Why is appearing in local search results so important for mortgage lenders? Because more people are searching on-the-go, and using intelligent services to find exactly what they're looking for as they search. In fact, the mortgage industry itself is going through many changes that are increasingly affecting not only the urgency for homebuyers to obtain a good mortgage rate, but for lenders to up the ante when it comes to their online marketing strategy.
The Current Mortgage Market
- Interest rates are rising, creating a new urgency for homebuyers to lock in a mortgage while rates are low
- Rising interest rates have also reduced the possibility of refinancing for existing homeowners. In fact, refinance applications are down 41.5% from last year
- People are buying homes faster today than at any time in the past 7 years
- Millennials are leveraging online search more than any other generation. According to Zillow, 9 in 10 Millennials turn to the internet for help in the homebuying process.
- 90% of all homebuyers search online for their home. For 42% of that group, the internet is their first step in the homebuying process.
On top of this, homebuyers increasingly rely on Apple's Siri, Google Personal Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Microsoft Cortana as they search, and many of these assistants function on devices that don't even have screens and provide only a single "answer" to a query — as opposed to a list of results. Therefore, a robust digital strategy across all search entities is critical in capturing new homebuyers looking to lock in a great mortgage rate.
What Can You Do To Increase the Visibility of Your Mortgage Company?
Understand that lending is local. The secret to competing online is to have your lending officers and branch offices show up in local results — in search and in maps.
Optimize your business by creating local pages for each of your offices and officers built with Schema.org best practices. The Enterprise Data Management (EDM) Council recently announced an initiative with Schema.org to advance how search engines connect financial concepts with the aim of delivering more accurate search results. According to EDM "if a web user searches for 'mortgage,' it will now generate results with other concepts related to mortgages, such as 'lending rates,' 'payment conditions' and 'repayment terms.'" These new structured data elements give lenders like you even more tools to make your websites discoverable to search engines.
Invite your homebuyers broadly to leave reviews. Search and map results on mobile and desktop now include star ratings of your locations. These star ratings are crucial to the search user experience. They need to be represented, and should accurately reflect the true consumer perception of your business. If you aren't "starring in search," you're missing a major opportunity to position your locations and your brand. In short, cultivating testimonials from your client base is key to getting found by other homebuyers.
While some loan officers attempt to correct the information about themselves and their business manually, the fragmentation of the digital world — with knowledge scattered across many sites — makes this an enormous undertaking. Taking into account the high mobility of loan officers, the need is only more pressing.
The good news is that this is a highly solvable challenge. Tools like Yext for Mortgage can help you streamline and optimize your information so that correct, consistent information about your business is available no matter where your customer searches, increasing trust and your business pipeline.
Explore how you can build an online presence and reach prospective homebuyers as they search with Yext for Mortgage. Download our latest whitepaper, How Mortgage Lenders Can Win in a Digital World for even more insight.