DALLAS -- If you've ever searched your name on the internet and didn't like the results, you're not alone. But advisors should understand what they can do about it, said Sabrina Clark, director of marketing and corporate communications at BrandYourself, at the T3 conference.
"What you want to do is create a really solid online presence," she said. "This should be separate from what you're doing with your firm."
Advisors should attempt to create their own brand online, Clark says, in addition to their firm's digital presence. Many advisors already have an online biography that is featured on their firm's website, but she argues that they should be doing more.
"Potential clients are looking you up online," she says. "So you want to make sure you're building up your online presence."
Clark outlined specific ways in which advisors can establish an online presence.
1. Pick a good domain name.
It's important to have a website, Clark says -- but if people can't find it when they search your name, it might not be that useful. "You want to get a domain name with your name in it," she says, for the purposes of search engine optimization (SEO).
Even if an advisor isn't planning on using the domain name to create a website any time soon, it's worth buying your name as a defensive move -- to keep someone with the same name or a "very vengeful" competitor from using it, she says.
2. Build a personal website.
"You want to create that central hub on the web about you," Clark says -- even if your information is on your firm's website. "Something that a potential client can Google, come across and find all the information about you and connect with you on a personal level."
What should such a site include? Clark suggests having your mission statement, contact information, professional photo and an "about me" section, all clearly visible. "You should think of this as your online resume," she said. Advisors shouldn't be afraid to include awards they have received and articles they were quoted in, she added.
3. Get active on social media.
"This can tend to be a touchy subject with some because of SEC compliance," Clark says. "Don't let compliance be the reason you're not on social media."
To avoid trouble, Clark suggests that advisors turn off the "endorsements" feature on LinkedIn, be careful of what they "like" on Facebook and use online tools to archive all social media activities.
Clark highlights one important aspect of social media: For SEO purposes, it is more important for an advisor to have two or three active social media accounts than 20 that are mostly dormant. This is because accounts that are not engaged will not show up when searched by prospective clients, she explains.
4. Publish your own content.
Clark said that advisors should first take a back seat and understand what industry leaders are writing and discussing. "But then you want to make that step in terms of publishing your own sharable content," she said. "The whole point is that you just want to be sharing content."
5. Focus on SEO.
"If that potential client is looking your name up during the due diligence process, you want to make sure they're finding all that great content you put all that time into," she said. "That's a process called SEO."
Clark offers a few basic SEO guidelines:
- Make sure the structure of your website works well with search engines.
- Make sure your website uses words (your full name, for instance) that you would want to show up if searched for by potential clients.
- Keep your website and social media accounts active.
- Use links on your website and social media to content you create.
It can be a bit time consuming, but it's not terribly hard, Clark says. "If you're dealing with an SEO company that is trying to murk the waters and make it seem like it's a process that you can't do," she cautions, "that's absolutely not the case."