1. Add a Page for Each Branch to Your Website
Creating individual location pages would be an onerous task for a national bank. But the limited geographic networks of community banks and credit unions enables the creation of a specific page for each of your locations. This helps search engines easily locate your listing and deliver the appropriate location to the searcher.
While you’re at it, go ahead and have some fun! For example, Trailhead Credit Union not only includes the essential information on each branch page, like address, hours, and closures, but also fun facts about each branch and photos of surrounding landmarks.
2. Find and Claim Your Existing Branch Listings
Do you know where your branches are already listed? You may be surprised to find there are listings out there you didn’t even know about.
From an SEO perspective, it’s important to claim all listings under your business name, remove duplicates, and correct or update any inaccurate information. If you’re not sure where to start, a service like Moz Local can help you find all the listings associated with your business and provide concrete suggestions for improving your local SEO score.
Remember that for search engines to find your branch locations when consumers search, your business name, address and phone number must be consistent everywhere and should match what’s listed on your website.
And by consistent, we mean exactly the same. That means if you say “Avenue” on your website, your listings shouldn’t read “Ave.”
3. Update Your Google My Business Account, and Post Regularly
If your institution doesn’t yet have a Google My Business account, start one. Then make sure your name, address and phone number are correct (and consistent with what’s on your website).
Then flesh out the account with other relevant details and assets. These include items such as your logo, description, link to your website, and hours of operation. Attract more interest and add some pizazz with high-quality images of your branches. To keep multiple branch locations up to date, follow these instructions for bulk uploading.
Now that all the boring tasks are out of the way, here’s the fun part — you can post promotions, events, products, and services regularly (and for free!) through Google My Business. Your updated listing appears alongside search results for your business.
Wil Reynolds, founder of search firm Seer Interactive, says that for some of his clients, results from Google My Business posts have outperformed paid search, organic search, and nearly every other promotional tactic.
4. Improve Your Online Reviews
Don’t underestimate the power of online reviews. In fact, according to Search Engine Land, “Customer reviews are one of the first places customers look online to help them judge if your business is trustworthy.” Furthermore, an impressive “88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.”
A positive online review can benefit your bottom line more than almost any other local SEO tactic.
Not only will it help you rank better, it also helps your result take up more real estate on the results page. Start by conducting an audit of the current state of your reviews. Identify branches that have no reviews or largely negative ones. Then build a plan that engages not only your marketing team but also branch managers, member service representatives, and anyone else interacting with your customers to build more positive comments.
The plan should include:
- A “review us” landing page you can send to happy customers.
- An email inviting customer advocates to participate.
- A phone script for anyone on your team that talks to happy customers, to help them request reviews.
- Business-card-sized print pieces to hand to customers when you meet with them, to help them find where to post reviews.
5. Get Backlinks from Local Organizations You Support
Most marketers know that backlinks are important, but few have the time to embark on a comprehensive link-building strategy. Luckily for credit unions and local banks, your community involvement can also benefit your SEO strategy.
Make a list of the businesses and organizations that you partner with or support as part of your community giving efforts. Incorporate a link to your site as part of the partnership agreement.
6. Create Locally Focused Content and Repurpose Old Posts
Search engines love websites that are updated frequently, so if you have a blog it’s important to post on a regular basis. Yet can you really compete with Chase or Bank of America when it comes to a blog post about home-buying tips?
Think about local, niche content geared to your specific audience. For instance, rather than a generic post about preparing to buy a home, why not feature tips from your members or customers on the home-buying process in your area? You’ll have a higher chance of ranking when you’re not competing against hundreds of other posts about the same topic.
We all know blog posts are time-consuming to write, and many credit unions or local banks don’t employ a full-time content manager. Try these ideas:
- Monitor the posts that perform well in Google Analytics. If they are older posts, think about how you can update or refresh them so you can republish them as new content.
- Alternatively, consider ways to repurpose the content — if it’s a video, can you create a text post with five key takeaways? If a post includes tips from your members, can you record a podcast featuring those members?
SEO may seem like a mysterious pseudo-science. But in fact most local SEO strategies are fairly straightforward to understand and implement. Would you put a branch location in an obscure part of town that’s difficult to get to? We didn’t think so. Don’t do the same with your digital branch. A small investment of time and ongoing attention to local SEO could potentially reap sizeable rewards.