Originally published on Advisor Perspectives, April 18, 2018
The “first impressions” you probably think about are those you make when you meet with prospects. That’s important, but the critical first impression was long before the initial face-to-face meeting.
It starts with your web page. Unfortunately, many advisors are badly misled by faulty advice about web site content and design.
Your web page
It’s rare for a prospect to meet with you before viewing your web page.
The web page of Wealthsimple, a robo-advisor, is an example of excellent design and easy navigation. It’s light on text and heavy on images. You quickly understand what it does and can easily get additional details.
When Evidence Based Advisor Marketing, a company I started in 2018, reviews advisor web pages, we often find room for significant improvement.
It’s a mistake to retain different vendors to handle design and content of your web page. It’s difficult to separate these two functions. The design needs to be integrated with content. Few design firms have an understanding of what you do and how you do it, so find one that does. When design firms draft content, their focus is often on making it SEO friendly, which they believe will increase your organic ranking. Advisors have told me stories about receiving advice to include certain keywords on landing pages and ensure the content is a minimum length so Google will capture it.
This advice is badly flawed.
The overuse of keywords results in text that is cumbersome, dense and uninviting. It’s a practice known as “keyword stuffing” which is frowned upon and (and penalized) by Google. According to SEO.com, “Keyword stuffing doesn’t work because when the search engine crawler examines your site, its algorithm can quickly determine if keywords are used an unreasonable number of times.”
Even if keyword stuffing increased your organic rankings (and it may have the opposite effect), what sense does it make to drive prospects to your web page only to create a negative first impression? Instead, follow this advice from SEO.com: “You’re better off writing good, relevant content that humans and search engines will love.”
When I started writing, I asked my editor how long my books should be. He said: Only as long as you need to convey your view, and not one word longer. Writing short, concise, relatable content should be the standard for your web page.
This advice contradicts an oft-cited Google requirement that each page have at least 300 words, or Google will deem it “thin” and penalize your SEO ranking.
Before you succumb to this advice and stretch to reach this minimum length, note that some experts believe it’s a “myth.”
Instead of focusing on minimum length, make your content unique, original and genuinely helpful to your visitors. While longer articles may perform better, it’s simply not true that Google ignores shorter articles that provide valuable information. According to Beamtic.com: “As of the writing of this Beamtic has a number of articles, which are just below 100 words in length, and they are nearly all indexed. I think the smallest articles we have had, has been around 50 words!”
The SEO tail
Take a hard look at your web page. Is the SEO tail wagging the content dog? What are you trying to achieve?
Advisors still rely on referrals for a significant amount of new business. The purpose of your web page should be to provide credible, readable and interesting content. You won’t do that with dense text or without the creative use of images and videos.
Dan Solin is a New York Times best-selling author of the Smartest series of books. His latest book is The Smartest Sales Book You’ll Ever Read. He is a sales coach to advisors, helping them to convert more prospects into clients. His affiliated firm, Evidence Based Advisor Marketing, provides a full range of digital marketing services exclusively to evidence based advisors.
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