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 amount of marketing dollars spent by huge companies like Lending Tree, Quicken Loans and others. Between print an TV, large lending companies seem to have a grasp of the entire market.
But this is not true.
In the digital era, a small lender 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 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. This 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. A Unique Challenge With Larger Banks Brokers that work for a larger bank have a unique challenge with local SEO. Mostly this is due to the fact that large banks or institutions will give a broker only one page that is buried on the site and often the site itself was not built for SEO, nor has the bank undertaken any local SEO efforts, and the individual broker’s page has no on-page SEO optimization. More importantly, as you will read below, content is important for your online presence in Google. With a single page provided to you by the parent, you have no ability to build out pages of great content with helpful information that you know people are searching for. Take a look at this search result for “Mortgage Broker Alyso Viejo” Benchmark Mortgage, for example, is physically located in the center of this map yet it’s nowhere to be found and Google will not pin point it on the map. This is low hanging fruit and it’s clear no local SEO effort has been made. Why is that? Here’s the broker’s individual page – a “service” often provided by the parent bank to a mortgage broker. Now look what happens if you look for Benchmark by name: This broker has not even claimed his Google profile. This sends the wrong signal to Google. It’s important to know, that showing in the Local Pack is hugely important and it requires effort. Not just because your parent company gives you a page, you’ll suddenly show. Now, this broker might say: “why should I care, since when you look by name, the Yelp listing shows with great reviews and that’s what people want!” Sure, it’s great to show with your Yelp profile, but remember, this was a search with a brand name, not a generic non-branded search for a local mortgage lender. What’s important, though, is that you want your own Google My Business listing to show for the non-branded local queries because those queries have the most economic value – these are people searching for what you have to offer but perhaps are not aware of your brand. When you show on Google maps, the other great advantage with an optimized local SEO presence is that people are only one click away from calling you, clicking through to your website or getting directions to your location. But if all you show is your Yelp profile, then the searcher will click on the Yelp link where they will not only see your profile but also other lenders shown there as well, and you run the risk of losing people through the clicks.
#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. People 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. 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 minimal impact – but asking customers ongoing will have great impact. The algorithms of 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 experience. (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.
When we talk about content, we are primarily referring to textual content (i.e. as new web pages), images or infographics, or video content – AND we’re talking about UNIQUE content, written exclusively for 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. Your target audience is searching for answers to their questions. If you don’t have content that answers those questions you have little hope of ever capturing that traffic organically – Google has no reason to show your website.
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 the most common questions new customers have.
As an example, if you provide jumbo loans as a service, having only one page with generic content that talks about this service is not going to have your site ranking well anytime soon.
However, instead if you produce several pages of content around the different reasons why people would need a jumbo loan, the jumbo loan requirements, the jumbo loan pros and cons, the jumbo loan cost etc., now you are becoming more of an authority in Google’s eyes. Now you have the opportunity to capture organic searchers seeking information on all those topical areas.
And back to my earlier point about larger institutions that provide a broker with only a single page on its website – a single web page is not doing you any favors to help you rank well for a large diversity of keywords and topics that customers are searching for.
Producing video content is very effective not only for SEO but overall online marketing. Site visitors have different preferences for the type of content they want to see. Some people prefer to read or scan text; some prefer images and others video.
Video is also an engagement factor for SEO which can affect SEO rankings as well. In other words, Google knows if website visitors are interacting with the video on the page.
However, video is also good for branding, and for creating a more personal feel. Video customer testimonials of satisfied clients can be very powerful for converting more website visitors.
Overall, there’s more to marketing and ranking a page well for all the different loan phrases people search for, but content 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 a different marketing approach.
Google is showing the top 3 local results – we refer to this as a local pack. Local packs show three sites with their review rating, address, phone number, hours and links to each website and driving directions link.
Appearing here has to do more with geo signals, citations, your proximity to the center of the particular city, and your website’s domain authority, among other variables.
Citations are other websites that list your office with the same NAP (name, address, and phone). For example, Yelp, Superpages, Yellowpages, your Facebook page are all citation sources for your office.
Google uses the consistency of NAP across dozens of websites as a trust signal that you are whom you say you are. Google needs to have confidence in the websites and the contact information they show in local packs and on Google maps because they do not want to serve results that are not located where they say they are – not having many different citation sources listing you, or having inconsistent and incorrect information on other websites will hurt your local SEO efforts.
#5 Mobile Friendly Website
Having a mobile friendly website is critical. If your parent website, or even your own website is not mobile friendly, having it show when people in your locality look for your services will be reduced immensely. Having a mobile friendly site does not have to be expensive. Nowadays most templates are mobile friendly, but if your website does not display nicely on a phone, you need to invest some effort in making it mobile friendly.
There are many technical aspects of a website that are also important. On-page markup, schema markup on particular pieces of information, server performance and site speed, sitemaps, creating content silos through internal link building, and more.
#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. That does not mean that you cannot implement parts of this strategy and still have success, because you can.
If you have a mortgage broker business and need better 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
For a more in-depth look at ranking at the top in Google see my post, how to get your website on Google’s first page.