Banking on Digital Growth
Banking on Digital Growth

Episode · 2 months ago

103) #ExponentialInsights - It Takes a Village: Why the Best SEO Is Local

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The rumors of SEO’s death have been greatly exaggerated…

Probably by people who aren’t doing it right.

Today’s guest understands better than most the right way to approach SEO. Scott Gardner, Founder at New Media Advisors, joins the show to teach you how to nail that approach.

We discuss:

- Why all SEO is local

- The advantages smaller institutions have over their large national competitors

- Why you need to interview the experts if you want to craft killer content

You can find this interview and many more by subscribing to Banking on Digital Growth on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or here.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Banking on Digital Growth in your favorite podcast player.
 

...when you craft your content to meettheir needs, use their voice, use their vernacular, you're going to get anadvantage and so understanding that mindset and how they search, that's thestarting point for any search marketing campaign. Mhm. You're listening to banking on digitalgrowth with James robert Lay a podcast that empowers financial brand marketing,sales and leadership teams to maximize their digital growth potential Bygenerating 10 times more loans and deposits. Today's episode is part ofthe exponential insight series where James robert interviews the industry'stop marketing sales and fintech leaders, sharing practical wisdom toexponentially elevate you and your team. Let's get into the show greetings in.Hello, I am James robert, ley and welcome to the 103rd episode of theBanking on Digital Growth podcast. Today's episode is part of theexponential insight series and I'm excited to welcome scott Gardner to theshow, scott is the founder and partner at new media advisors and they arehelping financial brands clearly identify their greatest challenges andcapitalize on opportunities in organic search. Local search, paid search andcontent marketing. Now, search and content are really key parts to afinancial brands. Future digital growth strategy, especially as a third partycookies are crumbling, ad fraud continues to rise at boats continue tochip away at the effectiveness of digital marketing strategies, which iswhy I'm excited to welcome you to the show scott James. Thanks for having me.One of the things that I'm curious about before we start talking searchand content is what are you excited about right now, personally orprofessionally? I'm excited that my kids, I've got two teen boys 17 and 13excited. They've made it through...

...virtual school, mainly getting straightA's and really difficult classes. I'm happy for their summer break and I'vegot an old, my old, this is a cashier and uh, you know, he's gettingexperience of the retail life and I can see the, you know, the growth and thepersonal growth and the excitement brings to him. So definitely thrilledto enjoy the summer break with them. And I'm able to work virtually withwhat we do is our business and have that air quote work life balance.Absolutely. And congratulations to, to your two boys as a father of four. Youknow, it's always good to see the growth that they're experiencingthrough their eyes. And really, I mean what a year it has been for all of us.But I mean it's a different world, particularly for them in the mostformative years of, you know, going through school, going through thiscovid experience and, and grateful like you to, to be able to probably be homemore now than what I was pre covid. So that's one of those things that, that I,we'll see, we'll see where the road takes us. But I've, I've enjoyed thehome life in the home front, doing, doing the dad thing probably a bit more.Yeah, it's been a nice balance. I hope that my oldest coped really well, buthe was desperate to get back to school and see his friends and he finished thelast month in person and uh, I think helped him get back to a feeling ofnormalcy for sure. Yeah. That's what we're all striving for. You talkedabout this idea of normalcy, one of the normal trends and patterns you haveseen, I have seen and you did a great video about this with the Peredoprinciple. It's the 80 20 rule. And you noted that you're willing to bet 80% ofa financial brands website traffic is coming from 20% or less of their pages,80% of their revenues coming from 20%...

