Rocket Talk: What is a Whitepaper and How Do You Use It?

 

In the spectrum of different tools that digital marketers use, few are as powerful and versatile as the well-crafted whitepaper. Most people have heard the term by now, but many don’t understand what makes a good whitepaper. In this Rocket Talk, Kirk Faulkner and Raudel Enrique Sanchez discuss what a whitepaper is, how to create a great one and what you can do with it once you have it.

Why QUALITY Content Is King in SEO

How Content Influences SEO InfographicIn 1996, Bill Gates saw the rising value of Internet content. While he recognized the importance of output volume, he knew the future of web copy would demand excellence.

If people are to be expected to put up with turning on a computer to read a screen, they must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will.”- Bill Gates

If there was ever need of additional proof of Gates’ prescience, this statement would provide it. Twenty years later, the Internet abounds with content and a growing user appetite for increasingly valuable material.

As a financial advisor, you have to feed your clientele with relevant and trending information. The industry is inundated with hackneyed writing, making it essential that each post enriches your audience in compelling ways. Changes to search algorithms have made web crawlers like Google, Yahoo and Bing more discerning when it comes to judging the quality of your content. Appeasing their higher standards is the key to optimizing your site for search and improving your rankings on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

There are three main aspects of your content you can improve to help improve your site’s ranking in the digital marketplace Bill Gates envisioned:

Originality, Personality, and Interactivity.

Provide Original Insight

The majority of the content being produced at any given moment is simply regurgitated versions of something else that was already published. The internet is aswarm with the same article sliced 15 different ways. If you want to experience the loving electric embrace of high search rankings you need to share information and experiences that are unique to you and your business.

When it comes to sharing lessons learned in the trenches, it is not a bad strategy to overshare. By opening up your coffers of knowledge and sharing your treasure with the web at large you are not only demonstrating your expertise in your chosen area, you are providing the exact type of insight that improves a users over all experience of your site. Your bounce rate will fall, your average time on page will increase and your quality scores, the number that signifies Google’s determination of how well you address a certain keyword, will go through the roof.

Demonstrate Your Personality

When you meet a prospective client, you smile as you shake hands. Having an approachable style and voice has the same effect. Your writing tone is essential to making your clients feel welcome but also needs to communicate professionalism and expertise. This can seem like a difficult tight rope to walk. Take some time to consider your word choice. Is your language festooned with jargon or approachable to a layman?

Another aspect of your writing to consider is your character. What persona are you projecting in your online publications? Are you the only narrator they experience? One incredibly powerful strategy to help your readers connect with your writing is to introduce a cast of characters made up of members of your staff, your family or your clients. The more that your readers feel that you are sharing of your life the more they will fell comfortable trusting you with aspects of theirs.

Use Interactive Content

One of the most important aspects of a web experience is how personalized it feels to the person having it. Something as simple as recommended similar articles that appear at the end of a particular piece can be the difference between a reader spending a few seconds with your site or going further, taking a deep dive into your content library and experiencing the breadth of your content.

Being concise is the new currency. Take advantage of our increasingly visual culture and use videos and images to tell your story. Bill Gates also predicted the importance of this component, suggesting the “need to have audio, and possibly video” to give customers a complete experience. A combination of pithy writing and powerful visuals will result in increased SEO performance and a steady stream of new opportunities for your company.

Get Started on Creating High-Quality Content

Advisor Launchpad provides comprehensive digital marketing services for financial advisors seeking to establish their online reputation and get ahead of the local competition.

From copywriting to SEO to web design, we have assembled various packages to meet your budget and marketing needs.

Contact us today to learn more information.

How To Strengthen Your Social Marketing

Financial advisors have limited time to worry about their social marketing. Between LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, it can be especially hard to build a brand that remains unique to your firm and yet specific to each platform.

At Advisor Launchpad, we’re here to strengthen your social marketing by simplifying your focus. Our advice? Pick a platform, build a game plan, and stick to the process. It’s that simple. Rather than trying to master LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook all at once, invest your time in one platform at a time.

Today, we’ll provide an overview of each outlet so you know what types of content work best.

  1. LinkedIn: “The 24-Hour Trade Show Booth”

For financial advisors, LinkedIn is regarded as the most important social marketing community. While Twitter and Facebook bring more personality to the conversation, LinkedIn is usually the first destination prospective clients and industry colleagues will search you. It’s the place where thought leaders carve their niche and cultivate their audience. 

