Over the years we have written a lot about advisors using social media. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or your own blog are all great ways to go social and connect with clients and prospects. While not explicitly stated by a number of advisor, I think fear is one of the primary reasons they don’t jump on the social bandwagon. Fear of making a mistake or even fear of a bad comment or “review”
In today’s guest blog post, Brian Hart explains some of the positives of social to help clients find you as well as how to deal with that “bad press.” I thought Brian’s article was especially relevant in light of today’s markets and regulatory environment. Please find Brian’s article below:
Let’s get one thing straight – all publicity is not always good publicity. In fact, at a time where consumers regularly research their potential service providers through search engines, one bad article or review can have a costly, if not crippling, bottom line impact for financial advisors.
With investors demanding trust and transparency now more than ever, your online reputation is (for better or worse) linked to your overall business success. While the media may positively highlight your business and customers may write positive reviews, you will probably experience negative press or a negative review at least once in the course of doing business. To protect your online image, it is essential to take control of your digital footprint by building a robust, positive and search-optimized digital presence.
Building Your Digital Presence
First off, don’t wait until you receive bad press to start building your digital presence. It’s much harder (and often, quite expensive) to knock down bad press once it surfaces on the first page of your Google results. By building a strong digital presence beforehand, it is less likely that a bad link will penetrate the first page of results, and it’s easier to deal with if it does.
Your website is the foundation of your digital presence, and it will likely be the top result for people searching for you. If your site is not search optimized or mobile friendly, it’s likely losing search strength, so consider hiring a web designer with an SEO background to get it where it needs to be.
Beyond the website, you should build active profiles on high authority websites. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google + company pages tend to rank quite highly in search results, and creating a relevant presence on each of those channels is a natural next step after addressing your website. Review and directory sites like Yelp, Manta, Glassdoor and Yellow Pages also rank highly, but make sure you understand the regulatory rules regarding your use of these sites before setting up a profile.
Also, be aware that review sites can attract both positive and negative reviews. If you choose not to take ownership of your company’s page, an angry customer or former employee can still post negative reviews.
There are other websites specific to advisors, like BrightScope, that allow you to claim your profile and add links and content, so look to establish yourself and your company on these third-party sites to broaden and strengthen your web presence.
Using Social Media for SEO
One of the ways Google detects the relevancy of a site or link is through the social media engagement it receives. A blog post that receives dozens of “likes” and shares will usually rank higher than one that receives only a handful. Having an active presence on social media will allow your network and online audiences to engage with your content, prompting Google crawlers to take notice.
In May 2015, a deal between Twitter and Google went live. Tweets now appear for trending topics in a new carousel format on Google. Twitter has given Google access to feeds of tweets, making it much easier for Google to find tweets quickly and index them. For users, they have greater access to companies’ information and announcements on social media platforms. For SEO, companies can boost their visibility in search engine results by placing keywords and relevant information in their tweets.
Dealing With Existing Bad Press
Bad press and negative reviews that show up on the first page of search results will inevitably cost you business. Sites like Ripoff Report make it easy for former clients and employees to crush your online image and hurt your bottom line.
If you have already received bad press or bad reviews, it is important to address it as soon as possible. The longer it camps out in your search results, the more resistant it will be to efforts to push it down the rankings. Unless you have a team member trained in SEO, you will want to hire an expert to take the lead.
News editors are used to dealing with companies and their lawyers’ pleas to remove negative stories, so going that route usually won’t get you anywhere. It can even make your problem far worse, as Maryland politician Kirby Delauter found out last year.
Your best bet is to push out new, positive content in an attempt to outrank the negative search result. A focused PR and content strategy will be the key, and your firm will benefit from positive press in the process. If you do hire an agency to lead this effort, make sure they have prior success in dealing with similar situations.
Additionally, a recent Google algorithm change supports press release links and gives them greater SEO value. This benefits major news release distribution sites such as PR Newswire. The algorithm change means press releases will now appear in Google News, along with other news articles, making releases more valuable than they were prior to this change.
Two Sides to SEO
SEO is both offensive and defensive. It can help you maintain a positive digital image while protecting you from being impacted by negative press or reviews. The key is to invest in and take control of your digital footprint – because if you don’t, someone else will.
Brian Hart is the founder and president of Flackable, a national public relations agency supporting the communications needs of registered investment advisors (RIAs) and other forward-thinking financial services firms. To learn more about Flackable, please visit www.flackable.com. Follow Brian on Twitter @BrianHartPR.
The opinions and views expressed herein are those of Brian Hart. SEI bears no responsibility for their accuracy. Brian Hart and Flackable are not affiliated with SEI or its subsidiaries.