Banking on Digital Growth
Banking on Digital Growth

Episode · 1 year 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 meet their needs, use their voice, use their vernacular, you're going to get an advantage and so understanding that mindset and how they search, that's the starting point for any search marketing campaign. Mhm. You're listening to banking on digital growth with James robert Lay a podcast that empowers financial brand marketing, sales and leadership teams to maximize their digital growth potential By generating 10 times more loans and deposits. Today's episode is part of the exponential insight series where James robert interviews the industry's top marketing sales and fintech leaders, sharing practical wisdom to exponentially 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 the Banking on Digital Growth podcast. Today's episode is part of the exponential insight series and I'm excited to welcome scott Gardner to the show, scott is the founder and partner at new media advisors and they are helping financial brands clearly identify their greatest challenges and capitalize on opportunities in organic search. Local search, paid search and content marketing. Now, search and content are really key parts to a financial brands. Future digital growth strategy, especially as a third party cookies are crumbling, ad fraud continues to rise at boats continue to chip away at the effectiveness of digital marketing strategies, which is why 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 search and content is what are you excited about right now, personally or professionally? I'm excited that my kids, I've got two teen boys 17 and 13 excited. They've made it through virtual school, mainly getting straight A's and really difficult classes. I'm happy for their summer break and I've got an old, my old, this is a cashier and uh, you know, he's getting experience of the retail life and I can see the, you know, the growth and the personal growth and the excitement brings to him. So definitely thrilled to enjoy the summer break with them. And I'm able to work virtually with what 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. You know, it's always good to see the growth that they're experiencing through 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 most formative years of, you know, going through school, going through this covid experience and, and grateful like...

...you to, to be able to probably be home more 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 the home 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, but he was desperate to get back to school and see his friends and he finished the last month in person and uh, I think helped him get back to a feeling of normalcy for sure. Yeah. That's what we're all striving for. You talked about this idea of normalcy, one of the normal trends and patterns you have seen, I have seen and you did a great video about this with the Peredo principle. It's the 80 20 rule. And you noted that you're willing to bet 80% of a 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 their search traffic comes from 20% of their keywords. And with this idea in mind and I agree with you, where should the 20% be that a financial brand focuses their time effort, energy and resources to get the 80% of return when we're thinking about digital marketing? Mm I think it depends on the channel if we zoom into kind of our areas of expertise from a, you know, organic search local search content perspective, I think it comes down to first determining where you're deficient, where that traffic is coming from out of the gates. When we look at sites that aren't really paying attention to organic search, it's probably more like a 95 5 because it's their home page. On making sign in page, download the mobile app page and you can see they have not really done a good job either, optimizing their services pages, building up their, their location pages for branches. They've not done a good job developing original fault leadership. So when you begin to shift that dynamic from 955, you need to get into, especially for a regional bank that 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 aggregators for the term credit card to the term checking account, you're going for your local market, the audiences that you serve and you're trying to go after more localized keywords or local intent keywords. That's where you're going to gain that traction and that's where they really shouldn't invest our times is what we've seen. It's good to hear you say. From a competitive threat and a 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 these guys are cranking out massive amounts of of organic content and so the opportunity is to look beyond the...

...generic branded key terms and really begin to become much more focused on that local market which is the unique niche anyway for a community financial brand or Regional Financial Brandon. And you wrote a fantastic article that shared very very practical strategies for financial brands to win more market share in local S. C. O. In local Search seven strategies. I want to talk through a few of these with you, starting with number one. Which is just to simply understanding, we've already kind of started this here but going deeper understand the audience and the competition. Mhm. So I think that this is an advantage that the smaller institutions 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 and agriculture and different types of industry, you understand the challenges they face. You understand the questions they ask when they're in person on the phone, you got specialist bankers, when you craft your content to meet their needs, use their voice, use their vernacular, you're going to get an advantage. And so, understanding that mindset and how they search. That's the starting point for any search marketing campaign. So yeah, customer intent and trying 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 being nuanced around near me nearby best mortgage rates near me. How does that that small little extension play out into things like wifi networks and mobile devices and I. P. Addresses from an optimization opportunity here. Years ago you used to be able to use near me and title tags and then copy, but for a reader perspective doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Google is smart enough to now know where someone is located based on IP address or their phone. You can control proximity of where someone lives, but you can control your ability to have localized city pages about the good you do in your community, how you give back the organizations, you support that, building your entity, building your strength and google's knowledge graph and how they understand who your brand is, the market you serve physical locations. One other comment about near me, a lot of the regional firms we talk with and we look at their sites, they don't do a very good job building individual branch location pages. It's a big gap. They might have a branch locator and it's searchable but google can't understand the location, the latitude longitude, name, address and the area it serves...

