One of the biggest challenges you face as a mortgage broker is a consistent new client stream each month. The task may feel daunting given the number of marketing dollars spent by huge companies like Lending Tree, Quicken Loans, and others. Between print and TV, large lending companies seem to have a grasp of the entire market.
But this is not true.
In the digital era, an individual LO/mortgage broker can compete effectively at a local level and grab more market share in its area than it’s fellow 800 lb. gorilla competitors.
Deciding which tactics to implement to reach your new customer goals is overwhelming – especially when the costs of advertising in traditional media are so high. Even though there are many marketing options to choose from, one marketing tactic stands out from the rest that will consistently drive the highest volume of new customers at the lowest cost per lead – ongoing – and that will work for you 24/7 365 days a year is local SEO.
Pillars of Success for Effective Mortgage Broker SEO
When your site ranks well organically in Google for hundreds of terms, you have the ability to drive new customers consistently month after month at a very low cost. And, organic search is always on 24 hours per day seven days per week 365 days per year – when pages on your site rank well people will find them day or night.
Why Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
When someone needs to find a local bank where they can get a loan, Google is one of the first places new customers go to find lending services. With the penetration of smartphones, your new customers have access to information whenever they need it, searching from wherever they are. Consumer behavior has changed drastically in the last few years which affects how you do your marketing. Some studies assert that consumers check their phones 150 times per day, spend 3 hours or more on their phones, and almost 90% of consumers have their phones with them day or night. With that kind of access, you have to be where your new customers are – online and searching for information on mobile and desktop. If you don’t appear well in Google’s organic search (meaning on the first page and above the fold), you are missing out on one of the best opportunities to grow your mortgage leads. Google is the dominant search engine by a large margin on both desktop and mobile devices.
The SEO Solution
To be successful at driving new leads month after month, a holistic local SEO strategy implemented over the long term and that leverages several tactics is required.
#1 Claiming your Google My Business profile
If you are a business, you must have a Google My Business profile. An optimized Google profile is what gets displayed with the map when someone is searching and Google deems the best results to display are local businesses.
When someone clicks on the company name the Business Profile appears with some basic information. This profile includes reviews, plus address, phone number, hours, and images.
If you search for your company’s own listing and you have not “claimed” your own business but Google has it listed then your profile will have a link that reads “Own this business?” From here, you want to claim your Google My Business profile.
If after searching for yourself or your company and nothing comes up in Google search results or Google Maps, go to Google.com/business and walk through the steps of creating and claiming your Google My Business profile.
Creating an account with Google is the first step to optimizing for Local Searches.
Once you have a verified account with Google, then you can start to build your profile.
When building a profile, make sure you’re thorough and include as much information that is relevant. Your business profile is highly important so make sure you’re diligent when filling out the fields. Include images and video if possible. Although claiming and filling out your profile is just one step in local optimization, it is a very important step.
Answers to all these questions can be published to your Google My Business page that you have now claimed with a link back to the corresponding page on your site where you can capture that lead.
#2 Having positive reviews online (Yelp!, Google)
Online reviews are not only important from a Search Engine’s perspective but are also extremely important for potential customers. A negative review profile can directly impact your Google My Business profile from showing as well as it could otherwise.
Customers want to make sure they’re going to hire someone that has a good reputation. A good online reputation is not something you can get quickly, or you can fake (well I suppose you can fake reviews, but definitely not something I would ever recommend) .
It takes good service ongoing, and diligence in asking your happy customers to leave an online review for you. Asking your friends and family to leave reviews will have a minimal impact – but asking customers ongoing will have a great impact. The algorithms of some of these review sites know these tricks and will not fall for those.
To ensure you continue to get positive reviews throughout the year, you need to have a concrete effort to reach out to your customers and ask them to share their experiences. (related posts here: Consumer Survey: Google Leads Yelp As Most Important Review Site, How to get rid of bad Yelp reviews, and How to respond to negative online reviews.)
#3 Valuable Content on Your Site
Content is critical to the success of a mortgage broker SEO marketing campaign and one of the first steps to building out a larger organic, non-paid presence in Google.
When we talk about content, we are primarily referring to textual content (i.e. as new web pages or blog posts), images or infographics, or video content – AND we’re talking about UNIQUE content, written by you, not some corporate content on the corporate page of your parent company.
