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Building out your Financial Advisor Website

These are some ideas for getting your website ready for the search engines.

 

 

Domain Name & URLs

Why this is important: The domain name is part of the identity of your business. The URL chosen can have a significant impact on brand identity and to a lesser extent, keyword ranking performance.

 

However, how your site domain name and page URLs function can have significant impact on the crawlability of the site, visitor usability, and traffic performance.

 

These are some items to check off for your site domain name & site URLs:

 

  • Short and memorable
  • Uses Keywords
  • Used in email addresses
  • Uses Favicon
  • [Your Site].com redirect to www. version
  • Alternate Domain redirects
  • Home page redirect to root
  • No underscores in filenames
  • Keywords in directory names
  • Multiple pages per directory
  • Registered for 5+ years
  • Multiple versions:
    • .com
    • .org
    • .net
    • .biz
  • Hyphenations
  • Misspellings
  • Product names
  • Brand names
  • Type-in keywords URLs

 

Site Logo

Why this is important: The logo lends directly to brand identity and site identification.

 

It also creates a certain element of appeal and professionalism in the mind of the visitor. It holds an important role in visitor assurance and navigation.

 

Some other important things to consider for your logo:

 

  • Displays company name clearly
  • Isn’t hidden among clutter
  • Links to home page
  • Unique and original
  • Use tagline consistently across site

 

Design Considerations

Why this is important: The site design is essentially the first impression that someone gets when they land on your site. You may have all your usability and SEO elements in place, but if the design is lacking then your visitor’s impression of you will be lacking. A visually appealing site can not only bolster trust and credibility, but it can make you stand out among other less-appealing sites in your industry.

 

Some things to consider for your site:

 

  • Instant site identification
  • Crisp, clean image quality
  • Clean, clutter-less design
  • Consistent colors and type
  • Whitespace usage
  • Minimal distractions
  • Targets intended audience
  • Meets industry best practices
  • Easy to navigate
  • Descriptive links
  • Good on-page organization
  • Easy to find phone number
  • Don’t link screen captures
  • Skip option for flash
  • Consistent page formatting
  • No/minimal on-page styling
  • Avoid text in images
  • Font size is adequate
  • Font type is friendly
  • Paragraphs not too wide
  • Visual cues to important elements
  • Good overall contrast
  • Low usage of animated graphics
  • Uses obvious action objects
  • Avoid requiring plugins
  • Minimize the use of graphics
  • Understandable graphic file names
  • No horizontal scrolling
  • Non-busy background
  • Recognizable look and feel
  • Proper image / text padding
  • Uses trust symbols
  • Works on variety of resolutions
  • Works on variety of screen widths

 

Site Architectural Issues

Why this is important: Website architecture can make or break the performance of a website in the search engines. Poor architectural implementation can create numerous stumbling blocks, if not outright roadblocks, to the search engines as they attempt to crawl your website. On the other hand, a well-implemented foundation can assist both visitors and search engines as they navigate through your website, therefore increasing your site’s overall performance.

 

Make sure these items in place for your website:

 

  • Correct robots.txt file
  • Declare doctype in HTML
  • Validate HTML
  • Don’t use frames
  • Alt tag usage on images
  • Custom 404 error page
  • Printer friendly
  • Underlined links
  • Differing link text color
  • Breadcrumb usage
  • Nofollow cart links
  • txt non-user pages
  • Nofollow non-important links
  • Review noindex usage
  • Validate CSS
  • Check broken links
  • No graphics for ON/YES, etc.
  • Page size less than 50K
  • Flat directory structure
  • Proper site hierarchy
  • Unique titles on all pages
  • Title reflects page info and heading
  • Unique descriptions on pages
  • No long-tail page descriptions
  • Proper bulleted list formats
  • Branded titles
  • No code bloat
  • Minimal use of tables
  • Nav uses absolute links
  • Good anchor text
  • Text can be resized
  • Key concepts are emphasized
  • CSS less browsing
  • Image-less browsing
  • Summarize all tables

 

 

Navigation

Why this is important: A strong, user-friendly and search engine friendly navigation is essential in helping people and bots browse through your site. Your visitors need to find information quickly with minimal hunting and the search engines need to be able to follow the navigation to reach all site pages with the fewest number of jumps (clicks) necessary. If the navigation is broken or doesn’t get people (or search engines) where they need to go, the performance of your site will suffer.

Make sure your site navigation includes these elements:

  • Located top or top-left
  • Consistent throughout site
  • Links to Home page
  • Links to Contact Us page
  • Links to About Us page
  • Simple to use
  • Indicates current page
  • Links to all main sections
  • Proper categorical divisions
  • Non-clickable is obvious
  • Accurate description text
  • Links to Login
  • Provides Logout link
  • Uses Alt attribute in images
  • No pop-up windows
  • No new window links
  • Do not rely on rollovers
  • Avoid cascading menus
  • Targets expert and novice users
  • Absolute links

 

Content

Why this is important: Content is an essential part of the persuasion process. Pretty, image-based sites may be appealing to the eye, but it’s the content that appeals to the emotional and logical centers of the brain. The inclusion of content as well as the effectiveness of the writing are all crucially important to your sales process.

