Achieving “Google credibility” is critical if small advisors want to compete with large financial services organizations.

But some NAPFA advisors have found a way to beat the system and achieve better search engine rankings through a practice that sounds eerily similar to the “link farms,” which Google is trying to crack down on.

NAPFA calls the process “link sharing.” It is where multiple advisors promote each other’s websites with links back and forth.

At the NAPFA National Conference in Chicago, Frank Moore, the founder of Vintage Financial Services, gave a practice foundation presentation on marketing.  In his session, he talked about the importance of organic search results, where results are not achieved by paying for advertising.  He mentioned how the NAPFA link exchange can help members get the top organic rankings and noted that his firm has attracted $10 million in assets through online marketing.

To improve your Google ranking, Moore said advisors need to generate more quality inbound links, which are also known as backlinks.  This is when one webpage links to another.  If Google sees that a website has more inbound links, its algorithm believes that site to be more popular or important compared to other similar sites.

Greg Phelps of Redrock Wealth Management LLC and the NAPFA member Moore credited with creating NAPFA’s link exchange, encouraged attendees to join the exchange and was confident they would see improved search ranking results.  He said, “Half of my new clients come from my website.”

To protect the legitimacy of its rankings, Google’s “spiders” scan for websites trying to beat the system through the use of these types of “link farms,” which exist when a group of websites all hyperlink to every other site in the same group.  The purpose of these link programs is to get all the parties involved higher up in the rankings.

Phelps did not seem concerned that the NAPFA members run a risk of Google labeling the exchange as a “link farm” as the links are not spam and the links are in a related industry.  Plus, he has not seen his firm’s ranking penalized and actually gets thank you notes from the other NAPFA members participating.

Now that the exchange has over 50 members, Google might start to notice it and it might violate Google’s “Link Schemes” policy, which would negatively impact each participating site’s rankings.

Until then, the members have found a way for the small fish to compete with the big fish in the ocean of search results.

Mike Byrnes founded Byrnes Consulting to provide consulting services to help advisors become even more successful. Read more at www.byrnesconsulting.com.