Banks and credit unions, like so many other businesses today, need to implement digital strategies that will help them succeed in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important components of such a strategy.
But to get SEO right you need to implement several tactics and ensure you are staying current on the latest Google algorithm updates. It might sound like a lot to take on. The good news is that your bank or CU can implement an SEO strategy in phases and then continually monitor and improve overtime. After all, when it comes to SEO, your job is never done!
The Critical Components of Any Banking SEO Strategy
On page SEO is important because it is what will get your individual site pages ranking on Google. When your pages rank, you get more traffic, and more traffic means more chances to convert visitors into customers or members. But how do you go about optimizing your individual pages? You’ll need to start by formulating a keyword strategy and then optimizing both the content on the page and the HTML source code. On-page factors that influence search engines, according to Moz, include:
- Page content – Your content should be informative and unique — it needs to provide value to your readers. It might go without saying, but you also need to include your keyword, preferably in the page title and a couple times in the text. But don’t overdo it with the keywords — Google doesn’t like that.
- Title tag – Your title tag is the HTML version of your title. It will show up on the Google search results page as the clickable headline for your page. It should include your keyword and be an accurate description of your page.
- URL – Your URL should reflect the hierarchy of the website and include your keyword.
- Image alt text – Make sure you include image descriptors that contain your target keywords. Images without descriptions aren’t crawlable by search engines and won’t help your page rank.
Google’s mission is to help users find what they need online. This means delivering high-quality, helpful content. When Google crawls your pages, it will be looking for more than keywords; it will be looking for quality. Does your content serve customers? Do visitors stay on your page to read the information you are providing?
When writing blog posts or articles, many businesses falsely believe it’s about quantity — if we crank out 10 blog posts every week, we’ll surely make it to the top of the page! Unfortunately, in the quest for quantity, quality usually suffers.
When you are creating content for your bank or credit union’s website, it is more important to write one quality piece in a week than 10 mediocre pieces.
Internal links are important or a few reasons. The first being, they help users navigate your site. Have a page on mortgages? Linking from your mortgages page to a page for first-time home buyers can help consumers easily find what they need on your site. Secondly, internal links help Google crawl your site because they establish an information hierarchy. Establishing such an information hierarchy makes it easy for Google to “spread the ranking power” around your website, according to Moz.
External linking is one of the best ways to increase your site’s rank. An external link is a link that your bank’s site receives from another website. Google counts these external links as third party votes, attesting to the fact that your site is an authority on your subject and worth linking to. The higher the domain authority or rank of the site giving you the link, the better. For example, The Wall Street Journal has a domain authority of 98, meaning if you can get a link from the WSJ, you’re going to be in for some serious link equity.
Unlike other SEO tactics listed in this post, external linking is not something that you have total control over. While there are many tactics you can employ to get external links, you’re ultimately at the mercy of another party. One way to solicit external links is through guest blogging, in which your institution pitches and writes a blog, including a link back to your bank or CU, for another site.
Outbound linking is when you link to another site from your site. By linking to other authoritative sources, you are helping Google determine the authority of your own page or website. A study by Reboot Marketing concluded that when used correctly, outbound links have a positive impact on the rank of a website.
Local SEO is especially important for banks and credit unions with local branches. There are several strategies that you should consider when it comes to local SEO, including:
- Claiming your local business listings
- Adding location pages to your website
- Improving your NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency
- Updating all things Google My Business
- Seeking reviews
- Creating local content
Remember, when implementing a local SEO strategy, make sure each one of your branch locations is considered.
PPC is a paid strategy and an essential part of any successful digital marketing plan. While you will need to get acquainted with the PPC lingo before you get started — gaining an understanding of quality score, ad rank and bid — PPC is a powerful tool that is worth getting to know. Businesses make an average of $2 for every $1 spent on PPC, according to AdWords, and search ads can increase brand awareness by as much as 80 percent.
These seven SEO tactics will help get your bank or CU headed in the right direction. If you would like to dive even deeper into the concept of Customer Self-Service and discover more ways to improve your bank or credit union’s digital presence. Contact our team here.