SEO for Banks: How To Grow Your Financial Business With Organic Search
Banking institutions face unique challenges when it comes to increasing brand visibility and growing their customer base. But an often-overlooked aspect of digital marketing in the banking industry, is SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.
SEO is a valuable tool for banks looking to gain new customers and grow their business. By optimizing their website for search engines with the specific needs of current and potential customers, banks can increase their visibility and reach potential customers, beyond just helping current customers find their local bank address.
When it comes to SEO, there are a lot of potential tactics, but we’ll break down the most targeted strategies for banks and financial institutions in this post.
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Why Should Banks Need to Focus on SEO?
Banks face specific and unique digital marketing considerations. An effective SEO strategy can help:
Increase Visibility in a competitive market
The need for SEO for banks is apparent from the high volume of searches for keywords such as "banks near me" (an estimated 823,000 searches per month). These search queries represent potential customers looking for financial services in their area. With hundreds of banks appearing in search results, it can be difficult for a specific bank to stand out and be easily found by these potential customers.
Studies have shown that the top-ranked websites in search results receive a significant proportion of clicks, while those on the second page receive only a fraction of that. In fact, the top position on Google (#1 ranking) typically gets 33% of the traffic, with spots 2 and 3 getting 18% and 11%, respectively, with traffic only going down after that (thus the infamous SEO saying, “The best place to hide a dead body is the second page of Google Search.”). Looking at our example above (“banks near me”), the top-ranking bank or website can expect traffic numbers around 270,000 visits from that keyword alone. Sounds good, right?
Influence brand awareness in a highly regulated environment
Good SEO can help a bank establish and maintain a strong online presence, which can increase brand awareness and credibility. Within a highly regulated industry such as financial services, brand trust is the key to success. SEO tactics can not only help build that trust through creating better user experiences, but also ensure safe, secure and fully compliant websites for consumers.
Create a cost-effective marketing tactic
SEO is a cost-effective way to drive qualified traffic to a website, compared to other forms of marketing and advertising. Paid ads on Google are expensive in this competitive space, so focusing on good, quality organic visibility is essential.
Foster better customer engagement
Highly visible websites can also improve their chances of customer engagement and conversion rates which leads to more customers.
Solid SEO strategies for Banks and financial Institutions
Here is a comprehensive list of SEO tactics banks and financial institutions should employ for maximum visibility.
Targeted Keyword Research
The first step in any SEO strategy is understanding your audience and what (and how) they are searching the internet. Keyword research can give you an insight into the search queries and terms that your potential bank customers are using when looking for financial services online.
By understanding these keywords, you can determine if your website has the potential to rank well for these terms and whether the search volume is sufficient to justify investing resources into creating content that targets those keywords.
The data from keyword research can also be used to identify customer's questions and concerns about different financial products and services that your bank offers, as well as related topics that can be used to flesh out a well-rounded content plan on the website (and in other marketing tactics like email and social campaigns) as well as inform your messaging and tailor your services to better meet the needs of your customers.
Local Search Optimization
Banks often have physical branches, and customers may be searching for a bank near them. Good local SEO can help a bank's website rank well for local search queries, increasing visibility for nearby customers. Local SEO involves a few steps:
A) Optimize Google My Business listing
Make sure that your bank's Google My Business listing is up-to-date and complete, including accurate information about your business including name, address, and phone number, as well as hours of operation.
B) Include location keywords
Include location-specific keywords on your website, such as the city or neighborhood in which your bank's branches are located. This will help your website rank higher for local search queries.
C) Build local backlinks
Build backlinks from local websites, such as local news outlets, directories, and chamber of commerce websites. This will help to improve your website's visibility and credibility in the local area.
D) Get listed in local directories
Get your bank listed in local directories, such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, and local Chamber of Commerce.
E) Optimize your website for mobile
Make sure that your website is mobile-friendly and responsive, as more and more customers are accessing banking services on their mobile devices.
F) Monitor your online reputation
Regularly monitor your bank's online reputation by tracking reviews and ratings across different platforms. Respond to customer feedback and make improvements as necessary.
Creating and maintaining consistency across the web (GMB and other directories) can be done by third-party services like Yext are a possibility, and this automation can be especially useful if your business has many locations to manage, or if location details are changing frequently (like new branches opening or current ones closing, changes related to hours of operation or addresses). But this can be done manually as well by following the above guidelines.
Security and Compliance Considerations
Banks handle sensitive financial information, and customers may be concerned about the security of online banking. Ensure your website sends secure signals with the following tactics:
1. Have and up-to-date SSL Certificate: Having a secure website (HTTPS) and information about online security measures prominently displayed on the website can help alleviate these concerns and increase trust in the bank.
2. Ensuring Website Compliance: Banks are subject to a variety of regulations, such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Bank Secrecy Act, two regulations that banks must comply with in order to protect customer information and prevent money laundering. Having a website that is compliant with these regulations can help a bank avoid fines and penalties. Specific regulations include providing consumers with a privacy notice prominently displayed on the website that explains how the bank collects, uses, and shares customer information.