Lots of quality content provides the opportunity for your website to show for hundreds of highly relevant queries in Google that potential new clients are searching for giving you the opportunity to capture traffic and leads if you rank well. But for certain, you won't rank well if you don't have the content living on your site or within your Google My Business profile and that traffic will go to a competitor that does have the content the searcher is looking for.
What this means is that an effective mortgage broker SEO strategy requires a website with rich content about all your service areas and content that covers common questions new customers have and are actively searching for.
For example, for the topic of "Buying a house" – there are many related topics and questions people are searching for.
Here is a small sample list of the types of questions people are asking and searching for related to Buying a House:
But the world of questions and topics that people are searching for in Google is far broader than above. Below is a visualization of some more topics related to "buying a house". These topics and questions are data-driven - meaning that people are actively searching for answers to these topics in Google.
And within each of those individual topics above are more topics and questions that searchers have queried for.
It is important to remember that 15% of the queries Google sees in a day it has never seen before – if a site is not producing content regularly that satisfies the searcher, Google will not show that site to consumers and the traffic is lost to competitors that are producing content.
And yet more topics and questions your potential customers are searching for...
Suffice it to say, there's plenty of useful, and helpful content you as a loan originator can be producing right now to get more qualified traffic from Google.
If you're really serious about your Google SEO strategies, Video content needs to be part of that equation. All the above questions and topics can be used as well to produce helpful video content.
Not everyone wants to read content, so embedding video content on a relevant page is useful and helpful.
Video is also a user engagement factor for SEO which can affect your page's rankings as well. In other words, Google knows if website visitors are interacting with the video on the page.
Video content can and should be repurposed as well in email newsletters if you have email nurturing campaigns setup, or posted to social media, or to your GMB page. Content can be leveraged very well across platforms to make your marketing efforts integrated.
Overall, there’s more to marketing and ranking a page well for all the different mortgage related phrases people search for, but the content that you produce on your website is the beginning of that process.
While content is key to getting your site ranking for dozens, if not hundreds of terms, having your mortgage broker website show in Google’s Local Pack requires additional steps.
Stay with me here...
Citations are other websites that list your office with the same NAP (name, address, and phone). For example, Yelp, Superpages, your page on the local Chamber of Commerce, Yellowpages, your Facebook page are all citation sources.
Google uses the consistency of NAP information across dozens of websites as a trust signal that you are who you say you are so Google can feel confident they can provide that information to a searcher.
The last thing Google wants to do is serve results that are not reliable.
#5 Mobile-Friendly Websites & Core Web Vitals
Having a mobile-friendly website is critical. Google uses a mobile-only index which means if your site is not friendly on mobile devices, but looks great on a desktop, your site will still suffer in ranking relative to your competitors that do have mobile friendly sites.
Mobile friendly is not enough anymore. You have to provide a good user experience. Introducing Core Web Vitals ranking signals.
In June of 2021, Google rolled out its Core Web Vitals (CWV) update to its ranking algorithm. Core web vitals are looking at user experiences on mobile devices - how fast does your site load? How long does it take before someone on a mobile device can interact with the site? Does it load correctly on mobile and more factors?
Many site owners will take a long time to respond to the new Core Web Vitals, but if your competitors are improving their sites' CWV signals you're not, you will lose out in the organic traffic battle.
#6 Local Links
Links that point back to your website from other websites are one of the strongest ranking factors for Google – links act as third-party validation or a vote of confidence that you are important.
For local SEO, links from local organizations send strong signals to Google that you are relevant for that particular city, town, or area. For example, links from the local chamber of commerce, or local alumni associations, or other organizations that you belong to. Do you volunteer anywhere locally, or do you sponsor a local sports team – links from these organizations will help your site rank for the city or town you’re in.
Rounding It All Up
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, a holistic SEO strategy is the best approach to perform well - meaning, you need to work on multiple areas on and off your website to rank well.
That does not mean that you cannot implement parts of this strategy and still have success, because you can. Everything related to ranking well organically through local SEO is relative to your local mortgage competitors.
Your goal is to be least imperfect in the eyes of Google!
If you're a website marketing and SEO – we can help. Call us or submit a form on our site for a free consultation or more information.
Want to learn about other ways to increase leads? Read our posts about Facebook Ads for Mortgage Brokers: Facebook Ads For Mortgage Brokers and Lenders – A Case Study