One of the questions I am often asked is “Do I need a specialist in SEO for mortgage brokers for my website content?”
The answer is generally, no, you don’t need a specialist. If you follow some of the advice set out in this article, your content will rank higher in the search results.
But a specialist in mortgage broker SEO will be able to help your content to rank faster and, perhaps more importantly, be seen by more of the people who are actively looking to engage with a mortgage broker.
Another way of answering this question would be to compare it with the advice given by almost all digital marketing specialists which is to niche your services - i.e. not to try to sell to everyone, but to find a very specific audience to provide the best that you can to that audience.
If you are targeting a specific audience, you will do so more effectively with specialist SEO advice rather than something more generalised.
Why is SEO important
Search Engine Optimisation is the process we undertake to increase the chances that Google and the major search engines find your article or post on your mortgage broker website and put it in front of the people who are searching for your kind of content.
It essentially tells the search engine what a particular page is about so that it can show it to the people that it thinks wants this content.
SEO is not an alternative to other forms of lead generation, such as paid ads, but it does have advantages that sets it apart.
The drawback with SEO is that is a slow process. It can take several months for a piece of content to appear in search results. It is also not an exact science. Sometimes something which should do well may need further adjustment or doesn’t perform well, and at other times, content will perform far better than you expect.
A few pieces of content posted here and there are not going to make a great deal of difference to your ranking. There are about 4.4 million blog posts published every day, so how do you capture the attention of those search engines and stand out? It might sound like a daunting task, but this is where SEO comes in.
The key to successful SEO is a solid SEO strategy, both in terms of site structure and in what you post.
Site structure, how you lay out your site, is important if you want to appear high up in the search listings. If people visiting your site can navigate around it easily and find what they are looking for, the site will rank higher with all of the major search engines. You will see several recommendations on site structure and user experience in this article.
And secondly you need to consider your online marketing strategy in posting our content, rather than taking a “post and hope” approach.
It is very tempting when creating your content to think about what you want to write about and then to write about it.
If you produce well written content about your products or services, your audience will come, won’t they?
This is where you need to consider how a search engine works.
Someone will usually type a question into a search box, such as “how much do I need to earn to get a mortgage?” The search engine will scan through millions of pages of text to find answers to that question and deliver what it thinks are the best answers.
Your brilliantly written piece on the history of mortgage lending is not likely to feature too highly. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write on the history of mortgage lending, just that you should not expect it to rank in any search listing as it is unlikely to be a relevant question for someone looking for a mortgage broker.
If you want your content to rank so as to produce leads from people looking for a mortgage, then you need to develop a strategy under which you anticipate the sorts of problems and questions that the people who want to do business with you are likely to be worrying about.
You are probably aware of Marcus Sheridan’s book, They Ask, You Answer. If not, you should read it. Put simply, the philosophy behind the book is that if you answer your prospect’s questions about your product or service, you will become a trusted authority in the prospect’s eyes and he or she will want to buy from you.
Key to this philosophy is an obsession with understanding just one question: What is my prospect thinking?
SEO follows exactly the same philosophy. Answer that question in the search box, and Google will deliver that answer to the questioner, and you will become a trusted authority both in the eyes of that questioner and, perhaps as importantly, for Google as well. Google will reward you by ranking your content higher.
You can have a guess at the sort of questions that someone seeking a mortgage might ask. But it is so important to get this right, to make that obsession with that one question really deliver, that a specialist in SEO for mortgage brokers who knows what questions will be asked, and just as importantly how those questions might be asked, is going to be so valuable to you.
If you can find the same words that the questioner will put into the search box, it makes it easier for the search engines to match your answer to that question. The words that are used are called keywords, so one of the most important aspect of SEO is to find the right terms to rank for.
I have written about the importance of adopting the same language that your potential customer might use in my post on customer language.
Finding out what words to use to attract the search engines is called keyword research and is one of the most important factors in your SEO strategy.
Keyword research: Finding the right terms to rank for
Keyword research is possibly a slightly misleading term in that you are very unlikely to be successful in appearing high up in search results for a single word, or even a one or two word phrase.
There is not much that Google can do with “Mortgage Broker.” Is the person looking for a mortgage, or are they after career advice? Do they want to know what a mortgage broker does?
The keywords you will be looking for are much more likely to be phrases or questions, such as:
You can get really quite specific, which will rule out a number of people who might contact you, but those that you are left with are the ones that you really want to do business with.
Is it better to be a big fish in a small pond?
