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How Do We Use SEO to Reach Key Audiences?

Financial services companies have content galore, but they're not good at making that content available, and so they're losing opportunities when people search – free opportunities.

– Frank Eliason, director of global social media, Citi

You've used them when you shop for flowers to send to Mom's home across the country or when you're looking for your favorite restaurant while travelling on business.

Search engines, that is. Not just Google, but Yahoo! and a host of others. You know the Internet is crucial, but how can you use it to ensure that potential clients, consumers, or partners find you, your firm, or your content? How can you make sure that your precious time and resources are used effectively?

Are you an asset manager who wants end investors or financial advisors to find your content online? Are you an advisor who wants someone searching for his next financial planner to discover your name? The better the visibility you have on the search results page, the more visits or clicks you will get for your content, website, or group.

In short, search engine optimization (SEO) leads consumers to you.

THREE WAYS SEO IS CHANGING RIGHT NOW

SEO has been around for years, but one thing remains constant: the mystery surrounding it. Still, there are lots of key things to know – from the latest best practices to the biggest mistakes.

Despite its age, SEO has progressed. In short, it matters more than ever. And the experience is more visual than ever. Have you noticed fewer words and more pictures?

Let's look at three factors driving SEO today:

Content Is King – Search engines appreciate good content, and they will rank it at or toward the top of a search results page. And the race is on for good content. It allows a small firm to compete with a big firm if the smaller one produces effective blogs or articles online, a practice that is increasingly easy to do.

Black Hat Strategies – These refer to attempts to jimmy the SEO system. It's the spam and junk strategies one might put into place to show a boost in traffic – and perhaps to justify their cost. The good news, according to Frank Gosch, senior director of search and analytics at Hearst, is that search engines in the past three years have become better at detecting these strategies, and penalizing and removing sites that apply them from SEO results.

Social Visibility – Just five years ago, content found by search engines typically featured only articles; today it's taken a giant leap forward to include broader social visibility. “Search engines now leverage the information they get from social media about brand sites and include them into the consideration when they do rankings,” Gosch explains. Think about your LinkedIn or Facebook profile that now appears in search engines. (Okay, maybe you haven't checked yours, but surely you've searched for those of others and found them.)

 
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