As someone who has been tasked with helping independent financial advisors, RIAs and other financial professionals deliver predictable, quality leads over the last decade, I often find that most of these pros ultimately have the exact same goal when it comes to their online presence. At the end of the day, they just want to be able to generate more leads—either because they want to secure a better future for their firm or because they simply want to grow their AUM as much as possible.
It’s a completely understandable objective … and it’s one that is difficult, if not impossible, to pull off without a pretty heavy ally on your side:
According to one recent study, it doesn’t matter what type of business you’re running or even what type of industry you’re operating in, the vast majority of all online experiences between a consumer and your business will still begin in the exact same way: via a search engine. When you also consider that Google alone owns approximately 70% of the search engine market share worldwide (and counting), it’s easy to see why getting the tech giant on your side is a top priority for so many people.
But at the same time, the team at Midstream Marketing often does a lot of work with RIAs and other advisors who are frustrated because they AREN’T easily found in a traditional Google search. Don’t forget that, according to another recent study, about 75% of people will never scroll past the first page of search engine results. Likewise, between 70 and 80% of all people ignore the paid search results entirely – choosing to instead focus on only those organic search results. All of this is to say that if you think you can buy your way to SEO success in a more traditional sense, you might want to think again.
In an effort to help fill in some of these critical gaps, Google has unleashed the “Google My Business” page on the world – otherwise known as your GMB for short. At its core, Google dubs this as a way to “attract new customers for free” by way of a business profile that appears “right when people are searching for your business or businesses like yours on Google Search or Maps.”
But at least on the surface, there are a number of important reasons why this might NOT be the “silver bullet” you’ve been looking for.
The Trouble With Some “Google My Business” Pages
The major issue that a lot of people run into as far as the GMB service is concerned is that they’re simply not using it in the right way. Sometimes, they have some odd image associated with their page that really isn’t helping as much as they think it is. Other times, people don’t even know what their GMB page is to begin with. Because of that, their picture – part of the critical first impression that people are forming with their firm – isn’t of their office building, but is instead some condemned building across the street. Their phone number or address is woefully outdated. The list goes on and on.
Not too long ago, I was working with one financial advisor firm that had a horrible-looking condemned building listed as their “office” on “Google My Business.” Another firm I worked closely with was in a more residential area, and GMB showed the house across the street as their place of business. Both of these situations would cause more questions than answers for someone looking for a business like yours – a situation that you absolutely want to avoid at all costs.
In both of those cases, for the record, you have to reach out to Google’s support to try to get them to change the inaccurate information to reflect something more current. That, too, is often easier said than done.
But the good news is that “Google My Business” is still an incredibly powerful weapon just waiting to be taken advantage of by someone who knows what they’re doing. It’s just that you have to be proactive about taking charge of your page. Note that “taking care of your website” is not enough to get the job done – that may help you in terms of your larger SEO strategy, but if someone stumbles across your “Google My Business” page for the first time you’re going to wind up right back in the same situation you were originally.
At that point, you have two options available to you. You can task someone in your office with reinvigorating your “Google My Business” page, or you can enlist the services of a Google My Business optimization service or other third party digital marketing firm like Midstream Marketing to do it for you.
We’ll touch on the latter in a bit – if you’re currently interested in the former, there are a few key things you’ll want to remember along the way.
Taking Control of Your “Google My Business” Page: One Step at a Time
By far, the most important thing you can do to optimize your “Google My Business” page involves claiming your listing if you haven’t already done so.
If you don’t come right out and claim your GMB page as your own, the chances are high that Google will try to automatically fill in some of the gaps in the listed information for you. As evidenced by the two examples above, the chances are equally high that a lot of that information will probably be wrong. Such is life.
If you already have some type of Google account (either a traditional Google account or a Gmail email account), you can use this to claim your business listing and you should absolutely do so right away. If you don’t, all you have to do is create one and then you can have complete control over what users see when they search for either your business or one like it.
Next, you’ll want to go through and accurately fill in as much of the listed information as possible. This begins with your categories, which are used to both describe your business in a general sense and help connect you directly with the types of consumers who are looking for the financial services that you offer.
By taking a few minutes to categorize your business in the most appropriate way possible, you not only increase your chances of appearing in the top results for relevant searches – you also go a long way towards connecting your business with a host of potential new clients, too. As a rule of thumb, your primary category should describe the overall crux of what your financial advisor firm actually does. You can use the additional categories to describe more specific financial services and products that you offer, too.
Along the same lines, you’ll also want to go through and make sure that any and all contact information is as accurate as possible. Have you recently moved to a new location? Make sure that your address and phone numbers are accurate. Do the same thing for your hours and anything else that people might need to know before they pick up the phone and make a call.
You’ll also want to go through and add as many photos as you can to create a more engaging experience for people searching for your business. It’s absolutely no secret that photos are more engaging than text, and that people actually remember more information if it’s paired with relevant images than if it were presented via text alone. But you should also know that, according to another recent study, businesses that use photos in their GMB listings receive about 35% MORE clicks through to their websites than those organizations that don’t. So if you’re looking for an opportunity to really get a leg up on your competitors, this would absolutely be one way to do it.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure that any and all functions of your larger digital presence are integrated with your GMB listing as much as possible. The most obvious example of this is making sure that your website URL is accurate. But if you have some type of online appointment system, you can incorporate that, too. You can even use URL and UTM tracking to see how many appointments are coming from your GMB page, thus showing you exactly how important of an asset this can really be in the long-run.
Remember that the ultimate goal of SEO is to make it as easy as possible for people to find your financial advisor firm for the first time. Your “Google My Business” page essentially takes that one step further, making it as easy as possible for those same people to INTERACT with your business, too. By taking control of your page, and by making sure that all of the information is as accurate as possible, you go a long way towards accomplishing exactly that.
Christopher P. Wendt is president of Midstream Marketing, a digital agency that generates predictable leads for independent financial advisory firms. Over the past 10 years, he’s spent hundreds of hours applying the LeadGen Formula, a proven method helping financial advisors generate more leads. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.