Abram Interstate Insurance Services, Inc., CMGA

Helping Independent Insurance Agents Since 1996

SEO Guides for Independent Insurance Agents

As an Insurance Agent, you can only do your job if you have clients. And one of the ways the public finds the services they need is by looking to the internet. We live in a tech age, and even when people want to ask their friends for a referral to a new service provider (whether that’s a dentist, dog groomer, or insurance agent), they often do it via social media.

You may be missing out on many prospective customers if only they could find you. As such, we’ve created a series of articles to help you utilize all of the FREE, SIMPLE ways that you can up your Search Engine Optimization (SEO – how “findable” your insurance agency is online) yourself without having to hire any marketing specialists. The best part is that these things create what’s called organic SEO growth which means that these steps will help you step up your online game indefinitely, not just temporarily.

So, have at it! And of course, for any questions on placing a risk with us once you have business coming in from your new leads, you can chat with us online HERE now.

UP YOUR SEO WITH THESE FREE, SIMPLE STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS:

Part 1: Google Verification

Part 2: Bing Verification

Part 3: Yahoo Verification

Part 4: Google Reviews

Part 5: Yelp

Part 6: Facebook


UP YOUR SEO Part 1: Google Verification

If you’re an independent insurance agent, chances are you’re that, plus an accountant, plus an office administrator, plus a marketer, plus “whatever-the-heck-else-needs-to-be-done-around-here” expert.

Owning your own independent insurance agency, or working on a small team at one carries a lot of weight and requires that you often wear multiple hats. We understand that, so we want to help you with some basic marketing tips.

First off, we’ll show you some simple steps you can take to immediately work on your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). (That’s marketing lingo for how easy you are to find online and how high up you come in the searches people do on search engines like google.)

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be sharing with you how to work on your SEO and become more find-able online.

Up Your Small Business SEO | Abram Interstate

First off, GOOGLE:

Google is definitely still the leading search engine, and there’s no surprise there. It is to search engines as Xerox is to copy machines and Kleenex is to facial tissue — we use the brand as the generic term, and we even use it as a verb: “What’s the average elephant weigh?” “I don’t know. Just google it.”

As of March 1, 2016, eBizMBA estimated Google has 1,100,000,000 unique users per month, and approximately 65% of all searches done online are done through Google.

So we’re going to use Google as our biggest emphasis in getting you “find-able” online, and to determine your current standings.

  • Step 1: Do a few test searches to see where you rank (if you rank) on the search results. Search terms like “insurance agent in (your city)” or search for a specific insurance product you carry plus your city name. I.E.  (insurance product) AND (your city).

Do you see your insurance business coming up in the results? If not, that’s ok! You have some work to do, but we’ll give you some practical steps to take to make mounds and leaps in terms of you being able to be found by potential customers online.

  • Step 2: Verify your business on Google by going HERE and following the steps. (If you don’t have a google email address, you will need to create one to manage this. It’s free and easy to create one. You can do so by going to www.gmail.com, and pressing the button “Create an account.” Once you’ve done this you can continue.)
    • Put as much accurate information as possible about your location, hours of operation, and especially YOUR WEBSITE. Putting your website on this verified business listing on google will up your search engine listings immensely. Also try to include a couple of photos, or at least your company logo if you have one.
  • Step 3: Encourage customers to leave reviews for you on google. When they search your business name and city, your listing will pop up with an option for them to review your business. Ask them for their honest feedback and be open to some criticism. The more google reviews you receive, the higher your ranking will be in the search results, but Google will flag and remove reviews that seem fake, that come from the same IP address (so multiple reviews cannot come from the same computer), or that appear to have been bribed (don’t offer your customers incentives for leaving you reviews. The google algorithm is very intelligent and can sense these things pretty easily based on what they know an honest, unsolicited review to look like.).
  • Step 4: Check back next week to learn about more steps to up your SEO and become more find-able.

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UP YOUR SEO Part 2: Bing Verification

As an Independent Insurance agent, we understand that your job involves lots of different areas of expertise. One of the main ways to grow your insurance agency, as with any small business, is to focus some efforts on marketing.

Last week we started to share with you how to increase your Search Engine Optimization and to become more easily found in search engine results when people in your area are looking for an insurance agent.