To join the conversation, you need original, engaging, and thought-provoking content. LinkedIn surfers aren’t only interested in hearing about what you do. They want to know how you think. Not only do people use LinkedIn to network, but also to stay abreast of the most innovative ideas in their industry. 

Inspirational pieces about your unique work philosophy or your distinct approach to financial planning will make the most lasting impressions. To captivate audiences about your company, shine a spotlight on your team, your work culture, and your firm’s successes. If you can attract readers with your business ethos alone, it’s only a matter of time until they become your client. 

LinkedIn rewards topicality. Stick to your niche, focus on your audience, and publish content that continually reinforces your expertise in the financial world. Think of LinkedIn as your 24-hour, seven-day-a-week trade show booth at a financial planning conference. 

What would you publish to continually attract (and retain) your visitors? 

2.   Twitter: “The Eternal Elevator Pitch”

LinkedIn posts age slowly, but last week’s tweets might as well be from 1850. Twitter is a social media beast that feeds exclusively on a steady stream of fresh and pithy messages.

While providing a second outlet for the content you share on LinkedIn, Twitter presents an opportunity to network in a more engaging and public way. Beyond linking to your white papers and blogs, Twitter encourages you to continuously interact with others in your field. 

Retweets, comments, and even a well-timed GIF show readers that you possess a broad perspective that extends beyond your own practice. That’s an attractive quality to prospective clients. Think of Twitter as your personal newspaper, carefully curated to highlight the qualities that make your firm unique. Though much of the content on your feed may come from third parties, if you retweet it, you’re technically still the publisher. 

While your LinkedIn profile largely consists of your own blogs and updates, Twitter can be an eclectic collection of tweets from The Economist, stock market updates, a random Bill Murray GIF, and the occasional thought piece of your own. 

A word to the wise: while propriety is paramount, don’t be afraid to build the Twitter feed you want, not the one you think others respect.

3.   Facebook: The Happy Hour of Social Media” 

The secret is in the title: Face. Book. The ubiquitous social network demands one thing above all else: users want to see you. In contrast with LinkedIn and Twitter, Facebook is by far the most personal of the social media outlets. 

With well over 2.13 billion active users on the platform, Facebook is less about overt branding and more about personality. This plays well into the hands of financial advisors.

While you may already have a personal Facebook page, you will want to establish one specifically for your company. When you do, lean into the recreational side of social media that Facebook enables. Continue sharing your company’s original blogs and content, but go a step further by posting videos of you and your firm. 

45% of users watch over an hour of Facebook videos a week. If you can tap into that demand - whether via clips explaining a hot topic in the news or behind-the-scenes videos of your team at work - you’ll be personally inviting prospective clients into your world. 

If LinkedIn is your round-the-clock trade show booth and Twitter is your elevator pitch, think of Facebook as a corporate happy hour. You’re technically still working, but you’re surrounded by people who want to loosen up and get to know the real you. 

Use video to get the most out of Facebook.

Getting started!

We hope this guide helps clarify the larger differences between the three pillars of social media. However you choose to get started, prioritize building an authentic personality on one platform rather than a haphazard presence on all three.

Pick your platform, build a game plan, and stick to it. Over time, you’ll master each platform and reap their individual rewards. 

What are backlinks and how do you get some?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has a language of its own. From “whitehat” to “blackhat” and “nofollow” links to “dofollow” links, this digital lexicon requires more than a few definitions to make sense of the madness.

Today, we’re looking at one of the central components of an effective SEO strategy: “backlinks.” Widely heralded as the currency of SEO, backlinks are incoming hyperlinks that point from one website to another. For example, if Advisor Launchpad mentioned an article in The New York Times, that hyperlink would be considered a backlink for the famed publication. 

Backlinks are an integral piece of search engine ranking algorithms. If your website receives an abundance of backlinks from high-quality sources, Google will recognize your growing authority and boost your ranking.

While backlinks have long been part of the digital marketing conversation, the means of actually getting them have changed drastically. First, there was the old-school approach that saw hosts spamming comments sections with links to their own websites. Then came the “ends justify the means” crowd who bought backlinks from “link farms” to help increase their popularity. 

Though these tactics worked for a time, Google and other search engines caught on to the schemes and leveled harsh ranking punishments (and even banned) websites attempting to cut corners. The backlink goldrush inevitably led to a more tightly monitored and regulated market.

Backlinks are crucial to help grow your online presence, but only when they are earned through networking and a consistent emphasis on producing quality content.

