Insurance Search Engine Marketing For Insurance Agent Leads

For many insurance companies and insurance agencies, insurance search engine marketing is a brave new world, filled with a litany of confusing terms and acronyms. Like any emerging field, what might seem confusing at first, is readily understandable after a quick review of jargon and basics. Let’s take a look at insurance search engine marketing and define terms and acronyms along the way.

For the time being, let’s think of insurance search engine marketing (insurance SEM) as it relates to the insurance business, as if we were talking about the printed Yellow Pages phone book of the not distant past. Fifteen years ago, if someone was looking for a business, product or service, they could take a Yellow Pages off the shelf and open the phone book to search for the given product, service or company, flipping pages until they arrived at the relevant phone book pages. For the purposes of this example, let’s say that someone wanted property and casualty insurance, and were looking for insurance agents that they could contact. The person who was searching for the insurance, upon finding the two yellow pages which listed insurance agencies, might scan the insurance agency names beginning with the letter “A”. This is roughly analogous to a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) from Google, Bing or Yahoo. A key difference here is that these search engines display their results by relevancy as opposed to alphabetically. The placement of the names on the SERP relates to organic SEO, or in this case, insurance search engine optimization.

Of course there would also be many advertisements interspersed within the two phone book pages of agencies, both small and large. These ads are roughly analogous to PPC ads (Pay Per Click ads) found today on the search results pages. One notable difference is that in the case of the old Yellow Pages phone book, your insurance agency would pay a flat fee for the ad, whereas with a PPC, your agency only pays when a user clicks on your advertisement. Just for purposes of clarity, there is also something called PPI (Pay Per Impression), where your business would pay for impressions, though for our insurance agency web website optimization discussion, we’re going to stick with our PPC ad analogy. The difference between organic insurance search engine marketing and insurance PPC ads is as simple as having your agency name listed in the Yellow Pages at no charge, versus a display ad in the Yellow Pages at a cost of perhaps $1,000 per month. Thus the appeal of organic web marketing, if your insurance agency can rise to the top of the organic SERP, you are very likely to direct web surfers (read that as insurance agency leads) to your website and reap the benefits without any PPC costs. Think of this in the same way as the old phone book listings with company’s starting their name with “AAAA Auto Parts” or “AAAAA Insurance Agency” to ensure their names would appear first. A SERP offers a better alternative than the printed Yellow Pages name game, in that the agency name is secondary to other, more relevant criteria. This criterion is determined by search engine algorithms which can have over 100 attributes they use to determine relevancy, and subsequently determine if your insurance agency website should be on page one or page ten (SERP Ranking).

A simple explanation of some key terms often associated with insurance search engine marketing (insurance SEM) include:

Back links – Links to your agency site from other internet sites and directories.
HTML – Code used to create many websites.
Keyword Density – The number of times, in terms of percent, that a keyword phrase is used on any given page of an insurance agency website. Divide the number of uses of that keyword, by the total number of words on the page. Experts disagree on the ideal percentage for optimization with all engines, but targeting a number around 5% as of this writing should be effective. An important note, some article directories only allow keyword density of up to 4%.
Keywords – Words typed into a search engine to return a list (SERP) of relevant sites and documents.
Long-tail Keywords – Longer keyword phrases, which yield more specific search results germane to your insurance agency. These long-tail phrases are three or more words bundled together. For example, “insurance agency marketing” is a long-tail keyword where as “insurance” is not.
Off Page Optimization – Content creation, directory submission and back link building used to improve search engine rankings (SERP placement).
On Page Optimization – Modifications made to insurance agency website content and HTML code to improve search engine rankings (SERP placement).
Organic SEO – Page ranking results returned by a search engine based purely on relevancy as opposed to a paid ad placement.
Page Rank – A gauge of the popularity of your site, typically determined by the volume of visitors and links to your site. This was once a preeminent performance measure, but for niche industries like insurance agencies and agents, other criteria is now more important than page rank and back links.
PPC – Pay Per Click where your business posts an ad on a search engine and pays each time a web surfer clicks on your advertisement. These ads are displayed above and on the side of many search terms. Another variation on this is PPI, which is Pay Per Impression, where you would pay a bulk rate for every thousand times your ad is displayed, regardless of the number of times your ad was clicked.
PPI – Pay Per Impression where your agency pays a flat fee per thousand of times your ad is displayed on the Google, Bing or Yahoo results pages.
Search Engine Marketing – The process which is used for insurance companies and insurance agencies to rise to the top of the organic SERP listings, or to place ads that will be posted on page results for selected long-tail keywords.
SEM – Acronym for insurance search engine marketing
SEM – Search Engine Marketing.
SEO – Search Engine Optimization
SER – Sometimes you may see the acronym SER used, which can refer to Search Engine Results, Rankings or even Relevancy.
SERP – Search Engine Results Page
Web Marketing – Insurance agency search engine marketing is a subset of an overall insurance agency web marketing plan.

