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5 Winning Strategies for Mortgages Lenders in a Digital World

Competing online for mortgage origination in 2020 is fierce. The Google CPC (cost per click) of the word "mortgage" comes in just shy of $40.00, making it extremely expensive to rise to the top of search rankings. Since this is the primary advertising source for large lending and banking institutions, they can afford to drive up the price. However, this doesn’t mean smaller lenders are out of the game on this one. Google’s algorithm is catered to support local search, and local search results traditionally has more smaller institutions.

Continue on to read our 5 winning strategies to win in this space, for both types of institutions -large and small.

1) Content

Content will always reign king on the web. Having content across all social platforms channeling them into different product offerings is especially important. In addition, Blog content has always served as a tremendous benefit with SEO (search engine optimization); within the mortgage space, this is no different. The mortgage process is very complex and many consumers look to the internet for education. Your blog content can be aimed at first time home buyers, those who wish to refinance or a more experienced home buyer. This is the beauty of blog content. Your posts can be segmented to target these different groups of potential borrowers and at the same time build your online presence.

In addition to content, you can utilize your blog as a lead generation tool while helping your target audience. Home buyers are always in the need of tools to help them understand their purchase in detail, you can embed some of these tools within your blog and website.

Here are widgets offered by MortgageLoan.com you can use for free.

You also have the ability to link to your pre-approval and pre-qualification processes within your blog content so it is exposed to consumers that found your institution via your blog. This can serve as a mortgage lead generation tool that is quite effective.

2) Local Search Engine Optimization

As stated above, reviews are becoming extremely important for local businesses. The growing trend we are seeing is Google will ranking local companies that have positive reviews higher than companies that pay for Google AdWords. This is part of the Google algorithm and their value proposition to the users of Google. With this in mind, let us show you how Review Maiden's request functionality can really start to help your business.

Google has outlined local ranking criteria as:

  • Relevance
    In the search query, how relevant is your websites information compared to what the person is searching for? Adding more detail to your website will allow search engines to pick that up and relate it to the SERP (search results page). The idea is to have a lot of and very detailed content. Consistency is key, content creation is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • Distance
    This is pretty straight forward. How far is the location of your business to your potential customer? We will talk more about this is part 3 (loan officer pages)
  • Prominence
    There are many factors that will make your website more prominent. Those include, number of reviews, rating, backlinks, and content mentioning your business across the web are all calculated into Googles SERP algorithm.

In addition to those factors we also suggest:

*Disclaimer: This section will be technical for some, but it is very valuable if these points are not in your current strategy. Pass the article along to your web development team to ensure you stay on track. We also provide a free analysis of your website, you can request one here.

A Secured Site (HTTPS vs HTTP)
Without getting into too much technical detail, HTTPS is a secured (hence the “S” for “secure”), encrypted version of the original HTTP (Hypertext Transport Protocol) connection. It allows information to be transferred to and from your website securely over an SSL 2048-bit encryption.

Google has been using HTTPS validation in their algorithm since 2014. They also notified the community in a continuous effort to support user data in April of 2017.

Secure encryption is not something to take lightly. Purchase the SSL certificate through your domain provider and ensure that your website visitors will have a more secure experience on your site. In addition, website loading speeds are much faster over HTTPS.

Mobile friendly website
Having a “mobile-first” website means your website is optimized to been seen on mobile and tablets. In 2016 Google announced that they will be indexing mobile-friendly websites higher than sites that don’t provide a mobile experience. Don’t be left behind in this area, if your company still does not have a mobile strategy on the web, its time to start one.

Page speed
Page speed is important to point out because people think we have fast internet these days -that’s enough. Page speed is measured in milliseconds, meaning you want to rid your website of any unnecessary pictures that can be otherwise established via HTML/CSS coding. In addition, you want your pictures to be mobile responsive. If this is confusing for you ask your marketing department or feel free to contact us.

Schema markup
Schema markup is a collaborative effort to ensure consistency and structure of data across the internet. How do we enable our websites to cooperate?

There are a few key areas:

NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) Information: What this means is your contact information needs to be in a specific code markup on your website to give the best chance for search engines to pick up the results and rank them accordingly.

Here is an example of NAP markup created from Hall Analysis’ schema markup generator. You can then test your markup and follow Google’s structured data guidelines here.

schema markup

Another key area of schema markup is rich snippets. In posting videos, testimonials or any embedded content -be sure to follow Google’s structured data guidelines to ensure the most effective result.

Content quality and length
Proper content curation involves gathering and organizing quality information from sources that have demand authority and presenting the information in a meaningful way to your audience. When does right, not only does your audience get a lot of value from your content, but they share - which helps your business. In addition, it has been tested that Google’s algorithm ranks posts that have large content lengths higher in search results.

Content length isn’t the only variable in the equation however, Google is increasingly improving their algorithm to understand quality content vs non-quality content.

We understand that quality content is no easy task, but there are a few tips we can give you:

  • Rich imagery
  • High ranking keywords used in your content (LSI keywords)
  • Read “How Search Works” by Google
  • Find blogs and other websites that you can collaborate with to include your information

Finally, don’t try to fool Google, a consistent approach is will always work best. Trying to layer your content with frivolous content may cause your website to be flagged by the algorithm and your site will be penalized in rankings for such.

