Insurance Agency Website Penalties

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Does your insurance agency website not rank well? It might be an algorithm penalty.Insurance Agency Websites Penalty SEO

by Taber Streur

Many new customers come to us because they’re frustrated with their insurance agency websites and not being successful in getting that site to rank well in the search engines. What many other search engine optimization (SEO) companies can’t figure out is what they’re doing wrong. Something that many don’t consider is that it may be the result of an algorithm penalty being assessed by the search engines for many different reasons.

Algorithms Explained

Search engines use algorithms to determine rankings within their search tools.  These algorithms are essentially all aspects of your website combined to give your site a score and nobody but Google, Yahoo and Bing know the algorithms codes. Search engine optimization companies like ours do our best to make websites that appeal to certain aspects that we’re confident they will like and avoid techniques known as “black hat” SEO that would create a penalty and cause the sites to not rank, or not rank on page one. While nobody can guarantee placement, we do our best to get your sites to rank on page one for targeted keywords.

Black Hat SEO – Things to avoid

  1.  Unrelated Keywords – Don’t add keywords to your insurance agency website in an effort to get additional website traffic. “Collision insurance is Nikon D3200 camera meant to protect your vehicle from …” Clearly a Nikon D3200 is a silly example, but you get the point. Stick to good content.
  2. Purchased Links – Link farms are the #1 reason sites we manage are penalized. In the past the agency worked with another company who purchased links on “Link farms.” The screenshot to the right is an example of what a link farm looks like. They are often crammed keywords into the sidebar or footer with a link to your site with specific anchor text. This looks incredibly spammy to the search engines and will penalize you. We once had a customer with over 14,000 links like this!
  3. Hidden Text – Adding keywords to a website page then making the font white on a white background so you can stuff keywords into the site is not going to help your efforts.
  4. Affiliated Site Links – Own more than one domain name? “Great I’ll just put a ton of links pointing to my main domain on that site!” Bad idea…

These are the three most common mistakes we see insurance agency companies make on their sites.

The good news

Algorithm penalties are created by just that… an algorithm from a computer system. Once you’re able to fix these mistakes on your site, it is likely that your site will recover. Remember, the search engines love good, unique, fresh content. If they feel that your website is full of SPAM or other black hat SEO techniques, you’ll likely be penalized.

If you need help with your insurance agency website or simply don’t want to manage the extensive process for your site, please reach out to us and we’d be happy to help. We are a full service insurance agency marketing company offering insurance agency websites, newsletters, blogs, social media management, content marketing and more. Visit us online at https://tostenmarketing.com

Top 10 Reasons to Invest in your Insurance Agency Website

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Why You Should Propel Your Business Forward with a Fresh New  Insurance Agency Website

by Taber Streur

With as many as 3 out of 4 consumers going to the internet first to research a product or service, it is more critical than ever for you to be there with a professional insurance agency website for them to review.Insurance Agency Websites Reasons

Insurance agency marketing has changed dramatically in the past 4-6 years. Primarily because of consumers usage of the internet for not only business transactions, but for social and educational purposes as well.

Insurance agents need to take control of their insurance agency marketing by taking advantage of search. If you don’t, you’re missing out on consumers who are searching for your products not only today, but every day. The beauty of having a great website is that it will work for you 24 hours a day, even when your business is not open.

A website serves many functions for your insurance agency:

  1. First impressions: Your website is your agencies new business card for ¾ consumers. If your website is out of date, does not function well, has errors or just plain doesn’t look good, this is what your business card says about your brand. Impress consumers with a functional, appealing website and you’ll close more new business.
  2. Minimize service work: Your website can house an area for payments and renewals with links to your carriers. By allowing customer’s access directly to your carriers through your website, you can free up your time for more important work like prospecting or writing new business.
  3. Attracts prospective customers through organic search: Successful search engine optimization for your insurance agency means more new business. Period. If you rank highly in the search engines with good SEO practices, you’re going to write more new business. If you’re not showing up in search results, consider investing in some SEO. Monthly packages are the best route versus paying to rank in top 3 or 5. By having SEO that builds over time, you’ll build a wall against your competitors too.
  4. Improves referral conversion: When someone refers me to another business locally, my first action is to go to the internet and pull up their website. Do I like what I see? If I don’t, even with a strong referral, I may take my business elsewhere. 2 out of 3 consumers say
    that they would rather purchase from a company they have never heard of who has a nice website, than from a company they’ve heard of that has an outdated site.
  5. Improve cross-sell:  When someone gets to your website for auto insurance, but then they see commercial auto as well as homeowners and umbrella insurance coverage is available to them, you increase your chances of getting that customer’s other business. Many agents tell me they could do a better job with cross-selling. Let your website do some of the lifting.
  6. Credibility: In today’s age, if a consumer can’t find your phone number or address via the internet, specifically a website with your name on it, it can seem shady and consumers will likely move onto the next.
  7. Cost effective: Compared to many other things you’ve invested marketing dollars in, a website can be a cost effective option. Many companies will offer you a domain, website hosting, email hosting and a professional website for as little as $149 a month. Compared to other marketing opportunities, this is a win any way you look at it.
  8. Market multiple products: Commercial auto, health insurance, motorcycle insurance, auto insurance all in one place! This makes your website an incredible value for marketing.
  9. Website is easier than a phone number: When you get referrals, someone would far more likely remember your name or a URL than a phone number or physical address.
  10. Accurately track: Websites are incredibly easy to track. Not only can you track how many visitors got to your website, but you can track what brought them to your site such as a keyword or referral from another site.

