We found these issues to be the most commonly missed opportunities for FIs.
Your bank website has a sleek new design that’s now also mobile friendly; huge win! A shiny new site that passes Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test should surely provide your bank with a boost in organic visibility, traffic, and leads right?
Unfortunately, there is still a huge disconnect between website design and search engine optimization best practices. Creatives may have a lot of expertise in crafting a beautiful design for your bank’s website, but it’s often the case that SEO is an afterthought. This is truly a shame, since prospects are not likely to find your bank’s lovely site ahead of your competitors if your site doesn’t play nice with search engines.
While user experience should be the top priority for your bank website, there are ample ways to effectively integrate UX and SEO together.
The following are the most common SEO mistakes we’ve found across the myriad of bank and credit union websites we’ve reviewed.
- Location Pages – Your branch network may not play the same role it once did since the explosion of mobile banking adoption. However, each physical branch location is an enormous asset to your financial institution’s online presence. Far too often we see bank and credit union websites using a single page to list all their branch locations, or worse yet a dynamic map widget. Instead, create individual pages for each branch to ensure your website is receiving visibility for online searches related to banking in the states, counties, cities, and towns you serve. Check out our post on SEO for branch locations to learn more about the benefits of individual location pages.
- Thin Content – It’s quite rare that we find a bank website that includes more than a few hundred words on each page. More often, we see banks limiting the content of their website pages to 100 or 200 words. You’ve heard it before; content is king. This rings true both for search engines where the average word length for first page results in Google is nearly 2,000 words. This may sound completely unnecessary or even detrimental, but study after study has actually confirmed that longer content is shared more often, ranks better in search engines, receives more social media shares, and converts better. At a minimum, we’d suggest you include at least 500 words of unique content on each page of your site (don’t borrow content!). An easy way to lengthen content on product pages is to include frequently asked questions. It’s also important to keep in mind that users who are unfamiliar with your brand often don’t enter the website through your homepage; including unique information on each product page about the bank, your service areas, your expertise, etc. is important to make a positive first impression and will help extend the length of your content.
- Localization – Local financial institutions take great pride in being a true part of the communities they serve. Unfortunately, many bank websites don’t localize their website for search engines or visitors. It’s much easier to rank well locally where there is less competition, so make sure your site works your geographic service areas into the page meta titles, content headings, and copy of each page. From a user perspective, incorporating local photos, videos, testimonials, supported charities, memberships, and content are a key differentiator and trust builder for local FIs. We frequently see banks silo their local commitment into a single page for “community investment”. Not too many visitors are likely entering your website by way of the community investment page (or taking the time to find it), but that doesn’t mean they don’t care about this information. Instead, banks and credit unions should be tapping their designers and creative agencies to work these local trust symbols throughout the website to maximize their visibility and value.
Final Thoughts on SEO for Bank Websites
While these three SEO issues often represent the highest online growth opportunities for financial institutions, there’s just a little more to it than that. Effective SEO incorporates a long list of on-page and off-page factors. Gone are the days of simple SEO tweaks and tricks that allow websites to instantly dominate search results. Instead, Google uses a complex algorithm that includes hundreds of ranking factors to determine which pages show up first in search results. Those factors have varying degrees of importance and change constantly, so SEO is a long term strategy that is always evolving. That doesn’t mean your bank should skip out on SEO altogether! Rather, the sooner you can address these three common mistakes and implement a comprehensive search engine optimization strategy the better.