...physically. And that's a missing component that can drive those near me searches or if someone's in a certain market mortgage lenders nearby or mortgage lenders in city yes. Issue eligible without that. You're not eligible frankly. Yeah. And then you can expand that out even further and you have the branch locations. Each has its own standalone page under the corporate domain optimized for local search city zip however you want to frame that. But I like your thinking to of doing this for every single like for example mortgage loan officer or sMB loan officer. Now they have their own personalized branded pages and that connects back to a thought that you shared before around thought leadership. Because you can have content marketing without that leadership, but you cannot have thought leadership without content marketing. Thought leadership falls under that content marketing umbrella and which plays a big role in this idea of local sc Oh, now the follow up to that too when we're talking about location strategies and you noted this in the article is point number two optimizing all facets of google my business because we see this is really untapped and some of them are halfway set up. Some of them are not even set up 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 across all verticals. So you need to understand that this is a new way consumers and business owners are interacting with your business. For starters, once you acknowledge that you need to make sure you've claimed all your 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 got good photography that's still within you know risk frameworks and guidance. Reviews are happening. You need to respond to reviews with authenticity with a rapid response. There are other features now within google my business that have been out for over a year. If not longer, there's a Q and a section within each google my business page. If you don't answer the questions, a local guide will do it on your behalf, I'll answer for you, which is a little bit concerning from a brand reputation perspective, right? And then you have google posts and you can control your hours and connect the G. M. B page back to those branch location pages and it begins to kind of come full circle and taking that a step further. One of the big things that we teach here is about humanizing the digital experiences because G. M. B. Can now pull in like Youtube video content and so you can have a branch manager with a welcome video. I know that this was a strategy that TD Bank deployed probably about five or six years ago in the Manhattan...

...market to where they had over 100 different branches and they're using that google my business strategy to humanize those local branches with video. Yeah. That's hard for a national bank to pull off at scale. There's so much content governance that has to happen. But to your point, that's a way that a local regional bank could differentiate. I think it's a matter of bank leadership, getting comfortable with putting a local expert, a branch manager, a type of loan officer outfront building their own personal brand but representing their expertise to the market. You touched on one thing I do want to go back to, you talked about the experts in your bank, humanizing the bank and the need for a thought leadership. Google has dabbled in the past with a concept called authorship. It's kind of come and it's had starts and stops as google's evolved. We're seeing more of that across other verticals, not just within been served, but when you bring your experts forward, they've got a commercial loan officer landing page. They've got their social profiles connected when they're quoted in your content on your dot com site, When they author blog posts, that's bringing a person forward, their expertise and authority can help you rank better, can help you reach more people. And it's more 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 banks can can win more share. Yeah. And another way right here is point number four where you mentioned localizing website, content on page S Ceo. And the opportunity that I see is around, for example, product pages. Because you mentioned before that 95 5, It's the home page. You know, 90% of traffic is going to the home page and log into online banking. But there's other ways to open the door, the digital branch door to getting into intense, specific searches around specific products. But that, that's going to come from local on site page on the product page. Let's dive deeper into that where the opportunities here and what might an example of this look like. Yeah. So I think it's back to the branch locator strategy. I don't think it's so much talking about the local markets on a checking accounts page that seems like a tough use case to connect. I think it's more about if, you know, I live in Raleigh north Carolina. So if I've own and operate five branches here and they're spread across the Raleigh Triangle market, I want to make sure that each of my branch pages talks about nearby points of interest, the major businesses that we serve the local schools. We support the local nonprofits. We volunteer with. These...

