By Lisa Wehr, CEO Oneupweb
Banks discovered the internet years ago, but even the largest banking institution has yet to fully harness the power of successful search engine optimization (SEO), turning its multinational operation into your equal online.
Some have begun to bellow that SEO is dead thanks to Google Instant (the constantly changing results page that appears with each keystroke). SEO is different, but it is far from dead and it can help you win customers.
True, your bank may not be able to afford a commercial spot during the Superbowl; but, with 58% of Americans (according to a recent Pew study) likely to do a bit of online research before deciding who to entrust with their money, it is here, online, that you can compete (and win) no matter who you’re up against. Simply follow a few easy guidelines.
1. Don’t let keyword density hinder the usability of your site. True, the more keywords you have the more likely you are to appear on the coveted first page of search results. But, the danger that lies within keywords is overuse. Don’t shove so many keywords into your website copy that it becomes confusing or nonsensical. In the end, you are marketing to consumers, not search engines. Talented copywriters can load your site with keyword rich copy while maintaining the sense and feel that you and your clients desire.
2. Don’t forget to socialize. By using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and FourSquare, or by starting a blog, you are helping to spread your “local is best” message. Interacting with your prospective clients in real time allows you to show off your personality and address any concerns, questions or comments they may have, something a billboard cannot do. Well optimized social profiles will also increase your number of top search engine positions.
3. Mix keywords. Yes, many banking laymen may be searching for services, but so too may be banking industry pros who know the language. Market keywords to beginners and seasoned pros alike as both are equally as likely to be searching for banking options.
4. Cash in on Google Instant. This reworking of Google not only displays a results page while you type, but it also ranks certain results according to the searcher’s location. This means that the people you care about attracting the most, your neighbors, can see your website at the top of their results page simply because your bank is near to where they are, as long as your SEO set up conveys that point to Google.
5. Be positive that your website’s copy is error free. Nothing turns off prospective clients faster than a misspelled or misused word or phrase.
6. Easy navigation is key. Attention spans are short online, don’t hide your pages, provide plenty of links. This helps search engines as well and will increase your site’s search engine ranking.
7. Provide effective “Calls to action.” In other words, get people clicking. Your site is only as good as the business it generates. Make people want to click to find out more, then compel them to your point of conversion, whether that be online or in your lobby.
This is not a comprehensive guide to success. You’ll need trusted partners and advisors that share your drive and vision. Partners and advisors that are committed to helping your bank become more relevant. Most importantly, you’ll need the drive that brought you to where you are today. Be different from the others. Stand out. Make people take notice of your bank. Make people want your bank.
Can it really be as easy as better SEO to start pulling ahead of your competition? Yes, it can. I’ve helped many companies reorganize their website’s focus and pull back from perceived oblivion. With a few tweaks and keystrokes, success can be yours as well.
Written By: Oneupweb Founder and CEO, Lisa Wehr
Lisa Wehr is recognized as an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year and a 2010 Enterprising Woman of the Year.