One of the best ways to gain an edge over your competition is to win the online battle. To do that, you need to make sure your name, your company’s name and your website appear high on Google and other search engines, a practice called search engine optimization (SEO). Originators who learn how to do this — and do it well — will have the best chances of winning new business.
If you’re in the mortgage brokerage or mortgage lending business, you know that the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage plunged below 3.2% this past June, according to Freddie Mac, making the acquisition of new clients all the more crucial. Among all the different marketing channels and tactics that you could implement to increase your clientele, SEO might be most critical (and underrated).
If you aren’t familiar with SEO, it’s a technique used to make your website show up higher in Google and other search engine results when prospective clients are looking for mortgage originators. It’s a simple formula — higher visibility means more clicks and more clicks translates into more sales. Here are a few relevant facts from an Ellie Mae study:
- 72% of all mortgage borrowers go online to find the best rate.
- 59% use the internet to research their loan options and how much funding they qualify for.
- 75% use an online portal to work with their mortgage lender.
With the right SEO strategy in place, you can effectively scale up your online presence to reach borrowers and present them with financing options. Let’s take a look at a few of these best practices, and how they can benefit you and your business.
It’s a simple formula — higher visibility means more clicks and more clicks translate into more sales.
Identifying keywords is the first step to enhancing your SEO footprint. Consider your main products, service offerings or tools as a starting point. For each area, write down potential keywords to associate with them. As an example, you might be able to target keywords or phrases such as “best mortgage calculator,” “mortgage rates 2020,” “mortgage payment calculator,” “home loan interest rates” and “reverse mortgage loans.”
A useful tip is to target keywords that have less competition. These are mostly long-tail keywords ― three- or four-keyword phrases that are specific to what you’re selling — that other mortgage originators may have neglected. Some examples include “early loan repayment calculator” and “how are mortgages calculated?” Even better than having less competition is raising your conversion rate because the intent behind the search was more specific.
When you include a mix of short- and long-tail keywords on your website, you give yourself a better chance of ranking well in search engines while offering more in-depth information to your visitors. Imagine that a person who wants to know how mortgages are calculated lands on your website and not only finds the answer to the query but also a robust mortgage calculator. That prospect is likely to gain trust in your business and use your financing to fulfill his or her mortgage needs.
Claim a listing
Another SEO best practice is to set up your Google My Business listing. This feature enables you to showcase your business information on Google. You also may refer to this information as your NAP (name, address and phone number).
The key benefit of using Google My Business is that your company will show up right when potential borrowers are searching for mortgage banks or brokers in your area. In other words, when people Google “mortgage companies in New York” or “get a mortgage in Dallas,” your business will appear in the search — complete with your name, website URL and other essential information. Mortgage originators who’ve claimed their Google My Business listing may even appear on Google Maps.
The best part is that Google My Business is free to create. It does take a little bit of know-how and time, however, to do it correctly. You can find the required steps by watching a quick tutorial on YouTube.
When your business shows up on another website and that site hyperlinks to yours, the link tells Google that your website is useful, credible and valuable. So, the more of these backlinks you have, the better your website will rank in search engine result pages. There’s a tricky aspect of this approach that you need to be mindful of — that not all backlinks are created equal.
Search engines have become a lot more intelligent over the years. They can now identify if you’re trying to manipulate rankings by getting links from irrelevant websites. And they’re also often smart enough to differentiate between paid and legitimate mentions.
To ensure you start on the right foot with links, always aim to appear on relevant websites, such as finance and mortgage lending blogs. You can find sites that you can contribute to by using search terms like “finance write for us,” “mortgage write for us” and “home loan guest post websites.”
Those with expert knowledge of the industry also can try their luck on websites such as HARO (helpareporter.com). This website lets you answer questions posted by journalists, who can include your response or reach out to you for additional information. Another website to connect you with journalists is qwoted.com.
SEO is an ongoing effort as search technology, consumer tastes and industry trends are always evolving. Your biggest key to success is being patient.
SEO is as much about improving your website as it is about adding new content and links to it. One thing to immediately address is old or dead pages. As you audit the structure of your site, you’re bound to find some links to pages that you or a team member have deleted, or some to external sites that have removed or modified the page that you were originally linking to.
Because broken links have a negative impact on a visitor’s experience, Google may ding you for that poor experience. Find and remove them using tools like Dead Link Checker (the basic tool at deadlinkchecker.com is free, but an automated version charges a fee.) Along with links, also check for broken images and other website-structure issues that may negatively impact your search engine rankings.
Lastly, evaluate the loading speed of your website to ensure that visitors aren’t waiting for paint to dry. Use free tools like GTmetrix.com or Google’s PageSpeed Insights to identify which elements of your site are slowing it down so you can improve it.
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SEO is an ongoing effort as search technology, consumer tastes and industry trends are always evolving. Your biggest key to success is being patient. Don’t give up too soon. Start gradually by embracing these basics, then move onto other SEO best practices and allow search engine optimization sufficient time to prove its potential. You’ll thank yourself later. ●