Seo advertising

Why Advisors Should Beware of the Toxic Lure of SEO

Too many financial advisors and planners self-prescribe SEO as the cure for their marketing ills.

Unfortunately, most of those who swallow the SEO pill will be disappointed, confused, and worse.

Hear me out as I explain why it doesn’t have to be this way and why SEO isn’t the right tactic for most advisors/planners looking to increase demand levels.

The Right Diagnosis: No More Requests

Over the past few months, we’ve seen an increase in advisors/planners asking for SEO help. In other words, they want to be on the first page of Google.

Dig deeper and they all have the same need – they want more inquiries. They also believe that SEO is the way to solve it.

It’s the equivalent of me asking one of them to set up a VCT for me. If I did that, would I walk out of their office after signing the forms? Of course not. Instead, we started with a discussion about what I wanted to achieve, followed by a thorough fact-finding process. Only then will a plan be suggested and solutions recommended (which may or may not involve VCT).

We have to follow the same process when it comes to marketing. Identify goals/objectives, review existing arrangements, develop strategy, recommend tactics, then implement them.

To put it succinctly, self-prescriptive SEO puts the cart before the horse.

The wrong prescription: SEO

There is no doubt that SEO can be a valuable tool. However, for most advisors/planners, their new investigative goal can be achieved through other tactics that are more cost effective, work faster, and are less affected by outside influences.

Top of that list should be referrals from existing customers. We all know that referrals have the lowest acquisition cost and the highest conversion rate. This means that developing a plan to maximize referral opportunities should be the first tactic advisors/planners include in their marketing strategy.

There is no doubt that SEO can be a valuable tool. However, new investigative targets can be reached through other tactics.

However, many companies cannot meet their new survey requirement through referrals alone. This means that they have to use other methods.

So, is this where SEO comes in?

Not yet.

There are still plenty of other tactics that will generate new inquiries faster, sustainably, and cost less than SEO.

Hard work with huge competitors

There are several issues faced by advisors and planners looking to rank highly for their chosen keywords.

First, it is expensive and can take months or even years to show results. Even then, there is no guarantee of success. #

Too many people believe that being on the front page is all that needs to be achieved. This is not the case.

Second, there is the “myth of the front page”. Too many people believe that being on the front page is all that needs to be achieved. This is not the case. Research shows that the first link in organic search results gets 10 times more clicks than the last link on the first page. Now look who ranks first for phrases like “financial advisor near me.” Chances are it’s Impartial or VouchedFor. If you think you’re going to knock one of them out of the top two spots, I hope you have deep pockets and an abundance of patience!

Finally, you are competing with advertisements, directories and organizations with much larger marketing budgets. This makes it extremely difficult to cut out the noise from the search results page.

Combined, these reasons mean that, for most businesses, there are much easier ways to generate the new inquiries they need than relying on SEO.

Three Reasons Advisors/Planners Want SEO

So why do so many advisors/planners believe that SEO is the cure for their marketing woes?

First, there is a widespread misunderstanding about SEO, both in terms of what it entails, costs and expected results.

Second, social media and the wider web are swarmed with snake oil salesmen happy to pray for those who misunderstand SEO, its benefits, and its opportunity cost.

And finally, for a minority, I’m afraid that vanity plays a role. They just want to see their business on the first page of Google for key search terms. If that’s your goal, fine. Don’t be disappointed when the phone doesn’t start ringing.

There is no doubt that SEO has its place, but only for a minority of businesses.

Instead, most advisors/planners can achieve their goals by developing a referral-driven marketing strategy complemented by other more profitable, faster, and more sustainable tactics.

Phil Bray is founder and director of The Yardstick Agency