How Banks Can Benefit from SEO
Online banking is great. Checking balances, paying bills, transferring money, even depositing checks; online banking has made it easy for people to manage their basic finances from the comfort of their home computer or mobile device.
But what about more complicated financial activities like applying for home and auto loans, planning for retirement, savings investments, or managing small business expenses? The average person will have questions. They’ll need information on how to start planning and who to trust with their money. And where does the average person begin their search for answers? That’s right, online.
Here are some stats:
- 92% of adults rely on the Internet when beginning their search for information, products, and services.
- The average cost of an online bank transaction is $0.10, compared to a $0.94 cost of phone transactions and $1.00 cost of branch transactions.
SEO is tricky, and it’s constantly evolving, but there are a few tried and true methods for increasing your online search performance.
Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Identify what your bank does best and know what questions customers in your area have, then use that information to focus your SEO efforts on a small number of specific keywords.
Use short tail and long tail keywords to expand your reach. To put it simply, short tail keywords are broad terms like “Banking” or “Auto loans”. These will help you reach a broad audience, but may not always reach the right audience. Long tail keywords are more specific terms that help narrow the search, like “Banking services in Chicago” or “Auto loan refinancing”. These types of keywords will help you hone in on a specific segment of your potential audience.
Short tail keywords will maximize your exposure, while long tail keywords will help you reach the right audience and keep your costs down as the competition (and cost) for more specific keywords is far lower.
Provide high-quality content
Yes, ranking well for targeted keywords like “mortgage rates” or “retirement planning” is great for exposure, but you need to back up that ranking with quality content that provides usable information.
You need to understand what questions your audience has, and provide them with answers that are both easy to find and easy to understand. Leave out the sales pitches and industry jargon. Most people won’t know what you’re talking about, and they need to feel comfortable if they’re going to trust you with their money.
Include outbound links
Search engines will view your site as a more reliable source of information and reward you with a better SEO ranking if you support your site’s content by linking to other reputable sources (outbound links), like the FDIC, Wall Street Journal, or Forbes.
You can also double-dip by getting others to provide links (inbound links) to your site or blog, just be wary of link-building schemes, as these can damage your SEO rankings and reputation with customers.
Leverage social media and blogging
Blogs add additional pages to your website that boost your SEO performance for given keywords. You can use your blog to go beyond the information provided on your website and provide more detailed information about specific topics, address concerns and misconceptions, or provide tips and tricks for first time investors or new home owners.
Social media provides an SEO boost as well, especially Google+. Yes, believe it or not, Google’s search algorithm significantly rewards those who actively post content to their social network, but they also scan Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Use your social networks to provide users with bite-size pieces of information that drive them to your website for the main course.
The conversation will begin online, but the ultimate goal is to drive customers to your bank in order to complete the transaction.
Part of the reason people love online banking is that it makes them feel comfortable by allowing them to be in control. By using your online presence to connect with them in a personal, approachable way, you’ll bridge the gap that exists between the comfort of online banking and the uncertainty they may feel over making a larger financial decision.