Here are four ways for insurance agents to get themselves in front of potential customers on a local level.
For years, consumers have seen countless advertising campaigns from national insurance brands. While some of the spots can be quite amusing thanks to quirky characters and outlandish plots, many of them promote the same benefits of potential cost savings from bundling and oversimplify the product.
Yet, many of these ads share the same shortcoming: They fail to cater to local markets.
Insurance customers value the knowledge and helpfulness of local insurance agents who dedicate their time to understanding their specific needs. For generations, word of mouth and referrals have kept these businesses running. Today, brand awareness extends far beyond glossy ads and TV spots. A powerful channel that must be used to make local insurance agents known to their audiences is search engines.
This philosophy applies to any type of product or service. If your target audience is not exposed to your brand on the search engine results page (SERP), you essentially do not exist and will not receive quote requests or write new policies.
For local insurance agents, a strong search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is essential to build and nurture customer relationships. Here are four ways to get yourself in front of potential customers on a local level:
1) Ensure accurate Google listings. To guarantee visibility on SERPs, your agency's Google My Business listing must be 100% accurate. Every so often, agents switch companies, move or close offices. When these changes occur, it is important to revise the listing. When information is inaccurate, customers lose trust.
The quality, age and integrity of a website's content, as well as its consistency with Google My Business and other aggregated listings, will determine its search engine rankings. The more accurate the data, the higher the SERP ranking and the more opportunity for discovery and growth.
2) Strengthen credibility with NAP. Here's one acronym insurance agents should be familiar with, and it has little to do with their field of work: NAP (name, address, phone number). This is crucial for local products and services. In simple terms, NAP is the main contact information for businesses that appears in search results.
But for it to be effective, it must be correct. If NAP information is outdated or inconsistent, search engines and aggregators distrust it and will not display it. In that case, again, customers and prospects will be unable to find you. NAP legitimacy not only increases insurance agencies' chances of ranking higher on SERPs, but it also delivers search engines and customers the most accurate information in real time.
Search engines have the power to verify the accuracy of a company's name, address and phone number by crawling billions of websites in a matter of seconds. When these crawls detect inconsistencies, page rankings are automatically negatively impacted. On the other hand, if the data is clean, the insurance agent will reap the benefits of higher search results.
Some steps you can take to address any inconsistencies in your online listings include:
- Use Google to uncover potentially incorrect listings. You can use Google site operators to search specific directories. For example, type into the Google search bar: site:yelp.com “my business" with your business name in the quotation marks—and instead of searching Yelp, you could exchange that for any other website URL after site:. You can also search for your phone number, address or business name.
- Use a resource, like this compilation of important listing sites, to get started correcting incorrect listings.
- Keep a record of all your listings so you can quickly correct this information if you ever change your business' phone number or address.
3) Optimize your digital touchpoints. Your website is viewed as the “digital front door" by prospects and customers. Make sure your website—as well as your Facebook and LinkedIn pages—include key NAP information and hours of operation. Use schema markup, also known as structured data, to help search engines recognize the information, thereby increasing your chances of appearing in search results for local queries.
Create fresh and interesting content that is relevant to your local audience, such as blog posts, infographics and videos. Offer insights into local insurance laws, regulations and industry trends. A variety of content not only improves your local SEO performance but also establishes you as a trusted resource and thought leader in your community.
Maintain an active presence on social media platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Share content related to your business and community topics. Engage with your followers and respond to comments to create a strong brand affinity for your business.
4) Measure success. There are various key performance indicators (KPIs) that can help measure and analyze the effectiveness of local search campaigns and help businesses improve their online visibility and performance.
Local search KPIs include:
- An increase in Google Maps searches and views.
- An increase in phone calls directly from your listings.
- An improvement in organic website traffic.
- Higher click-through rate (CTR).
- Higher rankings for local keywords.
- Less incorrect or outdated data.
- More positive reviews.
- A greater inventory of listings on internet directories such as Google My Business, Bing, Yelp, Facebook and Apple Maps.
Local and regional insurance agents are known to be responsive, accessible and knowledgeable of the area. They cater coverage toward individual clients and their families, provide personalized advice, help their clients navigate complex policies, and ensure adequate protection. A robust local SEO and NAP strategy can help insurance agents build their business and institute themselves as a dependable authority.
Neil Fraser is director of digital marketing at STIR Advertising & Integrated Messaging, a full-service marketing agency in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.