5 Reasons Not to Worry about SEO/SEM

If you’re unfamiliar with SEO and SEM or confused about what exactly they do for you, start with a few definitions:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): establishes your relevance and value to search engines. Strong SEO means you’re ranked near the top of a Google search. It’s affected by elements on your site like content, HTML, and architecture, and many other factors like your site’s traffic history, sharing, and the frequency of links back to your site.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM): paid activities that advertise your website to search engine users. It includes strategies like pay-per-click advertising and paid search ads.

With the vocabulary lesson behind us, here’s why you don’t need to worry about it (especially with Vestorly):

1. SEO Is a Losing Game

Try this: go to Google and search “financial advisor” + the name of your city. What did you find? Probably something like this:

A page dominated by big banks, corporations, and ads. You can bet that plenty of smaller wealth management firms are paying for SEO, but they’re not at the top of a Google search. Why? They’ll never be able to match the ad spending capital or resources of a big bank.

A 2014 study found an average marketing budget of $2.1 million for 256 banks with an average asset size of $2.9 billion. In 2013, Chase (at the top of our sample search above) had a daily Google AdWords budget of between $29,200 and $41,100 – and that’s still just a minuscule fraction of their overall marketing budget.

No matter the time you spend on SEO, you can’t match full time SEO experts employed by big banks with daily budgets.

2. The Cost Isn’t Right for Small Businesses 

So you can’t beat the big banks, but you want to throw your hat in the ring anyway. What will it cost you? A top SEO firm for financial advisors offers pricing in these ranges:

  • Local SEO starting at $1,400

  • $3,500 to $7,100 for SEO-friendly content on your website

  • $2,300 to optimize your presence off-site

  • Reporting and analysis beginning at $1,400

  • A $3,200 annual retainer

  • $150 hourly support

You can certainly pay more or less depending on your chosen agency or consultant, but with SEO, the more you spend, the higher you are in search results. Spend more, but you still won’t beat the biggest players in the game and their multi-million dollar advertising budgets. Would it matter anyway? Well…

3. Investors Don’t Choose a Financial Advisor Based on a Web Search

A 2014 report on financial advisor trends found the top five most effective forms of marketing are all types of referrals (with two more types of referrals falling down the list). Your firm’s website falls at number 14 on the list with your personal website at number 20. Why focus on a strategy not correlated to referrals? Because of bad advice; anyone who speaks with a marketing consultant or does basic research hears the urgent advice to “overhaul your SEO!”

This is what we call an outside-in marketing strategy. It means making yourself visible to strangers who may be searching for your services. Here’s what needs to happen for this to work:

  1. Unidentified stranger searches for financial services in your area.

  2. Thanks to a well-crafted SEO strategy, your firm appears at the top of the search.

  3. Stranger chooses your site and clicks through.

  4. Stranger is impressed by the design and home page and explores further.

  5. Stranger thinks your experience, knowledge, and services may be a match for his or her needs.

  6. Stranger finds your contact information and reaches out to you.

Six actions need to occur between someone deciding they need a financial advisor and making first contact with you. Five of these are initiatives of the stranger, and only the second action can be influenced by you and your SEO strategy.

Contrast this to an inside-out strategy which puts the ball back in your court. It means capitalizing on the people already in your network to reach those who are not. Since referrals are the most effective way to gain clients, develop on active referral strategy instead of passively waiting for a client to refer you or wasting resources on SEO.

The reality is prospective clients do not make huge decisions about wealth management based on a search or a nice website. They need a personal connection to you, a sense of comfort with your practice, and often the trust coming from reassurances of a trusted mutual contact.

4. SEO Is Based on a Browser You Don’t Control

Add a few more definitions to your glossary:

Browser: a piece of software on your computer used to view web pages and access web applications.

Cloud: the services and software that run on the internet, not a device.

Keep this in mind as you consider a basic premise of SEO: people perform searches in a browser. If you change the premise and take control of the browser, SEO becomes irrelevant.

The browsers you know (like Firefox or Chrome) exist as software applications on your computer. Vestorly, however, exists on the cloud. To readers, Vestorly is a single portal with unlimited access to digital content from news sites and publishers like any other browser. The difference is the Vestorly user owns the browser, brands it, and collects data about all visitors.

This “browser-within-a-browser” delivers something very valuable to advisors: the level of analytics typically captured only by a software-based browser. Vestorly captures viewers’ names, emails, pages read, and source.

This kind of technology calls for one last definition:

Browser-in-the-cloud: 1 a portal that exists on the internet and is used to access all content on the web; 2 a browser-within-a-browser that brands the web-viewing experience and reports all visitor data to its host; 3 Vestorly, a content-sharing platform with advanced audience analytics built for the financial services industry.

When you own a browser-in-the-cloud like Vestorly, and combine it with your active referral strategy, you could reinvent that outside-in strategy:

  1. Share articles (hosted on your own browser) with clients and contacts through email or social media.

  2. They’ll share those same articles with other friends.

  3. Those friends click through, explore, search, and read other content.

  4. You capture every action and have the information to proactively act on it.

Simply put:

A browser you don’t control + strangers searching = wait for connections

Your own browser-in-the-cloud + tools to generate referrals through contacts = active connections

5. Content is the Driving Force of SEO; Vestorly is the Driving Force of Content

Any SEO how-to guide will say your strategy requires content. They’ll suggest:

  • Start a Blog: this requires time, skill, and a serious long-term commitment to a project you probably didn’t want to start in the first place.

  • Buy Canned Content: this means reposting dry, dull, vague articles which any number of other advisors are already sharing. Plus, if not done right, copied content can actually have the adverse effect and cause search engines to rate your website less favorably.

  • Share Other Sources’ Articles: this carries enormous licensing fees to host esteemed sources on your website. Or, it means sharing links to articles hosted on another site. Think about it: share a Forbes article on Facebook and it’s likely to be clicked because people know and trust Forbes. Now what? Forbes gets the SEO benefit and more web traffic, since you shared one of their links and somebody else clicked it.

Imagine if you could provide real-time third-party content from respected sources on your own domain and even within your own browser. You’d get the value of respected sources, links and clicks back to your own website, and the tools to measure the activity. This is what Vestorly does for you.

This is not a direct SEO play, but it increases content linking back to your website, leading to more identifiable people coming to you based on authoritative content.

When you use Vestorly, you don’t have to worry about playing the SEO game. It’s a game you can’t win regardless because the other players are too big. So rewrite the rules, play on your own court, and you’ll win every time.

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