The goal of insurance search engine marketing is driving qualified insurance agent leads to your agency website. Once these web prospects have arrived at your insurance agency website, you need an effective call to action, which in itself, is the topic for another insurance agency marketing article. Obviously, more qualified agency leads, combined with a compelling insurance agency website and call to action, should yield increased premiums and help grow your agency’s book of business.

Online Shopping All About Online Price Comparison And Product Reviews

As the web grows every day, so do online enterprises and online price comparison websites. These sites have become necessary and handy for shoppers everywhere. Why? It’s simple. People like to spend their money. Companies offer more and more products to choose from. Whether it’s about clothing or gadgets, tools or equipment, musical instruments or PC hardware, there will always be someone to buy them. And for many people, the best place to start searching is the web. Online shopping has become so popular due to the fact that it not only offers the shopper the opportunity to shop from the comfort of their own home, but also because it offers a greater variety of products and the chance to choose the best ones.

But what is online price comparison all about? Again, it’s simple: a bunch of hard-working and determined people gather data and put together a website containing information about various products from many companies, all centralized in the same database, with plenty of information concerning value and other details. Usually, the given prices are the recommended retail prices, but every site states taxes and other additional payments.

So, online price comparison gives everyone the opportunity to find what they need quick and easy. There is no need to wander around the city searching for what suits them best. Also, for each and every person out there, with particular tastes and preferences concerning what clothes or perfumes they like to wear, what kind of food they like to eat and so on, the internet gives an easier alternative. Just a few clicks and you’re set. You can find anything online. No more exhausting and inconclusive searches. No more rude clerks or impatient shopkeepers. No more heavy traffic. Worst case scenario is that you have to take a ten minute walk to the postal office to pick up your package!

Concerning product reviews, their existence is just as useful and as necessary as online price comparison. Nowadays, the ones who profit greatly from the online shopping experience are teenagers. Thank God, they like to buy! IPods, video games, cool clothes, you name it! Most of the elderly are more reserved, but young people, as much as their budget allows, will generally spend meaningful amounts of money for a good time. Naturally, the desire for knowledge of a certain product planned for future purchase always comes to the mind of the buyers. This leads to the necessity of another valuable option on shopping websites that always comes along with online price comparison: product reviews.

Product reviews are all about the specifications of a certain product. Users comment and blog their likes and dislikes during the usage of the product. The reviews are frequently and mostly posted by the webmasters and consist in comments, tips & tricks, pictures of the device and others details, but there are also external links to sites in that specific area of expertise and of course to the official site of the producer.

Another instance of product reviews is the consumer forums. This is where many people log in and share opinions about what they’ve bought, where they’ve bought it and how it’s all been coming along since they’ve acquired that item. Even if forums like these are a good environment for information, it is better to listen to the advice of the product reviews. An item that has been bought and reviewed by the shopper will not have any outside influences in the official opinion.

Online Price Comparison And Product Reviews Handy And Useful Tools

The fastest flowing information current these days is the internet. You can do everything on the internet: research, work, date or shop. Most people prefer online shopping because it’s easier and even cheaper. For instance, think about all the time, car fuel and nerves you can save by simply clicking a few times. Having everything set at your disposal, in a user-friendly and interactive environment, with no dressing rooms or lines to wait at and no angry bored people around to give you a hard time, the purchasing experience is heavenly. Although everything might seem perfect, there is room for online improvement. Luckily for us, they’ve thought of that as well. Here’s how the internet can improve your shopping experience and give you satisfaction, as well as the chance to find better deals…

First of all, meet two of the most useful tools for the online shopper: online price comparison and product reviews. It all began in the late 90′s with the worldwide internet explosion. Small independent companies came up with the idea to centralize all their products along with the required information in an extensive database. This makes shopping easier for both the customer and for the company. It also created a greater deal of clientele and more worldwide publicity. Then enterprises such as the search engines Yahoo!, MSN and Google and other companies were established who could also benefit from online stores.

