What? SEO Isn’t for Insurance Agencies? It’s Just Part of the Mix

22ndApr. × ’13

Web Analytics World* added a provocative blog post a few days ago, suggesting that SEO is not a good tactic for small businesses, a category into which most insurance agencies would fit.  Why?  Because SEO today has become very complex – it has evolved way beyond just keyword density and cheap back links – in fact that sort of approach can hurt far more than it will help.  Another point the post makes is that many small businesses and insurance agencies are competing with larger businesses, who have large SEO budgets, staff devoted to SEO, and several years head start optimizing for search.  Their point here:  “it takes real money to displace real money”.

On the one hand, I agree with what they are saying, I have been saying the same thing for years now.  On the other hand, I think many independent insurance agents are in much better position than other small businesses in that they do not have big, well funded competition in all cases.  Also, if you accept that you are a local business, geographically modified keywords can be optimized without breaking the bank and local search listings give you a leg up for many keyword searches.  However, keywords like ‘save money on auto insurance’ or ‘free car insurance quotes’ are going to pit any local agency head-to-head with the direct marketing insurance companies.

The way to think about optimization today isn’t narrowly, in terms of SEO, but more broadly, in terms digital visibility, of which SEO is only part;  SEO isn’t the whole meal, it’s just the sauce.

The Sauce Line Up

“SEO isn’t the whole meal, it’s just the sauce.”

For instance, Google can’t see inside of Facebook, so SEO is of no use there.  Building a network and engaging with that network via interesting content is the key to visibility there.  Likewise with Linkedin and Twitter.   Content, as has been pointed out here and in other places, is the key to most digital marketing, including e-newsletters, white papers, and to some extent, even local search optimization.**

Most insurance agents don’t produce much in the way of original content, but that isn’t strictly necessary.  Blog posts, news items, photos, and infographics produced by others, can be shared through your insurance agency’s digital channels and editorialized upon.  There are numerous services that provide generic articles and freelance writers abound if you need custom content for blog posts, social media, or email.  What is missing in most agencies is an editor-in-chief.  Someone, probably the agency principal or marketing executive, needs to be thinking like a publisher.

Behind most traditional and digital publications is an editorial schedule that sketches out content monthly content at least several months in advance.  Editorial schedules also assign content development to different people, something that insurance agencies may need to think of including in job performance requirements for CSRs and producers.  Schedules are also flexible, so that if a really good or topical news item presents an opportunity, it can easily be folded into the monthly schedule.  A good example of this might include two pre-planned blog posts (and Facebook posts and Twitter tweets), both scheduled for May, about boat insurance, one discussing when a separate policy is necessary, the other covering some boating safety tips.  If April storms spawn tornadoes, hail, and damage across a large part of the nation, you might push back one of the boat articles in favor of an opportunity to post some content explaining how large storms, and storm patterns affect rates and coverage options over time.

Another important consideration, as pointed out in an earlier blog post here, is who you are communicating with (commercial clients? personal clients?  prospective clients?).  Each will  match up with different digital channels.  But the important thing is not to think of your content as purely for SEO, even though it will help with that.  If you can train yourself to think in terms of digital visibility, instead of search engine optimization, you will begin to realize that SEO, while important, isn’t the be-all-end-all proposition we sometimes let it become – it’s just another ingredient in an insurance agents marketing mix..

 

 

*For the complete post, see http://www.webanalyticsworld.net/2013/04/here-is-why-seo-is-not-for-small-business-owners.html

**Some local search content consists of the categories and information with which you update your local search listing, but customer reviews also include content that helps your local ranking and also improves click-through-rates.

 

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