...are all signs and signals. And then on that page I'm talking about the services I offer in my branch, the experts I have within my branch, be it for wealth management, commercial loan officer, mortgage lending, etcetera. That's where you're really going to get that eligibility to show up for local. Now if you are a bank call it with 10-15 branches across of handful of counties and cities, then yeah. On your mortgage loans page, maybe towards the bottom, there's a strategy around question to answer content that works really well for a Ceo there. You can talk about, hey, do you, you know, do you fund loans outside of your counties and there you can talk about, hey, we serve wake County and Orange County etcetera, etcetera. And tailor it that way. Right? Yeah. And, and that brings us to the point number five, which is local link building. And I see a tremendous opportunity here from, you know, connecting with local businesses to help promote them. The advice of versa, literally building digital community, which not many financial brands are thinking about. But it's one that I'm continuing to teach and coach advise around because this place so nicely within a local content strategy. Where's the opportunity here? Yeah. You know that, I think it's, um, some of the things I mentioned earlier, if, if you're sponsoring the local five K, 10-K seasonal events in a particular market, you're giving back to nonprofits. Those entities are, those organizations will likely talk about their trusted supporters and their sponsors and they'll mention brands by name or they'll put a logo up. But there's no link back to the website. That's easy. That's low. That's, that's about the lowest hanging fruit we can think of for link building the national banks 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 right for opportunity by a market president or going back to the board and the group that you've sponsored and say, hey, can we get a link back to our branch 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 into this? Maybe like local, you know, sponsored content authority driven content to where there might be a little bit more editorial control over. Not necessarily just linking the logo, but also linking. Now very specific text back to a branch page. To a local branch page. Maybe it's working with a newspaper, maybe it's an op ed opportunity, thoughts on that, careful be careful google. If it looks like it's one way slanted and it looks like op ed piece or sponsored content with a...

...link back. You know, if it's one Z, two Z, it should be fine. If it happens at scale, you could get into the gray area of paid links and that's something you want to avoid. Google really is looking out for that. And a lot of publishers and newspapers have been busted for selling links and so you don't want to be caught into that sort of thing. But to your point, it could be from a pr perspective interviewing a market president in a local publication and their PR team saying, hey, can you please link back to their profile page? Link back to our city page makes total sense, it's earned. That's a value. I think to your point though, the local pr coverage alone is better than nothing. Google smart enough now to recognize brand mentions and citations and viewing the brand name is again entity and their knowledge graph, you don't always have to get a physical link. It's better from a technical ASIO perspective, but at least you're getting the coverage technology has transformed our world and digital has changed the way consumers shop for and buy financial services forever. Now consumers make purchase decisions long before they walk into a branch if they walk into a branch at all, but your financial brand still wants to grow loans and deposits, we get it. Digital growth can feel confusing, frustrating and overwhelming for any financial brand, marketing and sales leader, but it doesn't have to because James robert wrote the book that guides you every step of the way along your digital growth journey, visit www dot digital growth dot com to get a preview of his best selling book banking on digital growth 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 transform financial brands and it is packed full of practical and proven insights you can start using today to confidently generate 10 times more loans and deposits. Now back to the show. In staying with this theme of of local search 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, expand relationships and then they are is to repeat the process with ratings, with with reviews and with referrals. Where does this fit into this idea of caring for and cultivating customer reviews in the article? I think with anything in the S. E. O. Space first off, google is not going to come out and explicit explicitly state these factors matter. These don't to this degree. But there have 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, the frequency and recency of that review...