...or less of their products. 80% of theirsearch traffic comes from 20% of their keywords. And with this idea in mindand I agree with you, where should the 20% be that a financial brand focusestheir time effort, energy and resources to get the 80% of return when we'rethinking about digital marketing? Mm I think it depends on the channel if wezoom into kind of our areas of expertise from a, you know, organicsearch local search content perspective, I think it comes down to firstdetermining where you're deficient, where that traffic is coming from outof the gates. When we look at sites that aren't really paying attention toorganic search, it's probably more like a 95 5 because it's their home page. Onmaking sign in page, download the mobile app page and you can see theyhave not really done a good job either, optimizing their services pages,building up their, their location pages for branches. They've not done a goodjob developing original fault leadership. So when you begin to shiftthat dynamic from 955, you need to get into, especially for a regional bankthat might be across a couple of states or maybe they've got 20 or 30 locations.You're not trying to compete with the national banks and all the aggregatorsfor the term credit card to the term checking account, you're going for yourlocal market, the audiences that you serve and you're trying to go aftermore localized keywords or local intent keywords. That's where you're going togain that traction and that's where they really shouldn't invest our timesis what we've seen. It's good to hear you say. From a competitive threat anda competitive angle, it's not just the national banks but it's the aggregators,the credit karma's of the world, the nerd wallets of the world because theseguys are cranking out massive amounts of of organic content and so theopportunity is to look beyond the...

...generic branded key terms and reallybegin to become much more focused on that local market which is the uniqueniche anyway for a community financial brand or Regional Financial Brandon.And you wrote a fantastic article that shared very very practical strategiesfor financial brands to win more market share in local S. C. O. In local Searchseven strategies. I want to talk through a few of these with you,starting with number one. Which is just to simply understanding, we've alreadykind of started this here but going deeper understand the audience and thecompetition. Mhm. So I think that this is an advantage that the smallerinstitutions have over the massive national brands because, you know,you've got a better pulse on the community, a better pulse in the market.If you are in the midwest and you work with a lot of farm owners andagriculture and different types of industry, you understand the challengesthey face. You understand the questions they ask when they're in person on thephone, you got specialist bankers, when you craft your content to meet theirneeds, use their voice, use their vernacular, you're going to get anadvantage. And so, understanding that mindset and how they search. That's thestarting point for any search marketing campaign. So yeah, customer intent andtrying to put your local expertise to bring it to bear. And even more,practically speaking, one of the things that you noted was this idea of beingnuanced around near me nearby best mortgage rates near me. How does thatthat small little extension play out into things like wifi networks andmobile devices and I. P. Addresses from an optimization opportunity here. Yearsago you used to be able to use near me...

...and title tags and then copy, but for areader perspective doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Google is smart enough tonow know where someone is located based on IP address or their phone. You cancontrol proximity of where someone lives, but you can control your abilityto have localized city pages about the good you do in your community, how yougive back the organizations, you support that, building your entity,building your strength and google's knowledge graph and how they understandwho your brand is, the market you serve physical locations. One other commentabout near me, a lot of the regional firms we talk with and we look at theirsites, they don't do a very good job building individual branch locationpages. It's a big gap. They might have a branch locator and it's searchablebut google can't understand the location, the latitude longitude, name,address and the area it serves physically. And that's a missingcomponent that can drive those near me searches or if someone's in a certainmarket mortgage lenders nearby or mortgage lenders in city yes. Issueeligible without that. You're not eligible frankly. Yeah. And then youcan expand that out even further and you have the branch locations. Each hasits own standalone page under the corporate domain optimized for localsearch city zip however you want to frame that. But I like your thinking toof doing this for every single like for example mortgage loan officer or sMBloan officer. Now they have their own personalized branded pages and thatconnects back to a thought that you shared before around thought leadership.Because you can have content marketing without that leadership, but you cannothave thought leadership without content marketing. Thought leadership fallsunder that content marketing umbrella and which plays a big role in this ideaof local sc Oh, now the follow up to...

...that too when we're talking aboutlocation strategies and you noted this in the article is point number twooptimizing all facets of google my business because we see this is reallyuntapped and some of them are halfway set up. Some of them are not even setup at all for every single location. Where's the opportunity here? Yeah.Well, first it's accepting the fact google's becoming a secondary home page.We as brands and we as consultants can't change. That is happening acrossall verticals. So you need to understand that this is a new wayconsumers and business owners are interacting with your business. Forstarters, once you acknowledge that you need to make sure you've claimed allyour locations and then log into google my business insights and the G. M. B.Portal and begin to update your, make sure your name and address is accurate.Make sure you have a good description of the location, make sure you've gotgood photography that's still within you know risk frameworks and guidance.Reviews are happening. You need to respond to reviews with authenticitywith a rapid response. There are other features now within google my businessthat have been out for over a year. If not longer, there's a Q and a sectionwithin each google my business page. If you don't answer the questions, a localguide will do it on your behalf, I'll answer for you, which is a little bitconcerning from a brand reputation perspective, right? And then you havegoogle posts and you can control your hours and connect the G. M. B page backto those branch location pages and it begins to kind of come full circle andtaking that a step further. One of the big things that we teach here is abouthumanizing the digital experiences because G. M. B. Can now pull in likeYoutube video content and so you can have a branch manager with a welcomevideo. I know that this was a strategy that TD Bank deployed probably aboutfive or six years ago in the Manhattan...

