A week or so ago, we were once again talking about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and websites. The focus back then was on keywords, a keyword strategy being the quickest, easiest, and probably the most cost-effective means of optimizing your community bank website.
Today, we’re going to talk about another site optimization tactic: backlinking.
So, what are backlinks? According to Wix.com, “backlinks are the hyperlinks that take users from one web page to another, and they form the strongest referral network in online search.”
As you already know, in today's digital era, a robust online presence is pivotal for any financial institution, especially the community bank. The virtual storefront of a community bank resides within its website—a hub for clients to explore services, gain information, and initiate crucial transactions.
Okay, so what exactly is a “linking strategy”? At its core, it’s about strategically connecting web pages within your site and, equally importantly, linking to reputable external sources.
Internal linking is akin to creating a roadmap within your bank's website. When structured thoughtfully, it enhances navigation, improves the user experience, and ensures visitors can find the information for which they’re searching … quickly and easily. On the other hand, external linking establishes credibility by connecting users to authoritative industry resources, further validating your bank's expertise and trustworthiness.
4 Backlinking tips
- Nurture relationships with your industry’s top creators and brands! One of the easiest ways to win links consistently over time is to approach it like a good sales rep. Take a genuine interest in what they do, give more than you take, and even add a personal facet to your rapport. Just be sure not to take liberties with the relationships you cultivate; they can take months to build, but minutes to undo. Avoid, for instance, asking for backlinks too frequently or pitching pages or sites that aren’t mutually relevant.
- Avoid, too, the temptation to sacrifice quality for quantity. Backlinking to low-quality websites can have an adverse effect on your rankings. Instead, you must pursue high-quality backlinks from other authoritative, high-quality, and relevant mass media publications, industry blogs, industry association websites, such as the American Bankers Association, as well as your state bankers association. You should also look to financially-focused resources like American Banker, Bloomberg, CNBC, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal.
- Create newsworthy content. Newsworthy content isn’t just company updates. Farmers Insurance does this in their commercials, re-enacting real scenarios they’ve covered that range from jaw-dropping to funny to heartwarming. The Farmers’ Hall of Claims has generated more than 300 backlinks, for example. Take a leaf out of their book and talk about the real scenarios your bank has encountered, inviting specific customers to be part of the story.
- Also, keep in mind that too much backlink building is considered spam to search engines. Years ago, marketers took advantage of how easy it was to purchase backlinks for their website and, as a result, search engines have cracked down on spammy backlinks.
Not all backlinks are created equal
When building a strong backlink profile, the most critical factors are the quality and relevance of referring domains and pages. Relevant backlinks from authoritative sites signal to Google that your page is worthy of attention. You might hear SEO practitioners refer to this associated equity as “link juice.” To get the most benefit from the “link juice” you’ve earned, aim for quality over quantity.
For a community bank, fostering trust is paramount. As a trusted financial entity embedded within a local community, your website serves as a virtual handshake. Implementing a robust linking strategy bolsters this trust factor. When users encounter a well-linked, coherent website, it reflects the bank's commitment to transparency, accessibility, and expertise.
How backlinks add value
Here are just a few of the ways that backlinks add value and why:
- Increased organic traffic: Backlinks remain one of the leading search ranking factors. All other considerations being equal, a page with relevant, authoritative backlinks is more likely to rank on page one of a Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page) for its target queries.
- Increased referral traffic: Links from high-traffic sites and pages tend to increase traffic to your website via clicks from the referring page.
- Credibility with Google: Google assesses a site’s content quality based on signals that indicate E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness). Backlinks are a sign that your page knows what it’s talking about and can be trusted.
- Credibility with readers: Pages with links from websites established in their industry are more likely to be convincing and reliable to the people you want to reach.
- Faster indexing time: When you publish a page with internal backlinks from already-indexed pages, Google is faster to discover and crawl the new page.
In conclusion, link building isn’t easy, but it’s one of the most crucial parts of a successful SEO strategy. It takes time. Be patient, cultivate relationships, and avoid low-quality partners.
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.
PS: And we practice what we preach. We attribute, at least in part, our high ranking in SERPs to the many links out to reputable sites and publications referenced in our blog, as well as the back links that can be found on the 23 state bankers associations with whom we are partnering.