Have you done any searches online lately? We’re sure you’ve noticed that just below the top few results, there’s a big square with three suggestions of local businesses that are relevant to your search. The first few results are always paid ads from pay-per-click campaigns. The three results are organic search results that Google feels are most relevant. The recommended results from the “Knowledge Panel” drive a lot of traffic and sales for these companies.
Unlike paid search, you can’t do anything, in particular, to make sure your company is featured in here. The results come from the Google Knowledge Graph, and that’s based on your local search engine optimization.
So what you can you do to improve your online presence?
A key part of local search optimization is making sure your free Google My Business account is verified, has accurate information, and has recently updated information about your business, including pictures. The Google My Business information seems to act like an API (Application Programming Interface). An API is a little piece of software that feeds information directly into the knowledge graph, and into the knowledge panel.
How critical is it, anyway?
We know you’re thinking – maybe that’s one more thing I just don’t want to worry about right now. How critical is it, anyway? What are people searching for on their phones and tablets? In early 2017, Hitwise did a comprehensive report of consumer insights. For the financial services industry they stated:
“Given the sensitive nature and importance of online banking, this industry is one of the few where the majority of searches still originate on desktop devices. In fact, according to our analysis, only 39% of online searches driving a visit to a banking or finance site originate on a smartphone or tablet. However, there are still plenty of financial topics where mobile is now the go-to device when seeking specific information. For instance, financial searches mentioning “ATM” or “near me” originate on a mobile device 84% and 83% of the time, respectively. And while it’s intuitive that such location-based searches would skew mobile, it may come as a surprise that searches for “15-year” and “30-year mortgage” are also overwhelmingly mobile (73% of such searches are initiated on a mobile device). So are “interest rate” (65% mobile) and “mortgage calculator” (55% mobile) searches, indicating that today’s would-be new home buyers begin their journey to home ownership on a smartphone. “
How does this relate to your credit union?
This tells us that for many of the products credit unions (or any business) offer, having a good, local mobile search optimization may be critical to becoming part of a potential customer/new member’s decision set.
Additionally, the Google Knowledge Panel is the eye-catching result in the middle of the page. The panels takes up almost the whole screen on a mobile device, before you scroll down to other organic search results. Most consumers click on the first most relevant thing they see. And most don’t scroll through a couple of pages of Google search results before picking one, they pick the first one that looks good. If they don’t like that one, or the site takes too long to load, they may choose the second or third result. Rarely do people go past the first page.
Having good search optimization, including a speedy website load time and having up to date, accurate information in Google My Business is simply the starting point to giving your credit union every chance of winning new customers through online search. Feeding the Google Knowledge Panel as much information as possible through Google My Business – and keeping it up to date – is the best way to make sure your credit union shows up when someone is looking for a new loan, an ATM or another service you offer. It’s the best way to get new customers outside of paid advertising, and it helps Google work for you.
If you need help setting up your Google My Business account or need more information about local search optimization, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to make sure you are found online and earn the local business you deserve.