While he was campaigning in the Alps, Julius Caesar came across a small and quite poor village. His men were wondering whether its men competed for local honours or whether their ambitions extended to national leadership.
“For my part,” Caesar said, “I would rather be the chief man in this village than the second man in Rome.”
He recognised that having authority over a small number was better than having none over a large group.
Of course, Caesar’s ambition was to be Number 1 in Rome, and that didn’t end well for him, but you get the point.
In the world of SEO, your aim is to be seen as an authority, and it is usually better to be the best authority for a few people than one among many in a larger group.
If you can appear as the mortgage broker who specialises in, for example, mortgages for the self employed, it is much more likely that a self employed person looking for a mortgage broker will choose you rather than a broker who does everything for everyone.
Competitive SEO: Mortgage Broker SEO
It is not enough just to consider what questions your prospect might be asking. You will also need to consider the terms that your competition and others might use and see if you have a chance to outrank them. Competition for the best keywords can be fierce, and often won by those with the deepest pockets. If your budget is not so great, perhaps a specialist in mortgage broker SEO can help level the playing field by helping you choose terms that are less competitive but which perhaps have a better conversion rate.
So, for example, everyone wants a cheap mortgage, but the term “Cheap Mortgage” will bring you up against websites such as MoneySupermarket, Compare the Market and other such comparison sites. Then it will be building societies such as the Nationwide. These are not mortgage broker websites, but they are sites that help someone find a mortgage, and usually a cheap mortgage.
You are therefore unlikely to be successful in ranking highly for this term.
Let’s narrow the question a little more, and use the phrase “Mortgages for self employed.”
You will see that MoneySupermarket, Barclays, and GoCompare take the top three slots after the paid ads.
Let’s narrow the question a little more and do a search about mortgages for self employed people with bad credit:
And now we see that there are mortgage brokers are in the top three. That could be you. As you get more specific, so it becomes easier to rank, provided your online marketing strategy remains specific, and doesn’t try to sell everything to everyone.
When you are considering the sorts of keywords to aim for and the questions you should be answering, have a look at the “People also ask” section.
Here Google is telling you some of the questions that people are asking. Are you not going to answer?
You should also note the language that is being used to ask those questions and make sure that you answer those questions in similar language. As indicated above, if you use your potential customer’s language, your content will resonate much more with that customer.
Integrate relevant keywords into your content: Keep it natural
Now that your research has found the sort of questions that your prospects will be asking, it is time to start using them in your content.
The search engines will frown on your simply using those phrases as often as you can as it makes the content seem odd to the reader. If Google feels that you are trying to manipulate it into ranking you higher, it will penalise you, and you could find your ranking in the search results going down rather than up.
So you should integrate your chosen keywords naturally into your content. As a very simple rule of thumb, if it sounds unnatural, take it out. Less can be more in this context. You may only need to include your key phrases three or four times in your content for it to be effective so don’t feel that you need to overuse your keywords.
Perhaps the most important factor behind search engine listing is customer experience, both in terms of the structure and the content of your site, so you should always make that your number one priority.
Optimise your title tags and headers
Site structure is one of the ways in which you can help those search engines find your content.
The search engines will scan your text and will first find the title, the headers and sub-headers. If you can include your main keyword/phrase in the main or H1 title, it signals to the search engine that you have the answer it is looking for. You can then include secondary keywords in your subheadings. The closer your keyword or phrase matches the search enquiry, the more likely that the search engine will deliver your content to the searcher. A keyword or phrase effectively acts as a signpost to the answer that the searcher is looking for.
Quick Tip: If you are finding it difficult to know what to write, try putting some of your keywords into subheadings, organise them into a natural flow and then write around your keywords.
Breaking down your text in this way can also improve your reader’s experience of your website, which is important.
Create a positive user experience
You may have spent a lot of time in creating the perfect piece of content. It is well researched, well written and you’ve spent a lot of time optimising it so that your reader can find it.
But is your reader going to read it?
The chances are that your reader will just skim through it, quite possibly on a mobile phone. And so you have to make it easy for the reader do just that.
If the reader is confronted with a wall of text, they are likely to just click that back button and something that is easier to read.
You should break up the text with small paragraphs and provide subheadings which quickly tell the reader what is coming up.
The flow of text may need to be broken up with images, but with images which do not take long to load. Very few readers have the patience to deal with slow loading pages.
You can test the speed of the page of your website pages with free tools such as Pingdom.