To read about how to make your business more visible on GOOGLE, read part one from last week HERE.

photo credit: SEO Basics via photopin (license)

photo credit: SEO Basics via photopin (license)

Now let’s tackle, Bing:

Like we talked about in part 1, Google is by far the most used search engine in the world. However, Bing comes in second and while they are used separately and operate separately, often times Bing and Yahoo are lumped together because of their ownership and their algorithms. (We’ll go over what you should do to optimize your yahoo listings in our next blog post.) But Bing on its own is the second most used search engine in the world, and while it’s estimated 350,000 unique monthly users are a fraction of those Google has, they’re still not a small enough chunk that you can afford to ignore.

Many people use whatever default search engine their computer has programed, and in many cases now, that search engine is Bing or Yahoo. And like it or not, Bing search results will be different than Google’s, because Bing operates differently.

Here’s what you need to do right away to get your insurance agency business more visible on Bing so that prospective customers find you when they look for an insurance agent in your area.

  1. Go to the Bing Places for Business page HERE.
  2. BUT FIRST — You will need a Microsoft email account to be able to complete this process. Don’t have one? You can create one for free HERE, and while it might be a pain to have another email address floating out there, like we said previously, Bing is still a big enough fish that you can’t ignore it. So shake your head, create the free account quickly, then get back to business helping people find your business.
  3. To register and verify your business listing, you’ll simply follow the three easy steps listed on the screen when you go to the Bing Places for Business link above. Once you sign in and find your business, you’ll be prompted on what to do each step of the way. Easy peasy.
    1. Claim your listing.Chances are Bing has a listing for your business already. Claim an existing listing or add a new one. If your business has multiple locations you can add them in one go using the bulk upload tool.

    2. Complete your listing profile. Adding complete information about your business helps you tell the best story about your business. You can add photos of your business & services, hours of operation, services offered and list the various ways customers can reach your business.
    3. Verify your listing. Protect your listing from unauthorized changes by verifying it. You can verify your listings by receiving a PIN at your business address, phone or email. All businesses must provide a valid address, but some types of businesses can hide their address in search results. (We suggest using the phone verification as it is the fastest, and after you verify your listing, Bing still reviews everything which can take a couple of weeks before your listed content gets approved and goes live.)

Congratulations! You just became more find-able on the second most used search engine in the country.

To increase your visibility and your SEO even farther for Bing, you can focus on trying to get your customers to review you on Yelp.com, as yelp is factored into Bing’s algorithm for how it bumps search results to the top.

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UP YOUR SEO Part 3: Yahoo Verification

Independent Insurance agents like you have a lot on their plate. We get that. And we want to help make your job a little easier and a little better by helping you bring in more (and better) business to your agency with only a few simple (and free) steps.

It’s easy and normal to assume that marketing, and especially Search Engine Optimization is complicated and costly for your small business. While that can be true in some ways, there are a few easy things you can do for free to boost your ranking on search engines right now.

A few weeks we started to share with you how to increase your Search Engine Optimization and to become more easily found in search engine results when people in your area are looking for an insurance agent.

Now let’s tackle the last of the big three, Yahoo:

Often times Bing and Yahoo are lumped together because of their ownership and their algorithms. While they largely work together and influence each other, you need to take some specific steps to become findable on Yahoo in addition to (and separately from) Bing.  There are other search engines out in the world, but Google, Bing, and Yahoo should be considered the be three, and they’re the ones you need to be aware of as you try to boost your online presence.

Here’s what you need to do right away to get your insurance agency business more visible on Yahoo (which actually will help to make you more findable on Bing and Google as well)  so that prospective customers find you when they look for an insurance agent in your area.

