If you’ve done any studying on SEO, then you’ve probably heard the term ‘backlink’ thrown around. And even if you’ve barely begun your venture into SEO, there’s still a good chance you’ve heard the term. So hopefully, it rings a bell. But what is a backlink? And why does it matter to you as a financial advisor?
What is a Backlink?
To keep it brief, a backlink is a link on one website that points to a different website. They primarily come in the form of text links, but they can also be an image on one site that directs to a different website.
If you’ve read any online news story, then you’ve encountered backlinks. Typically, you’ll see highlighted blue text, which means the text is linked to another page or website (as seen in the image above). For news stories, those links will often point to previous stories on similar subjects on that news outlet’s website. But they also can be links to external content from other websites—say a relevant TikTok to the news story.
Why do backlinks matter?
More importantly, let’s discuss why backlinks matter. Google has tons of different ranking factors that play into what populates the search results. Though Google doesn’t give away their keys to the kingdom, so to speak, it’s evident from tools like Semrush, that backlinks are a big piece of rankings. Having lots of backlinks is great, but having backlinks from reputable websites is what really matters.
Simply put, backlinks tell Google (and other search engines) that another site is giving your site a vote of confidence. It’d be similar to other Facebook pages sharing your company’s post. In essence, they’re lending their page’s legitimacy to your post. Shares from spam Facebook pages are still shares, but shares from pages with well-established followings are far more meaningful. The same goes for backlinks from reputable websites.
Ultimately, the more backlinks your website has, especially backlinks from strong websites, the more favorably Google will view your website. You can certainly rank highly for keywords without many backlinks if those keywords don’t have much competition. But if there is a lot of competition, your site will have a better advantage if you score well in the backlink category.
As a practical example, and also to poke fun at myself, this website currently only has six backlinks. That’s not very good. Yet, emergingria.com ranks in the top 10 for five keywords at the time of this article, including the number one spot for two keywords. This is evidence that you don’t need backlinks for immediate success. But they certainly help.
Leverage Backlinks as a Financial Advisor
Now that we’ve covered the background of what makes backlinks so important, let’s dive into some ways you can put backlinks to work for you and your advisory firm.
Most Valuable Backlinks for Financial Advisors
Many advisors will often ask, “Is this subscription I’m paying for worth it?” Oftentimes, this question is posed as it relates to the myriad of find-an-advisor websites. When it comes to these sites, most folks boil the ROI (return on investment) down to whether or not they receive leads from the subscription. While leads are an important part of the value, many advisors fail to consider the tangential benefits of being listed on these sites. In my mind, the top benefit of paying for a listing isn’t the leads. It’s the backlink and corresponding SEO boost.
But there’s no need to sign up for any and every available online listing for advisors. There are a couple of really valuable backlinks available to advisors that I’d recommend having.
- NAPFA – napfa.org; Authority score: 41
- Kitces – kitces.com; Authority score: 39
- Wealthtender – wealthtender.com; Authority score: 36
- XYPN – xyplanningnetwork.com; Authority score: 35
- Fee-Only Network – feeonlynetwork.com; Authority score: 29
The reasons I’ve selected these five in particular boil down to something called the Authority Score. This is a proprietary metric developed by Semrush, though other SEO platforms like Ahrefs measure a similar metric with similar nomenclature. Scored out of 100 on Semrush’s metric, the authority score measures how strong of a reputation your domain has. The higher the score, the more authority it carries.
With that in mind, most financial advisors have an authority score ranging from 15-25. Now, that might sound quite low, but when you’re nearing 30, you’re doing quite well in this industry. So pursuing backlinks from websites with authority scores near or above 30 will do quite a bit for your website, and it doesn’t hurt that they have industry relevance.
You don’t have to go after all of these potential options. Yes, the more you have, the better off you’ll be. But weighing multiple factors like cost, number of leads from the platform, and other benefits will also factor into the equation. The only one of these that isn’t a subscription-based backlink is Kitces.com. That backlink will (likely) come from writing an article or being featured on one of the Kitces’ podcasts. It won’t involve paying, but you will have to sink a fair amount of time into a relevant topic to be featured on the website.
Outside of these financial advisor-specific backlinks, if you’re serving clients in a specific geographic footprint, there are several other spots you may want to look for backlinks.
- Business listings on local news sites (local newspapers, TV stations, etc.)
- Chamber of Commerce listing(s)
- Other local online directories
Surprisingly, another common source of strong backlinks is tied to podcasting. Because you can serve your podcast on many different platforms like Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and Anchor, you could have separate backlinks from all of the platforms your podcast appears. Now, podcasting isn’t something I’d get into just for the backlinks. But if you’re already podcasting, make sure you’re distributing your podcast to all of the key platforms.
Common Backlink Pitfalls
Because of how complex the SEO world can be, there are quite a number of pitfalls that advisors often fall prey to. I have the three most common mistakes advisors make with backlinks below.
- Paying a person to get you “backlinks”: I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard of an advisor going onto a website like Fiverr or UpWork and paying someone for backlinks. Unfortunately, there aren’t free shortcuts that result in a large quantity of high-quality backlinks on-demand. Sure, you might be getting backlinks, but they’ll likely be from spam websites. Ultimately, backlinks are the result of paid subscriptions, sponsoring local businesses/events, and PR strategy.
- Paying for a backlink you’re not getting: As discussed above, paying for a find-an-advisor listing often results in a link from that website to your website. The guidance here is to ensure that you’re receiving that benefit if you’re paying for it. You can conduct a backlink audit on a site like Semrush or Ahrefs to check what sites are linking to yours.
- Not capitalizing on free backlink opportunities: This dovetails with one of the points made above about event sponsorships and local business sponsorships. For example, if you’re a Chamber of Commerce member in your community, check with the chamber to see if they have a website page with all the members and links to their respective websites. You may be able to convince them to create such a page if they don’t have one already, and you can educate them on backlinks while you’re at it!
Alright, I just bombarded you with quite a bit of technical information on backlinks. If you have questions on backlinks after reading this (and I’m sure you do), don’t hesitate to reach out by sending an email to [email protected].
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