There is nothing quite like a freshly redesigned website. With eye catching imagery, a modern layout, a new site is a big milestone for an institution. But a fresh, new website should be more than just looks and an improved user experience. A solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is vital to both business and visitor goals, and especially for banks and credit unions where the competition is high.
Learn more about the top four mistakes banks and credit unions often make on their website that negatively affect SEO, and how to avoid them.
SEO Considerations for Financial Institutions During a Redesign
A baseline SEO strategy for a bank or credit union involves content that is rich with localized keywords, has a site architecture with dedicated pages for each key product and service, location pages for each of the bank or credit union branches, and unique meta tags on every page. There are also many technical SEO checklist items that need to be adhered to.
4 SEO Mistakes Institutions Frequently Make
1. Don’t leave out location-based keywords on product and service pages.
To search engines, what sets financial institution websites apart is the location in which they have branches or membership eligibility, as well as their status as a bank or a credit union. When the specific geographic footprint that your bank or credit union serves is mentioned within content on product and service page throughout your site, you have a good chance of increasing your local, organic search rankings.
There are several ways to achieve this. One way is to place a piece of “SEO text” on each page, if you serve a large area, such as multiple states. The SEO text could read something like, “Visit ABC Bank at our locations throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, or take advantage of our digital services.” While this strategy makes note of the location of this bank, the downfall is that it is repetitive and depending on where this text was positioned on the page, these keywords may not land within the first 100 characters of a page, which is optimal for the best SEO results.
A better strategy is to weave the location keywords into the copy itself. Depending on your brand tone this could read something like, “ABC Credit Union offers our Connecticut members guaranteed returns on Certificates.” While repeating the location term(in these examples, Connecticut), seems repetitive, it’s important to understand that calling out the location will not only help increase your organic rankings but bring quality traffic to your website. The more users who are finding what they need on your site, the more credibility you build with the search engine. And, since the search engines’ goal is to help users find exactly what they need, you’re more likely to be ranked higher.
2. Don’t make just one location page.
Let each of your locations shine organically on its own page.The most common organic search terms for financial institutions have to do with locations. When we look at actual searches that led to time spent on a bank or credit union website most often, we see queries like “Wellsboro PA Banks”, “Credit Union MI Car Loans”, “Credit Union In Lincoln Park MI” or “Credit Union in Lubbock Texas”. When you have detail pages for each of your locations, you open up the possibility of ranking organically for actual cities, counties, towns and even neighborhoods.There is also an opportunity to pair those local search terms with larger banking keywords by adding a little more content to those location detail pages. ZAG recommends including a block of text on each location page introducing and linking to product pages that are relevant for that location or important to your institution in general. By creating just one location page listing all your branches you could be missing out on ranking on more specific searches like “home loans Glastonbury CT”.
3. Don’t put all your products on one page.
Give each of your products their own voice. We know that all of your checking accounts are unique, whether they are interest earning, offer no monthly fee or are youth accounts. By having a designated page for each of your unique accounts, loan products and services, you are making room for more keywords to help guide a search engine user to the exact account they seek, with less clicks. Remember, the more valuable your users find your site the more a search engine will deem your site valuable and allow you to rank higher.
Not only do unique product and service pages make more room for valuable keywords but they also create the opportunity for more internal links. An SEO strategized site architecture would look something like Section Page/Category Page/Detail Page, more specifically, Personal Accounts/Checking Accounts/Interest Checking. The Personal Accounts page would link out to broad types of personal accounts while the Checking Account page would link out to specific checking offerings. Through this strategy, different types of search engine users are accounted for, those looking for general personal bank accounts (checking and savings), those looking to compare checking accounts and those searching for a specific type of checking account. And the largest benefit – search engines see a clear connection to the different products/services you offer.
4. Don’t duplicate your meta tags,not even on blogs and calculators, just don’t!
Meta tags are what immediately comes to mind when most marketers think about SEO. We cannot stress enough the importance of having a unique meta title and a unique meta description for every page on your website.
For banks and credit unions it is very easy to duplicate meta tags, especially if you have both personal and business products. A helpful way to ensure that your meta tags are unique is to have unique titles for each of your pages. For example, if you have Personal Checking and Business Checking, name those pages as so; mimic that in your meta tags.
Most commonly bank and credit union marketers will skip over this step when it comes to blogs and calculators. ZAG often sees general meta tags such as, “Online Calculators | Financial Tools | ABC Credit Union” for each of the calculators on a site. In order to make individual calculators stand out in organic search these pages need to have unique meta tags. Unique meta titles are also a requirement for ADA conformance. But blogs and calculators are vital to an effective SEO strategy since they are important in the awareness and consideration stages of the sales funnel. In fact, it is likely that the calculators, blogs and other resources on your site are providing ample opportunity for attracting visitors on relevant keywords such as these highly searched terms “auto loan payments”, “first time home buyer”, “retirement planning”, “how much can I save” and more.
Plan for SEO and You Will be Rewarded
Just like design and user experience, optimizing your site for search engines is an important part of your overall digital strategy. If you think the SEO strategy on your site could use a facelift or if you want us to evaluate your current SEO strategy, let’s talk!