As one of the longest-operating insurance membership networks in the country, United Valley Insurance Services has witnessed a lot of changes in the ways independent insurance agents market themselves to local prospects. Back when we started in 1983, it was sufficient to advertise in the Yellow Pages and local newspapers.
Since then, the importance of establishing an online presence has become an absolute must, overshadowing every other type of advertising and marketing. If prospects cannot find your agency online, they will simply move on to the next local insurance agent who is listed.
One of the most effective ways of getting your name to the top of search results is through a marketing technique called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO. This is the process of optimizing your online presence to generate website traffic from location-based searching. If a prospect searches for, “insurance agents in YOUR CITY”, your agency needs to be one of the first results they see.
So how can a busy insurance agent balance the demands of running an insurance agency, finding new clients, and taking care of current customers while maximizing their SEO? We have developed this handy local SEO checklist to help you focus on actions that will have the biggest impact.
STEP 1: KNOW YOUR KEYWORDS
Keywords are the terms prospects use when searching for potential insurance partners. This list includes your geographic location along with identifiers such as insurance agent, insurance agency and the specific products you offer. Develop your own list and refer to it often when performing any type of online marketing tasks.
STEP 2: OPTIMIZE YOUR WEBSITE FOR SEARCH
Optimizing your website for search is a big topic, but the most important thing you can do is to make sure every page on your site has a page title and meta description.
A page title, or title tag, is that clickable headline you see in search results (see the image below) and is a major factor in helping search engines understand what your page is about. Google will typically only show the first 50-60 characters of your page titles, so keep them short and be sure to include any keywords relating to the topic of the page (see example below).
The meta description is the other part you see in search results. A good meta description should summarize the page and compel prospective customers to visit your website. The length that will show on Google varies, but your safest bet is to shoot for about 160 characters.
Example Search Result
STEP 3: CLAIM YOUR GOOGLE MY BUSINESS LISTING
If you haven’t already, you should claim your free Google My Business listing and make sure it is completely filled out, accurate, and attractive.
Your Google My Business listing is often what prospective customers will see first when searching for an insurance agency. It should make a great first impression.
STEP 4: OTHER ONLINE DIRECTORIES
Where do your clients and prospects go online to search for information about local insurance agents? Make sure you have a presence on each site that also includes consistent location and contact information. Not sure where to start? Here’s a list of the top 50 local directories in the United States.
STEP 5: GENERATE BACKLINKS
Search engines love it when other websites link to yours. It builds trust and authority. There are a lot of different tactics for building links. Here’s an amazing guide from Nifty Marketing with lots of great ideas.
STEP 6: KEEP UP THE SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media is another way of increasing your online awareness. Make sure your Facebook page or Twitter description contains the appropriate keywords and links to your website landing page. Concentrate on using keywords in your regular social media posts.
SEO takes time and effort, but the results are worth it. If you don’t have time to oversee this yourself, designate one of your employees to handle this crucial component of your marketing plan or work with an outside vendor who can manage it on a daily basis.
STEP 7: HIRE A PROFESSIONAL
If all this seems like a lot to deal with on top of running your agency, you may want to consider hiring a professional SEO agency. A reputable vendor can manage these items for you and can help you stay current with the ever-changing landscape of search.
Not sure who to work with? Ask around and check references. There are plenty of great SEO agencies, but there are also agencies out there that can do more harm than good. That’s why United Valley provides its members with a list of preferred vendors for SEO. We do the homework to ensure our members get the best service.