Links to Success
Smolenski, Mary, Independent Banker
Increase your bank's visibility online by linking other sites to yours
Web site is an online billboard. It promotes your bank 24 hours a day, seven days a week to anyone who passes by. A key difference, however, lies in those last four words.
Unlike a traditional billboard, which motorists always see when driving down the road, Internet users can easily miss your Web site. After all, millions of documents are available online and more are added every day.
How can you lead potential customers to your Web site? One way is to have as many sites as possible list your bank's contact information or link to your bank's Web site. Web users often find sites they are interested in by clicking on links from other sites. The more sites that link to yours, the better. Using the previous analogy, this is akin to constructing billboards at as many intersections as possible, so that more than one road will lead to your bank.
Listed below are several bankingand community-related sites that you may ask to link to your bank's site. Many sites provide links for free. But, it's best to verify the organization's policy by visiting its Web site or inquiring directly about cost.
While your bank gains the most from this exposure if you have your own Web site (prospective customers can read about your bank in your own words), you don't have to have a Web site to benefit.
ONLINE FINANCIAL DIRECTORIES
Online directories of financial institutions in general or banks in particular are excellent linking points to your bank. Chances are high that visitors to these sites are shopping for specific financial services or a bank near them. It's up to you to make sure your bank appears before these hot prospects.
Several online financial directories, excluding those on search engines such as Yahoo (www.yahoo.com) and Excite (www.excite.com), are listed below, without endorsement by IBAA. (Sites mentioned below that apply to banks with or without Web sites are marked with an asterisk.)
* AAAdir (www.aaadir.com) *
* BankWeb.com (www.bankweb .com)
Banks of the World (www.wiso. gwdg.de/ifbg/bank_2.html)
Financial Net (www.financial net.com) *
* MyBank Directory (www.mybank.com)
Similarly, Bankinfo.com (www. bankinfo.com), a popular Web site sponsored by Thomson Financial Publishing, provides a directory of bank e-mail addresses. To add your bank, send an e-mail to mbguard @bankinfo.com. Include your bank's name, e-mail address, and the cities and state in which it has offices.
HELP FROM IBAA
With its enhanced Web site (www.ibaa.org), IBAA promotes all member institutions and their surcharge-free ATMs for free. Member banks receive complimentary listings and links in our "Community Banks Near You" directory, while corporate members are profiled in the "Products and Services" area of the Community Bank Exchange, our new members-only area (www.ibaa.org/ cbx/). (For more information and access instructions for the CBX, see the story on page 28. …