...market to where they had over 100different branches and they're using that google my business strategy tohumanize those local branches with video. Yeah. That's hard for a nationalbank to pull off at scale. There's so much content governance that has tohappen. But to your point, that's a way that a local regional bank coulddifferentiate. I think it's a matter of bank leadership, getting comfortablewith putting a local expert, a branch manager, a type of loan officeroutfront building their own personal brand but representing their expertiseto the market. You touched on one thing I do want to go back to, you talkedabout the experts in your bank, humanizing the bank and the need for athought leadership. Google has dabbled in the past with a concept calledauthorship. It's kind of come and it's had starts and stops as google'sevolved. We're seeing more of that across other verticals, not just withinbeen served, but when you bring your experts forward, they've got acommercial loan officer landing page. They've got their social profilesconnected when they're quoted in your content on your dot com site, When theyauthor blog posts, that's bringing a person forward, their expertise andauthority can help you rank better, can help you reach more people. And it'smore relatable. It's not from an anonymous writer, from an individual,you humanize the brand and people know who that individual is. It builds trust.They want to speak with them further. So that's a unique way that local bankscan can win more share. Yeah. And another way right here is point numberfour where you mentioned localizing website, content on page S Ceo. And theopportunity that I see is around, for example, product pages. Because youmentioned before that 95 5, It's the home page. You know, 90% of traffic isgoing to the home page and log into...

...online banking. But there's other waysto open the door, the digital branch door to getting into intense, specificsearches around specific products. But that, that's going to come from localon site page on the product page. Let's dive deeper into that where theopportunities here and what might an example of this look like. Yeah. So Ithink it's back to the branch locator strategy. I don't think it's so muchtalking about the local markets on a checking accounts page that seems likea tough use case to connect. I think it's more about if, you know, I live inRaleigh north Carolina. So if I've own and operate five branches here andthey're spread across the Raleigh Triangle market, I want to make surethat each of my branch pages talks about nearby points of interest, themajor businesses that we serve the local schools. We support the localnonprofits. We volunteer with. These are all signs and signals. And then onthat page I'm talking about the services I offer in my branch, theexperts I have within my branch, be it for wealth management, commercial loanofficer, mortgage lending, etcetera. That's where you're really going to getthat eligibility to show up for local. Now if you are a bank call it with10-15 branches across of handful of counties and cities, then yeah. On yourmortgage loans page, maybe towards the bottom, there's a strategy aroundquestion to answer content that works really well for a Ceo there. You cantalk about, hey, do you, you know, do you fund loans outside of your countiesand there you can talk about, hey, we serve wake County and Orange Countyetcetera, etcetera. And tailor it that way. Right? Yeah. And, and that bringsus to the point number five, which is local link building. And I see atremendous opportunity here from, you know, connecting with local businessesto help promote them. The advice of...

...versa, literally building digitalcommunity, which not many financial brands are thinking about. But it's onethat I'm continuing to teach and coach advise around because this place sonicely within a local content strategy. Where's the opportunity here? Yeah. Youknow that, I think it's, um, some of the things I mentioned earlier, if, ifyou're sponsoring the local five K, 10-K seasonal events in a particularmarket, you're giving back to nonprofits. Those entities are, thoseorganizations will likely talk about their trusted supporters and theirsponsors and they'll mention brands by name or they'll put a logo up. Butthere's no link back to the website. That's easy. That's low. That's, that'sabout the lowest hanging fruit we can think of for link building the nationalbanks don't have the horsepower to connect the dot or get the missing link.The aggregators, they're not in the local market. So this is really rightfor opportunity by a market president or going back to the board and thegroup that you've sponsored and say, hey, can we get a link back to ourbranch page in that city or our homepage or R. M. L. O. Officer page.So I'm also thinking as you're riffing on this, how does local pr play intothis? Maybe like local, you know, sponsored content authority drivencontent to where there might be a little bit more editorial control over.Not necessarily just linking the logo, but also linking. Now very specifictext back to a branch page. To a local branch page. Maybe it's working with anewspaper, maybe it's an op ed opportunity, thoughts on that, carefulbe careful google. If it looks like it's one way slanted and it looks likeop ed piece or sponsored content with a...

