Long Tail Search: Getting Past Googling Insurance

22ndOct. × ’09

If you want to show up in the top of search rankings for the keyword ‘insurance’, be sure to empty your wallet, hit up all your relatives for loans, and let your kids know they will have to turn in their cell phones and find their own way to pay for college. Here’s a run down of the companies with pages in the top 10 search results for ‘insurance’: State Farm, Allstate, GEICO, Progressive, Insurance.com, esurance, AAA, Farmers, and Liberty Mutual. How does your insurance agency SEO budget stack up against those companies?

But don’t despair, there are alternatives for going head to head against the Goliaths of the insurance industry; the trick is to define the insurance SEO game in terms you can win.

I’m going to explore several options in upcoming blog posts, and I want to start with long tail search. Long tail search terms, not to be confused with long tail insurance claims, are longer keyword phrases. Often, competition is much lower for long tail keywords, and the big competitors are not paying nearly as much attention to them.

Consider that, of the 200 million queries that Google processed in 2004, as much as half were unique. Add to that Google’s 2007 admission that 20% – 25% of all searches were completely new to Google.* What that suggests is an opportunity to capitalize on keyword phrases that will be searched, but that are often missed by the keyword research tools used by big budget on line marketing departments.

There are three simple tactics that insurance agents can use to identify, and benefit from, long tail insurance keywords: 1. Using your staff as a sounding board for new website FAQs; 2. Create keyword ‘demand’ through traditional advertising campaigns; and 3. Use paid search to test out potential long tail search winners. I’m going to tackle the paid search tactic here, and deal with the other two in future blog posts.

Long Tail Search Dressed for Halloween

Long Tail Search Dressed for Halloween

Paid search can be expensive if you are bidding on common keyword phrases like ‘insurance’, ‘auto insurance’, or ‘business insurance’. The more specific you get, the less expensive the cost-per-click, and likewise, the less competition for those same specific keywords in organic search. Low competition is good, but low competition with zero searches is useless. The trick is to identify long tail keywords that others aren’t competing for, but which also get some search traffic.

Here’s an example. Google’s Keyword tool doesn’t show any data for search results on the phrase, ‘what is uninsured-underinsured motorist coverage?’ But any consumer performing a search using this keyword phrase is clearly looking for some education, and would likely be a high conversion website visitor. The question that has to be asked is whether anyone at all will perform a search using that phrase.  A simple way to find out is to use paid search (in the case of Google, paid search is their AdWords program).

Investing a few hundred dollars over the course of a month or two and bidding on potential long-tail search terms like ‘what is uninsured-underinsured motorist coverage?’ will tell you very quickly if you can get some productive search traffic by optimizing for these terms.  If the search term turns out to be ineffective, your AdWords account will not charge you, and you are free to use your budget to test other keyword phrases.  If you get some click-throughs then you will learn that it may be worthwhile to optimize a few web pages for ‘free’ organic search.

*Excerpted from Aaron Wall’s excellent 50 Kick Ass Keyword Strategies. Check it out for a quick, easy to understand approach to learning what do with keywords.

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