The banking industry has been consolidating for 30 years, dropping from 14,000 banks in 1985 to fewer than 5,000 today. With smaller players being swallowed by industry heavyweights, it’s natural for community banks to wonder how well they can compete against national lenders. Fortunately, there’s one simple tactic that can help even the playing field: Well-executed SEO services grounded in a deep understanding of local buyers.
How community banks can gain an SEO edge
Community banks are, at their core, local businesses. While they might not be capitalized at the level of the big banks, they can instead compete on responsiveness and understanding of the local market.
A local SEO strategy also pays dividends. Banks should give each of their local branches a dedicated web page rather than having each branch listed through a simple location finder. These pages should include information about each branch and its neighborhood and should be optimized for SEO. This means taking commonly searched phrases relating to banking in that area and incorporating them into the body and metadata of branch pages.
The power of the public’s endorsement
Adding customer reviews for each local branch to individual pages is also a smart tactic. Reviews play a critical role in establishing credibility and are a key cog in the conversion process.
This also extends to external entities such as Yelp! and other directories. Establishing a presence on these outside sites does more than allowing you to bump your online review count. Sites such as Yelp! validate your bank’s address, phone number, and name with Google’s search algorithm, giving your site a rankings boost. Linking with high authority publishers is also key. Inbound links coming from high authority publishers is perhaps the most consistently effective tactic in the SEO playbook.
Staying on top of local search terms
It’s also critical to give extensive thought to the kind of questions prospective customers are searching for in your region — everything from “how to open a checking account” to “nearest bank to me.”
These are the kind of questions for which community banks want to rank, so it’s important that they are addressed somewhere within your online presence. You can address them both on your sites and within the content you publish.
Stressing your competitive advantages
Community banks should play to their strengths when marketing. Larger banks tend to be viewed as faceless monoliths who treat their customers like a number on a spreadsheet. Community banks, on the other hand, are in a position to establish personal relationships by properly utilizing SEO services.
This may not affect whether a customer qualifies for a loan, but it does impact how customers feel about their experience. Community banks should underline the closer, more responsive nature of their relationships with customers in their marketing messages.
Small banks can neutralize the advantages of larger competitors by highlighting the benefits of a more personal approach and pursuing a smart SEO strategy. If you’d like to hear more about the impact of high-level SEO services, reach out to our banking experts today.
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