SEO Part II…CUES CU Management Magazine
~ Is SEO just an online popularity contest?
“In many respects, yes,” says Diane Knudson, director/marketing consulting for CU Solutions Group, Livonia, Mich., an affiliate of the Michigan Credit Union League specializing in marketing, technology, membership enhancements, and performance management services.
Most of us have yearned to be popular at one time or another and your website is no different. “You could have the most dynamic site out there, but that doesn’t matter if no one can find it. SEO is vital to having your site win that popularity contest,” Knudson says.
“Your website should work for you in a way that achieves maximum organic growth based on strategic goals. Focus on the quality of visitors your site receives, not just the quantity,” elaborates Knudson. Repeat visitors encourage organic growth and improve your SEO ranking.
If visitors are only landing on your homepage, most won’t venture further than your online banking link. You really want conversion in the form of a loan application or new account opened. It’s great to drive 1,000 people to your website. However, if they don’t take action, you really haven’t accomplished your goal. “I’d rather see a client have 400 visitors to a specific product page than 1,000 to its homepage. Typically, the homepage doesn’t offer enough content to convert visitors to a new product or service,” she explains.
SEO Case Study
In 2011, CU Solutions Group worked with $312 million/26,700-member Catholic Federal Credit Union, Saginaw, Mich., to implement search engine optimization best practices. “The main goals were to increase the number of visitors to our site and the time spent on each page,” explains Bethany Dutcher, VP/marketing for the CU. “It was critical for us to become a high-ranking destination for any visitor’s Web search for banking services.”
“The (SEO) audit included a complete analysis of the credit union’s online presence and website,” says Knudson. “As a result, we were able to offer recommendations on how to improve online content for both SEO and conversion optimization.” The focus was on driving quality visitors to the site based on strategic goals.
“Content changes were made, many to the backend of the website. The changes focused on implementing appropriate keywords, assigning metadata, and improving the site’s link structure,” says Knudson. These changes gave an immediate boost to the CU’s SEO.
“We added keywords that incorporated our name and location, as well as those that targeted specific goals, like loan growth,” elaborates Dutcher.
Additionally, the audit changed the way Dutcher manages the credit union’s day-to-day online content–including its processes and workflow. “Now, we always add links to related services,” she says. “If we’re launching a new website or promotional page on a product, we include links to related services the member may be interested in. For example, someone viewing information on an auto loan may be interested in refinancing their mortgage or a debt consolidation product. We also ensure these links are embedded correctly. We focus on relevant keywords, and continually make adjustments based on changing demands.”
The CU’s website improvements included:
Adding calls to action on Web pages. An online application was added to every appropriate page, for services like loans, Visa or checking accounts, enabling the visitor to apply directly for the service online.
Replacing graphic page titles with text and keywords. Page titles are an important ranking factor for search engines, which are all text-based. To be crawled and indexed properly, the content (including page titles) was converted to text format.
Turning PDF links into Web pages with unique content. While search engines do crawl PDFs, actual Web pages with unique copy typically provide better results in search pages.
Using high-ranking keywords. Word selections were devised both internally and externally, and continue to be a focus for optimization.
Creating a monthly editorial calendar to keep content fresh. A calendar provides the means to keep content top of mind and continually evolving within the site.
Overall, Catholic FCU saw a 62.7 percent increase in visitors to its website between June and September of 2011. Behavior also changed among visitors who clicked from the auto loan and Visa pages to the online application page, increasing from 249 to 405 during that time period. The credit union saw an increase in loan volume of $1,878,597. It also had a ‘Swap & Drop’ auto loan refinance campaign that launched in September and contributed to loan growth. “Driving visitors to the online application page was, and still is, a top priority for us,” emphasizes Dutcher.
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