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How a Small Independent Advisory Firm Hit it Big on the Web
Firm Name: Meridian Financial Advisors, LLC
Firm Type: Fee-Only Registered Investment Advisor
City: Holliston, MA (Boston Metro Area)
AUM: $26 Million
Case Study Background
Meridian Financial Advisors is a small fee-only financial advisor firm in Holliston, Massachusetts that serves clients in the Boston metro area and Cape Cod, MA. The firm is a registered investment advisor (RIA), regulated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Boston Magazine named Meridian Financial Advisors founder Georgia Bruggeman, CFP®, a Top Financial Advisor in Boston for 2010, 2011, and 2012 based on client satisfaction surveys, but before working with us, the firm received little-to-no new business from the web and was only ranked in top search engine results for its company name.
SEO Success Summary
In 10 months, we more than doubled Meridian Financial Advisors’ average monthly website traffic and gained top-20 Google rankings for the majority of the firm’s most important keywords. The firm is now receiving regular leads from the web and has closed new business and grown its AUM.
Before completing the SEO optimization, Meridian Financial Advisors’ monthly website traffic was around 128 visits. After optimization, it rose to 343 and continues to grow (168% growth rate). (Source: Google Analytics)
**Update: One year after the control data, visits are up to 442 per month (245% growth rate). We’ve also started tracking conversions by measuring how many visitors make it to the contact page each month. Last month, 48 visitors reached the contact us page (12.2% of unique visits).
Unique visitors also grew during the same time period, from 103 U.S.-based visitors to 279 (171% growth). A growth in unique visitors is often indicative of search engine optimization success as opposed to campaigns to boost client engagement through email newsletters and social media, which would often increase visitors to a website, but not necessarily unique visitors.
Similarly, the number of organic searches that brought visitors to the website grew from 88 to 249 (183% growth).
**Update: One year after the control data, US-based unique visitors are up 365 per month (254% growth) and traffic from organic searches is up 218% to 280 visits per month.
The estimated value of this quantity of traffic if it were to be purchased via Google AdWords is over $1,500 per month (see cost-per-click data below).
Top Search Engine Keyword Rankings
At the time of the initial website optimization, Meridian Financial Advisors didn’t want to promote a particular service area niche, so we targeted geographical keywords. While we recommend advisors expand their chances of success by also targeting niche keywords, in this case we were able to succeed in only targeting geographical and national keywords.
Our top-15 ranking keywords are highly competitive as demonstrated by the high cost-per-click rates to purchase traffic for these keywords via Google AdWords:
Before SEO Optimization Despite over 20 years in business, Meridian Financial’s web presence was still in its infancy. The firm received nearly no new business from the Internet, and total traffic to the website averaged less than 100 visits per month. Occasionally, prospects found the firm through the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) website, but Meridian received no leads from search engines. The firm’s primary generator for new prospects was client referrals. After attending a NAPFA Social Media Bootcamp in Brooklyn, NY where she heard a presentation from Co-Founder Brien Shanahan and Marie Swift of Impact Communications, Bruggeman decided to hire Brien to help the firm gain new business from search engines.
We began the engagement by adding Google Analytics to the website so that we could track the before-and-after website traffic, and later learn about visitor actions and improve call-to-action steps.
We then moved on to keyword research. Using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool, and compiled a list of a few hundred possible keywords to target and prioritized by traffic volume and competitiveness.
Focus on targeted website content:
We re-wrote Meridian Financial Advisors’ website content around the most important keywords, being sure to use proper page titles, Meta descriptions, and SEO-friendly markup and linking techniques.
We created and optimized Meridian Financial Advisors’ Google My Business listing to target web searches in the firm’s geographical areas. By creating profiles on a number of the top online business directories, we improved the firm’s rankings for local search terms both for its website and its Google My Business listing.
As we do with all client engagements, we began tracking and sharing the results of the SEO campaign. We regularly provided clear reports that highlight Google rankings for the selected keywords, website traffic growth, and competitor comparisons.
Based on those reports, we tweaked our optimization to maximize our search engine rankings and push some of our top keywords into the first page of search results.
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