...matters. There's a lot of speculation and I've been involved in some studies on this where review response has also an incremental boost because it shows your empathy, shows your high touch, shows your relevant and your customer first and google is going to reward those factors. So yeah, James, reviews and responses matter from a response perspective where some brands fail is they have a risk aversion to letting someone write an authentic response and they come up with a formula of a couple of sentences as a copy paste. Thanks for the review. James having a great day and that's it. That doesn't cut it, it looks too robotic, it lacks the human touch and it's kind of seen through. So. Yeah and and that's and that's the idea to number one operationalize the review ask and the number two humanize the review spots because on the flip side I've seen those robotic responses and it's not it's it looks and appears automated but it's not of we hear you were sorry please give us a call or send an email to. And that's not how the real world quote unquote works when it comes to google and S. C. O. Particularly too, if I if I'm if I've had a bad experience and that's my that's my re follow up response. Well that's like two strikes already right there two strikes and there's a public conversation everyone's seen. So it's multiple strikes with those who are watching it unfold. Well let's talk about the 7th point here which is using analytics to understand success and failure because to me that's what this is all about. We need to understand how we're moving the needles through these different strategies. Are we increasing traffic and what where and how what's working, what's not working so that we can do more of what's working? Yeah I I think that we know within within our industry and within the banking space that these are not one call, one touch close events. I think that the interaction the brand impressions the number of clicks the interactions with these elements is what you want to track. So within your dot com for your branch 80 M city pages that's pretty easy to track if you have google analytics or ah monitor and you can monitor. Are we seeing a lift in traffic? Are we seeing a lift and pull through time on page? Is there some sort 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 want to track google. My business gets a little trickier. Again you've got google business insights within their insights platform. You can see the number of search impressions, how many...

...times your listing appears? The map listings. 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 are low, all things being equal. You want to see a lift and impressions within that impression lift you want to look at? Are we seeing a higher click through rate for visit the website that's a button and G. M. B click to call. That's one week. Typically like to watch and care and really care for get directions. There's already intent. They're already looking to come to your branch. So that's not really a high value metric to look for photos are increasingly important, both with google's kind of vision ai they're rolling out the newest algorithm is Mum, that's literally understanding what pictures are and what things are in pictures and connecting that to text entries and entities and people places things and so photos and google my business are another way to indicate what you're near what your brand's about. We see some banks doing a great job showing there, fundraisers and then getting back to the community and taking pictures with firefighters and the police and supporting schools and that's showing that you're actively engaged in your community. And those pictures help your individual prospects and your members and your customers feel good about your brand. It helps google understand more about who you are as a brand. Yeah, I mean these are all very practical recommendations. Someone is listening that can apply and really begin to move forward and make progress here. Because I think back to your point, there's a lot of low hanging fruit. It's ripe. It's ready to capture. It's ready to pick off the vine when we talk about local search and we're talking about content. I always like to ask this question, what is a commonly held belief that others in this industry might have about local search? About S. E. O. About content that you just passionately disagree with, that Ceos dying and they can't compete with the big banks. I mean that's the most simplistic obvious answer there is but when you look at how I would say under optimized these regional bank sites are I mean we get into 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, no minimum deposits and that's about it. The contents then they have not really tried to market effectively for S. E. O. And content. And so google is left with little choice but to really not rank...

...them unless someone searches their company 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 actually predicting that we are going to have a new golden age of S. E. O. Over the next 2 to 3 years. As traditional digital marketing strategies are disrupted tremendously by the cookie apocalypse, by rising ad fraud by rising add bots. And these are the things that no one and I've done multiple podcasts about this. No one wants to talk about these subjects and it 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 this to begin with in the first place, which is content. And on that note, biggest opportunity when you look out at the landscape and the trends today through the work that you're doing the research that you're doing, what's the biggest opportunity available for financial brands to either create, to capture or to capitalize on. I think committing to develop, developing some original content original thought leadership with the experts in the organization, not the marketing team trying to put together good enough content around first time homebuyers or around buying a business, starting a business, like bringing the experts forward. The problem we've seen and it's partly due to a lack of resources is the commoditization of financial education and calculators. There are thousands of banks that have the same articles from a couple of credible reputable financial education cos that's all well and good. But you're not going to rank in google when you all have the same exact content so you can use that for customers but then try to augment that offset that by bringing the expertise from the people in your organization forward through customer focused articles, podcasts like you do a great job with quick videos, micro moment content to leave me in a better place as your customer. I'm thinking about as you're talking through this, the content aggregators if you will and maybe they're even programs that license 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 off the list, we buy it and we get access to the library and so what do we do? We copy and paste it on the website and then we think our job is done and then we move on. But there's no been no value creation from a local S E O perspective. And so I I like the idea and I agree with the perspective of tapping into the thought leaders and not just leaving and marketing marketing's hands. But marketing,...

