"If you're not in the top three in a Google search, you're not there"

Podium fintech expert on how to drive more loan applications by topping SEO ranking and engaging clients online

"If you're not in the top three in a Google search, you're not there"

Irrespective of the service or product, ever-more demanding and tech-savvy customers expect convenience and speed when looking to buy a product - and hoping for them to wait patiently in line during the process is not an option.

The pandemic has only served to intensify customer expectations, and while having a well-designed landing page is a first step towards attracting custom, it’s clearly not enough.

Pressure from the big hitters in the retail sector has seen to that. Having a basic understanding of map pack details is a given, while a strong online presence means increasing your SEO ranking and engaging clients through real-time, frictionless consumer-to-business communication.

These last two aspects have become an integral part of the online sales experience, regardless of the industry.

For the doubters still out there Matt Ure, AVP of financial services at Podium, has a stark message. “If you're not in the top three or four in a Google search, I don't even see you – you're not even there. I don't even look at five, six and seven,” he said.

Read more: 6 local SEO myths that need busting for mortgage lenders

For a broker facing stiff competition on a daily basis, this can have a crippling effect on business, so being at the top of search rankings is paramount.

There are two golden rules to boosting one’s online presence, according to Ure. “You've got to be found online and in order to be searchable, you have to have a lot of reviews – they have to be good.”

Once a company’s online ranking reaches a desired level and is driving traffic, the next phase is to engage with customers by responding quickly and efficiently.

But originators should not rely on traditional forms of communication, Ure said. “Most of us don't really want to talk on the phone anymore, that means starting a webchat that goes to your cell phone, so that you can be out and about and still communicate with somebody without being tethered to a computer.

“If you don't make the communication process easy – if you don't engage me quickly – I'm going somewhere else, especially when it comes to mortgages,” he said.

Review invitations by text message form part of the frictionless and streamlined experience for clients. According to Ure, they have a 95% open rate within the first three minutes, and withing three clicks, the broker can have a review posted to sites such as Google, Facebook and Zillow.

Quantity and quality of reviews, as well as business responses to them, are evidently key aspects of review searches. But while securing a stream of good ones is the ultimate goal, paradoxically even the odd poor review can be turned to a company’s advantage, as it can add credibility and ultimately enhance a broker’s reputation.

By covering all the bases, the likelihood of clients calling for a loan increase, producing a sno-ball effect that Ure said will result in more leads and to more loans closing.

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In the upcoming webinar Dominating local search to drive more loans, Ure and Podium colleague Skyler Taylor, the company’s strategic solutions executive, will explain key trends of mortgage customers, including their online search habits and expectations, as well as how brokers can improve their online ranking and increase conversion rates.