Welcome to the mortgage broker SEO walkthrough. In this tutorial, you will learn how to use the best practices of search engine optimization in order to bring more home buyers and mortgage shoppers to your website.
What you’ll find in this tutorial:
Three main parts of an SEO strategy
Search engine optimization defined
SEO benefits for mortgage brokers
Sep 1: Researching your keywords
Step 2: Creating high-quality content
Step 3: Acquiring links from other sites
SEO is one of the best marketing strategies for mortgage brokers. It allows you to generate your own leads through your own website, rather than relying exclusively on third-party leads and referrals. And that’s a goal worth pursuing.
Best of all, there is no limit to how far you can go with a mortgage broker SEO campaign. It’s a scalable strategy that can meet the needs of businesses small and large.
Breakdown: Three Parts of an SEO Strategy
Many mortgage brokers view SEO as a highly technical process that requires extensive knowledge of coding and the inner workings of search engine algorithms. But that’s not the case at all.
Search engine optimization really comes down to three components:
- Identifying the search keywords used by your intended audience.
- Creating high-quality content around your chosen keyword topics.
- Gradually acquiring links to your website from other sites.
Keywords, content and links. That’s the three-part harmony for SEO success.
Expecting something more complicated? You won’t find it here. This is a no-nonsense guide to mortgage broker SEO that strips it down to the basics.
If you can create original, high-quality content around your selected topics, while acquiring links to your website over time, you’ve completed 90% of a search engine optimization strategy.
(The other 10% involves dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s in terms of website organization, internal links, and other technical tidbits.)
Of course, there is a significant time commitment to be made here. While mortgage broker SEO is not highly technical, it does require a sustained and focused effort over time.
What Is Search Engine Optimization?
Before you can implement a search engine optimization strategy for your mortgage business, you have to know what SEO actually is—and what it isn’t.
In their Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, Google defines SEO as “the process of making your site better for search engines.”
That’s an accurate definition, but it’s not particularly helpful or explanatory. So let’s expand on that definition and make it more relevant to mortgage brokers in particular.
SEO: a long-term process that involves making changes both on and off a mortgage broker’s website, in order to achieve higher search engine rankings, better visibility, and more traffic.
Notice that this definition includes the phrase “long-term.” Search engine optimization is not a quick fix. It requires a sustained effort over time. Results are typically measured in months rather than days, and they tend to occur incrementally.
If you’re looking for a fast track to search engine visibility, you should pursue pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, rather than SEO. With PPC advertising, you could position your website at the top of specific search results within hours or days.
Search engine optimization, on the other hand, takes a lot longer to deliver results.
However, SEO offers benefits and advantages you just can’t get from other marketing strategies, including pay-per-click. So let’s examine the benefits of SEO for mortgage brokers, before moving on to the techniques and strategies.
SEO Benefits for Mortgage Professionals
Imagine if your mortgage website could attract dozens, or even hundreds, of visitors on a daily basis. And they’re not just random people. Most of those visitors are home buyers and homeowners in your target area, people who are in the market for a mortgage loan.
Imagine what that could do for your lead-generation efforts and business growth.
Now stop imagining. Because this is a realistic portrayal of what you can create over time, with a sustained mortgage broker SEO campaign.
Search engine optimization allows you take control of your website performance, visibility and traffic. With a well-designed mortgage SEO strategy in place, you can take your online success to the next level. You can steadily increase your traffic, month after month, with unlimited potential.
Here are some additional benefits of SEO for mortgage brokers:
- Better search rankings: With an SEO program in place, your mortgage website will be more likely to appear at the top of results pages for relevant searches. This means more people will see your website and learn about your services.
- Targeted traffic: SEO helps you attract people who are already interested in getting a mortgage. They are actively researching their financing options online. So the people who visit your website via search engines have the potential to become clients.
- 24/7 lead generation: Your mortgage website is always working for you, even when you’re not. Search engine optimization helps you attract potential clients around the clock, even those night owls who conduct online mortgage research well after normal business hours.
- Authority and credibility: Higher search engine rankings can help you position yourself as a knowledgeable mortgage expert. Everyone knows that the websites appearing at the top of search results typically have the most credibility and the best content.
- Cost-effective marketing: SEO is a relatively cost-effective way to market your mortgage brokerage business. It tends to be much cheaper than traditional advertising methods, such as print or television ads.