The sites had and still have a common characteristic: they offer visitors the chance to compare prices for the same products, but belonging to different companies: online price comparison. Having this option available for use, shoppers had the chance to see which products have the best price and the best characteristics. The various product reviews found within the numerous pages of specialized websites consist of information about the year the product was released, the recommended retailer price (with specifications about taxes) and stores in which it’s available.

The search process thus becomes quick and easy. You just need to log on http://www.plaza101.com for example. Since the pages are interactive and easily comprehendible, the online price comparison becomes a child’s game”. Besides online price comparison and product reviews, which always come together, many websites have come up with an even more user-friendly method. A complex web page script allows visitors to select the brand and all the other usual basics. This also includes the purpose or the environment in which the product will be used, your age and many other complex preferences that will eventually lead to the display of a list of exact products to suit your needs 100%, based on your answers to the website’s questions.

The most attractive online price comparison and product reviews sites are those built in an easy-to-read manner sites like Plaza101. You should look for these sites first. They are easier to comprehend, with information scattered throughout the whole content of the review (statistically, it has been proven that most people read only a third of the article as they scroll through it), easy noticeable headlights (colored, underlined and so on) and appointments to season sales or discounts that will give you a better deal.

Shopping has never been easier. Just a few clicks and there you go! You have practically a world of products and services at your feet. With the help of specialized websites and effective searching tools, you can be sure you’ll get the best deals out there!

10 Secrets You Really Should Know About Search Engine Marketing

Beverly Sills, the opera singer who died earlier this year, is famously quoted as saying “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going”. As a specialist online marketing professional, I spend a lot of time reading about the latest developments in search engine marketing and how this or that tweak, ploy or shortcut will suddenly change your life and lead to huge amounts of traffic; riches beyond your wildest desires and everlasting happiness. At the risk of sounding something of a cynic (I suppose 8 years in online marketing gives me a right to be!), if not a downright party pooper, I have to say I’m with Beverly Sills on this one. Yes, there are some things that you can do that might give you an edge, but if you are lucky it will only give you an edge for a very short time (before you’re found out). At best you could have just wasted your time, at worst you could be set back significantly and lose far more than you gained.

Background

Before I elaborate, it’s important, in my opinion, to understand, the history and culture of the net and of a lot of the people that have been involved with it. The Internet’s early success was largely promoted by a group of altruistic, non-commercial, caring, sharing and fair minded people, who wanted something to develop that was free and good. After all, this is a community that gave their time and knowledge free to develop Open Source software, in response to what it saw as the commercial dominance of software by certain companies.

The Internet’s now most mighty company, Google, grew up with this altruistic ideology, even having a corporate motto of “Don’t be evil”. It embraced these principles to provide a free search engine that allowed people to find what they were looking for on the internet. It continued to develop this engine to become better and better and provide its users with a better and better experience, even though those users didn’t pay a penny for its services. Eventually, it developed so much trust that it was able to start generating revenue by offering paid advertising alongside its free results, however it has continued to invest in making its free service ever better, based on honest, fair & good, “Don’t be evil” principles.

Admittedly Google has had one or two blips along the way but it has developed, generally, a trust amongst its users by delivering what they want and being fair about it. Search Engine optimisation whizzes and website owners who ignore ‘Don’t be evil’, do so at their peril.

The Accidental Search Engine Marketeer

So, if there are no shortcuts and you have to play fair and by the rules, then why “10 ‘secrets’ you really should know about search engine marketing”?

Well, let me tell you another secret, I discovered search engine marketing almost by accident! Ten years ago, when I started out online, search engines were very much in their infancy. In fact, to me, when you typed anything into a search engine, the results reflected what seemed to be the web’s main purpose and preoccupation, sex and pornography!

Back in those days’ people had lots of other ideas how they were going to get visitors to their website, many of them a lot more glamorous than using search engines. Anyway, let’s face it, there were a lot less websites back then.

Being in possession of very few resources (in comparison to the huge amounts of money being thrown about by other start ups in those dot com boom days) and at the time a relatively limited understanding of the internet, I concentrated on simple and, what seemed to me, common sense ideas and business principles to drive visitors to my website.

