Keywords are to Internet marketing what lists are to traditional marketing. Building a website, or a page on a website without considering keywords is like listing your business in a directory without telling people what you do. Like the phone directories of the past, search engines serve as directories. If you have a website, are building a website, or are thinking about building a website, consider how someone will find you in any of the online directories, with the main consideration going to Google. A cursory understanding of the search engine’s motives will help a great deal as you start to think about the search terms for which you want your firm to rank. In spite of what you may think, people are trying to find you.
The argument of who searches online is pretty much over. The starting point should be “everyone starts their search online”. What are the search terms that will give you the best possible chance for an ROI on your internet marketing investment? What keywords will best support your insurance marketing strategy?
I suggested focusing on Google. So, lets start with Google. Google is an index of websites whose purpose is to make a profit by delivering the best possible results to people who are searching their vast inventory/index of websites to find a specific solution. Consistent algorithm changes are usually made to ensure that we get the best possible results when we enter a keyword or phrase into the the search bar. Some of these algorithm changes are big news because they have a significant effect on the status quo, and others aren’t because they are less noticeable. These changes mostly affect the tactics used to promote keywords as opposed to the keywords themselves. If anything, updates have improved results by producing a smarter algorithm that now allows you rank for semantic variations of a word if you can’t rank for the word or phrase itself.
It used to be that we could utilize Google’s tools in AdWords to determine the viability of the keywords we thought would work the best. Today that’s no longer true. It’s especially tough in industries targeting larger businesses, such as the commercial insurance space where there usually isn’t enough recorded search traffic to measure.
How much traffic do you need in order to determine the viability of a search term? There are no real minimum numbers related to search. That would make it easy. When you research something like “Insurance” there is plenty of data but when you narrow your research to a more targeted search term like “staffing insurance” the data is a little less obvious and the traffic isn’t always relative to the search term. The other thing to consider is the business value of the keyword. Not everyone searching for “staffing insurance” is interested in buying staffing insurance. They could be doing research of one kind or another; which is still beneficial as you’ve now reached a prospect that you might not have before.
The rule of thumb is shorter words equal broader reach, more competition and higher traffic. Longer words (long tail keywords) more targeted, bring less traffic and less competition.
If you want to target short tail keywords with higher competition then you need budget more time and, or marketing dollars in order to compete. Targeting keywords for ranking is not a sprint. Its a much longer race that requires patience and persistence and one that will pay big dividends over a longer period of time when done correctly.
Your site has everything to do with executing your keyword strategy. How Google reads your site determines how your site is indexed. Without the proper on-page optimization and subsequent indexing, no amount of external SEO will matter. Page load times, architecture, site maps, and responsive design are essential to overall success.
If your site is set up properly and has a high page authority then you will have a better chance at competing for high value keywords. Mostly this is reserved for leading market brands with large marketing budgets. I’m referring to top carriers and National Brokers.
In the actual keyword research stage the best you can do with traffic is get an indicator. Search volume does not always translate to actual traffic. If you are an agent, most of what you do is focused locally and your entire strategy should revolve around local SEO and social media marketing. If you are a regional agency with a local presence that targets commercial insurance regionally, then your strategy is hybrid of local SEO, social media marketing and national long-tail keywords.
Start out by considering how people will find your business or the products and services displayed on your site. If you sell surety bonds, are you an MGA attracting agents or a retail agent attracting insureds? Are you marketing in the entire state, or just locally? Once you have identified the persona of the people who are looking for you, what do you think they will type in the search bar to find you? Make a list. Ask your clients. Ask the people in your agency.
Once you have selected keywords you want to target run some searches in Google and see what/who comes up. Are the first 5 results websites, directories, YouTube videos? Are they your competitors? If you see big brands and high authority websites showing up then that’s an indicator that it’s going to be challenging to compete. It will require more time and money to rank your site. Remember that each of the top ten results are not all created equal. You want to see what the search results are for the words you are considering and the quality of the content they are creating.
The next thing you have to check is your brand. You may think the name of your business is unique until you search for it and realize there are many other businesses across the country who thought the same thing. Its important to rank for your brand before you can rank for or be considered an authority for your product offerings.
Rank the keywords you you want to target in the order of importance. The most competitive variation of the word is the mother ship or the big fat target. Sometimes in order rank for the big fat target you have to start with semantic variations and work your way up the authority ladder. This brings us back to the continuing development of Google’s algorithm. The playing field is leveled because semantic search connects relevant search terms. This means you can start with less competitive derivatives or synonyms, earn SEO credibility for them and work your way up to the big fat target.
Successful insurance marketing strategies start with the right mix of keyword strategy and branding strategy. Working with the right internet marketing and SEO team is essential to your agency’s growth.