For financial advisers looking to build up their SEO, there are three primary areas you need to focus on: great website content, compelling user experience on your website and a strong backlink profile.
In this guide, we are going to be looking at the last one on that list. In other words, what are backlinks and how should a financial adviser use them to build up their website’s search engine rankings?
Let’s briefly define what backlinks are, in that case, before turning to how to incorporate them into your financial digital marketing strategy:
Backlinks: What they are
Backlinks are sometimes called “external links” or “inbound links”. They refer to hyperlinks on another website which point to your own financial website.
These links act a bit like “reputation markers”. Think of it like real-life recommendations. If you asked four people in town where the best pizza place was and they all said “John’s Pizza Place down the road”, then you would feel assured that this is, in fact, the best place to go. Search engines like Google treat links to your financial website in much the same way.
There are also internal links to consider, as well. These are links on a page on your own financial website which point to another page on your domain. For instance, it might be that you have lots of blogs on your website which all have a link to your tax planning landing page. This signals to Google that the landing page is important and should probably be given search engine ranking priority.
Other types of backlinks
Backlinks can further be divided into two categories for the purpose of financial marketing.
The first two are called “no follow” backlinks. These links tell search engines like Google not to follow the link (therefore not passing on SEO “link equity”).
Follow links, on the other hand, do pass on link “juice” for SEO purposes. These are “follow” links.
Does that mean you should only go after “follow links” for your financial SEO strategy? No, not necessarily. For instance, think of Twitter or Facebook.
You might have social media profiles here for your business which link back to your financial website. Should these links count as SEO “link equity”?
No, because these social platforms are not necessarily endorsing your financial website just because you have profiles with links on their websites.
In light of this, you should strive to create a healthy balance of no-follow and follow backlinks on your financial website. Too many of one type will look unusual to Google, and they might penalise you for it in their search engine results.
This is why the tactic of “buying” backlinks is usually such a bad idea. This is a common “black hat” SEO practice, and usually involves approaching someone offshore and paying them to leave links to your website on a range of websites across the internet.
Do not do this! Google is smart and continually getting smarter. Almost always you will be caught and your SEO will suffer for it. Many financial advisers do it, thinking they can cheat the system. They might get away with it for a while, and might be getting away with it now. However, eventually, Google will catch up with them.
Financial SEO & Link Building: Other things to avoid
Link building is a powerful way to build your financial SEO, but there are plenty of dubious practices going on in this area which you are better off avoiding. We’ve mentioned the practice of buying links, so let’s mention a few other black hat techniques you should steer clear of:
- Reciprocal links. Avoid giving a link to someone else’s website in exchange for a link to your own. Google regards this an inauthentic link building, and will likely mark you down for it.
- Low-quality link directories. There are lots of websites out there which simply act as areas where people can deposit links to their website. They add no value to internet users. Again, resist the temptation to put your financial website’s URL in these sorts of places.
How financial advisers can build high-quality links
There are many legitimate, tried-and-tested methods for building links to your financial website:
#1 Find link partnerships
If there are industry publications which your target audience frequent, and these authors would be interested in linking to your content, then it’s worth trying to earn some links from them.
For instance, you could contribute a blog article to a financial blog or news website – with a link back to your own website at the end. You could also offer to write a testimonial for a product or service your financial services firm has used, in exchange for a link.
#2 Create resources
One of the most powerful ways to get others to link to your financial website is to make it a hub of industry-leading content, which others will find immensely valuable and struggle to find elsewhere.
For instance, perhaps you could publish a set of comprehensive infographics on a set of financial planning topics, such as inheritance tax planning or business succession planning. Other bloggers might then link to these in their own content.
#3 Get stuck into community
Financial advisers are typically local businesses. This presents some great opportunities to get involved in the local community, and to build partnerships and links with them.
For instance, we have one IFA client who sponsors their local football club. In exchange, the club frequently publishes social media posts about the firm and links back to their website.
Be creative. For instance, perhaps you could run a local event or competition. Or, perhaps you could get involved with a local seminar, workshop or organisation and find link-building opportunities there.