In your never-ending quest to find new insurance clients, you need every tool in the toolbox to bring in the qualified leads needed to grow your book of business. Google says that at least 80 percent of consumers search locally (meaning they would rather shop locally), so ranking high on the page for insurance agencies in your town or area is crucial to your online success. While it’s hard to rank higher than the big guys, your agency CAN rank high locally. The secret? Local search optimization. Keep reading for top local SEO hacks for insurance agencies that you can start right now.
How to run with the big dogs
Even as a small business, you can rank locally right up near the top, increasing the visibility of your agency. It just takes a bit of work on your part. Some tasks are easy, like claiming your Google Business page; others are more difficult, such as getting online reviews, because you are depending on others to help.
Related: Nail 3 new marketing skills, #3: Customer Reviews
In Google’s quest to always provide the optimum search experience for all of its users, they’re constantly updating their search algorithms. While these updates drive us marketers crazy, they’re crucial to Google’s ability to provide the best on-page results, even with local searches. The good news is, even if the searcher doesn’t specify the city, Google knows when they are local to you, and will only show local results. That is why we say you can rank higher than the big dogs – or at least right up there with them.
Six insurance agency local SEO hacks
Here are the top local SEO tactics you need to deploy so that insurance shoppers will find YOU, rather than your competitor down the street.
On your website
1. Add your location to your home page. Your address is obviously in the footer of your website, so it appears on every page, but it helps to add a short sentence in the web text. If you just have one location, add a sentence to your home page text that says something like “We handle personal insurance needs for Encinitas and North San Diego County residents, from auto and boat to homeowners policies” or “We provide solutions for all commercial risks for business owners in North Dallas” (or “Dallas” or “the Metroplex”).
Think strategically here to define your location term that you want to optimize for. If you have more than one location, be sure to mention the various locations on your home page, even if it’s just a listing. Many agencies have a photo of their city skyline on their home page – if you do, be sure that in the alt text, you’ve added real text like “Smith Agency, Minneapolis” rather than just “Image 2345.”
2. Check your address. Don’t skip this step. It may sound like a no-brainer, but believe me, it isn’t – and it’s critical. Make sure that your business name, address and phone number are listed on your website exactly the way you want them listed. Then, moving forward, you must use that EXACT same text in everything else you create online. This crucial step can’t be over-stressed. If all your address or phone listings aren’t identical, you’ll confuse Google and your local SEO will grind to a halt.
Here’s what we mean: Let’s say your agency is listed like this on your website:
Smith, Jones, Marks & Tubbs Insurance Agency
123 North Main Street
Then moving forward, don’t list your agency as
SJM&T Insurance Agency
123 N. Main
404-555-1245 (your assistant’s phone number, who’s always in the office)
In the second listing, the agency name is abbreviated, “North” is abbreviated and the phone number is changed. Don’t do that – instead, be consistent. This will make sense in steps 4 and after.
3. Add a local webpage(s). Whether you have just one location or six, to optimize for local search results, you need a location webpage for each location. Here’s what you need to include on each page:
- The title tag, meta description and H1 tag should include location-specific keywords, whether it’s a city or something like North Coastal County San Diego. Your title tag and meta description don’t actually show up on your webpage, but instead appear on the search engine results page. The H1 tag is your page’s headline, and should also include your location.
- Add a subhead (H2, H3, or H4 tag) using your location as well.
- Add an image of your city or local area, and be sure to add alt text as noted under #1.
- Embed a Google Map that shows your location.
- Include location-specific content such as driving directions, where to park, nearby landmarks or points of interest, even something as trivial as “If you visit us in the morning, be sure to grab a cup of coffee at (name of coffee shop) or a quick breakfast at (name of café).” Yes, it’s off-subject, but you’re sending important signals to Google that you are indeed local.
On Google Maps, Google My Business and Google Plus
Whew! This sounds like a lot, but actually, when you do one, you’ve done all three. Here’s how you start:
4. Add your agency to Google My Business.
- Go to https://www.google.com/business/ and click the green “START NOW” button. It will bring up a U.S. map, and a box where you can type in your business name and address. When results show, click “Are you the business owner?”
- Claim your listing. Google will walk you through the steps to authenticate that you actually are the business owner. They will either call or most likely mail you a postcard, with steps to verify your business. Yes, it’s a hassle, but it also protects business owners from having random people claim their business and wreak havoc online.
- Once you have followed their steps to claim your listing, you can add to and update it. Ensure that your company name, address and phone are identical to what’s on your website, as we talked about previously. Check your business hours, listing them for all days.
- Next, choose your business category. Google provides categories that define your business’s services; unfortunately, you can only pick from their options – you can’t create your own. You may find you need to choose more than one. If so, just make sure the first one you select is the best fit for your agency, because it will be your primary listing.
- Add photos. You need at least two: a background photo, which is the large banner-sized image up top, and a profile photo, the smaller image that’s inserted into the background photo. Your background photo can be a cityscape of your city, a shot of the exterior of your building, a group shot of your team or a stock image that conveys the types of insurance you sell. Your profile image is typically your company logo, but it can also be your personal photo.
- Write a brief description. No doubt you’ll go through several edits here, but, in just a few short sentences, describe your business and most importantly, what you do better than your competition. It’s your elevator pitch or your value proposition: what sets you apart from other agencies. Include the insurance products and services you provide.
- Save and publish the changes.
- Made a mistake? Don’t sweat it. Just go back and edit.
On Bing Places for Business
5. Generate your Bing listing. Get started at https://www.bingplaces.com/, where you’ll complete steps very similar to what you did for Google:
- Claim your listing. Again, be sure to use the exact name, address and phone number as you’ve used on your website.
- Complete your profile by adding contact information, hours, photos, services and products offered. You can use the same images and descriptive text that you used in your Google listing.
- Verify your listing via mail, phone or email.
Now build your cred
6. Gather good reviews. Now go after ratings and reviews from your satisfied clients. Great reviews are worth their weight in gold. Ask clients to post them on your Google site and on Yelp as well. From there, you can copy them and add a new webpage on your website titled “What our clients say” or “Testimonials” and paste them there, with a link to the actual review. Post one a week on your social media pages as well, and call it “Kudos from our Clients.”
Why go to all the trouble? For several reasons: First, Google is more likely to show your agency on a local results page if you have positive ratings. Also, according to a study by Search Engine Land, nearly three-fourths of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.
So get in the habit of asking for reviews. There are several ways to do so:
- To your email signature line, add a request with a link to where they would post.
- At the end of every sale or service phone call or visit, simply ask.
- Provide simple instructions for them, to make the process as easy and painless as possible. You want to remove as many barriers as you can that might make them stop mid-stream.
- Here’s a free tool that may help you – Whitespark’s Review Handout Generator. Just enter your company information and upload your company logo, and the free tool will generate customized PDF instructions that you can provide your clients, to walk them through the review process. Brought to our attention by Zurich and Perficient, Whitespark’s focus is local SEO for small-to-large businesses, so browse their website for more helps.
These six steps will get you well on your way to ranking higher on local search pages online. One more bit of advice: be patient, as it often takes a couple of months for you to begin to see any results. Just keep adding those positive reviews, and you’ll slowly climb higher, until you’re running with the big dogs!
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