If your objective is to drive more relevant organic traffic to your credit union's website, raise brand awareness, and improve your performance in search engines, putting a local SEO strategy in place is essential.
Similar to many facets of digital marketing, several different tactics comprise a successful local credit union SEO strategy. Used in conjunction, they will work together to improve the user experience for your members and increase the visibility of your credit union throughout local search results.
Google My Business
One of the most valuable assets for improving the visibility of credit unions in local search results is the use of Google My Business, which impacts both Google Search and Google Maps.
- Getting started: If your credit union has not claimed a Google My Business profile for each of your branches, that should be your first priority. When completing your profile, utilize the "complete your listing" feature as a baseline and provide as much information as possible about your credit union.
- Optimization: If your Google My Business listings are already set up, ensure that your name, address, and phone number are accurate for each of your locations. Use the "complete your listing" feature mentioned above to modify your listing for optimal performance.
- Maintenance: Once your listing is set up, your work is not finished. Periodically check back in on your listing to verify that there haven’t been any changes by the community or Google through the suggested edits feature. This is also a great opportunity to continually add products, services, or high-quality images to your listing that can improve its performance.
When it comes to Google My Business, consistency is everything. The name, address, and phone number that you have listed for your credit union’s profiles should always align with the same information on your website and other listings across the web.
Tracking Google map pack performance
If you would like to identify how your credit union is performing in local maps search results, you can leverage a tool such as Local Falcon. This tool will allow you to measure the performance of your locations in search engines and identify where to focus your efforts on improving your local rankings.
For instance, if you notice that some of your locations are not listed on the first page as you would like, you can shift gears to focus on creating local-specific content that will perform well in location-based search results.
This is also an excellent opportunity to evaluate what local competitors are doing to outrank you and pursue a spam reporting strategy if you identify that some of those competitors are using black hat tactics like keyword stuffing.
Unfortunately, some businesses tend to rely on black hat local SEO tactics such as keyword stuffing to boost their ranking in local search results.
If you ever identify that any of the competitors in your area are using tactics that fall outside of the Google guidelines, you can report their listing. If Google finds that they are breaking the rules, they will penalize the business and most likely drop their ranking in the map listings.
Generating Online Reviews
It’s no secret that one of the most effective ways for credit unions to generate new business is through word-of-mouth referrals. Leverage your current members’ satisfaction to your advantage by collecting reviews.
- Acquisition: Use tools such as your email marketing platform to reach out to your members and ask them to provide a review of their experience with your credit union. Make sure that you are performing this outreach individually for each of your locations, as several reviews for one location will not impact the rankings of other locations.
- Maintenance: It’s important that you are routinely responding to the reviews left for your credit union, whether they are positive or negative. Being proactive with reviews will demonstrate your commitment to providing a positive member experience and reflect well on your brand.
Building Location Pages
Creating individual pages for each of your credit union’s branches is a critical step in improving the ranking in their respective area’s search results.
If you do not already have location pages built for each of your branches, that is a great first step. When going through this process, make sure to include a name, address, and phone number that is consistent with your Google My Business profile.
You should also include photos of the interior and exterior of the branches, the products and services offered, nearby locations, a Google map, internal links, location-specific metadata, and schema. When implemented, these resources will provide an exceptional user experience for your members and give Google context into what your business is and where it is located.
In addition to individual branch pages, you can create service-area pages for each of the cities and towns that each branch serves. This will help to capture search traffic for people looking for a credit union, or the products you offer, in their specific area.
If you plan to open a new location in the future, this is a great opportunity to get a head start on your rankings for that location before it ever opens.
Simply build a service-area page for the new location to announce your plans to expand into a new market and update the verbiage on the page once the opening day finally arises. This will allow you to build authority for that location and increase the probability that it is visible in the search results for the market that it will serve.
Another great local credit union SEO tactic is to establish external links from other local businesses or community establishments. Some excellent options to generate links for credit unions are:
- Participating in local chambers
- Sponsoring local events
- Sponsoring local grants or scholarships
While generating links directly to your content is an added benefit, your focus with this strategy should be to have your credit union's name, address, and phone number mentioned consistently throughout these sources.
Once you are have completed the rest of the tactics mentioned, a viable next step is to attempt to build citations. A local citation is any online mention of the name, address, and phone number of your credit union that appears in business directories, on websites, or across social media.
These citations will add to the visibility of your credit union and even impact local rankings. However, you must monitor the accuracy of citations to ensure that they are building upon the consistency found on your Google My Business profile and website pages.
The Value of Local SEO
For credit unions attempting to gain visibility in their local markets, local SEO can be an invaluable, cost-effective strategy. However, to find success with local SEO, you should approach it from several different angles and leverage a variety of the tactics mentioned.
When used in combination, tactics like leveraging Google My Business, generating reviews, building individual location pages, generating external links, and receiving citations can have a profound impact on your rankings in local search results.
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