Here are a few tips to get started:

  1. Position Yourself As A Thought Leader

Backlinks themselves carry little value; it’s the destination they take you that matters most. Rather than fret over the number of backlinks you can attain, focus on the most important goal: establishing yourself as a thought leader in both your local and industry markets.

The financial advisory world is inundated with competing voices that often regurgitate the same information. Carve a niche in that community, and you’ll not only boost your backlinks, you’ll also grow your business. 

  1.    Build Your Content “Skyscraper”

What’s the best way to enhance your online presence in the financial space? Take a look at what’s already working. Run a quick Google search of popular financial blogs and articles authored by competing advisory firms. Tools like Moz’s Open Site Explorer and Buzzsumo can help you pinpoint the biggest content influencers and closely analyze their backlinks. 

Take note of the topics they cover and the tone they take, then put together a game plan to exceed their efforts. Brian Dean of Backlinko calls this the “Skyscraper Technique,” an approach derived from the “whatever you can do, I can do better” school of thought.

This could entail writing a more comprehensive or “ultimate” guide to the topic at hand, providing more real-world anecdotes and explanations to personalize your content, or simply altering your blog’s structure to feature more image-based or list-driven content. 

In short, be aware of the content that has a proven track record of success, then expand those qualities and put your own unique spin on it. 

  1.    Leverage Industry Partnerships 

Once you have cultivated your content, it’s time to launch it in the marketplace. Your best target? Financial industry partnerships and local community alliances. 

Say you published a blog that stresses the importance of incorporating an estate plan with your overall financial strategy. Your investment management firm works closely with local attorneys who specialize in estate plans. In this scenario, you could ask those attorneys to feature your guest blog on their website, or simply have them link to your article in one of their own posts. Google prizes these sorts of backlinks, as they rank high in both quality and relevance. 

Beyond leveraging your industry relationships, consider reaching out to local businesses with whom you may already have clients. The power of community credibility cannot be overstated. If a local shop gives you a shout-out in one of their own blogs or newsletters, you’ll earn both backlinks and new business. 

  1.     Publicize Through Social Media 

While leveraging your professional network, be sure to double your influence by capitalizing on social media. LinkedIn shares, Facebook posts, and Twitter retweets go a long way to getting your quality content on the map. Continue cultivating relationships with your social media followers, and it won’t be long before they start promoting your content.

Ultimately, getting backlinks takes time, creativity, and commitment. By focusing on developing unique and compelling content, then taking a multi-pronged approach to publicizing it, your website will gain backlinks as your company gains business. 

How Long Should Your Blog Posts Be?

If you’re working to maximize your website’s SEO, consistent blog posts are an excellent way to provide new content for search engines to analyze as they determine your ranking. But how long should you make each post for maximum impact? Here are some essential guidelines to ensure that you are optimizing each post for SEO, without losing the impact on your readers!

Set a solid minimum

As a simple guideline, blog post should contain at least 300 words in order to rank well on search. There are a multitude of reasons why long posts will rank higher than short posts, but the essential factor lies in how easily Google and other search engines can determine the subject matter of your post. Consider each keyword that you use as a “clue” for Google to decide what your blog post is about. A longer length naturally includes more SEO keywords so you are leaving a perfect trail of breadcrumbs for Google to follow.

Include “long tail” keywords

In a lengthy article, you’ll be able to optimize for multiple long tail variants of the keyword central to your article. Use the opportunity of a longer article to include different phrases than you normally might. For example, the simple keyword “Retirement planning” can be expanded to “Retirement planning for young professionals” or “retirement planning for Doctors,” depending on your prime demographic. With a little added thought, your article will have a chance to turn up in search results for all these “long tail” variants.

Ready to go long?

Though there are different rules as to what post length is ideal for optimizing your SEO, the consensus is, the longer the better. Most marketing specialists advocate for aiming for 1000-2000 words, but with one caveat…the content has to hold the attention of your reader.

The natural downside of longer blog posts is the potential for boring your audience. The quicker a reader loses interests, the more it impacts your bounce rate, and all of your hard work will be in vain. So as you hammer out your 1,000 words, don’t lose sight of the main points of your article. Inform while you entertain, include statistics that spark your readers’ interests, and avoid using stale or outdated language.

