The last month here at Advisor Internet Marketing has been incredibly fun, as we have met so many financial advisors who are truly passionate about sharing their message online. Of course, many of you are also very new to this “content marketing” concept of blogging, creating videos, and other forms of content that gets found online. And anytime you start something for the first time, there are bound to be mistakes. So I created this blog to save you a ton of time, energy, and frustration, as I spell out the 7 most common financial advisor blogging mistakes for you to learn from.
The top 7 most common financial advisor blogging mistakes and how to avoid them
These 7 “most common” mistakes are in no particular order. They just happen to be some of the main mistakes that I am seeing financial advisor bloggers making today. Not to mention, these are some of the same mistakes that I personally made when I did my very first blog. Not all of them are as painful as the other, but each one will cost you money and/or time to fix, so you are better off avoiding all 7 of these if you can.
#1. Forgetting to change the default tagline “Just another blog”
Have you ever been on a website and seen the phrase “Just another blog” before? I would be willing to bet that most of you have. And the reason is because this is the phrase the every single WordPress site in the country starts off with as the default. So the minute that anyone takes a new WordPress site live (which is happening countless times every single day), the phrase “Just another blog” will be found on the new site.
Now some of you might be thinking that this isn’t a big deal, but here are the two reasons that this could negatively impact you.
- First of all, Google will end up indexing this tagline and page, and it could force Google into thinking that your entire site is about “Just another blog” as they have nothing else to go off of in the beginning.
- Secondly, you really need a tagline that is relevant and unique to your content and your niche as both Google and your online visitors will be able to see your tagline.
How to fix this issue – Change the default tagline by going to Settings/General in your dashboard and usually the second option should be “Tagline”. This is your first chance to let Google (and the rest of the world) know what your site is all about, so don’t waste this important piece of the digital puzzle by forgetting to change the default.
Also, make sure to DELETE the “Hello World” first blog that WordPress automatically creates on your site.
#2. Using the default permalink option
This is probably the most common financial advisor blogging mistake that ends up affecting you the worst the longer you let the issue continue. If you don’t know what a permalink is, it is simply the text that makes up your distinct hyperlink URL. For instance, if I did a blog on my site www.joesimonds.com and the blog title was called “Internet Marketing Basics”, a good permalink would be www.joesimonds.com/internet-marketing-basics.
However, the default WordPress permalink uses something like this (?p=123) so that the same blog above would get published as www.joesimonds.com/?p=123
Here is why this creates such a big backlash:
- First and foremost, Google uses the full URL as part of their ranking criteria to find out what your blog is about. Which one do you think would have better SEO for Google (and thus easier for Google to understand what I am writing about and thus place me higher up the search engine ladder), the URL that contained the precise title of my blog or the one with random numbers and a question mark? Of course the one that actually has the phrase /internet-marketing-basics.
- Not only does it help Google understand your blog, it also helps the actual users. Moreover, it also comes across sloppy and unprofessional when you just have a bunch of random letters and numbers in the URL.
- Finally, once you have done some blogs the wrong way, it is very costly (time and money wise) to reverse the URL permalinks because simply changing the settings to a new permalink style will do so for all of your old blogs which could completely destroy any and all SEO and indexing.
To fix this issue, go to Settings/Permalinks and choose the one that actually uses your keywords.
#3. Going the “cheap route” and choosing the wrong WordPress platform
We all like to save money, but there are also those important sayings that “you get what you pay for” and “there is no free lunch”. Well it turns out that these saying both apply to choosing your WordPress platform.
For those of you not familiar with the 2 different WordPress platforms, let me give a brief description of each one first.
WordPress.com is great because you can start using it immediately with no cost, no hosting fees, etc. The bad news is that you have zero control and if you ever decided to move away from this free site to a specific domain that you personally own, all of your content does not come with you. And your free site will always have WordPress’s name in it such as www.joesimonds.wordpress.com
WordPress.org is what is known as “self-hosting”, meaning you must pay for hosting for the content. This also means that you own your content, you have full control, and you can have the WordPress blog be shown on your own domain such as www.joesimonds.com. This is the format that almost all companies and serious bloggers use. It is also what we highly recommend you use as well.
In summary, you don’t truly own content unless you host it yourself. Moreover, your blog would never have any asset value if you ever want to sell unless you own it. So if you really do plan on doing great content and building up a brand online, ALWAYS do self-hosting on domain that you own as well. Without owning both the domain and the hosting, it could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars in terms of your blog turning into an asset down the road.
#4. No call to action on each blog
I was speaking to a financial advisor the other week who told me that he has done over 30 blogs and still hasn’t received a single lead. To say that he had a bad taste in his mouth would be an understatement.
My next logical question was to ask him what kind of content he was putting out there and I had him give me examples of his headlines and topics. Turns out he was doing a great job with content and targeting his avatar clients to the point that even I was beginning to get puzzled on his lack of leads.
