Most of today’s business owners know that visibility in online searches is the key to attracting new customers. Regardless of business size or type, the principles of search engine optimization (SEO) can help improve a firm’s ability to be found in online searches, allowing them to connect with a steady stream of potential new customers. One of the leading strategies in SEO for insurance agents is that of link-building; this facet of SEO not only improves search visibility, it also produces real results in terms of increasing website traffic. Unfortunately, the practice of link-building may not be familiar to many people. This guide can help unravel the unfamiliarity and confusion about link-building, demonstrating how it can help your business grow.
Links and the Google Search Algorithm
The modern search engine algorithm – the set of rules search engines use to create ranked results for users – is complex, with hundreds of different components that can influence a given website’s ranking in search results. One of the most influential of those components is links, including links within a page’s own content (internal links) as well as links pointing towards a website from external resources (inbound links) and links directing readers to external resources (outbound links).
Links have been the foundation of Google’s search algorithm from the very beginning. For search engines, links pointing toward and away from a given website signal a site’s authority; the algorithm calculates that the more links pointing toward it from external sources, the more likely that site is to be authoritative and relevant in its content. Most SEO professionals agree that links will continue to be one of the leading authority signals for years to come. In SEO for insurance agents, that means creating links through link-building strategies.
Fundamentals of Link-Building
In years past, website developers used many tactics to create links to and from their websites. So-called “webrings” were formed, joining together groups of sites with the express purpose of linking to the sites within the group. Other sites were created just for linking purposes, including sites that had no real content, only outbound links. While these practices have fallen out of favor, and in some cases may result in ranking penalties on search engines, the fundamental process of link-building remains.
In simple terms, link-building is the strategy by which websites reach out to external resources in the hopes of gaining inbound links. This can be accomplished in different ways, including:
- Creating your own links on social media platforms, business directories, and review sites.
- Creating relationships with online influencers and receiving inbound links from those platforms.
- The organic development of inbound links that are earned or placed editorially by external resources.
The key to success in link-building is to develop a healthy “linking profile”, where different types of resources are pointing to and from your site. Some of these links can be earned naturally, while others are placed on your behalf. The more varied and natural the links, the more likely Google will rank your website as authoritative. In general, the more reputable the external linking sources, the better for your search rankings.
Getting Started with Link-Building
As with any SEO for insurance agents strategy, there are several methods to use when starting a link-building initiative. The first is by reaching out to others via email or online messaging. It is entirely possible to build valuable relationships with others in this way, and that process is often helped by offering something of value, like a guest post or an industry news item. Offering to exchange links can also be helpful.
The next step is to take advantage of any and every external linking source you can find. This includes:
- Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest
- Industry-specific directories
- Review sites (Yelp, Yellow Pages)
- Google My Business and its related properties like Google Maps
By placing links on these properties, your site will be well on its way to improving search visibility.
Finally, it is a good idea to identify influential people or entities within your industry category. For insurance agents, this can include news media outlets, insurance-related journals, business organizations, and insurance information resources. Each of these potential linking partners represents an authoritative and trustworthy voice; links pointing back to your own website from those sources pays big dividends in terms of search visibility. By using link-building in your SEO toolkit, you can improve search results rankings, connect with new audiences, and cement your place as a trusted, relevant, and high-quality website.
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