Local SEO: A Powerful Tool for Attracting Borrowers

Right now, community banks and credit unions across the nation have a major opportunity to increase lending to commercial and consumer clients alike.

The major challenge will be standing out from the crowd.

Could local SEO be a key to growing your loan portfolios? Read on to learn more.

According to Federal Reserve data, deposit levels at financial institutions of all sizes shot up at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and have continued to climb steadily. As of October 13, 2021, the country’s small, domestically chartered commercial banks held $5.5 trillion in deposits compared to $4.1 trillion at the beginning of 2020.

This unprecedented surge in liquidity means greater capacity to issue loans. But in order to attract qualified borrowers, institutions will need to adjust their marketing strategies to engage with brand-conscious prospects and earn their trust. One way that community banks and credit unions can gain a competitive edge is by partnering with a finance-savvy marketing firm to prioritize local SEO.

What Is Local SEO?

Broadly speaking, SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of increasing a financial institution’s visibility on search engines like Google and Bing.

Local SEO focuses on queries that relate to or originate from a specific geographical area. So, if someone searches for auto loans in Philadelphia or small business loans near me, an institution with great local SEO will show up near the top of those results.

What Are the Benefits?

Your page ranking has a massive impact on how much traffic your website will get. Search results shown on the first page of Google get over 90% of clicks. Even your position on the first page matters, with the first five results securing over two-thirds of clicks.

But local SEO isn’t just about generating clicks. It’s also about reaching a relevant, qualified audience at the point when they’re looking for a solution that you can provide.

While national brands often expend a lot of resources trying to chase after high-volume but low-focus keywords like bank or loan, regional institutions have the opportunity to stake out a prominent position among location- and need-specific queries with much lower competition and much higher conversion.

Perhaps most importantly, tailoring your web content to your local community can inspire confidence and loyalty. Borrowers appreciate high-tech conveniences, but what they value most is the human element. Establishing an online presence that demonstrates local involvement and anticipates local needs can be the first step to forging lending relationships that last.

Helpful Tips

Here are seven strategies that financial institutions can employ to maximize local search visibility:

  1. Create and Update Your Google My Business™ Account: This is one of the most effective ways to gain local clout and deliver convenience to customers. Make sure to provide current hours of operation and contact info. Adding ATM locations can also give you a search advantage.
  2. Create a Web Page for Every Product: When financial institutions aggregate multiple products and services onto one page, algorithms don’t recognize them as subject matter authorities. Make dedicated pages for HELOCs, SBA loans, overdraft protection, and other lending options.
  3. Post Locally Relevant Content: Consider producing blog stories based on regional news items, sharing videos of community events, and cross-promoting businesses or charitable causes that you support. While this isn’t lending-specific content, it serves to increase geographic relevancy.
  4. Focus on Local Keywords: Take advantage of free tools like Google’s Keyword Planner to explore what search terms are frequently being used in your geographical area. Pepper these into your copy, meta content, and links, along with mentions of key regional landmarks and industries.
  5. Ensure That Your Website Is Mobile-Friendly: These days, over 50% of web traffic in the U.S. originates from mobile devices, so if your website design isn’t optimized for browsing on iPhone and Android platforms, you could be missing out on much of your potential audience.
  6. Get Equipped for Voice Search: People are increasingly using tools like Alexa and Siri – and the way they talk to these voice assistants is different than the way they type. Make sure your site provides clear, succinct answers to conversational who, what, where, when, and why questions.
  7. Don’t Neglect Online Reviews: Providing thorough, personalized responses to reviews on Google, Yelp, and other sites can boost local search rankings and demonstrate credibility. Ensure that your contact information and backlinks are complete and correct on these sites, too.

When you work with Lightstream, you’re working with a group of marketing professionals who truly understand community banking. We have 15 years of experience helping banks and credit unions to meaningfully connect with their ideal audiences. Wondering what Lightstream could do for your institution? Reach out today.