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Is your website visible online? Use this local SEO checklist for mortgage brokers to attract even more potential clients. More people now turn to the internet to search for all kinds of information. A survey from Google found that 4 out 5 consumers use search engines to find local businesses. The data points to the importance of ranking in local search as higher visibility online means more targeted traffic.

But you need to be ranking on the first page for your target keywords.

Case studies have shown that the first few results attract a majority of all search clicks.

Advanced Web Ranking Graph

The data then goes on to show that search engine users rarely click past the first page. This makes sense as online users simply don’t have the time to scroll through pages and pages of results. So they end up clicking on the first few results mostly out of convenience.

Even if your site is on the second page, traffic figures will likely be abysmal.

This is where local SEO comes in.

The entire process involves optimizing various aspects of your site to make it more relevant for target keywords and building quality links to improve their rankings. SEO can seem rather perplexing especially for those new to the industry. But as with any major undertaking, it starts with a series of concerted steps that all can all be broken into smaller steps.

Here we put together a local SEO checklist for those in the mortgage and home loan industry.

Keyword Research

You need to target the right keywords for your marketing efforts to be successful.

Keywords that are too broad or competitive (e.g. “mortgage”, “home loans”, etc.) can take years to rank for and a substantial budget. And keywords that are too narrow would barely draw in any traffic. Keyword research helps you identify keywords that fall in the sweet spot and that your target market is actually searching for without too much competition.

So how do you find keywords to target?

Start by brainstorming keywords that are relevant to the services you offer. Then use Google’s Keyword Planner keyword tool for additional keyword ideas and traffic estimates. Larger mortgage companies tend to overlook local search queries so these are a great place to start.

Here are some examples of keywords you could target:

  • How to refinance a home loan in Central Austin
  • Current mortgage rates in East Austin
  • Home prices in West Lake Hills

Focus on local search queries to target potential customers in your area. Then use Google’s tool to estimate their traffic levels. Note down any keywords with a decent amount of traffic and low to medium competition.

On-Page Factors

According to a survey from Moz on local SEO, on-page factors (e.g. title tags, keyword usage, etc.) carry a good deal of weight in terms of rankings. This is hardly surprising as Google evaluates these factors to determine the relevance of a page.

To improve the visibility of your pages in the search results, optimize each of the following:

  • Title tags: Title tags are the first thing that users see in the search results. Include your target keywords here but keep it all around 55 characters or it will be truncated if it is too long.
  • Meta descriptions: These are short snippets of text that tell users and search engines what a page is about. Be sure to include your keywords here as well and a call to action to increase click through rates.
  • NAP information: NAP refers to Name, Address, and Phone Number. If you want to rank for local searches, then it is important that you include this information on your site. Any mention of your NAP on other sites (such as local directories) is another ranking factor.
  • Content: Aim to include your target keywords and related phrases a few times throughout your content. But be careful not to spam or stuff your content with keywords. Also consider building and regularly posting to an on-site blog to increase your reach even further. Use keywords identified in your initial research to bring in traffic for more search terms.

Local Citations

Citations are any mentions of your business name and address on other web pages such as a Yellow Pages online directory. These are important as they lend credibility to your business and Google uses this information when displaying contact details in the search results. All other factors being equal, a site with more citations will rank higher for local search queries than a site without any.

An account on Google My Business is simply a must as it allows you to:

  • Manage and update how your business information is displayed
  • Be found on Google Maps and help customers find your business
  • Share new update on the Google+ social platform
  • Respond to customer reviews

Here are some additional citation sources that are suited for real estate agencies:

Real Estate Citations

Create an account with each one and completely fill out the fields. Write unique descriptions and upload quality images to help your profile stand out. Remember to keep all NAP details consistent across all profiles.

Customer Reviews

Reviews are a must to rank for local searches. According to data from BrightLocal, 92% of consumers now read online reviews when determining the quality of a local business.

Bright Local Survey on Reviews

In addition, 60% of consumers pay most attention to overall star ratings with 73% forming an opinion after reading only 1 to 6 reviews. With more consumers turning to online reviews for recommendations, getting customer reviews is an important step. The quantity and quality of customer reviews affects search engine visibility. More 5 star ratings can even translate to more sales.

Here are ways to attract more reviews to your business:

  • Deliver a great experience: You can’t expect customers to leave positive reviews if your business delivers a poor shopping experience. So make it a priority to keep your customers happy and go the extra mile to increase satisfaction.
  • Set up profiles on review sites: Customers have their preferences in terms of leaving reviews. Some will share their reviews on Google+ while others will leave a post on Facebook or other social media network. So create multiple profiles on review sites that are relevant to your business. And regularly check them if you need to respond to any negative feedback.
  • Ask your clients: There is no harm in asking customers to leave reviews for your business especially if they were completely satisfied with the services rendered. But don’t pay for them as doing so could get your site banned from certain review sites.

Higher ratings can help your site stand out in the search results so aim to get more customer reviews for your business.

Mobile Friendliness

Nothing is more frustrating than landing on a site that isn’t mobile-friendly. You need to constantly pinch, zoom, and scroll just to see the content. Online users have little patience so they are far more likely to exit the page and tap through the next result.

Mobile is so important that it is now a ranking factor.

If your site is not optimized for mobile devices, it will rank lower for mobile searches. Google’s recommended configuration is responsive design which means that the site automatically adjusts to fit all screen resolutions including smartphones and tablets.

Mobile Responsive

Even if your site is not yet mobile-friendly, it’s still not too late. Once you meet all the requirements, Google will re-index your pages so make sure that your site is optimized for mobile devices.

The mortgage industry can be incredibly competitive. Potential clients can be worth tens of thousands of dollars, possibly even more. So you can bet that those in the industry are all competing for the very same customers that you are targeting.

The good news is that it is entirely possible to drive highly targeted traffic to your pages through SEO. Follow this local SEO checklist and implement each one to gain a strong competitive advantage in the search results.

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