  1. Go to the Yahoo Free Business Listings Scan HERE.
  2. Type in your business information that it asks for and press the continue button.
  3. The next page you come to will be a thorough list of nearly all of your internet listings for your business (including your listings on other search engines, social medias, review sites, etc.). This can be interesting to browse, but don’t be too concerned about what you see here. Chances are almost 100% that on the right on each of those listings you’ll see the listing as being “not verified through yext.” DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THIS. THIS IS A SALES TACTIC USED BY YAHOO THAT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING SUBSTANTIAL ABOUT THOSE LISTINGS. What this list IS good for, though, is to show you all of the listings you have online. You can click the link next to each one to see the listing itself on that page (for example, you can see what your google listing looks like, your facebook listing, etc.)
  4. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Continue”.
  5. You will be taken to an “Update your listing” page. Fill out all of the information accurately for your business. Make sure that the email address you give is OK to be listed publicly.
  6. Press Continue.
  7. You will now be on a “Select your plan” page which tries to sell you a boosted ranking through yahoo and their partner company, Yext. While you may choose to purchase any of these options, marketing specialists would argue that money in your marketing budget could be better spent elsewhere. What we’re focusing on today are the FREE ways to boost your SEO. So, that being said, scroll down below those options and look for the smaller text button that says: “Claim your Basic Listing Only on Yahoo.”
  8. You will now be on the “Yahoo Basic Listing Checkout” page. Confirm your business listing info and your contact info. Check the boxes to agree to the terms of service and to confirm that you’re not a robot. Press the “Place Order” button. An email will be send to your email address you provided to finalize your listing.

Congratulations! You just became more find-able on the third most used search engine in the country.

To increase your visibility and your SEO even farther for Yahoo and Bing, you can focus on trying to get your customers to review you on Yelp.com, as yelp is factored into Yahoo and Bing’s algorithm for how it bumps search results to the top. Look at the part 5 below about setting up and claiming a Yelp account for your Insurance Agency!

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UP YOUR SEO Part 4: Google Reviews

If you go to a search engine like google and type in the name of your agency, don’t be too proud if your company shows up as the top result.

Many small businesses receive calls regularly from SEO (Search Engine Optimization) marketing companies explaining how they will help that business become number one on google. Sometimes, small business owners feel like they don’t need those services because when they google their company’s name, their company is already the top result in the search.

This is faulty thinking. If your company is the top result when your company named is searched, that’s a great start, but not a great end. (If your company is NOT the first result that comes up, we suggest these easy, free steps listed in the previous posts in this series to help you become number one in that arena: READ Part 1 (Google), Part 2 (Bing), and Part 3 (Yahoo).

The realty is, when your run-of-the-mill average Joe of your town is looking for insurance, they’re not going to go to google and type in your name unless you’ve already done some great marketing and they 1) know of you, 2) remember you, and 3) have your company name accurate enough to search for it.

What they’re going to do is go to google or another search engine and type in generic terms like “Insurance agents in ____, CA” — or something even less specific. That’s what SEO marketing agency’s are trying to promise (and they can do a good job, though some of them don’t, and they can be quite costly).

SEO is about getting your company to become “find-able” online, not just when your company’s name is searched, but when someone is looking for an insurance agent in your area of expertise in your area.

One of the biggest things that can help your search engine rankings is getting reviewed by your customers.  Each search engine factors in reviews for your business differently into their algorithm, so we’ll tackle them one by one.

First: Google Reviews

Google (again, by far the largest and widest used search engine in the world) ranks businesses higher when they have more (and better) GOOGLE reviews.

If you went through the steps listed in Part 1 of this series on upping your SEO, then you registered as a verified business with Google. That’s the first step to this process. Once you’re a verified business, then you can not only receive reviews, but you can also respond to them via your Business’ Google+ page (in the case of any unhappy customers that you would like to address directly in a public reply to their comment, so others can see you handling bad situations and making them right, or addressing faulty claims — or in the case of just responding to customers thanking them for reviewing you etc.)

Encourage customers to leave reviews for you on google. When they search your business name and city, your listing will pop up with an option for them to review your business. Ask them for their honest feedback and be open to some criticism. The more google reviews you receive, the higher your ranking will be in the search results, but Google will flag and remove reviews that seem fake, that come from the same IP address (so multiple reviews cannot come from the same computer), or that appear to have been bribed (don’t offer your customers incentives for leaving you reviews. The google algorithm is very intelligent and can sense these things pretty easily based on what they know an honest, unbiased review to look like.).

Reviews on google will act like a long-lasting buoy for your business, constantly helping you gain some floating ability to stay nearer to the top than businesses without google reviews.

Congratulations! You just became more find-able without spending a dime.

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UP YOUR SEO Part 5: Yelp

One more place that people use more and more to search for businesses is Yelp. If you’re unfamiliar with yelp, it is a review site where regular people go to search for particular types of businesses around them. Instead of going to google to search “Insurance Agencies near me,” people are starting to go to yelp.com for that same search. And what shows up won’t just be lots of different web pages which may or may not be pertinent — the search result only generates business listings, and each business listing has customer reviews ready and waiting to be read (if that business has been reviewed).

