy though.  Sometimes it’s as simple as paying a price or simply just writing a killer piece of content.  

 

Snipe Broken Links

There are a lot tools out there that allow you to find broken links relevant to your field.  Once you locate the broken links, reach out to the author of the content informing them of the broken link and also provide them with a replacement link.  A lot of website do not actively monitor broken links on their aged posts.  Most of the time they will take you on this offer because you are doing them a favor that also helps you out, so it’s mutually beneficial.

 

Business Listings/Directories

There are so many directories and listings based on niche/industry and location.  By simply searching for “your city” & “your niche/industry” you will find quite a few that are relevant to your business.  Go through each site and follow the prompts to getting your business and website listed in their directly.  In most cases it’s as simple as paying a one time fee, but in exchange you get a long lasting highly relevant backlink.

 

Niche Relevant Blog Comments

Almost every blog has a comment section to promote interaction with their readers.  Most blog comment sections have a field where you reference your own website.  This is a great way to create a niche relevant backlink. 

Just remember that most of these comments have to be approved by a moderator before they go live, so make sure you are providing real feedback and adding value in any way that you can.  Otherwise your comment will simply be deleted or ignored altogether.  If you consistently comment on a blog, it’s also a great way to gain authority with that blogger and potentially get a guest post on their blog. 

 

Private Blog Networks

Private Blog Networks (PBNs) are a staple to any SEO strategy.  They are a bit more complex than most of these strategies and can land you a penalty if not done correctly, so I don’t recommend them for beginners.  Building a PBN starts with purchasing a recently expired or expiring domain that already has a lot of links pointing at it, ideally that are relevant to your niche. 

Once the website is in your possession, refurbish it and put a post with a link pointing at the website you are trying to rank.  Doing this effectively requires making the PBN look as natural as possible and removing any footprint that may exist between your PBN and the page you are actually trying to rank.  The most common mistake is utilizing the same host on your PBN that you use for your money site.  

Conclusion

There are a lot of key factors that go into local SEO.   Always keep in mind that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.  Knowing all the factors and how they tie into how you rank is definitely important.  Over the long term however, the most important thing is generating quality content.  Lee Oden, a seasoned digital marketer at TopRank Marketing, once said, “Content is the reason that search began in the first place.”  Google’s mission is to help its users find and utilize the most relevant content. 

If you consistently generate top notch content, you won’t have to convince people to read and share it.  They will want to all on their own because it’s worth sharing.  Then you won’t have to develop some sophisticated backlinking strategy!  People will start linking to your site on their own because you have become an authority in your niche and your amazing content is worth referencing. 

Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

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Learning search engine optimization (SEO) from scratch is an intimidating task.  I still remember the day I sat down and dug into SEO for the first time.  My background was originally in financial services and I knew literally nothing about what it takes to rank in google or other search engines for that matter.  I couldn’t tell you the difference between a registrar and a host.  I had no idea what backlink was or how to get one.  Page authority and domain authority were nonsense terms to me.  What is a SEMRush and where do I get one?  Once I got started though, I couldn’t get enough.  The more I knew, the more I wanted to know.  I have since completely immersed myself into the world of SEO and all it has to offer.  

Isn’t SEO Dead?

It’s funny, I quickly learned that this question was an inside joke for anyone who is serious about search engine optimization.  Google is consistently coming out with new updates to try and prevent the “Black Hat” SEO strategies from allowing people to cheat their algorithm.  It actually used to be relatively easy to “game” the system and rank any website for any given term.  While it is true that these “Black Hat” strategies are no longer viable, as long as there is demand to rank in google, SEO will be alive and well.  So don’t let the naysayers get you down before you even start.  SEO is a lot like everything else in life, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.  If you take shortcuts, they will come back to haunt you in the form of google penalties or even getting de indexed completely.

Where to Begin?

Search engines have two major functions: crawling and building an index, and providing search users with a ranked list of the websites they’ve determined are the most relevant.  The best place to start is defining some of the basic terms of SEO.  Here is a quick list for reference:

On Page: Any work done to the actual page/website that you are trying to rank

Off Page: Any work done outside of the page/website you are trying to rank

PBN (Private Blog Network): the process of acquiring expired domains and using them to point links at the site/page you are trying to rank

Money Page: the page/website that you are trying to rank and will make money from

Backlink: A link on a webpage that links back to your money page (the site/page you are trying to rank)

Web2.0: Any site that allows two way interaction

SEO Backlinks

On Page SEO

Now that we have defined some basic terms, let’s talk strategy.  SEO strategies are usually extremely simple in nature, but just because they are simple doesn’t necessarily make them easy.  You can’t just spam your money site with backlinks from all over the internet.  

First and foremost, it’s important to get your On Page SEO in order.  This way when Google crawls your website, it actually understands what your site is all about and what keywords it should be ranking it for.  It doesn’t matter how many links point at your site, if the on page isn’t in order, none of that will matter.  Look to have pages with robust content that are keyword rich.  All of your images should be optimized for the keywords you are looking to rank for.  There are also a lot of plugins available that help make this process as easy as possible.  My personal favorite is the Yoast plugin for WordPress site.  It’s user friendly and very intuitive.

Backlinks and Link Building

Backlinks will remain a vital Google ranking factor. But, effective link building is now about trust and popularity. Only a high-quality backlink works in this model. According to Copyblogger, domain trust/authority represents 23.87% of Google’s ranking algorithm.

SEO Backlinks

Backlinks can’t just come from anywhere. In a perfect world, your backlinks would be coming from popular websites with a lot of authority, that are also extremely relevant in the context of your business.  One of the best ways to obtain backlinks is just by consistently generating high quality, valuable content that people genuinely want to share with each other.  I love the 90/10 rule when it comes to link building.  90% of your time should be focused on generating high quality content while the other 10% should be spent on link building.  If you are struggling to generate a high-quality backlink to your site, it’s likely that you have reversed the rule.

For example, let’s say that you have a site all about French Bulldogs and you get an inbound link from an article directory. Google won’t recognize that website link as relevant to the subject of your site.

But, if the link acquired is from a site that’s related to dog training, like a dog food store or a discussion board that’s centered around dogs, you will not only improve your rankings, but your site will be relevant and valuable to those who visit it. 

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Mobile Optimization

You can’t perform well in Google’s search rankings today unless your site is mobile optimized.  On a desktop, you have a ton of space for flashy videos, animations, and photos.  Mobile sites don’t have as much space, so things need to be organized differently to make it more user friendly.

Make Site Speed a Priority

You’ve got about three seconds of load time before the average customer will bounce and search elsewhere.  That’s not much of a worry for a strong broadband connection at home on a desktop. But when signals can degrade on mobile, it can have a huge impact on conversions.  Consider this math: If your ecommerce site is making $100k per day in revenue, a delay of just one second in load time could result in as much as $2.5 million in lost sales annually.

Conclusion

The world of SEO can be complex, but most people can easily understand the basic principles. Even a small amount of knowledge can make a big difference. Free SEO education is widely available on the web, including in guides like this. Combine this with a little practice and you are well on your way to becoming a guru.  If not, that’s ok, I know a guy you can outsource that too 🙂