- Long-term results: The benefits of a mortgage broker SEO campaign can last for years to come. Once you have a well-optimized website, you will continue to attract new clients without having to do any additional work.
The question, how do you achieve all of these powerful benefits?
This is where we circle back to the three main parts of a mortgage broker SEO strategy.
1. Keywords: The Building Blocks for SEO Success
In the context of search engine optimization, keywords are the search terms used by your target audience when researching the mortgage products or services you provide.
(Note: SEO keywords typically range from two to five words in length, so technically they’re phrases rather than individual words. But “keywords” is the common term used in SEO. So we’ll stick with that throughout this tutorial.)
Most mortgage brokers focus on a specific geographic area, like a major city or metro area. Because of this, the best SEO keywords are often local in nature.
Example: A mortgage broker in San Diego might want to focus on keywords like San Diego mortgage broker, San Diego real estate market, San Diego jumbo loan limits, etc.
You can probably come up with a general list of keywords relating to your business and audience off the top of your head. And you’d probably have a pretty good starting point for a mortgage broker SEO campaign.
But don’t stop there. You can also use keyword research tools to expand, refine and improve your keyword list over time.
Using Keyword Research Tools
You have a lot of options when it comes to KW research tools. For starters, I would recommend using Google’s Keyword Planner, since it’s free to use and fairly useful. But if you want to take your mortgage broker SEO to the next level, you might want to invest in a paid tool.
Here’s a rundown on some of the most popular SEO keyword research tools.
Google Keyword Planner: This tool offered by Google provides basic keyword search volume, competition estimates, and related keyword suggestions. While it lacks the depth of paid tools, it’s a valuable starting point for free keyword research.
Semrush: A powerful all-in-one SEO tool suite, Semrush offers a comprehensive keyword research tool with features like keyword difficulty, keyword intent analysis, and topic research. Ideal for mortgage brokers with serious SEO needs.
Ahrefs Keywords Explorer: This paid tool offered by Ahrefs provides features like keyword history, “parent topic” analysis, and competitor keyword gap analysis. Excellent for advanced SEO professionals.
The good news is you don’t have to be a data analysist to do some basic keyword research for your mortgage business. Just follow these simple steps and learn as you go:
- Choose a short phrase that relates to your ideal mortgage client and the kinds of searches they might conduct. (Let’s use “California jumbo loan” as an example.)
- Visit one of the keyword research tools listed above and enter your chosen phrase.
- The tool will give you a list of search terms related to your starting phrase, including monthly search volume, competition level, and other stats.
- Add these keywords to your “master list,” and then repeat the process with other phrases relating to your business model and location.
If I plug the phrase “California jumbo loan” into one of these tools, it might generate a list of keywords that look something like this:
- California jumbo loan limits
- California jumbo mortgage rates
- California jumbo loan down payment
- California jumbo loan requirements
- And so on…
I could then develop a content strategy around these topics, in order to educate this specific audience and attract them to my mortgage website. Blogging is one way to do that.
Targeting “Long Tail” Keywords
You should also know that some keywords are more competitive than others.
Those that have a higher search volume also have the potential to deliver more traffic, so they’re usually more competitive and harder to rank for. That’s because there are more publishers targeting them. Keywords with lower search volume, on the other hand, tend to be easier to rank for.
For best results, you might want to include a broad mix of keywords in your mortgage broker SEO efforts.
You should also include some “long-tail” keywords within your content strategy. These longer and more specific phrases describe a particular mortgage product or service, rather than a general topic. This makes them more relevant to a narrow audience—and easier to rank for.
2. Content: The Workhorse of Your SEO Strategy
So now you have a starter list of keywords to guide your mortgage SEO efforts. But what do you actually do with them?
You develop content around them, of course!
High-quality website content forms the centerpiece of an effective mortgage broker SEO strategy. If the keywords are the building blocks, the content represents the finished structure.
Mortgage website content can take many forms. It might include articles, loan product descriptions, calculators, videos and infographics, etc. But for SEO purposes, we’ll be focusing on text-based content such as blog posts and articles.
The goal here is to use those keywords you identified earlier to create high-quality content geared toward your specific audience.
Example: If one of my keywords is “Dallas closing costs,” I could create a detailed report that explains the average amount of closing costs in the DFW area, the types of costs that are included, and who pays what between the home buyer and seller.
