Google Trends is a little-used tool from Google that can provide great insight into where your marketing should be aiming and the online behaviour of your clients. Using a fairly simple representation, the tool compares any number of search terms for popularity over time, giving a score of 100 to the point where they were most popular and a decreasing score from there for other points in time.
The results can be extremely interesting. For example, look what has happened to searches for ‘financial planners’, ‘financial advisers’ and ‘financial advice’ since 2004.
There are some huge conclusions regarding your marketing that can be drawn from this one graph.
Search isn’t everything
It is very clear that searches for common industry phrases have declined. When compared to the high 100 score (‘Financial planner’ in February 2004), the terms as of July 2014, by comparison, now stand at just 15 (financial planners), 10 (financial advisers) and 24 (financial advice).
This, however, is not all bad news, just a reflection of the fact that search isn’t everything for potential clients anymore and SEO should not be the be all and end all of your marketing. Clients are used to finding you through other methods; by directly finding your name on search, by hearing about you through an article or by seeing a physical media campaign. SEO should be part of your marketing make-up but certainly not the one and only part, nor perhaps a major part of your spend, as the above graph evidences.
Labels can make a huge difference
The average popularity score of the terms ‘planner’ and ‘adviser’ is 32 to 17 in planner’s favour. That is to say, if you are a financial adviser, rather than a financial planner, you are attracting nearly 50% less searches than your planner colleagues.
This, though, isn’t the whole story when it comes to search. For those less attached to their labels, for example, why not label yourself both a ‘financial planner’ and a ‘financial adviser’ somewhere on your site, and attract traffic from both search terms?
The picture for advisers in the UK has been slightly more resilient than that worldwide
Though still showing sharp declines (and much less of a preference for ‘financial planners’ searches), potential clients for the UK advice market have evidenced less steep declines than international counterparts.
‘Financial advice’, for example, has declined from the top score of 100 to 31 in July 2014, which is at least better than the international comparison of a top score of 93 to 24 in July 2014.
Interesting content is ever-more important
If these kind of broad searches are declining then you must look elsewhere for search traffic - so what are potential clients searching for? Unsurprisingly, popular topical content reflects in seasonal search trends. You may have already used ClientsFirst to produce a campaign around the Budget statement or the Autumn Statement and, as you can see below, searches for these terms peak at the time of each statement and the time we produce summaries for our clients to send to their clients.
Searches for the term ‘ISA’ peak at around the time the new ISA allocation is announced, so producing content for clients at around this time could produce dividends.
Highly topical terms have also proven more resilient. ‘Inheritance tax’ searches, for example, have actually risen between 2009 and 2014, with the 100 high point score being just recently, in March of this year.
Though broad level searches have declined, focused searches on topics, or other ways of targeting search traffic, such as local search or ‘long tail’ searching, still present good opportunities for advisers who can produce the right kind of content.
By Sam Turner. Sam is ClientsFirst's Marketing Executive and writes here on topics including; inbound and content marketing, social media, design and e-marketing. He likes all of those things as well as travel, golf and frequent cups of tea. You can find him on Google+, Twitter & LinkedIn.