Earning a high ranking on search engines, especially the more popular ones like Google, can feel like an impossible task. Typically, the first results to crop up are those from nationwide companies whose lead-generation strategies can be difficult to compete with. This is one of the most difficult challenges that any loan officer or mortgage broker can face on the job.
Fortunately, there is a way that you can develop strong lead generation strategies for your business that will help push your website to the top of search engine rankings: through the use of local SEO. Local SEO provides loan officers with the techniques and strategies they need to rise through the rankings and reach the clients who are closest to them.
Let’s look at what local SEO is and what tools it offers to help boost your online presence.
- Local SEO is a way for businesses to attract clients and customers from their own neighborhoods and helps push your website to the top of search engine rankings.
- Google Business Profile is a tool that allows business owners to manage their business profiles, which are often the first things that customers see when researching mortgage companies.
- Managing customer reviews, optimizing your website for local SEO, and using social media are other ways to generate leads and improve your search engine rankings.
- Citations are a collection of other websites related to your business and checking your local SEO can help optimize your ranking on Google.
What is local SEO?
Local SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a way companies and businesses can draw in clients and customers from their own neighborhoods. With local SEO, your website is specially designed to alert those who are geographically closest to your business instead of casting a larger, less-defined net across the entire internet as standard SEO programs do.
Using special vernacular and optimization techniques such as “local business” or “near me” tags on your website allows search engines like Google to filter out other websites that are farther away from the searcher, automatically boosting your site much higher up on the results page. In fact, if you use these terms, Google prioritizes your business as a search result because it will be more significant to the searcher.
Why search engine optimization (SEO)?
When a borrower is looking to find a local loan agent, they are likely to turn to Google and local search for help. Quality search engine optimization helps to ensure that your business is one of the first results that Google shows. As mobile use increases, so does mobile searches and as many as 82% of consumers report using “near me” searches directly through their mobile phones, so ranking high in these searches means more borrowers will be knocking on your door.
Benefits of local SEO
Aside from increased website traffic, implementing local SEO into your digital marketing efforts can help your business in a variety of different ways, including:
- Improve your search engine rankings
- Increase website traffic
- Boost brand credibility
- Raise brand awareness
- Increase conversion rates
- Create a primary lead generation source
- Raise your business above the competition
Local SEO strategies for generating leads
There are many different strategies, tools, and techniques you can employ to ensure that you’re generating the highest possible amount of local leads for your site.
1. Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile, formerly known as Google My Business, or GMB, is a tool from Google that allows business owners like you to develop a stronger online presence for your business. Most businesses with any kind of online presence have business profiles that list the most basic information about your company on Google. This profile can exist independently from any effort on your part, as Google can pull information about your business from anywhere on the web.
To help owners control the information shared about their business and how it is presented online, Google created GMB. Through GMB, business owners are granted the unique ability to customize and manage their business profiles. After all, these profiles are usually the first thing any customer will see when researching mortgage companies–not necessarily your website.
In light of this, you can see how incredibly important it is to make sure that the information presented in your profile is that which puts your office’s best food forward.
Creating a Google Business Profile listing
Google Business Profile listings are relatively easy to create. All you need to do is follow these simple steps:
- Create a Google Account or log in to an existing account that you intend to use for your business.
- Visit google.com/business and click “Start Now.”
- Input all the requested information including your business name and its address.
- Select an appropriate business category–the more accurate you are in selecting this category, the better Google’s lead generation will be for you.
- Add your business’s phone number and website information.
- Verify your business.
Verifying your Google Business Profile listing
- Postcard: To verify your business by postcard, select postcard verification, input a contact name, and select “Mail.” Within five business days, the postcard will reach you. Once it arrives, log into your GMB account and select “Verify Now.” A box will appear requesting the 5-digit verification code found on your postcard. Input the number, and submit.
Note: If you changed any information about the business on your listing before the postcard comes, the process may be delayed.
- Phone: Select businesses may verify by phone. To do so, log into your GMB account and select “Verify By Phone.” A verification code will be texted to your device. Input the number and submit.
- Email: Log into your GMB account and select “Verify By Email,” Once an email from GMB appears in your account, open it and click the verification button therein.
- Instant Verification: Those who have verified their business with Google Search Console may be eligible for instant verification. To do this, log in to your GMB account using the same name you used for Google Search Console. You should receive an automatic verification.
