Private Lending Company SEO Case Study
Should you keep doing SEO? Absolutely! We're going to break down how we took a small, local private lending company and helped them expand to 8 additional states by only using search engine optimization.
About the Client
This particular client was a family-owned and operated private lending company based out of the Pacific Northwest. The father had been running the business for multiple decades and he had recently passed the business to his son so he could retire.
Their business was originally built on radio ads, TV spots, and direct mailers and had gained a great deal of local notoriety and loyalty, but didn’t have much of an online following. Most of their business came from phone calls and visits to their physical locations.
They knew that their future lied online and started using a local marketing company to help build up their online presence. However, they weren’t gaining nearly as much traction as they hoped and were looking to make a change.
This client's main focus was to slowly phase out their current physical locations and bring that business over to their website. In order to achieve that, we needed to build a solid foundation for growth, grow their online presence in key geographics, and target keywords that were both relevant and possible to rank within a realistic time frame.
- Audit previous agency’s work and clean up any high-risk issues.
- Improve rankings and traffic for focus pages to generate qualified leads.
- Generate high-value content to improve the site’s organic footprint and overall authority.
- Slowly migrate focus away from physical locations and towards their online application process.
- Implement marketing funnels to improve product targeting and conversion rates.
The financial industry, and more specifically the personal finance industry, has enormous growth potential for companies that implement a proper digital marketing strategy. There are millions of searches for their keywords every single day which means that there's a lot of competition for those users.
We knew that we'd have to be smart about our strategy so we decided to break it up and roll it out in phases.
Phase 1: Rebuild (2015-2016)
After getting our hands on the website, there were some major problems that needed to be addressed before we could, in good conscience, start working on (and charging them for) our marketing services. These included, but were not limited to:
- A “proprietary CMS” that only the agency could access and make edits to.
- Thin content with poor keyword targeting and on-page optimization.
- The website did not look or function well on mobile devices.
- Incomplete site architecture implementation led to poor Googlebot crawl/sitemap index rates.
- Borderline spammy backlinking practices.
These were all the tell-tale signs of an archaic agency still using outdated marketing tactics. They’re basically trying to pound a square peg into a round hole. We were able to salvage some of the sites, but we had to essentially hit the reset button to put the website on a solid foundation.
We rebuilt the site in WordPress which allowed us to build from the ground up and optimize the website with our future marketing initiatives in mind. This included, but was not limited to:
- Ensure a smooth user experience on all major mobile devices.
- Sitemap generation and optimization to maximize site indexing and crawlability.
- Extensive backlink audit to create a disavow file that culled low-quality, irrelevant, and spammy backlinks to prevent a Penguin filter.
- Implement best practice SEO to help give semantic meaning to pages and improve organic search rankings.
- Generate high-value content that attracts potential customers and educates them about the business, its offering, and provide solutions to problems the customer could be facing.
EOY Results in 2016
This rebuilding phase resulted in a ~72% increase in inbound organic traffic (~15,000 visits) and an ~80% increase in organic loan applications (~13,000 applications).
Phase 2: Promote (2016-2017)
The results we achieved during phase 1 showed us that not only was the website responding well to the changes we made but that there was an enormous amount of yet untapped potential.
With the housecleaning behind us, we were able to focus our full attention on finding and leaning into growth opportunities. This included, but was not limited to:
- Continue generating high-value content pieces to attract new potential customers.
- Continued on-site optimization and content improvements to expand targeting.
- Investing in white hat link-building tactics to source relevant inbound links.
- Keyword research to discover high volume, low difficulty keywords to target with new content pieces.
EOY Results in 2017
Content marketing and white hat link building helped cement this client as an authority in their space. This in turn helped them rank for a good number of high volume keywords and resulted in ~650% growth in organic traffic (~300,000 visits) and ~850% growth in organic loan applications (~102,000 applications).
Phase 3: Scale (2017 – 2019)
Much of the work in Phase 3 revolved around scaling out the work in Phase 2 and rebounding from the Medic algorithm which targeted this client’s industry in August ’18.
They were slightly affected by the update, but we were able to promptly correct the issues and adhere to Google’s new Quality Guidelines. This both mitigated the losses and put us back on the growth path we’d been on for the last 3 years.
EOY Results in 2017
Ultimately, we did not finish out 2019 with this company as our client was acquired by a larger financial institution. However, we could not be more proud of what we accomplished and how we were able to help them grow from a 6-figure company to an 8-figure company and get acquired in under 5 short years.
- +5,679% inbound monthly organic visits (+89,000 visits / month)
- +12,2773% inbound monthly organic loan applications (+47,500 applications / month)
Do you have to keep doing SEO? Yes!
Especially if you’re wanting to see consistent YTY growth.
As seen in the following graph, SEO was able to catapult this client from abject obscurity and into the limelight as one of the foremost authorities in their space.
Every single business that has a website can benefit from SEO, but don’t forget, it isn’t a set it and forget it marketing tactic. Google’s search algorithm changes and evolves almost every month.
So should your SEO strategy.
If you’re willing to invest in SEO, put in the work, and stick with it, your website can see growth like this too.
Private Lending Company SEO Case Study Recap
Fully investing in a professional SEO strategy earned this client 47,000 more loan applications each month!
If you've been wondering about the power of SEO, this is it. Ranking at the top of the search results earns a ton of passive traffic and inbound leads for your business. And these figures only account for their organic channel. They don't account for paid, social, or email.
This client went all-in on SEO and reaped the rewards of sticking with the program. Their inbound traffic grew from 1,500 visits a month to over 90,700, and they also earned an extra 47,500 loan applications each month.
When the rest of their industry was struggling to generate results, they were sitting comfortably at the top of Google.