How RIA Firms Can Use Google Business Profiles for Growth

How RIA Firms Can Use Google Business Profiles for Growth

Increasing your visibility across Google is a key step to boosting your RIA firm’s online brand presence and improving your company’s lead generation efforts. One essential, but often overlooked, tool to help investment advisors accomplish these tasks is to create and optimize their Google Business Profile

Once known as Google My Business (GMB), Google introduced the name change to Google Business Profiles in November 2021 in an effort to introduce new features and functionality to its digital platform.

What is Google Business Profile?

Despite popular belief, Google Business Profile is more than a place to simply list your RIA firm’s contact information and business hours, or pin your office location on Google maps. Done well, a highly optimized profile can help you quickly differentiate your RIA firm from other financial advisors and make it easier for clients to find your business and contact you.

In addition to providing consumers with basic information, such as your RIA firm’s office address and telephone number, a Google Business Profile provides investment advisors the opportunity to list their services, schedule appointments, and publish content including blog articles and offers (for example, a complimentary consultation for new clients). Firms can even experiment with Google’s Call History to track and manage phone calls from potential clients.

Important Compliance Note: 

One of the more popular features of a Google Business Profile is the ability to request and receive customer reviews, which are a form of testimonial. However, testimonials are still not permitted by a number of state securities regulators, and SEC RIAs (and any state registered RIA located in a jurisdiction that follows the SEC rules) must fully adopt new Marketing Rule 206(4)-1 to take advantage of client testimonials (we previously wrote about the new Marketing Rule here).  If you are currently operating under the old SEC Advertising Rule 206(4)-1, testimonials are not permitted.  However, if you are operating under the new Marketing Rule 206(4)-1 (all SEC RIAs will need to comply with the new rule in November 2022), your firm may use testimonials (from clients) or endorsements (from non-clients) if they comply with the Rule requirements.

The Benefits of Using Google Business Profiles

When a consumer uses Google to search for a financial advisor or RIA firm, Google serves up local businesses in the search results first. But the results are not listed alphabetically or by geographic distance. Google prioritizes businesses that it identifies as active and makes this determination by looking for recent activity on a company’s Google Business Profile. 

“The Google algorithm likes to see (and reward) businesses that are regularly engaging and posting content on their Google Business Profile,” explains Chris Carragher, Marketing Director for Advisor Guidance. “Active participation on a Google Business Profile demonstrates to Google that the firm is an engaged business, and hence Google favors this business with more prominent visibility.” 

In short, the more activity Google finds, the higher your RIA firm will rank in certain searches. In fact, a recent study conducted by BrightLocal revealed a typical business gets 59 actions from their profile every month. On average, 56% of the actions on profile listings were website visits.

Why RIA Firms Should Use Google Business Profiles

As the financial services industry continues to become more competitive, it is critical for RIA firms, especially firms just starting out, to embrace any marketing advantage they can — especially if the marketing advantage is free.

With an increase in daily searches, it’s never been more important for registered investment advisors to create and optimize their organization’s Google Business Profile. By taking the time to leverage this tool, your firm can benefit from stronger SEO results and out-position your competitors on local search.

How to Claim & Verify Your RIA Firm’s Google Profile

Now that you understand the benefits of using a Google Business Profile to help grow and position your RIA firm online, you are probably wondering what you need to do to set up and verify your business profile. In this section, we will walk you through each of the steps you will need to take to claim and verify your business profile.

Please note, this is the same process you’d follow if a listing already exists for your business, and you clicked on the “Own this business?” link within the listing.

Claim First, Verify Later

To create and verify your Google Business Profile account, simply follow the steps below. (Please note that Google is constantly updating and evolving so these steps may change over time.)

Step 1. Visit Google.com/Business & Log In

Using an existing Google account, visit www.google.com/business and log in. If you don’t have a Google account, you can visit www.google.com/accounts to create a new account.

Once you are logged in, type in your RIA firm’s business name and select, “Add your business to Google.”

Step 2. Enter Your RIA Firm’s Business Name & Primary Category (i.e., Investment Service)

After you click on the “Add your business to Google” link the following screen will advance to the “Start Building your Business Profile” section. Here, you will be asked to enter your company’s name and choose a primary business category (i.e., Investment Company).

Once you have completed these fields, click “Next” to advance to the next section.

Step 3. Enter Your Business Address

In the Business Address section, you have the opportunity to tell Google if you want to list your company’s office location(s) on Google maps. As a friendly reminder, if you are a state-registered RIA you will want to make sure you are registered with each state in which you list an office location. Upon submission, Google will send a postcard to verify your business address prior to publishing locations on your business profile.