There are many ways to keep your reader engaged throughout a large article. Add photos throughout for an easy break on the eyes. Tell an amusing anecdote about your kids’ refusal to add their Christmas money to their piggy bank, then dive into a larger examination of saving versus spending. Make sure your paragraphs are short and clear. Add lots of subheadings using ALP’s easy-to-use dashboard so people understand the main idea of each section. By thinking strategically as you write and format your article, you can ensure that the main points stand out even as you aim for a longer length.

At the very least, ensure that each of your blog posts exceeds 300 words so Google has enough information to work with to rank your website’s SEO. If you’re an experienced writer, experiment with writing posts over 1000 words and see if it makes an impact on your search rankings. Through trial and error, you can determine the optimal length for SEO without losing the interest of your readers!

How To Make Your Next Blog Post The Best Ever!

As you’re beefing up your content marketing efforts, you might notice that your weekly blog posts aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Though this is a definite bummer, don’t panic! It just means that you need to spend a bit more time curating your content and sharing it widely. Here are some quick tips to make your next blog post the best ever!

  1. Judge your book by its cover

Yeah, Mom always told us not to, but let’s face it: people will judge your content based on their first impressions. Taking the time to perfect the title and the introductory paragraph is key to reeling in your reader. This is essential for blog posts in particular, as eight out of ten people will take the time to read your headline copy, but only two out of ten will read the blog itself. Make sure those first impressions shine!

  1. Balance fun and facts

Ultimately, people are visiting your blog to learn more about the financial services industry, but don’t forget to balance your statistics with a good story! Establishing a narrative engages your reader and allows them to relate to the scenarios you’re presenting. 

  1. Cite your sources!

Your teachers have been hammering this into your brain since grade school, and it doesn’t end here! Citing sources on your blog establishes you as an authority in the financial services field and shows that you’ve done your research. Helpful hint: If you’re linking directly to your source, don’t forget to check “open in new window” on your ALP Dashboard so the reader remains on your site. 

  1. Support your SEO

Be sure that you are taking the time to optimize every one of your posts for SEO keywords. Using targeted keywords in the headline, body text, and first and last sentence of your posts is essential to maximizing the impact of your SEO efforts, and this will give your blog an extra leg up in search engine results. 

  1. Announce your new post to the world

You’ve spent years building your following on social media…why let this effort go to waste? Announce your new blog post on all social channels and include hashtags for relevant keywords. This expands the reach of your announcement and brings in a fresh audience to check out your content. 

If your posts aren’t getting the full attention they deserve, try implementing these strategies for your next round of content creation. Adding a little extra tender loving care to your next run of blog posts can grow its reach and bring in a fresh bunch of prospects! 

How Content Marketing Helps Your SEO

If you’ve been paying any attention to the marketing landscape, the words “Content Marketing” have probably caught your eye. Why has such a simple concept—creating timely and informative content to share on your website—come to dominate the marketing world? In addition to being relatively simple and affordable, content marketing has taken center stage for one key reason: It is an excellent way to maximize the impact of your SEO. 

But how specifically does content marketing increase your SEO? Here are some brief explanations of their impact (and some tips to put content marketing to work for you)!

So much space!

Take some time to imagine that you’re The Google Search Engine Algorithm. You can’t see the pictures posted on each website. You can’t watch videos. So how do you determine what each website is about? The written word, of course! 

If you’re not posting regular blogs, Google has limited information it can use to determine what industry you’re in, what clientele you serve, and what search terms are most relevant to you. The algorithms would have to rely on the sparse information on your homepage and interior pages to figure out how to rank you. Posting regular blogs gives Google more information to work with, and the more keywords you integrate into your content, the better it gets to know your business. So help Google out! Post regular blogs to strengthen its algorithm and improve your site ranking. 

You have our attention…

In addition to improving your SEO Keyword Rankings, content marketing performs another essential function for your website: Keeping the attention of your audience. As Google’s algorithm calculates its search rankings, it measures how many visitors frequent your site and how long they stay on each page. 

Posting regular blog posts has a twofold effect on your website: Previous visitors check back in to see if any new blogs have been posted, and new visitors take the time to look at your latest postings to see if your services fit their financial needs. In both cases, the time they take to scroll through your new blog post ranks you higher in Google’s SEO rankings, so keep posting that new content!

Show off your unique point of view!

One of the biggest challenges in developing an SEO keyword strategy is finding a niche that no one else is writing about. As a Financial Advisor, this gives you a wonderful opportunity to show off what sets you apart from other professionals. Is there a service or opportunity that you provide clients that flies under the radar in most firms? Is there a particular question that your prospects would type into Google that could lead them right to your website? Take some time to show off something special, and remember to be more specific than “How to prepare for retirement?” 