...working with cells are working with lending or working with the branch managers to really dig deep what's the biggest roadblock there that a financial brand must be aware of and consider think about that could hold them back from from making progress in making those connections and moving that thought leadership forward. Either the lack of people that are really good writers and the fear of not being a good writer and not being perfect. I think that can be a roadblock. I think you know, you're clearly an expert in all things audio. I believe there's a chance for these types of institutions for marketing to interview just like you'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. Let them riff, capture it, record it, transcribe it the text. If you needed to hire an editor, voila, you've got a bunch of article content you can put on your website with some visuals or clearly if your clients like podcasts and are willing to listen, stay on that path. But I think I think writing and writers 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 if you needed to but you need to interview the experts, get their expertise out of them and convert it into customer facing copy. Yeah, that's a great practical example, once again, because we get intimidated by the blanking the blinking dot on the screen, what am I going to write about? And I can't help but think of the conversation that I had with dan Sullivan, who brought the principal and the perspective of think who not how think who do we need to align ourselves with to achieve a goal or or an objective first before we think, well, how are we going to do that? Because the who is the answer to the house so many times. And as you mentioned, there's a world full of who's because now I'm thinking, well I want to start a podcast. We don't have that capability internally. There are firms that that is, their sole expertise is to make your audio sound absolutely amazing. And then you can take that and work within an external editor, but you're managing an oversight in this all internally, which is really the work that you're helping guide financial brands through. Correct? That's right, That's right. My partner and I spent 8 to 10 years respectively, at Bank of America and built a number of centers of excellence there. While a lot of the clients we work with aren't that size taking more control internally, really gives institutions a chance to thrive to be more nimble and not get generic recommendations from some agencies. Yeah. And speaking about...

...not giving generic recommendation scott. This has been a fantastic conversations that we've had today. I want to get really practical here with the final question because all growth, all transformation begins with typically a small, very simple step forward. And so with that in mind, what is a small action item or a commitment that a financial brand can make today? And you've given a lot of very practical recommendations. But what's that one thing that the dear listener can think about can apply either today or tomorrow or just share this internally? Say this is where we can begin and begin with confidence. What would that one thing be understanding what your customer pain points are like? They're searching for information. They're searching for answers to better manage their financial life. You want to be the answer in your local market and in your area of expertise or do you want your competition to be the answer? I mean that's pretty basic, but there's a lot of tools you can do to validate and understand how people think and thus how they search. That's kind of the first step is recognizing the needs are there and if you're not there to answer it, someone else will be Yeah, summarized through the lens of D. G. I help first sell second, there you go. Because people are looking for two things. When it comes to financial products, they're not looking for the product. The product is the means to an end. People wake up and say I need a car, they don't wake up and say I need an auto loan and so help first sell second help often has to come before I'm not help hope even off often has to come before help. People need the hope that there's a better path, a better way forward and that hope many times can be delivered through the help that you're using with your content scott. If anyone is listening to have a follow up question, what's the best way for them to reach out, say hello and continue the conversation that we started today. Feel free to drop me an email scott at new media advisers dot com or looking on linkedin. Happy to answer any questions folks have and give some free tips to help you get on your 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 Digital growth. Thanks James as always. And until next time be well. Do good and make your bed. Thank you for listening to another episode of banking on digital growth. With James robert. Ley like what you hear, tell a friend about the podcast and leave us a review on apple podcasts, google podcasts or Spotify and subscribe while you're there. To get even more practical improvement insights visit www dot digital growth dot com to grab a preview of James roberts, best selling book banking on digital growth Or order a copy right now for you and your team from Amazon inside you'll find a strategic marketing and sales blueprint framed around 12 key areas of focus that empower you to confidently...

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

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