2. Manage customer reviews
Managing customer reviews is one of the best ways to actively encourage customer interaction with your company online. One of the easiest ways to do this is by taking the time to respond to any current reviews left for you. Doing so proves to customers that you value their input enough to take the time to respond. It also encourages others to comment as well when they see how interactive you are.
Dealing with negative reviews
While we all strive for positive reviews, negative reviews are bound to happen. How you deal with negative reviews, however, can make all the difference. In fact, businesses that address and respond to online reviews are seen as more trustworthy by consumers than businesses that do not respond to reviews. When responding to negative reviews, it is important to respond in a timely manner while staying professional and courteous. You want to acknowledge your customer’s complaint and apologize or empathize while also taking responsibility. Offer to connect with them offline in order to offer solutions. Keep in mind that your responses are made public and are a direct reflection of you and your business.
3. Optimize your website for local SEO
As has already been mentioned, Google places the highest priority on providing those who use the search engine with local results. The best way to encourage Google to boost your business to the top of the results page is by optimizing your content–keywords, headings, and more–for local SEO as well.
Create a unique URL
When it comes to your website, major search engines like Google use your title tag, anchor text, and content to understand and evaluate what your site is about and what key terms it should rank under. But that’s not everything. In addition, these sites look directly at your website’s URL for additional information and key search terms. Creating a unique, short, keyword-rich, and SEO-friendly URL can help directly boost your rankings.
Make your website mobile-friendly
As we mentioned above, many consumers turn to their mobile devices when searching for loan officers in their area. Creating a mobile-friendly website design helps boost your rankings while also providing a quality user experience for potential customers looking for a home loan. The last thing you want is for a potential borrower to find your site only to not be able to view it the way it should be viewed.
Keyword research is an invaluable step in helping to optimize your site through on-page SEO. Research the keywords that are most commonly associated with your business type and those that best describe your work. Once you have that list, take the time to add them throughout your website through the use of unique content that will promote your company in order to help boost your local search results.
Include valuable content
When creating content for your website, whether through web pages or blogs, you want to include information that provides value to your clients. As a loan officer, content marketing can include everything from mortgage industry news to explanations of mortgage terms or the loan process. When thinking about what type of content to include, consider the questions you often receive from borrowers and answer them in your content. Valuable content is not limited to just webpage text but can come in a variety of formats, including:
- Video messages or seminars
- Weekly or monthly podcasts
Ensure everything is running properly
While search engines are looking at keyword integration and tags, they are also looking at the functionality of your website. Is it mobile-friendly? What is the loading speed of your page? Do all your navigation buttons lead to the correct pages? Is your call to action (CTA) links taking visitors to the right pages? By ensuring your pages are functioning correctly, you are ensuring a quality visitor experience that will also help when it comes to search engine ranking in Google search results.
4. Use social media strategy
As of April 2021, Statista reports that a staggering 82% of Americans use social media equalling more than 223 million people. Now, more than ever, a social media presence is becoming vital for the success of businesses, and there are many different tools and strategies you can use to ensure your online presence is noticed.
One of the best ways to get potential client interest is by featuring existing or previous client testimonials. These show new and potential clients that your business is helpful, professional, and trustworthy.
Other strategies and tools that may be used include:
- Diversify content types
- Post interesting or little-known facts related to your business
- Answer any comments left to you to develop interaction
- Post on a schedule
Citations are another invaluable tool for your business. They are a collection of other websites related to or feature content related to your mortgage business with the same NAP, name, address, and phone. Google measures your NAP’s presence across many websites to show that you are who you say you are.
Websites that commonly cite businesses and their NAPs include Yelp, Superpages, Yellowpages, and Facebook.
Checking your local SEO
SEO 3-packs are another tool you can use to optimize your ranking on Google. The 3-pack, or local pack, is a listing of the top three businesses that pop up on Google when searchers enter specific keywords like “local,” “near me,” or “near [location].”
These three listings are usually the only ones most people bother to look at even though other businesses are listed under “More Places.” It’s essential that your business makes it to this list so that you can generate more leads and traffic on your site and earn more business from these new clients.
Local SEO is an invaluable tool that can really change your business’s online success. By developing your Google My Business account and tailoring information about your business, you are much more in control of your ranking.
And, if you further optimize your site properly with the right keywords, social media engagement, and citations geared towards engaging a local audience, your presence will undoubtedly increase.