This kind of article would help me rank for a wide variety of searches relating to this particular subject. I could then repeat the process for each one of the keyword topics on my list, and even expand the list over time. There’s no limit.
The ‘Secret’ to Creating Superior Mortgage Content
We stated that quality content is the all-important centerpiece for a mortgage broker SEO strategy. But what does “quality” mean in this particular context?
Here’s a rule of thumb to remember. If you want your mortgage content to perform well in search engines, you have to go above and beyond to deliver value. When creating an article on a particular subject, make sure it outshines similar articles that are already online.
In my earlier example, I was creating a blog post about closing costs in the Dallas area. The first thing I would do is Google that topic to see what’s already out there. I would review some of the top-ranking articles to see what kind of content they provide. Next, I would identify ways to make my content more useful and informative for readers.
I could do this in a number of ways:
- Doing a better and more thorough job of explaining closing costs.
- Going beyond the basics to explain the finer details of this subject.
- Including graphics to help readers absorb the information.
- Supporting my article with local data and statistics.
- Offering a list of frequently asked questions with helpful answers.
If you want to earn superior search engine rankings over time, you have to create superior content. There’s no shortcut and no “easy button.”
Granted, there are other factors that can influence search engine rankings, like the number of “backlinks” that point to your website. (And we’ll talk about that next.) But it all starts with your content. It’s the backbone of your mortgage broker SEO campaign.
Lastly, here’s how to optimize your individual pages and posts:
- Include relevant keywords / phrases within the title element of each page.
- Include relevant keywords throughout the body of the page, naturally.
- Create a meta description that describes the content and entices readers.
- Make sure the page is linked into the website, through internal linking.
- Make it long enough to fully cover the topic and educate the reader.
- Links: The Fertilizer for Future Growth
3. Links: The Fertilizer for Future Growth
By now, you know how to research keywords and develop high-quality content around them. So we’ve covered two of the three fundamentals for an effective mortgage broker SEO campaign.
Here they are again, to refresh your memory:
- Identify the keywords used by your intended audience.
- Create high-quality content around your chosen keyword topics.
- Acquire links to your website from other websites over time.
And that brings us to strategy #3, which is link building.
Even if you’re only vaguely familiar with search engine optimization, you’ve probably heard that links from other websites to your website can improve your rankings over time.
And that much is true.
Search engines like Google use “backlinks” to measure the reputation and authority of websites and even individual web pages. With all other things being equal, a mortgage website with hundreds of legitimate backlinks will outrank a similar site with only a dozen or so inbound links.
But there’s a right and a wrong way to earn links in the context of mortgage broker SEO.
Here’s how Google explains it on their Search Central Blog:
“It’s important to clarify that any legitimate link building strategy is a long-term effort. There are those who advocate for short-lived, often spammy methods, but these are not advisable if you care for your site’s reputation. Buying PageRank-passing links or randomly exchanging links are the worst ways of attempting to gather links and they’re likely to have no positive impact on your site’s performance over time. If your site’s visibility in the Google index is important to you it’s best to avoid them.”
This quote tells you what not to do. So let’s talk about the things you should be doing…
The Best Way to Attract Links
We’ve covered the importance of creating high-quality content for your mortgage website. This is where it comes back into the picture.
In addition to showcasing your knowledge and helping your readers, superior content is also more likely to attract links from other website owners. These links might come from local real estate professionals, local news outlets, or others with an interest in your subject matter.
All of these links can boost your search engine rankings over time.
But you don’t have to sit back and wait for your website to attract links from other sites. You can take certain proactive steps to expedite the process.
Here are some legitimate link-building strategies worth exploring:
- Use social media to promote your best content to a wider audience.
- Promote it through your professional network and ask for a link.
- Contribute “guest posts” to other websites, with a bio that links to yours.
- Create relevant press releases and pitch them to local media outlets.
- Offer free content to local real estate agents with a link included.
All of these strategies can help you gradually acquire new links to your mortgage website. But the best way to earn links is by publishing great content on a regular basis.
So there you have it, a crash course in SEO for mortgage brokers. If you need help with the kinds of strategies mentioned in this tutorial, check out my mortgage content marketing services page or schedule a coaching call.
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Brandon Cornett is a mortgage content marketing expert with 17 years of experience. He also created the Home Buying Institute, one of the nation's leading informational websites for home buyers.