As you dive into your marketing strategy, content creation is an effective and inexpensive way to stand out from the crowd. By utilizing a keyword strategy and posting content regularly, you can optimize your SEO and make Google go gaga for your site! 

Creating Marketing Channels for Your Content

So you’ve mastered the first steps of your marketing strategy. You’re posting bi-weekly blogs, drumming up your following on social media, and emailing clients to share your new and exciting insights. You’re ready to expand your marketing efforts even further, and the first step is to find new channels to share your amazing insights. So where do you start?

Recycling is all the rage right now, so why not extend it to your marketing efforts? By giving your existing content a facelift, you can repurpose it to attract a whole new audience. Here are some fun, out-of-the-box ideas to put a more creative spin on your old whitepapers and blog posts:

  • Infographics: These bright animations are a wonderful way to attract an audience that is too busy to read more than a paragraph at a time. Hire a graphic designer, pull out the key talking points of your content, and create a work of art!
  • SlideShare: LinkedIn’s recent acquisition of SlideShare makes it a key component of a LinkedIn Marketing Strategy. Repurpose your content as a PowerPoint, then upload it to SlideShare to send it out into the world! For added impact, send it out to qualified leads and show off your industry knowledge.
  • Videos: Record a 2-3 minute clip explaining the key points of your content and share it across all of your marketing channels. As an added bonus, the camera gives you the opportunity to show off your personality and build rapport with your prospects before you even connect.

Rather than focusing on the constant creation of new content, ensure you are getting complete use out of the whitepapers and blogs you’ve already created. Putting a bright new veneer on your existing content is an excellent way to attract viewers who don’t have the time to read a full page of content, and it allows you to maximize the impact of your hard work.

Rocket Talk: How to Make Videos Your Customers Can’t Resist

 

You have probably heard how much potential there is to connect with your clientele through video. But how do you make your videos really stand out and attract an audience? Raudel Enrique and Kirk Faulkner join us for another episode of Rocket Talk and discuss 10 different things that anyone can do to make their videos irresistible.

3 Tools To Help You Generate Blog Ideas

As a financial advisor, listening to the concerns of your prospects is the very first step to expanding your business. What fears or stressors drive the average person to hire a financial advisor? What topics should you touch on to ensure that you’re delivering content that matters to your target market? 

Here’s a surprising suggestion: Keyword planners! These tools have been an integral part of the marketing landscape for years, but they are often used just to decide what specialized SEO “buzzwords” to plug into your latest blog post. What a waste! Financial advisors should be using these tools to focus on the big picture instead: What are your prospects looking for?

Here are a few Keyword Planners that can help you answer that question:

Answer the Public

This innovative, long-tailed research tool shows you what real people have been asking about a certain subject. Unlike other keyword planners, this tool breaks the results down into easily-digestible data and even provides an alphabetized list of supplementary keywords.

To put this into practice, search for “Retirement.” You will see the 198 most commonly asked questions surrounding this keyword, including “Are retirement pensions taxed?” and “Will retirement age increase?” 

These are likely questions plaguing your potential prospects as well, so address their concerns! Write blog posts including these exact questions—and some of the suggested keywords from the “Alphabeticals” section—to answer the public and attract new prospects!

BuzzSumo’s Top 10 

BuzzSumo’s innovative marketing tool scours the internet for the top 10 shared pieces relating to your search, allowing you to evaluate your competition. What are prospects most likely to share with their friends and family? What type of content will drive the most visitors to your site? This tool is a great way to stay on top of what content is trending in the financial services industry (and craft a strategy to catapult one of your pieces into the Top 10)! 

Tried and True: The Actual Conversation

Though keyword planning tools are an excellent way to survey the content landscape, there’s no replacement for the old-fashioned conversation. Ask your ideal clients what their biggest financial anxieties were before they signed up for your services. What fears kept them up at night? What did they Google as they scoured the internet for answers? Go right to the source and ask your clients what drew them to your doorstep. This is the ultimate keyword planner in a financial advisor’s playbook!

Your prospects are leaning on search engines and social media to find answers to their financial questions. In order to draw them to your site, leverage your financial experience by creating content tailored to their queries. Whether you utilize a keyword planner or a good, old-fashioned conversation, you should be answering their main concerns in your latest content.