Social signals
Social signals are important to a brands reputation online. Search engines are looking for the number of shares, votes, pins, and likes on popular social media sites as indicators that the brand has relevance to the community.

Each time someone from social media shares a link to your website and visitors click that link, your domain authority goes up. This part of your Local SEO strategy will become important. We suggest using testimonials and videos of mortgage buyers on your social media pages and website so others can see them and share.

In addition, you have to make sure you have a social media strategy in place

  • Respond to positive and negative reviews in a timely manner
  • Make sure you post photos and fresh content to keep your audience engaged
  • All contact information on your social media pages should be accurate and consistent with your website
  • Only use high-quality imagery

Backlinks have lost some relevancy in search engine results, but this is still should be a crucial part of your strategy. Backlinks are “links” from external websites to your site. The more links you have pointed to your site, the more “relevant” Google ranks your website.

However, not all links are created equal. Google will rank websites that have higher relevancy scores higher when taking into account a backlink to your website. This means quality over quantity! You want to make partnerships with websites, influencers, blogs, and social media accounts that have large followings. This takes time and patience but it is achievable.

You need to focus on all factors of the web if you really want to rise to the top of search rankings. Below is an illustration of a successful backlit strategy.

Optimized images
Be sure to use high-quality imagery, but make sure you do not have images that are too large in size. Your image should be not much larger than how you would like it to appear on your website.

Keep in mind that Google is consistently indexing websites that are mobile first and have faster load times higher than websites that are not mobile first and or with slower load times.

Also, be sure to use common image file types. Here is a chart to help you use correct image extensions

Domain age and registration length
Domain age is a factor according to Google’s Matt Curtis, however, it is not a huge determinant.
Domain registration length is a lot more important to Google algorithms,
“Valuable (legitimate) domains are often paid for several years in advance, while doorway (illegitimate) domains rarely are used for more than a year. Therefore, the date when a domain expires in the future can be used as a factor in predicting the legitimacy of a domain.”

3) Loan Officer Pages

Physical locations are becoming more prevalent for search engines. In many cases, Google may rank local listings above organic search results --this makes it extremely cost-effective for smaller lenders to target potential borrowers within your city and state. For larger institutions, utilization of branches and loan officer pages is a much more effective strategy. However, we still recommend improving your physical location rankings, in addition to creating loan officer pages - for large and small institutions.

There are billions of searches a day worldwide, through this we have come to understand a few similarities regarding search behavior:

  • More than 50% of people will click on the top-ranked organic search result
  • Over 70% of all clicks will go to the top 3 ranked organic search result
  • Users are more likely to research, rather than go to page 2 or 3 to look at results

What the above means, is local search optimization is very important so that your business ranks high on the SERP. Please keep in mind the following:

  • Good Title Tags
    If your title is too long, it may be cut off by an ellipsis (“…”), omitting important words. The general recommendation is having a title tag under 60-characters long. Be sure to utilize good keywords in your title and be descriptive. Below is an example of a good title tag. It shows the niche of the business “first-time buyers” and the location, “Miami”

  • Word Page Count
    Studies have shown that web pages with 2000+ words on the page rank higher than those that don’t. This doesn’t mean, every page needs to have a lot of text. Home page text should be kept to a minimum. However, for loan officer pages, having an extensive bio and background about the loan officer and the company becomes very important.

    More information about word page count can be found here.

  • Semantically Related Keywords
    Google knows what other related keywords a person may type in depending on their search result. So, before you create your loan officer page - do some searching and try to incorporate various semantically related keywords throughout your page. However, sure to use them in literate ways, you don’t want your post to become confusing.

The bottom line here is to make sure you hit on the important points from above and continuously update your loan officer pages when needed. Also, make sure the page has contact information and the ability to book an appoint with your loan officer.

4) Online Reviews

We can’t stress enough how important online reviews are.

How do Find Your Business’s Reviews

Most small businesses are not investing in review marketing. This can give you a tremendous opportunity online against your competition.

First, you should understand where you rank against your competition. Firstly you can do a Google search for “your industry + reviews + location”. For example, if your mortgage company is located in Austin, Texas. You will search Google for “mortgage reviews in Austin”. This will show you where your competition stacks up against you.

What Can Positive Reviews Do for Your Business?

Studies have shown that consumers are 72% more like to trust a local business with positive reviews and 92% of users will use a local business if it has at least a 4-star rating. More information on this can be found here.

Do Negative Reviews Hurt Your Business and Can You Improve a Bad Rating?

Negative reviews have been shown to cause four of five consumers to reverse their purchase decisions.

However, consumers tend to not trust businesses that do not have some negative reviews. The way to mitigate negative reviews is to reply to them honestly and quickly turning that unhappy customer into someone that has been heard. Also, sending review requests to current customers.

5) Embrace the Change

Competition for mortgage lenders is fierce. Google AdWords reports “mortgages” in the top 25 most expensive keywords on Google. Considering Google’s advertising revenue is north of $79bn USD, this is highly sought after piece of the internet.

However, do not dismay, but embrace the change. Consistency online yields the best results. Review Maiden can help your mortgage business get the online results you are looking for.

Contact us to book a demo!

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