By employing these, more and more people found my website but not only as a result of all my hard work and efforts, they were also finding the site through search engines because, unwittingly, these same tactics were improving the search engine ranking of the site.

Amazingly today, despite the huge cultural, technological, social and environmental changes (and by that I’m only talking about the search engines!) the same principles still apply, despite the huge volume of different techniques, systems and tricks that have been peddled in the meantime. So what are these ‘secrets’?

The 10 ‘Secrets’ You Should Know About Search Engine Marketing

1. Focus

The internet is a huge ocean. No matter how big a fish you are, you’ll be lost in it. Find yourself a pond. The smaller a fish you are, the smaller a pond you need, but don’t try to be all things to all people: a) it’ll never work, b) you’ll never be found.

2. Differentiate

You need to have a reason why someone visits your website and buys into your product or service. In the offline world it’s often OK to be as good as everyone else and rely on the fact that people like you as the reason they want to buy from you. In the online world, where there is so much competition and, generally, people don’t know you, you need to have sound reasons and differentiating factors.

By all means try to get people to like you (see 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10) but remember they have a lot more choice in a search engine than on a high street, you need to communicate why they should choose you simply, effectively and fast!

If you’re selling motor insurance for disabled lady drivers, yes you have a niche and you’ve completed step 1, but you need to establish the benefits that your customers will enjoy by buying from you and that they will value more than the 237,000 other links they could choose. You then need to communicate these on your web pages and in your Meta Description of your content or Search Advertising Copy, to make it easy for your visitors/customers to establish quickly why they should visit your site when scanning a search page.

3. Build Your Site and Its Contents for Your Customers Not You

In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), there is a concept that people are led either by their visual senses (what they see), their auditory senses (what they hear) or their kinaesthetic senses (what they feel). When you watch any great auditor speak (Bill Clinton for instance) you’ll see him trying to appeal to all of these senses, so that he communicates with his entire audience – not just a part of it. Your website must do this too.

Search engines like words but don’t fill your pages purely with text, a lot of your visitors will also like to see images. Likewise don’t fill your pages with images because you like them and you think your visitors should too. A lot of your visitors also want to hear what you have to say and feel comfortable with your site.

Search engines like words because they tell them what your site is all about, so you need to write clearly on your pages just this. But it’s important to write these words with your customers in mind, not what you think the search engines want. Your customers have got to understand them and they need to be written in their language.

If you are selling bling jewellery you need to use a whole different vocabulary to that if your offering savings and investment advice to the over 65′s. The reason for this is twofold:-

a) If you do get them to your page but they don’t relate to the content when they get there or it doesn’t make sense, they’ll just click off.

b) The same language your customers want to read is that they’ll use when searching

Search engines now also have clever robots that can read English and will penalise your site if it thinks you’re trying to trick them by writing keyword intense nonsense. In any case, what’s the point of getting people to your site if you lose them immediately because you haven’t written content they can understand or relate to?

4. Write Well Structured Content

I’ve already said it but I’ll say it again, make your pages easy for your visitors and/or customers to understand. Just like you learnt at school, structure your content to make it easy for people to follow. Write a good page title that explains what your page is about, use headings to explain what each section is about, use sub-headings where appropriate, use the words that are important to your visitors and/or customers in the content (though not repeatedly) and stress the important bits either by using headings or putting those words in bold. That’s just common sense writing.

Remember that people read web pages differently to printed pages (they tend to skim read) so write bulleted points, in sharp, concise text with links to greater detail and further information, if the reader requires.

Search engines like a minimum of around 300 words per page (about the quantity of this number 4 section) so that they can accurately gauge the contents of the page. You’ll also find this just about nicely fills a web page with an illustration or two, without going below the fold, i.e. forcing the reader to scroll down the page.

Add a Meta Content Description to explain to the search engine (or rather your visitor/customer who is looking for your page on a search engine) and lo and behold you’ve got a search engine friendly page! Yes, search engines, just like your valued visitors, analyse your pages by the Page Titles, Descriptions, Headings (H1, H2 and H3 in order) the use of Bold or Strong tags and by analysing the content of the page to understand the keywords and what the page is talking about.

5. Update Your Content Regularly

Just like a good shopkeeper changes his shop window and the layout of his store on a regular basis, then so should you change the content and look of your site. Firstly, in most cases, you want repeat visitors and they need to see you’re alive and care about the website (and them). Secondly, the more frequently you update, you’ll find the search engines will more frequently visit or crawl your website.

