private loan company seo case study

Private Lending Company SEO Case Study

Consistent SEO Yields HUGE Results – From 475 to 25,600 organic visits per week!

In this case study, we’re going to address one of the most common questions we get asked, and that is “do we have to keep doing SEO?” We hear it all the time because it’s fairly easy to fix a website’s low hanging fruit and get quick results with SEO.

It’s quite common for clients to reach a certain threshold and either be happy with the results they’ve gotten or want to reallocate that marketing budget elsewhere. And that’s totally fine. It’s your money, you should use it how you want.

However, we’re here to show you the enormous growth potential that exists if you make SEO part of your long term marketing plan. To illustrate that point, we’re going to cover a previous client of ours that was able to sell their company for an 8 figure sum.

Our work was integral in fueling the growth that helped make that acquisition a reality.

Enough talk. Let’s get right to it!

Client Background

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 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.

Client Goals

  1. Audit previous agency’s work and clean up any high risk issues.
  2. Improve rankings and traffic for focus pages to generate qualified leads.
  3. Generate high value content to improve site’s organic footprint and overall authority.
  4. Slowly migrate focus away from physical locations and towards their online application process.
  5. Implement marketing funnels to improve product targeting and conversion rates.

What We Did & How We Did it

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.
  • Website did not look or function well on mobile devices.
  • Incomplete site architecture implementation which 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 site, 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

2015-2016 organic traffic growth
Click to enlarge.

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

2016-2017 organic traffic growth
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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 2019

2017-2018 organic traffic growth
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2018-2019 organic traffic growth
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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.

2015 – 2019 Growth:

  • +8,450% inbound monthly organic visits (+95,000 visits / month)
  • +35,000% inbound monthly organic loan applications (+51,000 applications / month)

Takeaways

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.

private lending company organic traffic growth graph
Click to enlarge.

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.

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