For many banks and financial institutions, both large and small, digital marketing has slowly been growing in importance. While digital marketing covers plenty of services, one of the offerings that receives the most attention is SEO. How can you move your bank up the rankings in your local area?
The marketplace is constantly growing in competitiveness. Customers are accustomed to finding everything they need in a few short moments and if your bank isn’t at the top of the list, they probably won’t ever see you.
When it comes to improving your bank’s local SEO, there are a handful of quality tactics that can increase your rankings and visibility. By investing in SEO services, you can put your name in front of eyeballs and turn those visitors into customers. If you’re not sure where to start, it helps to perform a local SEO audit to gauge your current practices.
Why Do Banks Need to Focus on SEO?
What’s the purpose of SEO for banks? Is it really necessary?
According to Google’s Keyword Planner, there are anywhere between 100,000 and 1,000,000 searches of “banks near me” every MONTH! That’s a lot of people looking for banks and a lot of potential customers out there, putting an emphasis on the importance of bank SEO. Getting your bank at the top of the map or organic listings can have a huge impact on your success.
With so many people looking for a bank or financial institution, putting yourself at the top of the list is going to help your presence and bottom line.
Handling Your Google My Business Page
Google My Business, or GMB, is a must for any local business. With your listing optimized, you can show visitors your name, address, phone number, website, hours of operation, and more without them actually clicking on your site. If set up correctly, they can simply click to call from their mobile device.
More recently, Google has added health options for businesses to update their COVID protocols.
Here is our GMB profile as an example.
You’d be surprised how many places don’t have their page claimed. This is very risky as someone outside your bank or financial institution can claim your listing, changing information and data. Claiming your online profile is quite easy and can be done in just a few minutes.
Optimizing Your GMB Page
What does it mean to optimize your page?
GMB has several features to improve your listing:
- Choosing the right business category
- Adding a business description
- Uploading quality photos
You can also please the great Google machine by responding to reviews, answering questions, uploading updated photos, providing business updates, etc. As you’ll see, SEO isn’t something that can be done once and then left alone. You need to constantly be looking for ways to improve your online presence.
Google is all about pleasing user intent and they strive to provide as much information about a business as possible. That includes reviews and opinions from other people.
After all, you’re more likely to trust a place that has multiple reviews over a place that has zero, right?
Reach out to your banking customers and ask them to write reviews about your business online. Send them emails, ask them in person, or mention it when they call customer service. You cannot, however, offer your customers incentives for online reviews. They have to come naturally and organically.
Form a Local Content Strategy
‘Divide and conquer’ is how you should be thinking about your keyword and content strategy as part of your overall marketing strategy. Within the banking and financial world, there are hundreds of various services for clients.
It doesn’t make sense to put all of those services and offerings on one page and hope to attract people that way. By forming a strategy ahead of time, you can plan out which terms and services to pursue. You want your individual pages to rank well, not just your home page.
Take a look at the Spanish bank Santander. For their mortgage services, they have individual pages for various offerings:
From “Mortgage Simulator” to “Online Mortgage”, each option has its own page to target users who search for such terms. If you’re stuck, think about each service as part of the buyer’s journey:
- Purchase (conversion)
So if you were offering mortgages, you could research keywords and make pages around:
- What is the difference between a variable and a fixed-rate mortgage?
- Current mortgage rates in your area
- Mortgage for a vacation home
Once you have your keyword list (yes, it can be very long), you can start to develop your high-quality content to attract customers.
Your content doesn’t just have to be the service pages or blogs. It can also be infographics, photos, videos, eBooks, case studies, tools, and more. Whatever is engaging and attention-grabbing can be beneficial to your overall site presence.
Adding Local Words
When creating content, make content around your local area if you’re a smaller financial institution. Look to put your city, county, or state into content to target people in your area.
That doesn’t mean that everything has to be “City name + service offering”, but you should be building on-page content around your area. You can also look to add “long-tail keywords”, which are keywords longer than four words. These are usually questions or more specific queries.
How long does it take to form a content strategy?
Usually, it takes banks or financial institutions a couple of weeks to develop a sound strategy. You have to collect ideas, filter through words, and research terms in your area. From there, you have to plan out proper content and when it will be published on your site.
Don’t worry if you don’t take care of it in a few days or over a weekend. A proper content strategy needs dedicated time.
Follow the Basic SEO Strategies
There are some basic on-page strategies you can follow to improve your SEO rankings that many people often overlook.
Put alt text on your images, best done when you upload an image to your website. Adding alt text allows you to “tell” Google what the image is about, reinforcing the content on the page. It’s also necessary to be ADA compliant.
Write out meta descriptions. The meta description is 2-3 lines of text that appear under a search result. While it doesn’t have any effect on SEO rankings, it does help users understand what a page is about before clicking on it. The meta description is short, only 160 characters, but can go a long way in helping visitors understand a page better.
Make sure your title tag isn’t too long. This is the title of your page in how it appears on Google. Include the keyword you’re going after as well as clearly telling Google and users what the page is about. Be careful with the length, however, as long titles will get truncated in search results and look sloppy.
Besides GMB, your bank has multiple online listings spread out across the web whether you realize it or not. These include places like:
Many times, you might find your bank to be listed but unclaimed, filed with an old phone number, misspelled address, or information that’s just plain wrong. What should you do?
Claiming these listings will go a long way in helping your SEO. Google likes when entities match across the web. If Google can look out and see your bank’s information listed identically in multiple (and reputable) places, they will see your financial institution as legitimate and trustworthy.
Make sure your name, address, phone number, etc. are all identical across the web. That means writing “St.” and “Street” are different or “No.” and “#”. If you’re not sure what your address should be, see what’s already listed on your GMB page and go with that.
This can be a long, arduous process but well worth it in the long run.
Word of caution: don’t spam your listing over as many directories as you can find. Many directories are worthless domains that provide no real value. Stick to web directories that have value.
Strong Internal Linking
When building out your content plan and your website structure, you want to ensure that your visitors can navigate from one page to another with ease. A page that’s too hard to find will often end with a user leaving your site.
Internal linking is the practice of linking your pages together on your website. You probably have plenty of natural internal links already set around your website.
Think about which pages are your “money” pages. Which ones do you want to drive the most traffic to? Where do you really want users to end up?
You want to use your content, whether that be product pages, service pages, or blogs to point to those specific pages. Not only will this help users navigate (and encourage them to go to a certain page), but it will also help Google crawl your site better.
What About Online Ads?
SEO is all about driving organic traffic to your site. Online ads like Google and Facebook are the paid route for increasing your bank’s visibility. While some of the strategies between SEO and online ads are similar, online ads come with a greater cost overall.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t run online ads. They can be a great way to put your bank on the front page of Google or connect with customers via social channels. It’s also possible to have both an SEO strategy and an online ad strategy running simultaneously.
Ready for Your Bank to Use SEO?
By implementing some basic SEO tactics, you can help improve your site’s overall visibility and connect with customers in your area. However, competition can be tough out there and you’ll need to implement a long-term strategy and constant work to stay at the top of the search engine rankings.