...link back. You know, if it's one Z, twoZ, it should be fine. If it happens at scale, you could get into the gray areaof paid links and that's something you want to avoid. Google really is lookingout for that. And a lot of publishers and newspapers have been busted forselling links and so you don't want to be caught into that sort of thing. Butto your point, it could be from a pr perspective interviewing a marketpresident in a local publication and their PR team saying, hey, can youplease link back to their profile page? Link back to our city page makes totalsense, it's earned. That's a value. I think to your point though, the localpr coverage alone is better than nothing. Google smart enough now torecognize brand mentions and citations and viewing the brand name is againentity and their knowledge graph, you don't always have to get a physicallink. It's better from a technical ASIO perspective, but at least you'regetting the coverage technology has transformed our world and digital haschanged the way consumers shop for and buy financial services forever. Nowconsumers make purchase decisions long before they walk into a branch if theywalk into a branch at all, but your financial brand still wants to growloans and deposits, we get it. Digital growth can feel confusing, frustratingand overwhelming for any financial brand, marketing and sales leader, butit doesn't have to because James robert wrote the book that guides you everystep of the way along your digital growth journey, visit www dot digitalgrowth dot com to get a preview of his best selling book banking on digitalgrowth or Order a copy right now for you and your team from Amazon inside,you'll find a strategic marketing manifesto that was written to transformfinancial brands and it is packed full of practical and proven insights youcan start using today to confidently...

...generate 10 times more loans anddeposits. Now back to the show. In staying with this theme of of localsearch and coming back to google my business. How do ratings and reviews?Because I'm thinking now about the bankers strategy circle that we teach,build an audience, attract leads. Nurture leads, convert leads, expandrelationships and then they are is to repeat the process with ratings, withwith reviews and with referrals. Where does this fit into this idea of caringfor and cultivating customer reviews in the article? I think with anything inthe S. E. O. Space first off, google is not going to come out and explicitexplicitly state these factors matter. These don't to this degree. But therehave been a lot of third party studies that show the quality of the reviews,the ratings and the content of the review matters the most. Yes, thefrequency and recency of that review matters. There's a lot of speculationand I've been involved in some studies on this where review response has alsoan incremental boost because it shows your empathy, shows your high touch,shows your relevant and your customer first and google is going to rewardthose factors. So yeah, James, reviews and responses matter from a responseperspective where some brands fail is they have a risk aversion to lettingsomeone write an authentic response and they come up with a formula of a coupleof sentences as a copy paste. Thanks for the review. James having a greatday and that's it. That doesn't cut it, it looks too robotic, it lacks thehuman touch and it's kind of seen through. So. Yeah and and that's andthat's the idea to number one operationalize the review ask and thenumber two humanize the review spots...

...because on the flip side I've seenthose robotic responses and it's not it's it looks and appears automated butit's not of we hear you were sorry please give us a call or send an emailto. And that's not how the real world quote unquote works when it comes togoogle and S. C. O. Particularly too, if I if I'm if I've had a badexperience and that's my that's my re follow up response. Well that's liketwo strikes already right there two strikes and there's a publicconversation everyone's seen. So it's multiple strikes with those who arewatching it unfold. Well let's talk about the 7th point here which is usinganalytics to understand success and failure because to me that's what thisis all about. We need to understand how we're moving the needles through thesedifferent strategies. Are we increasing traffic and what where and how what'sworking, what's not working so that we can do more of what's working? Yeah I Ithink that we know within within our industry and within the banking spacethat these are not one call, one touch close events. I think that theinteraction the brand impressions the number of clicks the interactions withthese elements is what you want to track. So within your dot com for yourbranch 80 M city pages that's pretty easy to track if you have googleanalytics or ah monitor and you can monitor. Are we seeing a lift intraffic? Are we seeing a lift and pull through time on page? Is there somesort of intense signal we as a brand care about Maybe they click the phone,call button, schedule an appointment button. Those are soft metrics you wantto track google. My business gets a little trickier. Again you've gotgoogle business insights within their insights platform. You can see thenumber of search impressions, how many...

