If you want to rank on the first page of Google when someone does a search for financial planner or financial planning firm or financial advisor or investment advisor or any of those terms in your local area, there's really one thing that you need to embrace that I know most of you watching this have not done. And that is to embrace Google reviews.
I know that historically most advisors have wanted to stay far far away from anything to do with reviews because they feel it'll put them in jeopardy of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. That act really addresses testimonials and the fact that we cannot have client testimonials vouching for our services. However, a testimonial and a review are two very different things, and a lot of that comes down to the way that online reviews are conducted today.
I'm Samantha Russell from Twenty Over Ten, and stick with me because what we're going to do is talk about that rule and how online reviews, especially those from Google, actually are something you can and should embrace for your business and you can still be compliant.
Lack of Control With Google Reviews
So let's dive right in. The first thing to understand is that yes, of course, you cannot have testimonials, and when we talk about testimonials really what we're concerned about is the idea that you as the advisor are in control of them, so that you are putting them on your website and picking and choosing only the good ones to add right? Or that you are getting these testimonials from your clients and incentivizing them to say good things. If you think about a review, when somebody goes to Google, anyone can go and anyone can leave a review - good or bad. You as the advisory firm or the advisor are not in control whatsoever of those reviews. So that's number one - your lack of control is what allows for it to be compliant.
Commenting on Google Reviews - A Big No-No
Number two - you want to make sure that you do not comment on any of the reviews whether positive or negative right? Because then it could be seen that you are trying to control the reviews you are getting. So even if someone leaves a negative review you don't want to respond to it in those public comments.
Google's Local 3-Pack
However, if you start doing some investigating of your own, and you're wondering why are these reviews so important to begin with what you'll notice is that when you do your own searches for different services, right? Whether it's a plumber, a contractor, a restaurant, those that have a decent number of reviews are typically going to be at the top of the organic results.So you'll see what we call the "local 3-pack."
It'll be three or four businesses. It'll have their company name, maybe their directions to their business, or a link to their website, or the phone number to call direct, and a little map of where they are. That is called the Google local 3-pack, and you want your business to be in the local 3-pack because 66% of all clicks come from that local 3-pack.
But in order to get up there, you want to have reviews and that's because, from Google's point of view, they want to give the best possible results to their users. If people have already reviewed a business, it's much more likely to be a business that many people have used, that's legitimate, that has expertise and credibility behind it, right? So the more reviews you can have the better.
These are all reasons why we want to embrace reviews. If you really stop to think about it, a review online is nothing more than a client referral except mass disseminated right? Instead of one of your clients having good things to say and telling one or two of their friends, they're putting it out there in the public for anyone to be able to access and read. It's HUGE for your business.
So if you haven't embraced Google reviews or you're wondering how they've impacted your business, again two things two remember: as long as you are not positively or negatively replying to any of the reviews, it is not going to be in violation of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. You don't want to republish these reviews anywhere else. Just let them be where they are on Google for anyone to find, and do your own research. Look at companies that are appearing at the top of the search results for local searches you're doing and see how those that have a good number of reviews are consistently at the top.
So that's my tip for you today. Again, I'm Samantha Russell from Twenty Over Ten. If you want more actionable, tangible tips just like this that you can use to grow your advisory firm, follow us at Twenty Over Ten or subscribe to our YouTube channel. Thanks, everyone! Have a great week.Related: Everything Advisors Need to Know About Google Reviews