But remember that you need to check every page and not just your home page.
The other point that you need to bear in mind with content on a mobile phone is to ensure that the content is mobile friendly, that it formats correctly on a mobile phone or tablet. How you do this will to a large extent depend on the content management system which on which you create your website and its contents. WordPress, for example, has preview buttons you can press to see how your content will look on different types of devices.
Backlinking is where there is a link from someone else’s website to yours. It shows the search engines that someone else considers your content to be worthwhile and that therefore you are an authority. This can be an important factor in ranking your website in search results.
You might look at the backlinks that a competitor website has to determine whether to compete with it in terms of ranking in the search listings or not. If your competitor’s website has a lot of backlinks, it will have a lot of authority and unless you have more, it is going to be that much harder to compete with it.
There is no magic number for the number of backlinks that you need. As I’ve said before, SEO is not an exact science.
The most important thing to remember is that the purpose of backlinks in the eyes of Google is that your site is trustworthy and authoritative.
This means that you should avoid buying backlinks, or connecting with sites which add little to your site. Google sees this as an attempt to manipulate its algorithms and will penalise you accordingly.
How does Google know whether you’ve bought links or not? Google knows everything! So don’t try and cheat it. Play with the long game in mind with SEO and you will reap the rewards in time, provided you are patient and consistent.
The point about SEO is that it is about building up the reputation of your website over time with great content that gives value to your audience. This is the principle that should underwrite everything that you do on your website.
So let’s think about how you can create valuable backlinks for your site.
One way is to write a guest post on someone else’s site with a link back to yours. It is of course important to ensure that there is a good reason for a link to your site. If you were to provide a post on a property solicitor’s website on the value that a mortgage broker could add to a house buyer, that content would clearly be useful and relevant to the solicitor’s client. The same post on, say, a local plumber’s site, would perhaps look out of place.
Just as our content must read naturally, so too must the backlinks to our site.
As you write your post, you might want to link to someone else’s post on their website because their content adds value to what you are saying to your audience. The link you create to their site is of course a backlink for them.
So why not contact the owner of the site, and tell them that you have created this link and ask for a link back. Of course, your content has to be good and has to be relevant for their audience.
There is another strategy for getting backlinks, called the Shotgun Skyscraper method, which I cover in my post here.
Business directories are another great source for backlinks. Even if you think that a particular directory itself is of little value to your business, a link from a respected directory provides you with some authority.
In particular, have a look at local business directories. The vast majority of searches on search engines are from people looking for something local. If you look at the importance that Google is now placing on Maps, you will recognise that local search is not something you can ignore, even if your business is not particularly based in that location.
So let’s look at some local SEO principles.
How Local SEO can raise your online profile
46% of all Google searches are looking for local information. You might not consider that your local area is a prime area for your type of clientele, but SEO is not about you reaching out to your ideal client, it is about your ideal client reaching out to you.
It is almost certain that there will be people living or working in your local area who will be looking for a mortgage broker, and you could be missing out on that business if your site is not optimised for local search and appearing in local search results.
Local SEO is the step that local businesses should take to improve their visibility in local search listings, and it is not just limited to providing name, address and phone number.
Google Business Profiles (formerly Google My Business) is an often overlooked tool in the digital marketing toolbox. It is a service offered by Google, so it makes sense to assume that Google will reward your business if you use their tools.
You can optimise your Google Business Profile by:
It might sound like a lot of work for a little return, but your Google Business Profile is essentially a mirror of your own website and much of the work that you carry out on your website and on your social media sites, can be reused on your Business Profile.
One of the features you may find particularly valuable is the facility to ask questions or to answer questions that are raised. These comments give you an insight into what is worrying your prospects, and if you can answer them, they are far more likely to visit you than one of your competitors.
If you want your website to deliver new leads to you reliably every month, you will have to invest some time into develop content that is relevant for a mortgage broker website and which fits into a well researched online marketing strategy.
While it might sound like a great deal of work, once you have mastered the basics of search engine optimisation and built them into the way in which you create your content, you will find that the task becomes easier and less time consuming.
If it still sounds like a lot of work, or if you would like to build some solid foundations on which to build, you will find that a digital marketer experienced in producing content for mortgage brokers can give you that lift you need in order to get started.
Or, if you're a mortgage broker and you're looking to do your own SEO, then you should check out The Predictable Pipeline Programme where you can get training and coaching on all aspects of digital marketing and lead generation, including search engine optimisation.