by Jack Waymire
If you’re using the Internet to find high-quality financial advisors, how do you narrow your search so that only local financial advisors appear? Or only RIAs who meet your specific criteria?
The answer is in your keywords.
Any search engine will get the job done, but when searching for a financial advisor, we recommend using Google because it controls 72 percent of search traffic.
Keywords are simply the terms you use when starting a Google search. If you enter the right keywords, you will refine your search based on the financial expertise or services you are seeking.
The two most common sets of keywords are “financial advisor” and “financial planner.” However, because they’re so broad, these keywords are going to produce pages and pages of results for you. There is also a large list of secondary keywords, such as “wealth manager,” “retirement planner,” “investment advisor,” “certified financial planner” and “money manager.” Financial professionals use a variety of titles to describe their profession and services, but the role does not vary much – they provide financial advice and services for compensation.
There is a big difference between the keywords you use to find information and the keywords you use to find professionals. For example, you might enter “financial planning” to find information, and “financial planner” to find professionals who provide that type of service.
Some investors tend to use qualitative keywords, such as “Find the Best Financial Advisors.” But this does not really change the outcome because Google cannot identify the best advisors. It will match you to advisors who use the word “best” on their websites and content.
If you add more keywords to your Google search, you will create strings that further refine your search. For example, you can enter “CFP Financial Planner.” Other frequently used keywords are “RIA,” “Fiduciary,” “Fee-Only,” “CFA,” “CIMA,” “Retirement Planner,” “Estate Planner” and “Tax Planner.”
The more keywords you add, the fewer search results you will get, which is what you want. You use keywords to refine searches and exclude financial advisors who don’t meet your specific criteria.
To localize your search to a specific city or region, simply add the city and state to your keyword string, as in “Financial Advisors Dallas Texas.” This will produce an organic listing of local financial advisors in your area. The top three search results you see are placed there by Google My Business, which is a listing service that local businesses use to increase their area visibility. If you want to see more local financial advisors and firms, you can click on the More Places link.
It’s important to note that the Google My Business search results don’t include local financial advisors who did not register their business with this service. For a more complete search, you will want to review the list of organic search results on the first and subsequent pages.
There is one concern. Let’s say you live in a suburb near a major city. There may be very few high-quality financial advisors in your suburb, but there are a large number of advisors in the big city. You may want to enter the name of the big city in the search engine so you have more choices.
Keywords for Specialists
Most advisors work with individual investors or institutional investors (pension, endowment, foundation). Some advisors work with both.
At the other end of the spectrum are the advisors who specialize in particular niches. If you are seeking a specialist, you may want to add keywords that apply to you: “Millennials,” “retirees,” “pre-retirees,” “business owners,” “divorcees” or “doctors.” For example, if you are looking for advisors who work in the medical community, your keyword string might look like this: “Financial Advisors for Doctors in Dallas Texas.”
The results of your search to find financial advisors are going to be served to you on hundreds of pages. When you use Google to find advisors, its current format is to display:
- Three or four paid advertisers at the top of the page
- Three local firms under Google My Business
- Ten organic results in the middle of the page
- Three paid advertisers at the bottom of the page
There are a lot of choices on page 1, which is why 91.8 percent of users do not scroll to page 2. However, just because there are a lot of choices, this doesn’t mean they are your best choices.
Most of the organic search results will display financial firms or professionals in your area. Some of the top organic listings will be for nonprofits (.org), educational organizations (.edu) and content that contains the keywords you input into the Google search function. You can often find high-quality advisors by reading their content and clicking on links that take you to their websites.
We encourage you to scan a minimum of two to three Google pages so you have more choices. The best advisors may not be able to afford page 1 visibility.
All financial advisors want to be represented on page 1 of Google for keywords that impact their businesses. Consequently, the competition is fierce because Google algorithms control organic rankings and there are a limited number of advertising opportunities.
As you might imagine, advertising space is dominated by companies with bigger marketing budgets. Many of the best advisors do not have big marketing budgets.
Why advertise? Higher organic rankings can take advisors months, years or maybe never. If they are willing to pay Google enough money, like any other advertising resource, they can appear on page 1 tomorrow.
This is good for Google because Google makes billions of dollars from paid advertising. It is good for paid advertisers because they get instant visibility on page 1. However, it may be bad for you when you are seeking the best financial advisors. There is no relationship between the size of a firm’s advertising budget and the quality of the advisors who work for the firm. It just means the companies can afford to pay Google and the other search engines for the space.
In general, you will not find boutique firms advertising on Google’s page 1 or on pages that are based on the most popular keywords, such as “financial advisor” or “financial planner.” More than likely, you will find smaller firms advertising on longer keyword strings such as “Certified Divorce Financial Planner Dallas.”
Jack Waymire worked in the financial services industry for 28 years before he left to found the Paladin Registry (www.PaladinRegistry.com) in 2004. This investor education website was based on the Principles in Jack’s first book: “Who’s Watching Your Money? The 17 Paladin Principles for Selecting a Financial Advisor.”
The Registry also has a free service that matches investors to advisors who meet Paladin’s minimum requirements for competence and trustworthiness.
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