Search Engine Optimization, or SEO is a term that’s thrown around a lot, but not everyone really knows what it means or what goes into it. We want to help demystify SEO for you, so you can help make your Credit Union website easier to find online for both your current customers and potential members!
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a fancy way of saying “Google Friendly”.
Google and every search engine, to be honest, is in the business of trying to deliver the best and most relevant results to people looking for answers online. As a result, you need to give the search engines relevant terms- keywords- to help them understand what your website content is all about, so it can serve it up as an authoritative website to people doing research online.
2. Understanding Key Words and Phrases.
If you’ve ever run a Google Adwords (pay per click or PPC) campaign, you know that you can “bid” on having your ad served to someone based around a certain keyword. Popular keywords are very competitive and thus cost more per click than what we call longtail keywords, which are multiple words, or a phrase. Long tail keywords are much less expensive to buy for PPC campaigns, and they are easier to rank for in search engines.
For example, the keywords “car loans” is $8.14 per click and auto loan is $14.50 per click when we checked on Google’s Adword’s Keyword Planner tool. What does this tell us?
The Keyword Planner tool gives you both the estimated traffic and the competition for these keywords- which means they are probably key phrases to work into your content, even if you may want to run any PPC campaigns on more location-specific keyword phrases.
Ranking in your local market for these words is going to be expensive, so going for more location specific and company specific keyword phrases, such as “[Your Credit Union] auto loans” or “[Your city/county/town] auto loans” will be more cost effective, and it will help you show up in more localized search as well!
When we write content for our Credit Union clients, we keep a list of their keywords and keyword phrases on hand, and we may even check with the Keyword Planning Tool what the local search volume is for those terms. Then we write the content with those keywords in mind, working them into the piece so it sounds natural. We also use those keywords in the “tags”- header tags, the title, and the meta-description, to help tell Google and other search engines what the content is about. This make sure that once the piece is published, it will have all the information Google needs to serve up our content in their organic search results, which will provide us with free website traffic now and in the future.
3. Building Organic Traffic- the traffic that pays you back.
One of the reasons you see so many companies adding a blog to their website is that blogging and publishing helpful, relevant, customer-education driven content is like catnip for search engines- and consumers searching for answers to their problems. Once you have a great piece of content, adding the appropriate tags and spreading your article through social media will also help increase links to your content and signal search engines that your content is worth taking a look at- helping to boost its search ranking. In addition, that article will hang around on your website can continue to drive traffic for a long time- adding to your reliability as a trusted resource- another signal Google uses when providing users with the most relevant content.
4. Name Your Pages with Keywords Related to the Content.
Providing search engines with recent and relevant content helps boost your SEO- but don’t forget that you also need to ensure that the URL for these articles is related to the content. For example, you want an address that reads www.yourcreditunion.com/best-auto-loans-for-recent-college-grads vs. www.yourcredituion.com/page1/blog/october2017. Naming your page with keywords related to the content of the actual page will also help boost your search ranking- and it’s easy to do.
5. Don’t Forget Speed.
Another key to being found in the speed at which your page loads, both on a desktop and on mobile. Google has a great tool where you can test the load time for your site https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/intl/en-us. If your site is not loading fast enough on mobile, you may be losing potential customers- and keep in mind, reports estimate that close to 60% of all search is now taking place on mobile devices.
SEO can sounds big and scary, but if you know a few basics including these tips, you can help make sure your credit union website is doing everything it can to boost its search ranking, before you ever even consider running a pay per click campaign. Investing a little time in developing your keywords and getting good at using them in your content is a bit like brushing your teeth every day- It’s the daily step that contributes to the long term health of your website and search ranking, and it doesn’t have to be painful at all!
Interested in learning more about SEO or how to implement in your marketing strategy? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org today!