Yelp also works into the algorithm for search engines Bing and Yahoo. Just like Google will rank businesses higher based on their number and quality of google reviews like we talked about in Part 4, Bing and Yahoo rank businesses similarly by using their yelp reviews.

So, without further ado, it’s time to create a Yelp page for your business. It’s easy and free, and you need to do it.

Now: Yelp Reviews

  1. Go to https://biz.yelp.com
  2. Search your Insurance Agency’s Name.
  3. Click “Claim Business”
  4. Enter your name and email address. Type in a password you want to use that you will remember.
  5. Verify your account through the email that will be emailed to you from yelp to the email address you entered previously. You will click the link in the email and then be prompted to sign in with the email and password you created in step 4.
  6. Fill out the pertinent info on your business including location, contact, hours of operation and photos.
  7. Encourage your customers to review you on yelp.

Some business owners decide not to register a yelp page for their business because they’re afraid of getting bad reviews. But here’s why you need to anyway: 1) People can leave good or bad reviews for your business even if you’ve never claimed your page. (You may already have reviews and not even know about it.) 2) Creating a page that’s up to date with accurate and helpful info about your insurance agency can gain favor with customers. And 3) Registering/creating your yelp page for your agency will give you the platform to respond directly either publically or privately to anyone who leaves a review, so it can be a great place to address erroneous complaints or bad reviews. Take control of how people see your insurance agency. Register your yelp page today.

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UP YOUR SEO Part 6: Facebook

Business Tips for Insurance Agents | Wholesale Insurance broker CA

photo credit: SEO via photopin (license)

If your company has NOT already completed the steps of verifying your business listings with the three major search engines, learn how to do so for free in the previous posts in this SEO series: READ Part 1 (Google), Part 2 (Bing), and Part 3 (Yahoo).

The last main place your business needs to have a presence online is on Facebook.  As our culture becomes a more online culture, we’ve also become a more social culture. People are now more likely than ever before to care about if a business has a facebook page. And it’s not because they want to be “friends” with your insurance agency — it’s because they care what real life people have to say about your business — and facebook is a place where those thoughts are shared. Facebook reviews, while they don’t factor into search engine algorithms as much as google+ reviews and yelp reviews, do still factor into your overall search results.

And if it comes down to your agency and another agency when a potential insurance customer is looking for a place to go with their insurance needs, and one of you has reviews and a fan base on facebook and the other doesn’t — people are more likely to go with the agency that has the facebook presence.

Think about it — facebook has become an integral part of most people’s daily routines. They find out about pop culture news, weather news, and social news all from their friends and the pages they follow. Why wouldn’t they go there for opinions on a local business like an insurance agency?

Here’s the catch — it doesn’t matter as much what kind of things you post on your facebook page as it does that you simply have one and that you get business reviews on it.

So, let’s get going.

  • If you don’t already have a business page on facebook, click HERE.
  • Follow the prompted steps. Learn about the power of marketing tools via facebook. Update all the pertinent business info like you’ve done for the other search engine business listings we’ve gone through before.
  • Start asking your customers to like your business page and for business reviews on facebook ASAP.

If you’re more on the tech savvy and/or marketing savvy side of things, facebook is a powerful free tool to have in your toolkit. The insights section of your page, Once you’ve established a following (a number of people who have “liked” your page), the insights section of your page will tell you a lot of powerful information about the people who have liked your page. It will show you how much people interact with different kinds of posts you put out there. It will show you the breakdown on the demographics of the people who like your page, as well as their facebook-use habits (i.e. what time of day they are online most, where they are located, etc). These insights will help you get to know your potential market better, and is a great place to continue to play and learn as you expand your marketing efforts.

Congratulations! You just became more find-able without spending a dime.

And now that you’ll be easier to find online, make sure you are equipped to meet the needs of your new customers who find you on Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, and Facebook: Quote Online Now HERE with Abram Interstate, or browse our wholesale insurance products that will meet your customer’s needs at the links provided below.

Browse our Wholesale Agribusiness and Equine Insurance Products HERE.

Browse our Wholesale Commercial Insurance Products HERE.

Browse our Wholesale Personal Lines Insurance Products HERE.

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