Engaging Content Marketing
Banks can create valuable, informative content related to personal finance, investment, and other topics that are relevant to their target customers. This can help to establish the bank as a credible source of information and drive traffic to their website. A winning SEO strategy will include comprehensive, engaging content topics.
Some content considerations include:
1. Target audience and business goals
Who is your target audience? For example, If your ideal customer is a family with young kids, consider creating content beyond just products and services, and include articles on the importance of saving and budgeting, quizzes and games that teach financial literacy, and tips on how to make smart money decisions for a younger audience. Alternatively, if you aim to grow your customer base with singles in their 50s+, focus your content on financial planning, asset diversification, retirement planning, and estate planning.
2. Focused Keyword Strategy
Keyword research is essential to identify relevant search terms that are being used by potential customers, while content creation should focus on topics that are of interest to the target audience. In other words, create the content, but make sure to optimize it correctly so it gets in front of the right people.
3. Product-specific search optimization
Banks offer a wide range of products and services, such as mortgages, loans, and credit cards. Optimizing for specific product-related keywords can help a bank reach customers who are specifically searching for those products.
4. Create Valuable Financial Tools
Financial tools and calculators can be a great resource for customers to plan their financial future. These financial tools can also help customers make more informed decisions about their finances and can be a great way for banks to build trust and engagement with their clients.
Additionally, they can be optimized with keywords and phrases that are relevant to the target audience. This content can also be used to build links as other websites may be interested in linking to the content due to its usefulness. These tools can also be used in link building campaigns, and amplified through social and email campaigns providing highly engaging and interactive content.
5. Construct an intuitive site architecture with effective internal linking
By organizing the website into clear sections and providing clear contexts-relevant links, users can quickly find the pages they are looking for, which can improve the overall user experience and increase engagement.
This can also help cross-sell products and services. For example, if a user is viewing a page about savings accounts, internal links can be provided to pages about other types of accounts or services, such as loans or credit cards. This can help to increase the chances of a user taking up additional products or services offered by the bank.
From a technical perspective, a well-organized architecture and internal linking strategy will also allow for more efficient search engine crawling and indexing, which can improve organic search rankings, brand awareness and overall site visibility.
Banks can use schema markup on their website to provide search engines with more information about their business, such as the location of their branches and the products and services they offer. Some relevant types of schema that can be implemented include:
1. Organization and Local Business schema types to showcase products and services as well as location of branches (which will enhance local search).
2. Product and Offer markups to display product information such as price and availability.
3. Financial Product schema to provide detailed information about their financial products.
4. Website Navigation schema to allow search engines to index the navigation menus on their sites.
5. Breadcrumb List to help users better understand their location within the site.
6. Event schema to promote their upcoming events.
7. FAQ Page schema to list their frequently asked questions.
With mobile banking on the rise, mobile optimization is more important than ever for banks. Google places a significant emphasis on mobile-friendliness and page speed since customers are increasingly using their mobile devices to access banking services. A website that is not optimized for mobile can result in a poor user experience and lost business.
Case in point: A survey by the Bank Administration Institute found that in 2020, 53% of bank customers said that they would be more likely to switch banks if their current bank did not offer mobile banking.
Here are some tips for keeping your bank’s mobile strategy competitive:
- Responsive design: A responsive design ensures that the website adapts to the size of the device it is being viewed on, whether it's a desktop, tablet, or mobile device. This will make the website easy to navigate and read on a small screen.
- Fast loading speed: Mobile users are less patient than desktop users, so it's important to ensure that the website loads quickly on mobile devices. This can be achieved by compressing images, reducing the number of redirects, and minimizing the use of heavy scripts.
- Easy navigation: Navigation should be simple and intuitive, with clear and obvious buttons and links. This will make it easy for users to find the information they need on the website. Some banking websites offer tons of products and services so making the site intuitive and easy to navigate could mean more engagement and less bounces.
- Optimized forms: Forms should be optimized for mobile devices, with larger buttons and fields that are easy to tap on a small screen.
- Touch-friendly design: The website should be designed with touch-friendly elements, such as larger buttons, that are easy to tap on a mobile device.
- Mobile-specific content: A study by comScore found that in 2020, the average American spent 3 hours and 15 minutes per month on mobile banking apps. Be sure to have mobile-specific content, such as a mobile app or mobile-optimized pages, that are tailored to the needs of mobile users.
Grow you banking business with an Effective SEO Strategy
SEO is a critical strategy for banks and financial institutions looking to increase visibility, reach potential customers and grow your business. Though competition is high in the financial services industry, there is great opportunity for those who take the time to optimize for organic search.
By taking these actionable steps, banks can increase their visibility, improve brand awareness and credibility and create a cost-effective marketing strategy, ultimately leading to more customers, better user engagement and growing the bottom line.