6. Give Your Users/Customers What They Want

I know this one is a bit radical but it really is one of the most important lessons you can learn. If you give your visitors what they want, when they want it and provide them with more value than they can get from other people/sites, not only will they be happy (and happy users or customers is surely the chief goal of any website or business) but they will return and what’s more they’ll tell their friends!

7. Delight Your Users/Customers and Make Them Your Evangelists

One thing I learnt early on is that going the extra mile to delight your customers really pays off on the internet. Word spreads really fast online and if you give a really good service and/or deliver an exceptional product, not only will your customers keep on returning (which saves you the marketing cost of getting new customers) but they tell their friends (who go on to buy from you and saves you even more marketing cost). The unexpected bonus is that they spread the word about your product or service through forums, blogs, web pages, etc., which talk about your great website and service and put links to your site, which drives more traffic to your site …… and improves your search rankings because of all these relevant (and not paid for) links.

8. Keep Your Website Simple and Working

Just like most processes, you need to build your website for the lowest common denominator. Make it as simple and easy as you possibly can. Rigorously check everything so that your users have no chance of having a bad experience. Always sacrifice sophistication for simplicity, if simple works.

Badly built, over complicated, unfriendly or broken sites not only turn off your potential visitors and/or customers, making them click off straight away (and what’s the point of going to all the trouble of getting visitors if your lose them immediately) but high bounce rates (people clicking off your site quickly because what they saw wasn’t what they wanted) is a big part in the Quality Score used by Google & Yahoo in their paid search algorithm. Furthermore, badly built sites, poor or obsolete code and broken links is something search engines definitely don’t like and you will be penalised for it in your search engine rankings.

9. Build Links with Relevant Sites

As I said earlier, before search engines became such a dominant driver of traffic, you tended to look all over for sources of traffic. Having no money meant paying for advertising listings was out of the question but if you could find relevant sites where a link to your site would benefit visitors and drive traffic, for instance if your site sold beds and you got a link from a site that sold bedding, then it was win-win. Similarly if you did stuff or created news stories that other sites may want to cover, then you could gain coverage and links.

What I wanted was traffic (which I got) but into the bargain I got what were essentially big votes from credible sites about my pages which boosted my search rankings. If you focus on being really good and giving value, you do develop these links and these are what search engines really want, so that they can establish you are a respected and credible site. Search Engines see links as votes of a websites value. If they see lots of paid or traded links these are not really saying the website is any good. What they want is impartial endorsements of your site and it will accord these links much higher value.

Do not trade links, willy-nilly or engage in reciprocal linking as it is sometimes called. In my opinion, the first and only question you should ask is, will this (incoming) link generate traffic/add value. If the site/page is relevant and/or related then the answer is that it probably will. If you are a management consultant and get a link from an adult dating website the chances are it probably won’t. The search engines see it similarly (though they’re not interested in the traffic). If they see a link to a horse race betting site from a site/page that is discussing racing form then they will see it as a credible endorsement or vote for the site and enhance the ranking of the linked to page. They will see the adult dating rank as being of no relevance to the management consultant with the result that the latter’s ranking could actually be negatively affected because the search engine thinks you’re trying to trick it.

10. Communicate With Your Users/Customers

Having got people to your site in the first place and even got them to buy something from you don’t then just ignore them. Work at keeping them on board and getting them to keep coming back. Communicate with your users/customers by giving them advice, information, offers, support, help – not junk but things they will value. Communicate with them in whatever means they prefer (obviously making sure you get their permission to do so), whether it be by email, text, blog, podcast, special pages on your site or whatever is their preferred choice. An established user will use you again more readily, as they (should!) trust you and this will be a lot less costly than trying to find new users. Once again, if your users value this (which if done right they will) you’ll find links appearing which add more weight to your pages and your search rankings.

Summing Up

Well, I told you there were no shortcuts and I also told you these were “10 ‘secrets’ you really should know about search engine marketing”. You certainly should know them because they all make common sense. Search engines employ legions of highly intelligent boffins to develop extremely complicated algorithms which are designed to make sure the search engine user gets the best result from their experience with the search engine. How they do that? Remarkably, they follow common sense rules to ensure that this is achieved and try to stop “evil” people from coming up with shortcuts.