SEO and Your Bank’s Bottom Line

By Justin Smorawske

Improving your bank website’s SEO can affect your bottom line.

Here’s the cold, hard (and unfortunate) truth—it’s really hard to increase your rankings for financial and banking terms in search engines such as Google and Bing.

If you are a regional or local bank, you are competing against huge national banks for terms such as “home loan.” And if you’re a huge national bank, you’re competing against even huger national banks for keywords like “credit card.”

But you probably already know that. If you’re a marketing manager or director at a financial institution, you have probably already spent a fair amount of time bemoaning your low rankings in search results. You may have even dismissed SEO (search engine optimization) as something impossible, something that you simply need to forget about.

But don’t do it—all is not lost.

SEO includes a wide range of services, with multiple and varied goals, all of which can work to increase your financial institution’s profitability. (Now that’s a word that can land you some executive buy-in.)

Outside of frantic keyword tracking, here are some SEO services you may have overlooked that have the ability to increase your bank’s website performance and have positive ripple effects on your FI’s bottom line.

Get conversions.

Sometimes we get so used to our own company’s website that we forget to view it from an outsider’s perspective. Is your website easy to use? (This is an extremely important question that many people struggle to answer.) Your website should have clear goals for users, such as “click here to apply” or “learn more.”

Potential and current customers should be able to arrive on your site and figure out very quickly what path to take next. Optimize your website for conversions by testing things like font size and color, the way your pages are formatted, adding buttons to important next steps and other user-experience methods. When you find a change that results in more leads, keep it. Your website just got that much better.

Get technical.

This is the boring stuff. It’s also the stuff that search engines value. Search engines like Google and Bing don’t know that your financial institution has the best level of customer care around. All they know is that your website isn’t mobile-friendly.

To search engines, lack of mobile-friendliness is a huge red flag. There are other small changes you can make, like improving your page titles and meta-descriptions. Many banks ignore this aspect of their websites, because they do not directly affect page rankings.

But many SEO experts estimate that improving your metadata, as it’s called collectively, can increase click-through rates to your site from search-engine users by more than 20%.

That boring stuff just became a little more interesting, no?

Get local.

One of the most important areas of SEO for a regional bank to focus on is local SEO. Local SEO is a term that refers to community-focused possibilities, such as Google Maps, Yellow Pages, official city websites, and other city-specific marketplaces. Local SEO is an easier arena to master than search-engine rankings, but you’ll still have to put in the time.

Local SEO is mostly about being making sure potential customers can find you when you want them to. You should check your listings across all websites and make sure that you have the correct address, phone number and other business details. Tools like Moz Local and BrightLocal can help you find these profiles without having to spend hours scouring the internet.

Now for the bonus round…

This bonus round suggestion isn’t directly related to SEO, but it can affect everything you do on the Internet.

Measure your measurements.

Take a good, hard look at what you’re measuring online. Is it things like Facebook likes or the overall number of website visitors? Does a dip or growth in Facebook likes directly affect your bottom line?

If not, maybe it’s time to take into account the measure of your measurements. Write down simple and achievable digital goals for your business—things that translate to your business’s real-life goals.

For instance, if your bank wants to grow its lending department, your goal could be to see a 5% increase in the number of loan leads through the website. Goals like this are much more important to base decisions around than Twitter followers. Although, for the record, we still recommend keeping an eye on the overall growth or decline of your social media following—just give it the appropriate weight in the reporting process so decisions are made based off the most important key metrics.

Justin Smorawske is CMO/Partner at Epicosity, a financial services marketing agency in Sioux Falls, S.D. Epicosity has a keen insight into meeting millennial demand with its expertise in creative development, digital strategy, video production, website development and public relations. Contact: Info@Epicosity.com

Online training in digital, mobile and social media from ABA.

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