Did you know that almost half of all searches conducted on Google are seeking local information (46%)?
Despite this, a whopping 56% of businesses have yet to claim their Google listings.
It’s incredible—really—that so many businesses are willing to miss out on local customers. Although digital marketing seems intimidating at first, just a little understanding can go a long way in leading your financial business towards a more modern and relevant marketing strategy.
As the numbers show, local search engine optimization (SEO) is a vital part of a well-thought-out marketing strategy. A simple way to start building a strong local SEO presence is through financial services directories. Not only do they produce qualified referrals, but listings in directories are also a foolproof way to help you rank higher on Google.
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Local searches are now more critical than ever to business success—and that’s especially true for financial services companies.
If a customer is looking for a financial advisor, they’ll most likely seek recommendations online first. The search query “financial advisor near me,” for example, has over 10,000 hits each month on Google, and that’s just one variation of what people are searching for.
Local SEO is the process of increasing a website’s visibility for local Google searches and on Google Maps
The only way to have your business appear in local search results (think Google Maps) for queries like these is with local SEO. It all starts with a well maintained and consistently updated Google My Business (GMB) profile, but local SEO goes beyond just that.
According to Google, three factors determine local search results: distance, relevance, and prominence.
Local SEO works to optimize all three of these elements in order to improve your business’s visibility in local search and on Google Maps.
Distance is simply how far away your business is from a given location term in a query or is based on a user’s location. To ensure you’re not losing any traffic due to distance issues, you have to maintain up-to-date information like open hours and your address across all online citations (more on these later).
Relevance is how well your website matches a given query. The best way to improve relevance is to include as much up to date information as possible in your Google My Business profile and website. That way, when someone is searching for say, REIT investing, they can find your financial advisor services that invest in REITs.
Is your business a household name? If it is, you probably won’t have to worry about prominence, but for the rest, prominence greatly affects local search.
Read about what other small business owners are doing to improve their local SEO.
Brand recognition can take years to build up, but prominence is something you can improve simply by increasing the number of company citations on the internet.
Citations are an online reference to a business that features its name, phone number, and address (NAP). They also will often include a map with directions and even a link to the business’ site or a ‘contact us’ form.
Citations are great for boosting local search results, improving brand awareness, and on occasion, building your backlink profile (but only when a do-follow link is secured). Most importantly, the NAP in all citations should be consistent with what’s in your Google My Business profile.
There are two general types of citations, structured citations, and unstructured citations.
Structured citations are ones like your GMB profile, Bing Places, the White Pages, or other directories. Meanwhile, unstructured citations are citations located on an app or website that aren’t meant for local business listings. This could be at the end of a blog post, on a social media platform, or any other place your business is referenced.
Here’s an example unstructured citation from the author bio of an article the Markitors’ CEO wrote for Paypal.
For the most part, structured citations are far easier to secure than unstructured ones. Here’s an example of a structured citation from a local financial advisor on White Pages.
The above would be considered a general directory citation, but there are also industry-specific structured citations like this one from the Financial Services Directory.
These industry-specific directories often include a link to your site to help boost domain authority as well as the typical NAP and map with directions.
Every one of these directories can help strengthen local SEO for your website. If local SEO is working right, new clients and customers will be flooding in. Landing a citation at these directories is painless and well worth the effort.
You may think the CFA institute would only list chartered financial planners or advisors, but that’s not the case. Any financial advisor can get a citation from the CFA Institute.
The CFA institute is known for its in-depth industry analysis provided in annual reports and press releases. The website draws in strong organic traffic and has a high domain rating, which means your citation will be great for your site’s SEO.
The financial service directory provides citations for just about any finance-related business from credit unions to accountants. They also produce informative articles about personal finance, tips for financial advisors, investing, and more.
Bing Places for Business is Bing’s answer to Google My Business. Claiming your listing is easy, free, and will help improve your website’s local search traffic. Despite this, some 82% of businesses haven’t claimed their Bing listings.
Bing might not have the search traffic of Google, but signing up for Bing Places is still worth the effort.
Started in 1983, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors has thousands of members across the country. It will cost you to become a member, but the citation comes with a link, and they send free educational content out to members.
Foursquare’s directory has over 50 million active users, according to the company. And over 2 million business listings. That alone makes it well worth securing a citation.
The Yellow Pages may not come to your door anymore, but they live on online. The white pages business directory (part of the Yellow Pages) features millions of listings and is usually one of the first citations to secure because it’s free and easy.
Bizjournals.com is known for its hard-hitting journalism, industry reports, and events, but they also have a business directory where you can land a citation. The site has a very high domain rating and strong web traffic.
Yahoo local listings used to be extremely popular, but as Yahoo has fallen off, so have the business listings. That being said, Yahoo recently announced it is the arrival of Yahoo “local works.” The service is meant to help place your citation in over 70 online directories.
The American Association of Private Lenders is the perfect citation to secure if your company is a mortgage fund manager, hard money lender, or any other type of private lender.
You do have to become a member to be listed, but for the citation alone, it is worth considering.
Banks, mortgage lenders, venture capital funds, this directory has every financial company listed you could imagine. The citation comes with a link, and there are also options for ‘shortlist’ directories that are featured more prominently on the site—for a fee.
Creating a local SEO strategy for financial services companies
From securing local links to maintaining the accuracy of brand mentions on hundreds of sites across the net, local SEO can get a little confusing and time-consuming.
If you’d rather focus on your financial services company and leave the marketing to the experts, feel free to contact us and schedule a consultation today. We’d be more than happy to help get you started with local SEO and financial services directories.
Markitors is an SEO digital marketing company. We work with small businesses to rank their websites higher on Google, resulting in more traffic and leads. Explore what’s in our SEO toolbox: audits and keyword research, digital PR, technical SEO, and local SEO.