How's your website doing? Banks and credit unions alike have a multitude of opportunities when it comes to performance in this venue, but quite often they're missing huge opportunities when it comes to search-engine optimization (SEO).
Here are some of these common SEO mistakes that banks and credit unions are regularly making.
Marketers at financial institutions are busy. Depending on the size of the institution, a person can often be in charge of everything from social media posting to ad graphic design to website maintenance. So I understand that you’re looking for ways to make your operation more efficient any way you can. But relying on a content service, such as NerdWallet, may be hurting you as much as it is helping your schedule.
Duplicate content is a signal to search engines that your site could potentially be a spammy, unsafe destination for users. If you are copying and pasting content directly from NerdWallet or other content services, into your blog, you could be hurting your search engine rankings. In fact, NerdWallet says that itself on its own blog!
Content services can be a spectacular starting-off point to help you generate ideas or gain background information. But, at the very least, be sure to reword the content before you post it to avoid being penalized.
This is the other side of the coin – lack of content. Blogging can be time-consuming and difficult – that’s why so many of our clients trust us with their content creation. Search engines love new, fresh content. If you only blog once in a blue moon, your site will be devalued in search engine results. If your website doesn’t have the time or budget for a blog, there are other ways to keep your content fresh. When you run an annual promotion for a service such as auto loans, be sure to update the copy of the promotion landing page. If you take new pictures of a branch or employee, update those pictures on the website, as well as print materials. Spend time every quarter researching what keywords are being used in your local area, and insert those into your web copy. And speaking of your local area…
As our world becomes more digital-focused, financial institutions offer more services online: loan applications, credit card applications and live chat about account questions, to name a few. However, we know that many times the hard sale can only be made in person. That’s why local SEO is one of the important things for your bank or credit union to address, especially if you have multiple branches. It’s not enough to have a great website if your bank’s primary address on Google My Business hasn’t been updated since the move to your new building. Your perfectly maintained social media outlets won’t get you anywhere if the only review you have on YellowPages is a negative one. Check out local profiles, such as Google and Bing, and make sure any directories like YellowPages, CitySearch and Yelp have the correct address and phone number for every one of your branches.
If you spend hours updating all of that local information, your institution could be enormously successful. Then what will happen? It’s likely that you’ll be opening a new branch and your online information will once again be out of date. That’s why SEO will never be a “set it and forget it” aspect of your marketing. (We personally believe in never setting and forgetting any aspect of marketing – read more about our philosophy here.) So many banks and credit unions hope to fix their SEO once and then never think about it again. But it is estimated that Google changes its ranking algorithm 500 to 600 times per year! Most of these are minor changes. But if you do not keep an eye on your website’s search traffic, you could miss the next big change to come along.
We’ve spent a lot of time discussing mistakes that can affect your keyword rankings. But what about once those searchers actually arrive on your website? One of the most common SEO mistakes I see on financial institution websites is a lack of any call to action on the majority of its pages. So often I see credit card pages with no information about how to apply for a credit card, mortgage loan pages with no contact information for the loan officer and poorly designed navigation that makes it difficult to get to both of these pages. If you spend time (and money) driving users to your website, make sure your pages are logically designed to turn those users into customers.
In order to do this, we suggest you sit down and look at the most important pages of your website. Decide what the next step is that you would like users to take. Is it it to contact a branch directly or start an auto loan application online? Once you have decided on that next step, ensure that the directions to complete it are clearly and boldly laid out on that page.
SEO and ads are two completely different things. One of the reasons I am so enthusiastic about SEO is that your investments of time and money continue to pay off years down the road. However, running Google search ads while also investing in SEO can be an extremely worthy strategy. Research shows that appearing in both organic and paid search results can dramatically increase your click-through rate.