By Miriam Ellis
Is your bank maximizing its local visibility? Banks enjoy a privilege that Google offers to few other industries: despite the fact that ATMs don’t involve making in-person contact with customers, they are eligible for Google My Business listings.
Here’s how this special treatment is summed up in the Guidelines for representing your business on Google:
In order to qualify for a Google My Business listing, a business must make in-person contact with customers during its stated hours.
Exception: ATMs, video-rental kiosks, and express mail dropboxes are permitted. If you add these locations, you must include contact information for customers to get help.
Given the valuable visibility each Google My Business listing can earn for your bank’s brand, be sure you’re not compromising eligibility with costly mistakes. Follow these tips for success:
1. Naming conventions matter.
Because many ATMs are contained within other businesses, marketers may think they should fill out the business title field of the Google My Business Listing this way:
Sequoia Bank ATM/Safeway Supermarket
Sequoia Bank inside Safeway
Do an audit of all your ATM locations to be sure they are simply listing the bank name and the word ‘ATM.’ Containment information, street names, city names, regional names or additional words of any kind in the business title can raise a red flag at Google.
2. A phone number is required.
For each ATM Google My Business listing you’ll need to include a customer support phone number.
Local search marketing experts recommend that this number be distinct from the local area code phone number you are using for an individual bank branch. Using phone numbers at the same physical location on your Google My Business listings carries a small risk of accidental listing merges, in which the details of one listing can become mixed up with the details of another.
A natural choice for the phone number on your ATM listings will be your normal toll-free customer support number.
3. Location consistency is vital.
Some bankers and marketers worry that having a bank branch and ATM share the same street address might be against Google’s guidelines or result in merges. In the past, this might have been a legitimate concern, but Google has now become sophisticated enough to sort out numerous entities at the same location nearly all of the time. Just be sure the name and phone number fields of the bank and the ATM are distinct.
What every bank does need to worry about, however, is citation consistency. In brief, citation consistency hinges on having the name, address, phone number and website address of an entity listed identically every place they are published on the web. Industry experts agree that citation consistency is the second most influential local search ranking factor for any business model, and that mismatching data not only harms rankings, but also misleads customers.
Small variants (Ave. vs. Avenue, Suite vs #) don’t matter, but if your business name is Sequoia Bank, be sure it isn’t listed in some places as Seqoia Bank or Sequoia Banks. If your ATM is located at 123 Main St. Suite B, be sure all of your local business listings include that suite number. Also, make certain all listings for a given ATM location list an identical phone number and point to the same page on your website.
A quick way to gauge citation consistency on the most powerful platforms is to use a free tool like Moz Check Listing. Just type in the name and zip code of a given ATM, and this tool will instantly return an assessment of the consistency of its local business listings across 15 major platforms. Given the vital role citation consistency plays in local search rankings, auditing your local business listings and correcting any variant data are core tasks for the marketing departments of all banks.
4. Landing pages maximize conversions.
While Google’s guidelines don’t require that you create a unique landing page on your website for each of your ATMs, don’t overlook this opportunity.
By linking from the website field of your Google My Business ATM listings to a unique page of the company website for each location, you have a meaningful opportunity to include content on that page that will be extra helpful to your customers. Consider including the following on these landing pages:
- At the top of the page, be sure the first thing the customer sees is the name, address and phone number of the ATM, written out exactly as you have listed it on the Google My Business Page.
- Write out completely thorough driving directions. Remember that many customers are travelers, so be sure to include easy-to-recognize landmarks in your directions. Explain how to reach the ATM coming from all 4 directions into the city.
- Specify exactly where the ATM is located (on the front, red-brick wall of the bank facing Center Street, or, next to the Bakery Department in Safeway).
- List accessibility options for customers with disabilities (wheelchair accessible, hearing or sight impaired).
- Describe parking availability.
- Explain safety measures that have been taken to protect customers using the ATMs.
- Link to social profiles, live chat or other vehicles for interaction and support.
- Take advantage of the opportunity the landing page provides to alert customers to a special offer, new program, or something else the bank would like them to know about.
If your bank has decided to maximize visibility of your ATMs by creating a unique website landing page for each location, be sure you’re including some unique content on each page. Don’t simply cut and paste identical text across hundreds or thousands of pages on your website, watering down its strength and making it vulnerable to Google’s duplicate content filters. Invest real thought and care into creating genuine value for human users with each page you publish.
5. Mobile-friendliness is a must.
According to Google, 81% of mobile searches are for information the user needs immediately. Your customers on-the-go are not going to drive back home to use your bank’s website on their desktop device to find the ATM nearest them. While Google will take care of ensuring that your local business listings render correctly on smartphones, it’s up to each bank to ensure that all pages of the corporate website are mobile-friendly.
Concerned you may be missing out on mobile customers? Google recently launched an improved mobile-friendliness tool your marketing department can make great use of to ensure your bank’s excellent customer service includes an excellent mobile experience.
Bear in mind that mobile accessibility not only serves customers, but that Google gathers and analyzes data about how users interact with your website. Be sure your marketing department understands how user behavior relates to rankings so that your outreach is geared to please customers and search engines alike.
Sum it up.
All financial institutions know that ATMs represent an opportunity to provide convenience to customers and secure their loyalty. Additionally, Google’s guidelines make it possible for each ATM location to act as a medium for further brand exposure. The marketing theory known as effective frequency proposes that a person needs to be exposed to a brand an average of seven times before they will remember it.
Your local business listings, website landing pages, and the physical signage on your ATMs throughout a given city all represent valuable brand exposure opportunities.
With guideline compliance, citation consistency and a useful, mobile-friendly experience, you can transform your ATM locations into 24-hour marketers for your bank’s brand.
Miriam Ellis is part of the Moz Local team. When she’s not writing the monthly Moz Local newsletter and answering questions in the Q&A forum, she’s helping her clients master their local SEO strategies at her own firm Solas Web Design.
Online training in digital, mobile and social media from ABA.