Please Note: This cannot be a post office box or a mailbox in a storefront like Postal Annex or UPS Store. You can also only have one business per residence.

Step 4: Select Your Service Area

In Step 4, you can define your service area by choosing a mile radius around your business, a specific city or state, or a group of zip codes. This is particularly helpful for state-registered investment advisors who want to maximize their presence in a specific geographic area.

Step 5: Add Your Telephone Number and Website

In addition to providing your business address and selecting your service area, you will need to submit both your RIA firm’s telephone number and website URL. Both calls and website clicks are tracked by Google Business Profile, so please make sure your information is correct here as your accuracy will go a long way to evaluating your marketing efforts.

Step 6: Verify Your Business Profile

As a last step, you will need to submit your Google Business Profile for review and approval. The verification process helps Google make sure your business information is accurate and that only you, the business owner or manager, has access to it. 

Upon submission of your Google Business Profile, you should receive a postcard from Google that contains a verification code. The postcard typically arrives at the address you provide (see image below) within 3-5 business days after submitting a profile. Once you receive the card, you will need to log into your Google Business Profile and enter the code to verify your account.

How RIA Firms Can Optimize Their Google Business Profiles

As we mentioned earlier, your RIA firm’s Google Business Profile is much more than a simple directory listing. But, to reap the most benefits from this platform someone from your firm will need to devote some time to optimizing your account. 

Once your business account is set up and verified, we suggest taking the following actions that will help your firm stand out in local search and help you out-maneuver your competitors.

Optimize Your RIA Firm’s Business Description

As a first step to optimizing your Google Business Profile, you will want to take the time to craft a well-defined business description of your advisory firm. When writing your description, make sure you use targeted keywords that will help Google better understand what your business does.

In addition to using targeted keywords, your business description should also convey what makes your business unique and help separate you from your competitors. Keep in mind there is a 750-character limit to a business description. Out of these characters, only the first 250 characters are visible in the knowledge panel, so it is important that your message is both compelling and concise.

Fine-Tune Your Business Categories

As discussed earlier in this article, choosing the right business categories is perhaps one of the most important steps when creating your Google profile. This is especially true if your business name doesn’t include the service you provide, like Nine Gems Investment Management.

As of January 2021, there are nearly 4,000 categories to choose from in Google Business profiles. But unfortunately, there is not yet a category specifically for “Registered Investment Advisors.” In fact, the category listings that would be appropriate for an investment advisory firm is very limited. Out of the categories listed, the best options to choose from are Financial Consultant, Financial Planner and/or Investment Service.

Use Your Google Business Platform as Your New Social Media Platform

Your Google Business Profile can be used much like any other social media platform by posting directly from your business listing. Once your account is verified, you can post announcements about new services, create offers like a complimentary consultation for new clients, or promote news about your firm. By posting regularly on your Google Business Profile, you can improve your user engagement and brand loyalty to out-position your competitors.

When posting, don’t forget to add a call-to-action to increase your post engagement and start generating leads directly from your Google Business Profile stream. As a best practice, you should also commit to posting content on your Google Business Profile at least once a week for best results.

Post High-Quality Photos 

Photos and images are always a great way to capture the attention of potential clients regardless of the platform and your Google Business Profile is no exception.

When optimizing your profile, make sure you use high-quality images that best represent your firm. You should also upload your logo to boost brand recognition and make sure that your customers can identify your business listing faster.

Upload Videos

Video has become one of the most important tools you can use to attract, inform and convert potential leads into clients. Your RIA Firm should leverage the power of video and make it an important part of your marketing strategy by uploading videos to your Google Business profile.

 There are two ways to promote video on your Google profile:

1.You can upload your videos as a post

2.You can also upload your videos to your photos (when you click the upload button you will see the option of uploading a video or a photo)

Leverage the Q&A Feature

Google Business Profiles has a new feature called questions, which allows anyone to ask a question about your firm’s wealth management services.

As a pro tip, you can create your own FAQs to answer any possible questions potential clients may have. These answers will remain on your business listing.

If you want to optimize your profile, then one of the best practices is to populate this Q&A section with questions and clear answers to them so that anyone who has a similar question can find answers online without wasting their time.

Growing Your RIA Firm with Google

Setting up and verifying your Google Business Profile for your RIA firm is a great way to utilize one of the most powerful tools a local business can use to gain new customers and keep ahead of your local competitors.

In addition to using Google Business Profiles to grow your RIA firm, you should also consider creating a YouTube channel to tap into the power of video marketing and consider running a Google Ads campaign to run highly targeted lead generation campaigns.

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