Business Magazine

A Guide to Impressing Google with Your Website

Posted on the 06 February 2014 by Codymiles

Introducing SEO

Loan officers have a lot going on. Between paperwork and financing and saving the world before lunch, they don’t have a lot of time to focus on their online marketing. Like most things, unfortunately, what’s urgent is usually taken care of before what’s important. However, if statistics should prove anything it is that a properly tuned website that ranks well on Google is extremely important and loan officers are losing money when they don’t rank well.

Search Engine Optimization Ingredients
While you may be an expert in the mortgage process and may even have a savvy understanding of marketing in general, it’s unlikely you have considered search engine optimization (or SEO). SEO is the process of tuning a website to rank well on search engines like Google, Yahoo & Bing and it requires three main ingredients:

  • On-page optimization

  • Off-page optimization

  • Technical factors

When planning your SEO strategy, the best tactic is the Roman maxim Divide et Impera, or divide and conquer. In like manner, we have divided this broad topic into three parts in a blog series in order to hyper-focus in on the particulars. While no single factor on this post is a make-or-break for Google, all these factors work together to harmonize your website with Google’s search algorithm.


Part 1: On-Page Optimization

On-page SEO, the first in our three SEO ingredients, according to ActiveMedia is the “optimization of a website’s content, text, tags, links and other elements”. In other words, it is tuning your website’s content to line up with Google’s idea of quality. We will begin with examining best practices for keyword research, and then show how to incorporate your keywords into your website appropriately.

loan officer marketing seo

A. Perform Keyword Research

Keywords are the search terms Googler’s use when trying to discover services like yours. If I were an Austin home owner looking to refinance, I might search something along the lines of “refinance in Austin, Tx”. If I were a loan officer, I’d want to be on that first page, and preferably in that first spot, when Google loads that keyword. Keywords are important to take note of because you’re going to want to incorporate them into your website later.

We recently wrote an article for National Mortgage Professional that included an in depth discussion on keyword research. For brevity’s sake, here is a simple, step-by-step guide to finding keywords:

  1. Search for new keyword ideas using Google’s Keyword Planner

  2. Make sure those keywords have your location (example: “Austin, Tx refinance”)

  3. Discover which keywords have high search volumes and their competition

  4. Discover 5 to 10 keywords and rank them in order of relevance and search volume.

Now we’re going to incorporate your keywords into your website so that Google will see you are relevant to that search term.

B. Write Remarkable Content

Since the release of “Panda”, the 24th version of Google, search results have been pressed to return only the highest quality results. In the past, on-page optimization used to include stuffing your keyword in your content like below:

“Hi, I’m Austin Loan Officer Cody Miles. As an Austin loan officer, I provide the best services any Austin loan officer could provide.”

Could you guess the keyword phrase? It wasn’t hard, and it’s not hard for Google to figure out you’re trying to manipulate them either. Google’s privy to keyword stuffing and any other manipulative schemes for ranking better. Therefore, in the modern world of SEO it’s becoming increasingly important to provide relevant, high quality and unique content to your visitors.

Google wants your content to be remarkable. Not as in blow-us-away-every-time remarkable, but in the most literal sense of the word. People should want to make remarks about your content, hence remark-able.

A Loan Officer’s Biggest Mistake

The biggest mistake a loan officer makes when writing content for their website is self-promotion. While there certainly needs to be some level of “This is what I do & I’m good at it” it is more important to provide helpful information to your visitors. If I stumbled onto your site, would I be blown away by the kind of information you’re providing me? Or would I just see another loan officer?

The more information you provide, the better Google see’s you. In the marketing world, “length is strength”. Providing an exhaustive resource for any topic will help Google determine that it is useful for searchers. When targeting competitive keywords, aim for at least 1500 words in your copy but certainly do not have less than 1,000. Provide useful guides or thorough FAQS, updates on how compliance affects borrowers or current lending conditions.