...times your listing appears? The maplistings. So the indicator from S. E. O. Perspective is minus seasonal demand.Right? For a certain product or time of year when reef eyes or higher rates arelow, all things being equal. You want to see a lift and impressions withinthat impression lift you want to look at? Are we seeing a higher clickthrough rate for visit the website that's a button and G. M. B click tocall. That's one week. Typically like to watch and care and really care forget directions. There's already intent. They're already looking to come to yourbranch. So that's not really a high value metric to look for photos areincreasingly important, both with google's kind of vision ai they'rerolling out the newest algorithm is Mum, that's literally understanding whatpictures are and what things are in pictures and connecting that to textentries and entities and people places things and so photos and google mybusiness are another way to indicate what you're near what your brand'sabout. We see some banks doing a great job showing there, fundraisers and thengetting back to the community and taking pictures with firefighters andthe police and supporting schools and that's showing that you're activelyengaged in your community. And those pictures help your individual prospectsand your members and your customers feel good about your brand. It helpsgoogle understand more about who you are as a brand. Yeah, I mean these areall very practical recommendations. Someone is listening that can apply andreally begin to move forward and make progress here. Because I think back toyour point, there's a lot of low hanging fruit. It's ripe. It's ready tocapture. It's ready to pick off the vine when we talk about local searchand we're talking about content. I always like to ask this question, whatis a commonly held belief that others...

...in this industry might have about localsearch? About S. E. O. About content that you just passionately disagreewith, that Ceos dying and they can't compete with the big banks. I meanthat's the most simplistic obvious answer there is but when you look athow I would say under optimized these regional bank sites are I mean we getinto just like the very basics, their page titles, their H. One tags, their U.R. L. S. It's the same string, it's the same set of words. It's all verbatim.The content is generic. It's a list of features it might mention, you know, nominimum deposits and that's about it. The contents then they have not reallytried to market effectively for S. E. O. And content. And so google is left withlittle choice but to really not rank them unless someone searches theircompany name or company name plus login. And it's funny to hear you say that S.E. O. The perception is S. E. O. Is kind of dying and I'm actuallypredicting that we are going to have a new golden age of S. E. O. Over thenext 2 to 3 years. As traditional digital marketing strategies aredisrupted tremendously by the cookie apocalypse, by rising ad fraud byrising add bots. And these are the things that no one and I've donemultiple podcasts about this. No one wants to talk about these subjects andit all comes back to the, I would say for lack of a better word, the purity,if you will of where we've come full circle back to what started all of thisto begin with in the first place, which is content. And on that note, biggestopportunity when you look out at the landscape and the trends today throughthe work that you're doing the research...

...that you're doing, what's the biggestopportunity available for financial brands to either create, to capture orto capitalize on. I think committing to develop, developing some originalcontent original thought leadership with the experts in the organization,not the marketing team trying to put together good enough content aroundfirst time homebuyers or around buying a business, starting a business, likebringing the experts forward. The problem we've seen and it's partly dueto a lack of resources is the commoditization of financial educationand calculators. There are thousands of banks that have the same articles froma couple of credible reputable financial education cos that's all welland good. But you're not going to rank in google when you all have the sameexact content so you can use that for customers but then try to augment thatoffset that by bringing the expertise from the people in your organizationforward through customer focused articles, podcasts like you do a greatjob with quick videos, micro moment content to leave me in a better placeas your customer. I'm thinking about as you're talking through this, thecontent aggregators if you will and maybe they're even programs thatlicense content in the industry. And I'm not going to name names right now,but it's buying a checklist item. Oh, you know, we need content, check offthe list, we buy it and we get access to the library and so what do we do? Wecopy and paste it on the website and then we think our job is done and thenwe move on. But there's no been no value creation from a local S E Operspective. And so I I like the idea and I agree with the perspective oftapping into the thought leaders and not just leaving and marketingmarketing's hands. But marketing,...

