Given that 4 out of 5 consumers use search engines to research local businesses, you run the risk of not being found online if you don’t have a strong search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search strategy.

Here’s how to make it work for you.

1 - Own Your Space

With the many different ways consumers can find your brand online, it has never been more important for companies to go through the process of claiming and managing their listings across all channels. This goes beyond merely having a website and a Facebook page. While these channels are important, truly optimized companies own their website, social media channels, maps listings on Google & Bing, and as many relevant directory listings as you can find.

Here are resources to find directory listings:

Citations by City
Citations by Category
Top Citation Sites
The Ultimate List of 50 Local Business Directories

And here are some general rules of thumb when optimizing a listing across these various channels:

2 - Identify Success Metrics

There are generic digital marketing metrics that any marketer is aware of, including click-through rates, average order value, cost-per-click, cost-per-acquisition, time on site, site depth, pages-per-visit, and conversion rate. While these all have their place, it is extremely important to take some time prior to launching a campaign to identify what metrics are going to drive success for your company and how you are going to track them.

Applying a dollar value to metrics that don’t directly result in revenue can be a helpful way of telling a story to executives who want to determine the efficacy of specific channels. Using loan-to-value (LTV) ratio and conversion rates (CR), you can come up with good estimations about the value of a content download, or a twitter follower. It’s important to keep in mind that these revenue values are estimates, and the more empirical data you have to support your estimates, the better. 

3 - Do Your Research

This one step should inform your marketing efforts across all channels, and it is not a one-and-done process. Especially in regards to digital channels, research should be a state of mind. Not only should you be doing preliminary research to determine overall campaign strategies (including keyword research, competitive research, etc.), but you should also be following up campaigns by consistently reviewing performance and the efficacy of the various channels involved.

When performing research, keep your user in center focus at all times. Search engine optimization has a tendency to drive marketers to focus on the engine in question more than the potential consumers they are trying to target. At the end of the day, you are targeting users, not robots.

4 - Think Mobile First

Over the past several years, there have been huge changes to the way the Google search algorithm functions, the user interface of Google search, and the way results are served up. At the core of these changes is Google’s overall shift to thinking mobile first. Smart marketers learn to mirror the behavior of Google, not only because it tends to result in better performance in Google search, but also because more often than not it will improve your user experience.

Thinking mobile first goes beyond just having a responsive web design, although this is one of the most important steps in becoming mobile friendly. It also extends to understanding how your emails will look, what types of images and content you are going to share through social media, what type of interactive content you are going to have on your site, and more. In addition, a good mobile-first strategy drives companies to place more focus on developing mobile apps for their users.

5 - Content, Content, Content

81% of consumers research a company online before visiting it in person, and 60% of these users start their research with a question in a search engine prior to visiting a specific website. After Google’s release of the Hummingbird update the search giant became better able to understand content in terms of entities, which goes beyond mere keyword relevance. This shift increased the importance of having content geared toward answering specific questions and made out-dated SEO tactics even more irrelevant than they had been previously.

It’s important to keep in mind that content for the sake of content is not a productive asset. Creating highly relevant, well researched content that’s geared toward answering questions that your account holders and potential account holders have is a step in the right direction. Taking that content and sharing it across social channels, promoting it through content marketing distributors (like Outbrain or Taboola), and repurposing that content into other media types is how you drive true content marketing success.

Acronyms to be aware of:

Cost-per-click: CPC
Cost-per-acquisition: CPA
Conversion-rate-optimization: CRO
Return on investment: ROI
Cost per thousand impressions: CPM
Content management system: CMS
Cost per lead: CPL
Service level agreement: SLA
Customer relationship management: CRM
Cascading style sheets: CSS
Call to action: CTA
Pay-per-click: PPC
Search engine optimization: SEO
User interface: UI
User experience: UX
Loan-to-value ratio: LTV

Analytics platforms/tools to be aware of:

Further Reading:
Moz Blog
SEO Roundtable
Hubspot Blog
Optimize by Lee Odden
The Art of SEO by Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, Jessie Stricchiola, Rand Fishkin

Want to learn more about how to amplify your marketing efforts? Download the Ulimate Guide to Bank Marketing in the Digital Age:

Ultimate Guide to Bank Marketing