Google plays a pivotal role in almost every prospective client’s journey to your door. That means you need to understand the three ways your potential clients use it.
You’re probably wondering what they are, so let’s dive straight in.
1. To validate a recommendation
We all know the best type of new enquiry is a recommendation from an existing client. A recommendation from a professional connection comes a close second.
Even though the prospect has been referred by a trusted source they’re still going to head to Google, usually for one of two reasons.
- Reason #1: The recommendation was strong, they’ve pretty much decided that you’re the adviser/planner for them, but they just want some basic information; contact details, parking information, confirmation whether appointments are online or face-to-face, and so on.
- Reason #2: They’ve been referred to more than one adviser/planner and they’re conducting deeper due diligence to understand more about each before deciding whether to contact one of the recommendations, all of them, or none.
For both reasons, the journey that prospects take is generally the same; a Google search for your or your business (this is where they first ‘meet’ you) followed by a click through to your website (which is where they start to get to know you).
So, you need to be visible and impressive online.
Visible means dominating the results page for a brand search, with your website appearing (plus site extensions) alongside your Google My Business listing. The rest of the page should be dominated by links all associated with you or your business.
To be impressive you need Google reviews plus an effective website with bags of social proof and oodles of empathy to show you work with people just like them.
2. To find a list of financial advisers or planners
Consumers who need advice but haven’t sought a recommendation have two options. Both involve Google.
The first is to use Google to find a list of advisers/planners.
Here’s the thing though; consumers don’t have your knowledge. So, many probably don’t know exactly what they’re looking for. At this stage, they probably won’t know the difference between an adviser and a planner. Chartered might sound great, but they probably won’t know what it means. All of this means they search based on one thing they’re absolutely certain of; their location.
To find proof look no further than the main directories. All of them start by asking for the visitor’s postcode. It’s also why the identikit ‘listings sites’ (they’re nothing but lead generation sites, but that’s a story for another day) promoted heavily in Google Ads, all start by requesting a postcode.
There are several reasons why consumers will look for a list of advisers/planners:
- We’re told to shop around for almost everything, why would financial advice be any different?
- They’re still in browsing rather than decision-making mode
- Entering details into a directory requires less commitment than contacting an individual firm.
The desire to find a list of advisers/planners means that directories play an important role in connecting consumers with the advice they need.
We urge all advisers/planners that we work with to make their own mind up about the success of the commercial directories. For example, we’ve heard of advisers/planners cancelling Unbiased due to a lack of leads or reduction in quality. In contrast, we’ve spoken to others who are converting up to 50% of all enquiries.
We also expect non-commercial directories such as those run by the likes of The Money Advice Service, CII, and SOLLA to gain more traction over the coming months and years.
Click here to ensure you’re on all the key directory sites.
3. To select an adviser/planner directly from the Google search results
Some people (although probably fewer than you think) will use Google to search directly for a financial adviser/planner. Prospects have three ways of connecting with an adviser from the search results page:
- Click on an advert (up to four ads feature at the top and the bottom of the search results page).
- Click on the local results, known by different names including Local Pack. Sat between the adverts and the natural search results, these are often overlooked by advisers/planners.
- Click one of the natural search results (the 10 blue links which get the most attention on the page).
Too many advisers/planners mistakenly conclude that they need the budget equivalent to the national debt of a small country so they can start investing in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and appear in the natural search results. In many ways appearing on page one of the natural search results is a vanity metric; it’s great for your ego but not your bank balance.
Hear me out as I explain why:
- Research shows that the first link in the organic search results has an average click through rate (CTR) of 31.7%. It also receives 10 times as many clicks as the link at the bottom of the page. So, you need to be at the top of page one to generate significant engagement. Have you seen who occupies the top spot in your local area? It’s usually one of the main directories and they are almost impossible to dislodge. So, you can probably forget about appearing there.
- Remember when we said many consumers are looking for a list of advisers/planers? That’s because they are still in browsing rather than action mode. It requires far more commitment to fill a form out on your website or pick the phone up than it does to complete the form on Unbiased.
- There’s only so much you can do to compel someone to click your link on a Google search results page. Once you’ve completed your page title and description you’re pretty much done.
All that means it’s far more productive to focus on your position in the local search results than trying to get yourself to the top of the first page in the natural search results.
Time to engage with Google
Understanding how potential clients use Google, and then making changes to your online presence, will help your wider marketing strategy deliver more enquiries from the right type of people.
Your first job is to make life easy for people who have been recommended to you. That means being visible and impressive online. How many of these can you tick off?
- A fully completed Google My Business listing
- Dominance of the results page after a search for you or your business
- An effective website, packed with social proof and empathy.
Once that’s done, turn your attention to appearing in the local search results. Next week, we’ll give you our key dos and don’ts to help you do just that.
In the meantime, if you need help with your Google My Business listing or creating an engaging website, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0115 8965 300.