SEO Strategies For Financial Institutions Part 1: Opportunities and Obstacles

Published May 13, 2015
SEO Strategies for Financial Institutions - Part 1 - Austin
The secret to an successful SEO strategy for a financial institution is…to be one of the few who have an SEO strategy.

Earlier this year I received a call from my boss, Stephanie. She had some exciting news, "We've been invited to speak at the Connect15 conference this April down in Austin!"

"We have?" I asked, not knowing at the time that Connect15 is an annual conference put on by our clients at Q2eBanking. It's attended by over 180 different community and regional banks and credit unions from around the United States, and I've since come to know that it's quite the swinging shindig.

"They'd like you to deliver a 45-minute presentation on SEO for financial institutions. What do you say?"

"Ahhhh…[momentary dread of public speaking overruled by thought of free trip to Austin]…yeah, sure."

"Oh good, because I already told them yes!"

"Okay, but Stephanie, how will I ever fill up a 45-minute time slot?"

"I'm not worried about that, Zack. I've heard you talk at client meetings before."

With that vote of confidence I set myself to work preparing for Austin and Connect15.

I wanted to make sure my presentation was as relevant and helpful as possible, so I surveyed over 55 financial institution websites from 25 different states. Analizing each one for its SEO strengths and weaknesses, I was looking for any trends or common SEO pain points that we might be able to ameliorate.

What we learned on our way to Austin

Chiefly, we discovered that there is a startling need for better SEO application within the local banking industry around the United States. So we decided to devote a series of posts to helping small and mid-sized banks and credit unions improve their Inbound Marketing.

The upcoming posts in this series will cover specific SEO tactics and insights that you can put to work for your organization. These useful strategies will improve the traffic coming into your website and increase your ROI in the process.

Do they require time and resources? YES. Is it worth it? ALSO, YES.

Not a bank or a credit union? Not a problem. The SEO strategies that I'll be sharing can benefit any business - no matter your niche. So be sure to read on and sign up for the Inside Edge newsletter so you don't miss any of the Inbound/SEO goodness.

Financial Institution SEO Survey Findings

Financial Institution SEO Survey Results
Financial Institution SEO Survey Findings: 58% of FI websites would not be considered mobile friendly by Google. 79% of FI websites were either poorly optimized for mobile or offered no mobile experience at all. 80% of FI websites lacked a proper SEO site structure. 70% had NO content marketing strategy. 73% of FI websites had missing or unclear Calls-to-Action. A full 82% of FIs were not optimized for Local Search opportunities.

84% of all the financial institution websites in the survey would receive a FAILING SEO GRADE. Meaning that they are either mobile incompatible, or had other serious SEO issues that limit their performance.

Become one of the SEO few

These findings can seem like another boat load of bad news for regional and community financial institutions who have been saddled with the high cost of maintaining regulatory compliance and creating digital branches, but I'd say it's actually good news.

If you're a small to mid-sized financial institution, the data is telling you that the opportunity to excel, to place your organization ahead of your competitors, not to mention court more Millennials, is right in front of you. It's the sort of optimism that comes when you spot a big, juicy, low-hanging fruit.

There's more opportunity to move forward than there is to go backwards. You simply have to do what nearly 85% of the financial institutions out there aren't: Become one of the few who have an SEO strategy.

And really, whether you're a financial institution in Poughkeepsie or a doggy day care in Portland, putting in place a proper SEO and inbound strategy will raise the visibility of your business online. Not only that, but it can also provide a better ROI than other tactics you may currently be throwing too much of your budget at.

You simply have to do what nearly 85% of the financial institutions out there aren't: Become one of the few who have an SEO strategy.

Why invest in Inbound Marketing?

SEO and Inbound Marketing costs less than traditional or outbound marketing. It delivers more ready-to-close leads, provides measurable ROI data and can even save your organization thousands of dollars per year.*

More reasons to invest in Inbound Marketing…*

  • SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate. (Search Engine Journal)
  • 79% of companies that have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing in 2013
  • 54% more leads generated by inbound tactics than by traditional paid marketing
  • 2x as many marketers say inbound delivers below average cost per lead than outbound methods
  • $20,000 is the average companies save per year by investing more in inbound marketing versus outbound

When done right, your SEO strategy will turn your bank or credit union's website into a well-oiled hub for your digital marketing efforts, bring more account holders and members into your digital branch (and physical branch) and steadily increase your ROI along the way.

Sign me up. Where do I start?

The best starting point is figuring out what you're missing then building a more complete and successful SEO strategy from there. A comprehensive SEO strategy is comprised of two overarching categories: ON-PAGE and OFF-PAGE optimizations.

All of your team's SEO efforts will fall under these two classifications. Which on- and off-page strategies listed below are either absent or under-represented in your Digital Marketing playbook?

On-Page and Off-Page SEO Tactics
ON-PAGE SEO consists of Mobile & UX Optimizations, Keyword & Audience Research, SEO Site Structure Optimizations, and Publishing Compelling Content. OFF-PAGE SEO consists of Local SEO & Citations, Healthy Link-Building, Social Media Participation and Paid Promotion.

Your business will need to consistently apply all of these ON- and OFF-PAGE tactics in order for your SEO strategy to really fire on all cylinders and drive more qualified traffic to your bank or credit union's website.

Whether your goal is to put your own more complete strategy into action or hire an agency to develop and manage one for you, Edge's SEO Strategies series will help you discover what you may be missing and improve upon what you already have.


SEO Strategies Series: What's Next?

In our next post in this SEO Strategies series we'll take a look at setting up your website's analytics and goals. We'll look at assigning economic values to your goals and measuring the results of your efforts.

This series on SEO Strategies for Financial Institutions has been adapted from a presentation I gave at Connect15 in Austin, Texas. View the full slide deck from the original presentation to access other Inbound Marketing resources like Edge's One-Page Content Strategy Template.


Are you looking for ways to improve your bank or credit union's digital marketing? Leave a comment down below and let us know what your biggest challenges are, or if you have any specific questions regarding inbound marketing for your organization.

*SEO Stat Source: