Like millions of other businesses, where benefits advisories appear during a web search can make them or break them

“With more than 5 billion queries a day, [appearing on] the first page of results on Google, Yahoo and Bing is more crucial than ever,” says Christina Bertinelli, a senior partner at the digital reputation firm Lumentus.

That rings true for Alex Olson, marketing director of the Olson Group, who has been working to improve his firm’s search engine optimization (SEO) with the help of Google maps, Facebook reviews and regional directories. One suggestion: The benefits adviser considers “a fantastic tool to help increase organic traffic” and score “how well you are searched or can be found locally.” Other sites he finds helpful include Hotfrog, Superpages and the Yellow Pages.

It all comes down to following best practices built around consistency, relevancy and establishing thought leadership, observes Jay Berkman, a principal at JLC Group, which conducts social media campaigns. To improve its searchability, he says advisers should apply SEO techniques to their websites’ page titles, description tags and other key elements.

“In today’s universe, blogging, Facebooking, LinkedIn and Twitter are the supplemental vehicles that advisers need to use,” Berkman continues. “What’s nice about LinkedIn is that they’re constantly upgrading, and they’ve introduced an application where you can post a thought leadership article and have it distributed to all of the groups to which you belong.”

Helpful strategies

Everyone should have a LinkedIn profile because “it’s free, it’s easy, and it’s a great way for you to own your name and topic space,” agrees Bertinelli. “All of a sudden, you have this amazing place to which anyone can go to find all this information about you. It’s a form of validation; LinkedIn has become a standard procedure for any person doing business.”

Another helpful strategy involves WordPress, which Berkman describes as a “websites for dummies” tool that allows a site publisher to create a robust and customizable site. For content, he recommends authoring a four-to-five-hundred word blog at least once a week. These posts can be used to establish thought leadership and, to gain greater visibility, they should link to other relevant articles and be shared on the leading social media platforms.

There’s also something called “news jacking,” which as the description suggests, enables advisers to weigh in on various topics to raise their profile. Berkman suggests setting up a Google Alert for key phrases pertaining to an adviser’s areas of expertise and repurposing relevant stories under a different title. The key points should be reframed, he says, and the article should reference and link to the source material.

“Essentially, your business card is your Google search, and you have to think about it in that way,” says Bertinelli. To generate more leads, she advises using Google AdWords, tailored to specific subjects and regions.

To maximize its web presence, Olson’s firm has been outsourcing social media posts for the past six months or so. One part of the process has been determining the optimal posting times for engendering reader engagement.

“Plan out your social media strategy,” he says. “Make [use] of your analytics and [conduct] proper keyword research. You’ve really have to put in the work to get it where you want it to be.”

“The people at Google who write their algorithms are pretty savvy, and they get savvier all the time.”

Link sharing has been around for years but is still considered a best practice, according to Berkman. One effective approach is to troll the web for relevant information, post germane observations in the comments section of a blog or news article and then link the item back to one’s own website. Since this is a manual process that can be labor-intensive, he suggests farming it out to interns or outsourcing it to a service provider.

But for this stratagem to be effective, it requires a certain degree of sophistication. Irrelevant content that isn’t well integrated into an adviser’s own site taxonomy, or posting the same comment on multiple sites is simply a waste of time and effort.

“The joke’s on you if you think that’s going to work,” says Berkman. “The people at Google who write their algorithms are pretty savvy, and they get savvier all the time.”

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