With each local search opportunity comes unique challenges, and the finance industry is no exception. Such is the case for financial institutions that have a branch listing and agents (with their own listings) associated with the branch.
There has historically been a tendency to treat all entities in finance the same. Mortgage brokers and agents, insurance companies, bank branches, and head office—each of these is an entity with a name, an address, a phone number, a business description, etc. It makes sense that they should all be treated the same in search, right?
That was the conventional wisdom. However, as we’ve deepened our collective knowledge about what finance consumers need and how they search for it, it has become clear that there are very different opportunities for different types of entities in finance.
Competition Between Branches and Advisors
For example, one common challenge large banks face is that financial advisors and the branch in which they work are all competing for the same online real estate. There may only be 4 to 6 organic Google My Business (GMB) listings, depending on the type of search results triggered, and there are just three top positions in the Google Local Pack. It can prevent both the branch and its financial advisors from being seen by searchers when competing against one another and cannibalizing those listings.
The Challenge Financial Services Brands Are Facing With GMB Listing Filtering
Beyond just internal competition and cannibalism, local SEOs agree that Google’s algorithm also includes a “filtering” component. This often plays a role in listings that are displayed to searchers. In doing so, Google selects a representative branch listing and one (or a limited number) of advisor listings, then filters any remaining listings that may exist for a given physical location. The filtered listings only become visible to searchers after clicking through to the Local Finder and navigating the map view, often after zooming further in. Therefore, if your listings become filtered, it is much more difficult to appear to searchers in their time of need.
So how do financial services brands mitigate internal competition and associated GMB listing filtering?
In this post, we will cover best practices for managing your local listings as a financial services brand to avoid your listings being flagged as duplicates and subsequently filtered by GMB.
Differentiate Your Local Listings
If your financial services brand has multiple branches in the same area and you use the same business name for each of these locations, Google may choose to display the most relevant result. In turn, your listings for your other locations may be filtered if Google finds them to be too similar. One of the biggest opportunities to overcome the effects of Google filtering is around relevancy. With all things being equal, Google generally will serve the most relevant result, and differentiation is key to driving relevancy.
Another significant opportunity is around Authority. Continuing the “all things being equal” analogy, even with the relevancy base covered per above, the authority of a listing also has significant influence over performance in Google Local Search. In some cases, it may trump relevance, i.e. a newer listing with better optimized and more relevant content can lose to an older listing that has more reviews or a stronger associated citation profile. GMB listings acquire their own authority similar to how web pages and domains do so. Factors like listing age, review activity, Location Page optimization, and off-listing factors like citations and links are all signals that help Google determine authority.
Alternately, if you are a financial advisor and use the same address on your listing as the main branch you work at, you may risk being filtered by Google and being treated as a “duplicate listing” even without being flagged as such. Instead, we recommend financial advisors to use a unique phone number and address in their local listings in cases where this is possible. Understandably, due to internal brand or organizational guidelines, advisors may not have an option to use a different address for their listings. If such is the case, you should proactively monitor your listings or have your Local Marketing partner monitor your listings for you to ensure your listings aren’t being filtered.
As seen in the listings below, two financial advisors who work for the same financial services firm differentiated their listings by using a unique phone number and street address to avoid GMB listing filtering:
The Impact of Differentiating Local Listings
In a recent study we conducted for healthcare providers that practiced at different locations dependant on the day of the week, we optimized their local listings to ensure they had:
- A unique business description drafted, including any popular search terms that better highlight their area of expertise and geographical area they practice in
- Multiple, unique hi-resolution images
- Optimized their GMB categories based on the provider’s primary expertise and added secondary categories to showcase secondary expertises
By doing so, each of the providers saw a substantial increase in views on GMB. The same can be said for financial advisors or loan officers who make the aforementioned optimizations to their listings.
Refine Your Keyword Strategy
We are seeing opportunities for loan officers and financial advisors to differentiate their listings by choosing different intent-driven keywords to highlight their expertise and geographical area.
An insurance institution—a regional office, for example—can target the high search volume keywords and create content around institutional themes such as life insurance, home insurance, and car insurance. Agents, on the other hand, have an opportunity to showcase their unique services and specializations—boat insurance, registration with a particular governing/licensing body, ongoing education in estate matters, etc.
The keywords you are targeting should appear in your local listings as well as in the content on your Local Pages, such as your personalized landing page.
Steer Clear of Duplicate Listings
Another challenge for many types of enterprise-level finance brands is the ownership of local listings. Duplicate listings and ownership issues can create local data chaos across your brand’s profile. Where you have several agents or brokers sharing an address, or perhaps individual agents created office/branch listings over the years, it is important to gain control of the listings in order to ensure their accuracy.
Need Help Managing Duplicates or Revamping Your Local Marketing Strategy?
Don’t have the time to continuously monitor and optimize your local listings? A local marketing partner can help you combat duplicate listings issues and ensure your branches and advisors associated with those branches appear in local search. They can also assist you with GMB listing filtering issues.
We are here to help. Reach out to our support team to further explore how your brand can benefit from working with a local marketing partner. Or, get a free local audit to see how your listings stack up in the local search landscape.