How do you ensure your website is discoverable for web searches that matter to your firm? The answer... a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. This can be a foreign concept to many people, especially those in the asset management industry who just recently started focusing on building their digital presence.
However, don't let the ever-changing algorithms and artificial intelligence that make up search engines, like Google and Bing, scare you off, understanding how to successfully leverage SEO in the asset management industry is key to attracting the right investors and establishing your digital brand.
After I'm done with you, you'll be well on your way to understanding SEO.
Before we jump into what SEO means and how to effectively use it, it is important to understand how a search engine produces results. Every time you enter a few words into a search bar and press enter, a powerful Rube-Goldberg machine of equations, machine learning, and bots spring into action to serve to you the best possible results. This process scrubs the internet for websites and links with relevant content, then puts them through an algorithm to index and rank them by relevance. Those ranked results are then presented to you in a SERP, or search engine results page. While your SERP may sometimes serve up ads at the top of the page, most of the content will be organic search results, which rely solely on a website's SEO.
SEO, in its simplest terms, is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website. Employing best practice SEO tactics helps your website rank towards the top of a SERP when your target audience conducts an organic search. Ensuring your website is optimized for the searches potential investors may conduct about your firm like your firm name, key portfolio managers, or the fund product(s) you offer, helps you own your digital presence and tell your firm's story. Not caring about your website's SERP performance leaves the door open for media or third party websites to steal your firm's voice by capitalizing on these searches. This is especially true if unflattering news articles are posted about your firm. Is that the first thing you want a potential investor to see when they are searching for "ABC Capital"? Of course not! You want them to see the content you own: your website, team, LinkedIn profile, etc.
To optimize your SEO effectively, you'll need to consider the behind-the-scenes website structure as well as the public-facing content displayed on your website. Check out these tips below to learn more about how you can effectively use SEO to build to own your digital presence.
What Can I Do Behind-the-Scenes to Improve SEO?
The first parts of SEO we will examine are the website elements you can adjust that your visitors may not see, but a search engine will. Search engines release their bots to scour the internet digesting the website content available in order to feed their algorithms the information needed to accurately rank websites for searches. Making sure those search engine bots can easily crawl through the structure of your website can go a long way in improving your rankings.
Sitemap – This is usually an XML file on your website’s server that lists all of the URLs your website includes, and literally “maps them out” for a search engine. This structure not only allows for those bots to better scrub your website, but it also provides useful data for them, such as the last date the page was updated or other languages the page is available in. This can be one of the most overlooked elements of a firm’s website but can be an extremely useful tool to help search engines crawl and better rank your website.
Website Performance – This goes without saying, but at this day in age with many different screen sizes out there between the cellphones, tablets, and physical computers, visitors and search engines expect your website to have a responsive design and mobile-first experience. Additionally, you can expect search engines to penalize you for any slow page loading times as this also hurts the user experience on your website. We have all gone to a website, waited a moment for it to load, and then hit the back button when it fails to load after a few seconds. Tools, like Google Search Console or our website grader report, can help you identify underperforming pages on your website that are hurting your SERP ranking score and if you're not technical, you may need to enlist the help of a developer to improve them.
Improving Your Website's Content for SEO
Now that we know the nuts and bolts of your website are optimized for SERPs, we can talk about what you can do with your website's content to improve SEO.
Keywords – These are the important, or key, words or phrases that people use when searching for a product or service. Understanding how your target market constructs their searches when looking for investment products or information about your firm and competitors is essential in framing your own keyword strategy. Ensure your website content includes keyword phrases naturally that make it possible for search engines to find and serve up your site to relevant searches. Keep in mind, bloating your website with keywords is something search engines notice and penalize websites for, so it's important to be mindful of how and when you use keywords in your content.
Headings – Headings, or tags as they are sometimes called, are the titles to your content. Search engine bots value the content in your headings to a greater degree so ensure, they are thoughtfully constructed with keywords and descriptive. Again, don’t try and fool those bots by artificially stuffing your headings with unnatural keywords, as those bots are good enough to know what is real and relevant audiences, and what is just fluff trying to manipulate the system.
Website URLs - Often overlooked, URLs are an important influencer in your search engine rankings. Your website's URLs should be short but descriptive and include keywords that relate the content on the web page itself that are separated by hyphen ("-"). Never include a string a numbers in a URL or separate words in a URL by any but a dash. Simply put, if a human can't read it, a bot won't be able to either.
Page Titles – Is the short description (only 70 characters max) of your web page that appears in the top of the browser window and in search results (see number 1 in the image below). A page title should be unique to each page on your site, and should not include your company's firm name as google already knows this.
Meta Description – On the search results page, just below the page title sits the meta description (see number 2 in the image above) which provides a description of the contents of this page in 150 characters or less. Meta descriptions should be unique to every page on your website so if you have 70 websites pages, that means 70 meta descriptions.
Building a Better SEO Strategy
Ok, now that we have some of these terms and tips understood, what’s next? It's time to implement or improve your SEO strategy, that’s what. If you have a strategy in place, make sure to review it at least quarterly to ensure your website is ranking well on the keywords you are targeting, especially as it relates to your competitors. If no strategy is in place, here are a few steps to get you moving in the right direction:
Start with a list of keywords and phrases that you want to rank for and realistically can.
Move onto creating descriptive headers, page titles, URLs, meta descriptions and website content that are naturally filled with those keywords.
Create a sitemap to relay your website structure to search engine bots.
Check up on your website performance to ensure its fast as lightning on any device.
- You may have to create additional relevant content like dedicated topical webpages, blogs, social media posts, etc. to boost your rank for keyword searches, particularly competitive keywords. You may even consider hiring a PR firm to help boost media placements and brand content.
Rinse and repeat! It is best practice to keep your SEO strategy agile. Google and other search engines are always tweaking and updating their process, which means you will have to do the same if you want your strategy and target keywords to stay relevant. Use resources like Google Analytics and your asset management firm's content management system to report on important SEO metrics and identify opportunities for improvement.
This is not an exhaustive list of what you or your team could be doing to help your asset management firm's SEO. Hopefully this article has given you some insights into the inner workings of search results and how you can leverage your website to better reach your target audience.