Leveraging Listings

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Three easy steps to be seen widely on the Web

By Chris Lorence

The World Wide Web has matured quite a bit since its integration into everyday life. Modern search engines have tamed the unruly, organized the ostensible and helped pinpoint a position. Today, young and old harness the power of the Internet to add value to their lives. It’s now mission critical for community banks to not only have a website but to have an accurate, informative and connected presence that can be found outside of the traditional Web domain.

Whether researching a great restaurant, finding a place to live or considering financial service providers, many consumers and small businesses rely heavily on what is presented to them on the Web. Having a website and plastering the familiar www-dot address on everything from T-shirts to billboards is helpful, but it doesn’t connect with someone searching for a loan online by typing a generic term such as “mortgage rates.” A sophisticated and popular search engine like Google has the ability not only to present information from around the world but also to gather local information based on geolocation indicators.

These one-stop shopping sites conveniently list financial-provider information at little to no cost.

So how can a community bank with limited resources and expertise get seen more widely on the Web? By leveraging online listings in three simple steps that your community bank can follow.

Step 1: Register your bank’s information with Google My Business. (www.google.com/business). No matter how large or small your bank is, it should claim and maximize its listing within one of the world’s largest search engines. By providing basic information, your bank’s listing will automatically display your hours and locations with precise GPS mapping and allow you to add unique content and descriptors. This easy-to-manage listing will present your bank’s information during Web searches that link directly back to your Web page. The best part about this site—it’s free!

Step 2: Connect your community bank with financial information aggregators and real estate listing services. Consumers and small businesses now gravitate toward—and are often pushed directly to—experts on special aggregator sites like NerdWallet (www.nerdwallet.com), Bank Rate (www.bankrate.com) and Credio (www.credio.com). These one-stop shopping sites conveniently list financial-provider information at little to no cost while providing consumers information such as the loans, interest rates and fee schedules available from banks as well as their contact information. Most important, these sites will use geolocation to present your community bank’s information to ideal customers—those living in and near your ZIP code or those relocating to your area.

Additionally, consumers seeking to buy a home or to relocate to an area often use real estate listing sites such as Zillow (www.zillow.com) and Realtor (www.realtor.com). These invaluable sites provide not only excellent information about homes for sale but also information from both local and national mortgage providers. If your bank makes mortgage loans, it should be listed on these sites as a competitive local provider.

Step 3. Assign someone today to ensure that your bank appears on these sites, and then stay on top of those listings to keep them current and accurate.

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