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A Strong SEO Game Can Help You Survive COVID-19

The U.S. is doing its level best to greet summer with an air-five (if not an actual hug). And many businesses are looking for ways to maintain visibility on the internet while everyone stays close to home. Consumers still need banking services and may even take the opportunity to research and select a brand-new financial institution. So it pays to have your website and social media channels optimized for the right keywords and search terms.

In this blog, we’ll talk about some of the ways that community financial institutions can step up their search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and make the most out of a tough situation. Consumers and your account holders are wondering which businesses are stable, trustworthy, and capable of weathering the unnatural winter brought on by coronavirus. This is an opportunity for you to present a message of strength, support, and empathy.

So let’s dive in!


1. Take stock of your online presence.


This doesn’t have to be an exhaustive process (although, if you’d like to dig deep, we can help). Simply make a list of the areas where your institution currently publishes content online.

Some examples:

  • Blog or website announcement board

  • YouTube

  • Facebook

  • LinkedIn

  • Instagram

  • Twitter

  • Google My Business

  • Community publications

  • Digital advertising

Ideally, once you have a sense of where you already communicate digitally with consumers, you can create a priority list of which channels you intend to address first.


2. Develop your message around COVID-19.

The best way to capture the attention of nearby consumers is by creating content (blogs, social posts, videos, advertisements, landing pages, etc.) that cover relevant topics. Consumers have a lot of time on their hands and are willing to spend time reading and researching issues around coronavirus. This allows you to expand trust by offering expert insight on topics that people find incredibly relevant (ex: “Is my money safe?” or “how do I get access to my stimulus money?”)

Here’s a list of topics that consumers may want to learn more about:

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

  • Small business relief fund

  • Farm relief info

  • Hardship and loan assistance

  • What to do with your finances if you’ve lost your job

  • Personal finance topics

We recommend starting with a piece that clarifies exactly what services your institution offers and sets expectations for how account holders can transact safely. For instance: What hours is your lobby or drive-thru open? What services are available at the ATM? Which services are available by appointment only? What services can happen over the internet?

A chart may be the best way to keep things simple and easy to read. Your goal is to make sure that account holders can quickly get critical information about the services that are essential to them. This type of communication needs to be released as soon as possible and should be included in every communication you use. You may find it useful to link back to it on future blogs and social media posts. When consumers ask, “how and where can I get help with my finances?” you want to be ready with a clear answer.

Along with this stage, you want to create a list of keywords, metatags, and hashtags that you will use to improve visibility. Keyword research should be part of your content development process — pay attention to the popular search terms; they may change daily. It wouldn’t be helpful if we told you which keywords to use. You need to choose them based on the demographics you serve and the content you publish. Here’s an example:

  • An urban community financial institution might want to reach out to people struggling with their mortgage and so they publish a blog on “COVID-19 mortgage assistance.”

  • A community financial institution serving a rural area might decide to provide information to farmers about “COVID-19 farm relief programs.”

  • Although these two blogs might share some common keywords or phrases, there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” list for every situation or piece of content. You’ll get the best results by researching current search traffic and responding accordingly.

The Financial Brand offers some helpful tips on search engine optimization strategies that other financial institutions have been using successfully during the pandemic.

 

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3. Create a plan for distributing your coronavirus content.


If you take the time to make it, make sure you take the time to promote it. You want to start by communicating in the channels you use most frequently (i.e., Where will your account holders expect to hear from you?). If you feel the need to jump into new channels, just be sure that you can devote resources to staying on top of communicating consistently and responding ASAP to questions or comments from users.

While a comprehensive three month-content calendar is an excellent idea in principle, the global coronavirus pandemic is not a good time to build it. You should start by planning a week ahead and working to develop the content as far ahead as you can so that you always have something ready to post. In many ways, you’re implementing a “crisis communication plan,” which needs to be flexible enough to respond when the situation changes.

It will help if you think of your COVID-19 content marketing in two categories:

Responsive

Content in this category provides information that is relevant to the situation as it stands today. So if your governor has changed the stay-at-home order, you need to be ready to create messages that take the new situation into account. Will your service levels change as a result? This type of communication requires that you have a process in place for quickly writing, reviewing, and approving each message that you intend to broadcast.

Strategic

Strategic content is relevant to long-term trends. What do account holders need to know about loan forbearance? What changes, if any, should they make to their investment portfolio? Look for ways to share best practices, as opposed to trying to predict the future. Your team should always be in the process of developing strategic content to post at scheduled intervals between your “responsive” communications.


4. Aim for accuracy, relevancy, and consistency


Your goal for every piece of content should be to start with a clear message, using relevant keywords, and delivered on a regular cadence. SEO isn’t a game that you “win,” it’s part of the brand that you’re cultivating over the long haul — a method for enhancing the visibility of the brand you already have, not creating the brand you wish you had. The better you can meet consumers in meaningful ways, the more you will be rewarded for it.

Tags: Marketing