While Google does not have a direct way of determining the quality of your content, it does use plenty of indirect methods like the content’s length, the time visitors stay on site, repeat visitors, and other factors explained later in this post. They key to successful content is a focus on your visitor. What kind of information are they looking for? How can you help them better than your competitors?

wordpress seo

Utilize Your Blog

Google not only wants quality content, it wants it often. Consistency is key to ranking well for more competitive keywords. This is because Google introduced a freshness algorithm in 2011 that gave priority to sites with newer content.

If you’re website is powered by WordPress, or some other content management system that provides a blog, utilize its ability to post new pages easily. At MortgageDashboard, we noticed a significant increase in our rankings when we started posting monthly, but we actually started beating even our largest competitors in the search engines when we started providing quality content weekly. See some of our latest blog posts as an example of what Google considers quality content:

  • What is Ability to Repay?

  • How to Start a Successful Business

  • Qualified Mortgage: a FAQ Guide

online marketing loan officers
Note: Austin, Tx Lender may not be a high-volume keyword. Use Google’s Keyword Planner for research.

Webpage Anatomy

Keywords should be incorporated naturally throughout your copy. The key is to be subtle and practical. Adding an extremely high density of keywords can result in Google categorizing you under spam for “keyword stuffing”. Below is a list of areas to sprinkle your keyword:

  • Titles – a site’s title tag is it’s most important element since it’s the first thing Google reads when it indexes your website. Incorporate your keyword as close to the beginning of the title as possible. However, be happy to sacrifice the “perfect” keyword placement for better user experience. User experience is always worth more than keyword optimization (after all, what’s the point of ranking well if your customers are turned off by it?). The way a page’s title is worded can dramatically impact how Google weighs relevance and if a searcher will click your link.

  • Meta Description – your site’s description appears below the title on Google’s search results. Your targeted keyword should be reinforced here but the primary goal is to persuade searchers to click the link by what you have to say.

  • URL Permalink – Since different pages of your website can target different keywords, incorporate your keyword into the permalink of your webpage. For example, since this blog post is about a loan officer’s online marketing, you can see we incorporated the keyword into the title: The keywords appear right in the text.

  • Headline – Topically relevant H1/H2/H3 tags are conducive to better rankings. The headline of your page should be similar to your page’s title and it should include your keyword. Headlines represent the subject of your copy- if they’re not relevant to your content Google will count it against you. Also, add modifiers like “2014”, “best”, “guide”, and “review” to spark Google’s interest in you.

  • Images – Including media on your website is a huge bonus, but Google cannot “see” what an image represents. You can tell Google what an image is by adding your keyword inside the brackets of the images HTML. Do this by inserting the phrase alt text=”keyword”.

  • Meta Keywords tag – Google used to incorporate meta keywords into their search results. You can see how that could be abused. I recommend not doing this at all.

loan officer marketing


As a loan officer, it does you no good to rank well in Denver if you’re originating in Austin. To combat this, Google ranks websites by their local relevance using your NAP (name, address, phone number). In fact, Google cross references your NAP across multiple websites to validate that you are actually a business so keep your NAP information consistent. Help Google by listing your NAP on every page of your website and in the same way. This will be important when we start talking about off-page optimization next week.

Google Authorship

Google gives preference to websites that have been linked to Google Authorship. Not only does it add “rich snippets” like your picture to your web page in the search results, but it helps Google index your new pages faster. If you’re a high-profile blogger, your “author rank” will spread some of your credibility to your website. Signing up for Google Places and other Google products will help you with your local SEO as well.

loan officer marketing

Multi-device Ready

Is your website built on the latest code? I think I can safely say that most mortgage-industry related websites are not. If it’s not, Google may be penalizing you. Google recognizes that a better built website is usually more relevant to their searchers than not. Websites that are “responsive” or “mobile-ready” are given preference in the search results. Google also prefers having a “responsive” site over a site that redirects to it’s mobile version because it is easier for Google to crawl.

In many cases, most of the heavy lifting required to generate more business is placed on your already burdened shoulders. You probably don’t need another person saying “You know, you should really do this…” But, you know, you should really do this.

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