By Tara Hershberger
Evrika is the Greek word for “I found it” (eurika’s derivation). This name is appropriate since, in our ever-increasing digital world, it is crucial that financial institutions ensure that their products and services are easily found through the major online search engines such as Google.
That is because customers and potential customers use the Internet to research and shop for banking products and new financial relationships. However, many of the country’s best community banks are not reaching these consumers because their products and services are not adequately visible online.
A recent Deloitte survey showed that 72 percent of consumers begin their search for financial products and services online. Further, this survey revealed that 86 percent are influenced by recommendations from family/friends; 68 percent are influenced by their social media circles and 60 percent are influenced by online reviews. What does this say about the importance of a bank’s overall online presence? Financial institutions must be visible online!
Understanding your institution’s visibility can provide a number of benefits, including:
- Benchmarking of your current performance compared to selected competitors.
- Insight into specific geographical markets.
- Score and ranking of key visibility indicators.
- Quantitative analysis to assist with budget justification.
An online visibility audit should address five key components: search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), social, online directories and your website.
- Organic Search: When someone in your target area searches on Google for “banks” what do they see? How about for “mortgages” or other product-related keywords? If your institution is not visible, you aren’t even in the game. Google is the new Yellow Pages. If you can’t be found on Google, you are invisible to consumers.
- Local Search: Google cannot be underestimated in the local search arena. When performing a local search, the map results take up more than half of the page! It is imperative that institutions claim their listings to ensure the accuracy of each location as an absolute first step. The consistency of your business listing information across the Internet is an important SEO factor.
- Paid Search: Paid search results are an integral part of search engine results pages, which should complement SEO efforts. With paid search, you can surpass your competition in key searches where and when you want.
- Social Media: Claiming and maintaining an active presence on social sites is important to online visibility, both within those sites and on search engines. The number and quality of the sites will have an impact on these sites appearing in institution name (brand) searches.
- Website Experience: What kind of a first impression does your site give those searching online? Programming elements of SEO should be reviewed so your site has better visibility and presentation online. Mobile use is exploding and your website should be designed responsively, that is, it adapts to the device.
The goal of assessing your online visibility is to ultimately create that “I found it” moment for your potential customers as they search for financial services. By comparing your bank with your top competitors using quantifiable measurements in a number of critical online categories, you can highlight strengths to build upon, along with areas of opportunity that need to be addressed in order to raise your overall ranking.
Tara Hershberger is vice president of media for Pannos Marketing, based in Bedford, NH. Pannos Winzeler provides interactive marketing and social media for financial institutions. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @Tarahersh
Online training in digital, mobile and social media from ABA.