Backlinks, domain authority, search rank. These are all terms related to search engine optimization (SEO), and they can seem daunting. But it’s time to bust a myth: agencies don’t need someone with a computer science degree to elevate their online search rankings.
While SEO does have some of its own lingo, the concepts themselves are simple to understand. It doesn’t involve coding or deciphering algorithms. SEO does require time and commitment, which can be difficult for many agencies. Despite the time commitment, agencies understand that many customers shop for insurance online and good SEO strategies are vital for an agency’s success.
Good SEO is critical, and studies demonstrate the reasons why. Insurance deals might close with an agent, but they start online. More than 90% of insurance shoppers ran an online search before making a purchase, and 68% didn’t have a specific company in mind when starting their searches, according to recent industry studies.
To be in the running for these new business opportunities, agents need to be part of the conversation, which means showing up on the first page of Google searches for insurance terms. Here are four easy ways agencies can improve SEO:
1. Write content on your agency’s niche products
What sets you apart? If you sell commercial insurance, do you specialize in any niche industries? Do you sell any specialty products? Dedicate specific pages on your agency website to the coverages that set you apart from the pack. Make sure to include on these pages where you are located with specific place names and geographical terms.
For example, if you are an independent agency in Minnesota who specializes in small business coverage for farms and restaurants– make sure your agency site has a dedicated page on farm insurance in Minnesota and another on restaurant insurance in Minnesota.
Include helpful information about the coverage area such as frequently asked questions. Search engines like Google rank very specific pages on a website that prove to be the best piece of content on that topic for that state.
2. Utilize those links
SEO prioritizes sites that have proven they are legitimate. This is called domain authority. One of the best ways to show search engines that your website is current, active and relevant is to have third party sites link back to it.
There are a number of ways to get another website to provide a backlink to your agency website. Is your agency involved in any local organizations or events? Ask your partners if they can highlight your agency’s participation and link to your webpage. If your team members are active on social media, ask them to include the website in their profiles.
Perhaps your agency leader has developed best practices about selling insurance or running an independent agency that would be helpful to others in the industry. A number of insurance publications will accept contributed content. In the person’s bio, make sure to include a link to the agency’s website.
3. Ask customers for reviews
Customer reviews on platforms like Google, Yelp, Facebook or even local neighborhood networking sites like Nextdoor are another factor that search engines like Google use to determine a site’s place in their search results. These platforms will scan thousands of databases to see what customers think about your business. If the reviews are negative, Google could penalize your ranking. If they are positive, you will be awarded a search engine results page.
No reviews can be just as harmful as negative reviews. If the search engine can’t verify that your agency is a good business, it will assume you are not a reputable company and you won’t be indexed.
Reviews are vital if an agency wants to have a good search ranking, so you can’t assume that a customer or prospect will take the time to leave you a review on their own. While you are interacting with them, ask if they would consider reviewing your agency. Then make it as easy as possible for them. Provide them with a link to where they should go. Supply short instructions on how to submit. Provide examples of previous reviews that show how short it can be to showcase that it won’t take a lot of time.
4. Partner with directories that have an established online presence
You don’t have to improve your SEO alone. There are online directories that enable agencies to subscribe to the platform and then will work to match the agency with insurance customers. But in addition to providing referrals, these resources also help increase an agency’s SEO
These sites automatically provide backlinks to the agencies’ websites as well as their social media pages. Top directories will also regularly post content on popular insurance topics. They will then feature partner agencies on content pages relevant to their expertise to help boost them when customers search for key insurance terms, such as an agency that specializes in engineering businesses might be featured on a page about the needs of engineering firms.
Customers are not going to comb through multiple pages of search results to find an independent agency. The ones that appear on page one will be the ones they turn to. But the good news is that anyone – even those that are not digital marketing experts – can work to increase their agency’s SEO. By writing good and differentiating content, building backlinks, publishing customer reviews and partnering with SEO boosting agency directories, independent agents can go from being unknown to easily found.
Learn more about SEO and other digital capabilities in the Agent for the Future digital framework.