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    According to Search Engine Journal, leads from SEO efforts have a 14.6% close rate while leads from outbound efforts, such as mail or print advertising, have only a 1.7% close rate. Yet the majority of financial institution websites are built without a SEO-friendly site structure and are not actively engaged in SEO strategies.

    If the design of your website doesn’t engage its target audience and convert them into members, it isn’t doing its job, and it’s time to rethink your credit union’s marketing strategy. Marketing that includes SEO strategies can help you find new members, increase the value of current members, and generate brand awareness within your community.

    What is SEO?

    SEO involves techniques and tactics used to increase the number of visitors to a website by increasing the site’s ranking placement on major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. These search engines rank websites based on a number of factors, including on-page and off-page elements.

    In addition to utilizing best practices for credit union websites, the most important ranking factors to focus on are:

    1. Content
    2. Links
    3. Local listings

    These can be targeted by focusing on four SEO areas: content strategy, local listings, online reviews, and analytics/site health.

    Areas of Focus

    Content Strategy

    SEO requires a good content strategy because content opens the door to external links and social media mentions. It represents building new links. In addition, it increases the number of keywords indexed on search engines, which in turn increases opportunities to grow brand awareness.

    Content strategy plans a high-level roadmap for topics and the types of content that must be created to achieve a specific business objective. It takes thinking and management out of the process, thus ensuring that content is created and shared digitally. Once you have a content strategy in place, you should follow the strategy, test, measure, and then improve.

    The tools needed for content strategy include:

    • Content audit
    • Content and social calendar
    • Keyword research
    • Content style guide
    • Content governance plan
    • Content promotion plan

    Local Listings

    Local listings not only provide users with the opportunity to share their story but also provide search engines with the location of each branch. Make sure each branch has all of the top local listings claimed and completely filled out. If you see duplicate listings, make sure you claim one and remove the other.

    Once you have each of your local listings claimed, monitor them often for new reviews and respond to them appropriately.

    Online Reviews

    Search engines are local, and they produce local results based on popularity. Popularity is measured by the number of external backlinks and reviews. Focusing on increasing online reviews can help your rankings and help convert your target audience to new members.

    Train your team to encourage members to leave a review or share their story on the main site and on third-party sites such as Google+, Yelp, Hotfrog, and others. You can use many tools to monitor online reviews, including Moz LocalYext, and Google Alerts, although it has become less reliable in recent years.

    Monitor Analytics & Site Health

    Search engines want to provide a positive user experience for their users by ranking sites that offer relevant content and provide a good user experience. Therefore, monitoring your Google Webmasters (now Google Search Console) and Bing Webmasters is important. Schedule time each week to review certain metrics. It helps to have a spreadsheet in which you can document these metrics. This allows you to easily identify trends over a longer period because these webmasters only go back 90 days.

    Further, you should frequently spend time in Google Analytics. Monitor traffic and conversion trends, trackbacks, and user behavior to identify areas that may need attention.

    Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR)

    SEO strategies can increase the quality of leads, generate new members, and provide a better experience for current members. Make sure you include content strategy, local listings, online reviews, and monitoring site health in your SEO strategy. To see how other credit unions have taken advantage of these SEO strategies, view our credit union case studies.