But my next question gave me the answer that I was looking for when I asked him what he was using for a call to action on each blog. Basically, he couldn’t answer the question and we both instantly knew what the real problem was. My line to him was “You wouldn’t go to the trouble to pay for a great seminar dinner at Ruth Chris, do an incredible presentation in front of 40 guests, and then just walk out the door without telling them what to do next (aka book an appointment)”.
Same thing goes for a blog. You MUST have a call to action on every single blog you do. Otherwise, I can promise you that 9 out of 10 visitors will not contact you or do what you want them to do. If it isn’t spelled out clearly, don’t expect your visitors to take any action.
My recommendation is to have your web developer put in a standard call to action that is automatically built in to each blog you publish. A great example of this can be found on all Annuity Think Tank blogs (see example here at Annuity Think Tank 401k Blog) where we receive many leads ever month from this basic box at the bottom that automatically posts on all of our blogs. And this can be done for under $100 with any web developer or web coder on elance.com
#5. Using an inappropriate or defective theme
This is also one of the most common financial advisor blogging mistakes that I continue to see. It lets me know right away that they put absolutely no time into their website theme. It turns out that the structure and design of your theme not only affects what viewers think of your site, but it can also affect what Google thinks of your site in terms of showing you in their search results.
For instance, if you have an old theme that is now defective (and has been deleted from WordPress.org as a theme option due to some reason), this could negatively impact you showing up in Google.
But most importantly, the exact same content formatted in a theme that is easy to navigate versus the same content in a theme that is highly complex and/or inappropriate for your topic could cost you tons of leads from your site.
#6. Forgetting to change the default “admin” username on your blog entries
I actually saw this financial advisor blogging mistake happen two times already in just the past 5 hours upon writing this! What happens is that when you get your WordPress site up, the default user name is “admin” on both the main account and the username that any visitors to your site will see.
There are a few of reasons to change this immediately:
- First of all, hackers go after any WordPress sites that they can find where the owner of all the public blog postings is “admin”. It is incredibly easy for them to do a brute force attack and get full control of your site when admin is the username.
- Secondly, it isn’t personal at all when someone comes to your blog and sees that every post is by “admin”. It makes it much more real, personal, and professional when visitors see your full name (like Joe Simonds) next to each blog. Keep in mind you can have as many users as you want as well, so if you have 4 people in your office that all blog, they can each have their own unique username.
- Finally, it is incredibly smart to sync up your username with your Google+ account to get what they call Google Authorship Markup. Have you ever noticed that some blogs have the person’s picture actually show up in the Google search engine next to the blog? Well this is Google authorship, and you must have your username match up and connect with your Google+ account in order to make this happen.
The good news is that unlike the permalink issue where it is incredibly costly to ever have to change it down the road if you have published content already, the user name can be changed quite easily without affecting your existing content. But that doesn’t mean that you should wait to do it. Make sure to change your user name immediately upon getting into your dashboard.
#7. Forgetting to Backup your content
Do you want to hear about one of my most costly mistakes in regards to owning a website? (Hint, it has to do with not backing my website up correctly.)
Unfortunately, no one ever thinks about backing up content until it has been hacked, breached, or lost altogether. Kind of like identity theft. You don’t ever pay it much attention until you actually have your identity or credit card information stolen. And then it is usually becomes a time consuming and painful event.
Well the same thing goes for backing up your WordPress blog.
Here is how I had to learn this lesson the hard way. The biggest lesson that I learned from it is that just because your site isn’t large, popular, or you think that no one would ever hack a no-namer like you, doesn’t mean that it can’t (or won’t) happen. I had a particular site last year that only had about 25 blogs and a handful of videos on it, and it was hacked to the point that I lost all content. All because I thought that since it was a very low traffic site with minimal blogs that it wouldn’t be a big deal if I lost some of it. Even more particular was I thought that since hardly anyone was on the sites to begin with, why would a hacker ever mess with my site…so I didn’t back it up…and it was all lost one evening.
Now some of you might be saying that this doesn’t sound like a big deal since it was only 25 blogs, as all you would have to do it track down the 25 blogs (assuming you saved them in a Microsoft Word document, etc) and then add them all back in again.
Well it isn’t always that simple. You see, when you get hacked, they can erase your entire site. Meaning, not just the content, but the theme, any customization, pictures, About us page…Everything.
And going back in and putting the correct tag words and SEO pieces for just 25 blogs would take hours alone. Not to mention all of your old content that used to be indexed and was showing up in Google is now all lost for good. It doesn’t exist anymore.
Moreover, this doesn’t just apply to hacking. Nothing is 100% foolproof in our lovely world of technology as crashes do happen from time to time on either WordPress or your server.
The great news is that most of you reading this are financial professionals and hopefully understand the importance of insurance. Well backing up your site is incredibly cheap and is really just a form of content insurance.
In conclusion, make no “mistake” about it, there will always be financial advisor blogging mistakes to be made. But that doesn’t mean that YOU have to learn each of them the hard (and costly) way like everyone else does. If you can avoid these 7 most common financial advisor blogging mistakes, you will be light-years (and less gray hair) than the rest of us.
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