SEO for Credit Unions
Most people are used to going to their local bank for basic money matters. The truth is, they probably don’t know much about credit unions unless they know someone who works for a credit union or is already banking at one. That is, until now.
As more and more credit unions expand across the nation, individuals looking for checking accounts, loans, and credit cards are seeking out credit unions close to home. All is takes is a quick search, “Credit unions near me” and consumers are provided with a number of options that weren’t previously available.
Getting Found Online
Credit unions, just like any local business, are challenged with generating new business organically from the local community. The real opportunity is to differentiate and elevate the credit union above all other types of banking institutions.
Credit unions can overcome branding and lead generation challenges by managing a delicate balance of education and sales. There are significant differences and benefits of doing business with credit unions but most consumer don’t know about them. Whether its the simple fact that credit unions are not-for-profit institutions compared to banks who are “for-profit” or that credit unions typically offer lower fees, consumers can’t focus on what they don’t know.
With organic search results paying more attention to website authority and content, educating consumers is a great way to leverage the power of (Search Engine Optimization) SEO for Credit Unions. Today, developing meaningful content on a regular basis, optimized from a technical perspective, is a great way to not only educate consumers but also show up in organic search results. Here are a few steps for making sure your credit union appears higher in search results.
1. Keyword Research. What are the most popular questions individuals ask about credit unions? Think from an education based perspective as well as a product perspective. Many of these keywords can be found using the Google Adwords Keyword tool or similar software that evaluates your website and competitors based on search behavior. You can also do research using tools like Answer the Public that leverage Google Suggest to identify common queries used by consumers. As you get better at answering common questions, you’ll be rewarded with higher placement in Google search results.
Don’t stop at simple blog articles or basic content. People learn in many different ways such as video, info graphics, power point presentations and more. Think about all the different ways you can produce meaningful content to help educate consumers under your brand. The more options you make available, the more search results you’ll receive, controlling more of the first page. This improves click-through-rate and other factors essential for organic traffic.
2. Technical SEO. Once you’ve done your homework, it’s time to evaluate your website based on technical SEO principles. Under technical SEO I like to talk about things such as website load speed, mobile optimization, meta data, on-page optimization, alt image tags, keyword placement, keyword density, etc. By optimizing each page of content, all of the digital assets you’ve created, and your website as a whole, you’re making sure website crawlers categorize your content properly and improve website authority (more on this later). Google is only going to show websites and other assets in search results that meet their technical requirements.
Having been in the search engine optimization space for over a decade, I’ve used a variety of tools to evaluate technical optimization. My favorites are MOZ, SEMrush, and Ahrefs. Depending on your level of experience with search engine optimization, there’s likely a tool for you. Once you identify ways to improve your website, work with your development team to enhance and improve your technical optimization. This will go a long way towards improving search results for each of your branches.
3. Local Search. Now that you’ve done your keyword research, identified technical ways to improve the quality of your website for search crawlers, and fixed technical errors, it’s time to focus on local optimization. There are essentially two ways to enhance local search results. The first is what we call on-page optimization. On-page changes would include things like adding a Google Map to your site, creating pages focused on a particular city, town, or geographic regions, adding rich snippets to your code, etc. There are a number of sites that do this well, customizing the site in a way that local users find value.
The second way to optimize for local search results is through the use of online directories. When you do a search for “Credit Union Near Me” or any similar search, Google is using a variety of factors to generate search results. This may include proximity, rankings, website authority, site verification, and other factors that confirm the legitimacy of the company behind the search results. The most important online directory is Google My Business. Not only should your business and website be listed in Google My Business, but it should also be verified. This manual process is essential for letting Google know you’re a legitimate credit union and you’re here to stay.
Other authoritative directories are supported by 4 main data aggregators. These data management websites include Infogroup, Localeze, Acxiom, and Factual. All other local directories are getting their information or verifying their content through these providers. Credit unions can benefit significantly from leveraging the main data aggregators in addition to listing each credit union branch on targeted directories. You can submit to these directories individually or use a service to manage the distribution for you.
4. Link Building. We know from patent applications that Google and even smaller search engines are still relying on inbound links to evaluate website authority. If you’re an important product, service, or brand, other sites are linking to your website. Link building is a process that requires a strategy and plan that is well executed over a sustained period of time. Just like social media, you should be focused on new strategies to attract links to your website.
Some of the credit unions we’ve worked with have developed loan calculators, comparison charts, or value added content on topics they’ve discovered during the keyword research phase. This might include the explanation of banks vs. credit unions, how to apply for a small business loan, or the best way to get an interest bearing checking account. Whatever the content may be, share it with other influencers and websites in your niche.
There are other techniques you can use for authoritative link building. This may include a listing with an organization like CUNA – Credit Union National Association or your local Chamber of Commerce. Focus on authoritative sites that deliver authority.
5. Content Generation. Similar in stature to link building content creation is essential for educating your audience and attracting quality inbound links. Credit unions that produce content in the form of articles, videos, lists, and “how to’s” generally do better in search results. This is usually the result of higher engagement. A growing factor in search results, engagement is how often browsers interact with your content. The more interaction, the higher you appear. The higher your listing appears in search results, the more it gets clicked.
As you research popular topics for credit unions, think of creative ways you can respond to individual queries. Video taping someone standing in front of a white board and mapping out how money travels from institution might be a better way to explain money flow than a long blog post. Alternatively, writing out a 7 step process for how to open a checking account may be a simple but highly effective way for explaining the process to someone seeking information on “how to open a checking account.”
The key with content generation is to create meaningful content on a regular basis using different formats. By producing content consistently, you’re showing search engines that you’re a subject matter expert and your content can be trusted. Improve your trust, improve your rankings.
There are a number of ways to deliver on the promise of SEO for Credit Unions. As noted in this article, the primary steps of keyword research, technical SEO, local SEO, link building, and content generation are essential for improving organic results for each of your branches. If you’re a Credit Union and need help with search engine optimization, contact Big Fin SEO. We have deep experience working with credit unions and community banks.