...working with cells are working withlending or working with the branch managers to really dig deep what's thebiggest roadblock there that a financial brand must be aware of andconsider think about that could hold them back from from making progress inmaking those connections and moving that thought leadership forward. Eitherthe lack of people that are really good writers and the fear of not being agood writer and not being perfect. I think that can be a roadblock. I thinkyou know, you're clearly an expert in all things audio. I believe there's achance for these types of institutions for marketing to interview just likeyou're doing with me, interview the M. L. O. Interview, the Ag lender,interview the branch manager. 3 to 4 questions open and let them go. Letthem riff, capture it, record it, transcribe it the text. If you neededto hire an editor, voila, you've got a bunch of article content you can put onyour website with some visuals or clearly if your clients like podcastsand are willing to listen, stay on that path. But I think I think writing andwriters block a lot of marketers aren't great writers and that's totally fine.So what's a more creative way? A lot of freelance journalist you can hire ifyou needed to but you need to interview the experts, get their expertise out ofthem and convert it into customer facing copy. Yeah, that's a greatpractical example, once again, because we get intimidated by the blanking theblinking dot on the screen, what am I going to write about? And I can't helpbut think of the conversation that I had with dan Sullivan, who brought theprincipal and the perspective of think who not how think who do we need toalign ourselves with to achieve a goal or or an objective first before wethink, well, how are we going to do...

...that? Because the who is the answer tothe house so many times. And as you mentioned, there's a world full ofwho's because now I'm thinking, well I want to start a podcast. We don't havethat capability internally. There are firms that that is, their soleexpertise is to make your audio sound absolutely amazing. And then you cantake that and work within an external editor, but you're managing anoversight in this all internally, which is really the work that you're helpingguide financial brands through. Correct? That's right, That's right. My partnerand I spent 8 to 10 years respectively, at Bank of America and built a numberof centers of excellence there. While a lot of the clients we work with aren'tthat size taking more control internally, really gives institutions achance to thrive to be more nimble and not get generic recommendations fromsome agencies. Yeah. And speaking about not giving generic recommendation scott.This has been a fantastic conversations that we've had today. I want to getreally practical here with the final question because all growth, alltransformation begins with typically a small, very simple step forward. And sowith that in mind, what is a small action item or a commitment that afinancial brand can make today? And you've given a lot of very practicalrecommendations. But what's that one thing that the dear listener can thinkabout can apply either today or tomorrow or just share this internally?Say this is where we can begin and begin with confidence. What would thatone thing be understanding what your customer pain points are like? They'researching for information. They're searching for answers to better managetheir financial life. You want to be the answer in your local market and inyour area of expertise or do you want your competition to be the answer? Imean that's pretty basic, but there's a lot of tools you can do to validate andunderstand how people think and thus...

...how they search. That's kind of thefirst step is recognizing the needs are there and if you're not there to answerit, someone else will be Yeah, summarized through the lens of D. G. Ihelp first sell second, there you go. Because people are looking for twothings. When it comes to financial products, they're not looking for theproduct. The product is the means to an end. People wake up and say I need acar, they don't wake up and say I need an auto loan and so help first sellsecond help often has to come before I'm not help hope even off often has tocome before help. People need the hope that there's a better path, a betterway forward and that hope many times can be delivered through the help thatyou're using with your content scott. If anyone is listening to have a followup question, what's the best way for them to reach out, say hello andcontinue the conversation that we started today. Feel free to drop me anemail scott at new media advisers dot com or looking on linkedin. Happy toanswer any questions folks have and give some free tips to help you get onyour way for the back half of 2021 scott. This has been a lot of fun.Thank you so much for joining me on another episode of Banking on Digitalgrowth. Thanks James as always. And until next time be well. Do good andmake your bed. Thank you for listening to another episode of banking ondigital growth. With James robert. Ley like what you hear, tell a friend aboutthe podcast and leave us a review on apple podcasts, google podcasts orSpotify and subscribe while you're there. To get even more practicalimprovement insights visit www dot digital growth dot com to grab apreview of James roberts, best selling book banking on digital growth Or ordera copy right now for you and your team from Amazon inside you'll find astrategic marketing and sales blueprint framed around 12 key areas of focusthat empower you to confidently...

...generate 10 times more loans anddeposits until next time, be well and do good.

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