 

When adding new content to your site, make sure it follows these guidelines:

 

  • Grabs visitor attention
  • Exposes need
  • Demonstrates importance
  • Ties need to benefits
  • Justifies and calls to action
  • Gets to best stuff quickly
  • Reading level is appropriate
  • Customer focused
  • Benefits and features
  • Targets personas
  • Provides reassurances
  • Consistent voice
  • Eliminate superfluous text
  • Reduce/explain industry jargon
  • No typo, spelling or grammar errors
  • Contains internal contextual links
  • Links out to authoritative sources
  • Enhancing keyword usage (SEO)
  • Date published on articles/news
  • Web version of PDF docs available
  • Consistent use of phrasing
  • No unsubstantiated statements

 

Content Appearance

Why this is important: Great content can get lost if it’s not easy to read or thrown into an otherwise cluttered page. Ensuring that your content fits visually into the site is just as important as having good content to begin with. If you want the sales message to get across, your visitors will need to read it.

 

Consider these items when reviewing content or adding new content to your site:

 

  • Short paragraphs
  • Uses sub-headings
  • Uses bulleted lists
  • Calls to action on all pages
  • Good contrast
  • No overly small text for body
  • No overly small text for headings
  • Skimmable and scannable
  • Keep link options in close proximity

 

Links And Buttons

Why this is important: Links and calls to action are a great way to allow visitors to navigate from page to page, finding the information they feel is important to helping them make the purchase decision. Without these calls to action many visitors will simply not know what they are expected to do next.

 

Review the buttons and links and ensure they follow these guidelines:

 

  • Limit the number of links on a page
  • Avoid small buttons and tiny text for links
  • Leave space between links and buttons
  • Avoid using images as the only link
  • Link important commands
  • Underline all links
  • Accurately reflects the page it refers

 

Home Page

Why this is important: The home page is often the single largest entry-point. It is the page that gives the visitor the sense of who you are and what they can expect. Go wrong here and it can be all over before it begins.

 

Review your homepage for the following elements:

 

  • No splash page
  • Instant page identification
  • No Flash
  • Provides overview of site
  • Site purpose is clear
  • Robot meta: NOODP, NOYDIR

 

About Us Page

Why this is important: Studies have shown that conversion rates for visitors who have visited the About Us page increase measurably. Those who visit here are looking for a few extra elements of trust that will help them decide whether to continue on or move on. What they find can mean the difference in a conversion or the visitor leaving your site for a competitor’s.

 

Confirm your About Us page satisfies the following points:

 

  • Adequately describes company
  • Shows team biographies
  • Shows mission statement
  • Up to date information
  • Note associations, certifications and awards
  • Links to support pages:
    • Contact page
    • Investor relations
    • Company news
    • Registration info
    • Job opportunities
    • Newsletters
    • Link to social media profiles

 

Contact Us Page

Why this is important: Those who land on this page are showing clear intent in wanting to to get in touch with you. Providing only a few ways to contact you can alienate visitors who have a particular preference. Providing robust contact options and information ensures that you capture as many would-be clients as possible.

 

Your should consider the following points for your Contact Us page

 

  • Should be easy to find
  • Should offer multiple contact options:
    • Phone
    • Fax
    • Email
    • Form
    • Chat
  • Should provide a way for customers to provide feedback
  • Should contain a street map for your business location
  • Hours of Operation
  • Final call to action
  • Multiple points of contact:
    • Customer service
    • Tech support
    • Inquiries
    • General info
    • Job applications
    • Billing
    • Management team
  • Should be Ad-free
  • Form requires only essential info (name, email, phone (optional)

 

Services Pages

Why this is important: The services page has a very singular focus. Its job is to provide the visitor with the information about the service they need to be convinced that it is exactly what they are looking for. If your service pages cannot convince visitors to call or contact you, then you’re simply dead in the water.

 

You should consider the following points for your Services pages:

 

  • Visible calls to action
  • Clear contact info (phone #)
  • Consistent layout
  • Clear service presentation
  • Guarantee info
  • Service description
  • Customer reviews
  • Clutter-free page
  • Service Areas

 

Help And FAQ Pages

Why this is important: If your customers are digging through your help and FAQ pages, chances are they are close to making a decision to sign on with your firm and they just need a little extra bump.

 

Remember these points on your Help & FAQ pages:

 

  • Avoid marketing hype
  • Link to additional resources:
    • Client support
    • Q & A

 

Privacy And Security Pages

Why this is important: While most visitors won’t read your Privacy and Security pages, they do provide necessary assurances that visitors look for in terms of being able to trust you. However, when visitors do click onto these pages, certain information needs to be presented to them to ensure their needs are met.

 

Don’t forget the following points for your Privacy & Security pages:

 

  • Present info in easy to read format
  • Provide section summaries
  • Identify information types collected
  • Explain how cookies are used
  • Explain how user information will be used
  • Explain how info will be protected
  • Link to these pages in footer
  • Provide links to contact info

 

Site Map

Why this is important: Sitemaps provide a one-click path to any destination within the site and a way for the search engines to quickly find and index all site pages.

 

Ensuring that your sitemaps function properly is an important part of ensuring your visitors can find what they want quickly and all site pages are properly indexed.

 

Remember to the following for your site’s sitemaps:

 

  • Keep information current
  • Link to site map in footer
  • Linked from help and 404 pages
  • Provide overview paragraph
  • Provide intro to main sections
  • Visible site hierarchy
  • Descriptive text and links
  • Link to xml sitemap in robots.txt file