Okay, maybe it’s truly not possible to outsmart Google. But, it’s certainly worth a try, isn’t it?
It was back in May when we talked about the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)… “SEO. A cure for the invisible website,” and delved – broadly – into the various optimization tactics that you, as a bank marketer, can utilize to make your website more effective, more productive, and yes, more Google friendly.
Without a doubt, SEO remains a cornerstone of digital marketing and online visibility; a series of strategies and practices aimed at optimizing web content for both users and search engines. As a result, SEO is vital for any enterprise, as it directly impacts their online presence, as well as their ability to both retain and attract potential customers.
As we touched upon back in May, we live in an ever-evolving digital landscape where top search engines like Google and Bing are continuously evaluating and ranking our site content. Your goal as a community bank marketer? Ensure that, in a changing online environment, your bank's content continues to align with what users are searching for and, most importantly, delivers a valuable and relevant experience. When done correctly, SEO can boost your bank's visibility in search engine results, drive more traffic to your website, and ultimately convert visitors into customers, generating revenue for your institution. Remember, your website is not a “set it and forget it” marketing tactic.
Today we’ll take a closer look at an optimization tactic that is, believe it or not, both effective and straightforward to implement: Keywords.
Keywords are Key
For starters, keywords are the foundation of SEO, and one of the most effective strategies for optimizing your site's visibility and search engine ranking. In a nutshell, keywords are those high-volume, high-competition search terms you should aim to utilize in your content, with the goal of enhancing your site’s ranking on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). So, how do you get the most mileage possible out of keyword optimization?
Step 1: Keyword Research
The first and most critical step in keyword optimization is keyword research. This process involves identifying the keywords and phrases that your target audience is likely to use when searching for financial services, banking products, or information related to your bank. Proper keyword research provides valuable insights into the language your potential customers use and the topics they are interested in. Here's how to conduct effective keyword research:
Identify Your Target Audience: Understanding your audience is key. Consider the demographics, interests, and needs of your potential customers. What financial services are they looking for, and what questions might they have?
Generate Keyword Ideas: Get your team together and brainstorm the words and phrases potential customers might enter into a search engine to find your bank; the words and phrases that are relevant to your services and the needs of your local audience. For instance, if your bank is located in Harrisburg, PA, and offers various types of loans, consider keywords such as "loans Harrisburg" or more specific “long-tail” keywords like "pre-approved auto loans Harrisburg." Incorporate these keywords into your website's content to improve its relevance and visibility. Avoid keyword stuffing – the excessive use of a keyword or keyword phrase – as search engine algorithms can detect excessive keyword usage and penalize your site.
Use Keyword Research Tools: There are various keyword research tools available, such as Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Ahrefs. These tools can provide data on keyword search volume, competition, and related terms.
Analyze Competitor Keywords: Examine the keywords that your competitors are targeting. This can offer insights into successful keyword strategies in your industry.
Prioritize Keywords: Once you've gathered a list of potential keywords, prioritize them based on search volume, competition, and relevance to your bank's services using some of the aforementioned research tools. Focus on keywords that strike a balance between search volume and competition.
Step 2: On-Page Keyword Optimization
Once you've identified the most relevant and valuable keywords for your bank's website, it's time to optimize your site's content. On-page keyword optimization involves incorporating these keywords into various elements of your site pages to improve their ranking on SERPs. Here are key areas to focus on:
Title Tags: Title tags are the clickable headlines that appear in search engine results. Include your target keywords in these tags to signal their relevance to search engines and users.
Meta Descriptions: Meta descriptions provide a brief summary of your web pages in search results. While not a direct ranking factor, a compelling meta description with relevant keywords can attract clicks and boost your click-through rate.
Header Tags: Use header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to structure your content. Incorporate keywords into headings to make your content more accessible and SEO-friendly.
Content: Create high-quality, informative, and engaging content that incorporates your target keywords naturally. Do this on a regular basis and remember to avoid keyword stuffing, which can harm your SEO efforts. Instead, focus on providing value to your audience.
URLs: Customize URLs to include relevant keywords. For example, if you have a page about personal loans, the URL could be structured as "www.yourbank.com/personal-loans."
Image Alt Text: Alt text helps visually impaired people understand what the image shows, helps search engine bots understand image contents, and appears on a page when the image fails to load. When using images on your website, include descriptive alt text that contains keywords. This helps search engines understand the content of the images.
Step 3: Content Creation and Optimization
Content is a critical component of your website's SEO strategy. It's where keywords truly provide value to your audience. Here's how to create and optimize content effectively:
High-Quality Content: Focus on creating informative, well-researched, and engaging content that addresses the financial needs and questions of your local community.
Regular Updates: Fresh content signals to search engines that your website is active and relevant. Update your blog, news section, or other content areas with new information and insights on a regular basis.
User Experience: Avoid large blocks of text. Use subheadings, bullet points, and images to improve your user’s experience.
Step 4: Local SEO and Location-Based Keywords
For community banks and smaller financial institutions, local SEO is vital. Optimize your website for location-based keywords to connect with local customers. Here's how:
Google My Business: Claim and optimize your Google My Business listing, ensuring that your bank's information is accurate and up-to-date.
Local Keywords and Content: Again, as a community bank, it’s important to Incorporate location-specific keywords, such as "bank in [your city]" or "credit union near [your location]." Create content that is relevant to your neighbors, such as articles about financial trends, tools, education, as well as community events.
Customer Reviews: Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews on Google and other review platforms. Positive reviews can boost your local SEO.
Step 5: Monitoring and Analytics
Keyword optimization is an ongoing process. To ensure that your bank's site continues to perform well, regularly monitor your keyword rankings and website analytics. Tools like Google Analytics and Search Console can provide valuable data on your website's performance, keyword rankings, and user behavior. Use this data to make informed adjustments to your SEO strategy.
Step 6: Mobile Optimization
In an increasingly mobile-centric world, it's crucial to ensure that your website is mobile-friendly. Mobile optimization not only enhances the user experience but also aligns with search engine preferences. Google, for example, prioritizes mobile-friendly websites in its search results. Make sure your website is responsive and loads quickly on mobile devices.
Keyword optimization is a fundamental aspect of SEO that can significantly enhance your bank's online presence and attract potential customers. By conducting thorough keyword research, implementing on-page optimization techniques, creating high-quality content, and focusing on local SEO, you can position your bank for success. Regular monitoring and mobile optimization will ensure that your website remains relevant to your local audience, competitive and continues to rank well in SERPs. Embracing these practices will help your bank thrive in our online age, and connect with customers seeking your products and services.
About Bank Marketing Center
Here at bankmarketingcenter.com – one of the industry’s most well-regarded providers of professionally-designed marketing materials to local banks – our goal is to help you with that topical, compelling communication with customers that will help you build trust, relationships, and revenue. Now, through our partnership with ChatGPT, creating your own custom content is even faster and easier. With the addition of AI-assisted content development, our clients can very quickly generate articles they need for newsletters and blogs and any other content they might need in their marketing efforts.
To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to social media and in branch signage – visit bankmarketingcenter.com. You can also contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, I welcome your thoughts.