The benefits to having a professional, updated insurance agency website are obvious. If you’re looking to improve your new business a website should be your first step. But remember, simply having a website may not be enough. Invest in a website that is aesthetically pleasing to your visitors, is easily navigable and displays all of your products clearly. With a little work, you can improve new business and offer your existing customers the ability to service their own policies through your website. Be sure to come back and read our other blog post on search engine optimization (SEO) and local search for insurance agencies.

Tosten Marketing offers insurance agencies an affordable solution to marketing their insurance agency online. If you’d like a new website, we offer insurance agency website packages starting at just $149 a month. This gets you up to a 30 page, completely optimized website, website hosting and email hosting for up to 5 people at your location.

Can I Get Quick Results from my Online Insurance Agency Marketing?

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Marketing your Insurance Agency Online Requires Patience

by Taber T. Streur           Insurace Agency Marketing Takes Time

Now that you’ve made the decision to market your agency online, you want results! For many insurance agents, the decision to market their business through the use of the internet is a new and exciting venture. For others, the process is overwhelming. There are many things to take into consideration when you decide to market your agency online whether you’re using a professional insurance agency marketing company like Tosten Marketing, or whether you’re deciding to try it on your own.

1. Results will take time. Many don’t understand that the internet is actually stored on servers. When you make a change online, it can sometimes take up to a month for those changes to be reflected on Google or another search engine even though they may be active and live on your website. This process is called indexing. Indexing occurs when a search engine visits your website to see if there are any changes. If you’ve made changes to your website, the search engine will note those changes and store them on the computer.

2. Directories can take months to update. Local directory listings are a necessary evil. First off, there are literally hundreds of them you could fill out if you had enough time. Then, when you do take the time to fill them out, the directories will take up to 9 months to update your information! If you’ve recently moved, the process can be an unpleasant one. Start with the ones people use most, then move on to the local directory ecosystem and figure out what few sites can update many!  Remember to keep your name, address and phone number (NAP) consistent across all directories! Here are a few good ones that we start with that will get you almost immediate results if done correctly:

  • Google+ Local (and update with posts just like you do with Facebook!)
  • Bing Local Business Portal
  • Yahoo Local
  • Calculateme.com
  • BBB.org
  • MapQuest
  • Yelp
  • Angie’s List
  • Super Pages
  • Local.botw.org

Matt Marko, a Marketing Manager for Progressive Insurance, recently did a podcast where he explains much about local search, specifically Google+. It’s worth a listen as he explains why it is so much more than just a social media platform.

So, What Can I do While I’m Waiting for my Online Insurance Agency Marketing to Kick in?

Well, you should take a look at our previous blog post about what every insurance agency must do in 2013.  Here we discuss the importance of each aspect of marketing your business online. Furthermore, there are many things agency owners or managers can do themselves such as social media posts, blogging, and newsletters.

A successful marketing campaign can take over a year to build and it should be expected to see little if no results immediately, especially if you’re starting from scratch.  A recent customer of ours wanted to rank immediately for the keywords auto insurance Las Vegas. We explained this is a competitive market and results will take time! Don’t get discouraged, it will be worth your effort! If you can set aside an hour or two a week toward your online marketing efforts you can completely transform your marketing footprint. If you’re looking to get into a new website and build it out, consider platforms like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. They’re free content management system that easily allows you to update your website and blog until your heart is content. Best of all, they doesn’t require any complicated coding (for simple design)!

If the thought of marketing your insurance agency online is daunting, we’d be happy to lend a hand. We have affordable insurance agency marketing programs that can be up and running in as little as a week! Our customer’s time commitment is typically less than 15 minutes! Because our only customers are insurance agents, we understand what you do each day. Check out what others have to say about their experience with us by visiting our testimonials page.  Still have questions? Fill out the form on the right -> and we’ll get in touch with you to discuss how you can make change the direction of your insurance agency with a comprehensive marketing plan designed around your business. Happy marketing!

Tosten Marketing is dedicated to independent insurance agencies. Our programs are designed to be affordable for small to medium sized agencies. Currently Tosten Marketing markets for agents in 8 states across the U.S. If you’d like a free, no obligation consultation, please feel free to contact us.

7 Things Your Insurance Agency Must Do in 2013

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Insurance Agency Marketing in 20137 Things Your Insurance Agency Must Do in 2013

Insurance Agency Marketing in 2013

by Taber Streur

The New Year is upon us and it is the best time to implement your marketing plans for the coming year. No doubt you have some goals, but how are you going to get there? By utilizing the 7 items below, you can start your year off right and get a head start on achieving your goals. If any of them are too much for you, feel free to contact us at Tosten Marketing for help.

1. Modernize your website

Consumers want to purchase from a company that has a nice website. Of 200 people surveyed about making a purchase decision, only 3 said that the company’s website had no effect on their purchase decision. If your website is old, outdated or has stale content on it, consider updating it early this year. There is no reason to wait! Consider these few items when creating your new website:

  1. Each page should have a minimum of 400 words on it.
  2. Put your most important products first. Search engines read the pages from top to bottom, left to right. (And, so do consumers, usually!)
  3. Avoid templates (themes are okay). Your business is unique – Your website should be too.
  4. Write your content for consumers, not for search engines.
  5. Include your social media links and a company blog.

2. Blog

What exactly is a blog? A blog is simply short for weblog. A blog is a great place to showcase ideas and add valuable content to your website, regularly. A blog easily allows you to write about a new service, lower rates, explain coverages and more. When you blog, it adds new, fresh content to your website. Search engines love this. WordPress is a valuable blogging software that can easily be added to your domain such as http://tostenmaketing.com/learn (we chose to use learn, rather than the word blog).

3. Produce Video

Video is important now, and it was important last year. If you haven’t started to utilize video at your insurance agency, now is the time. Video is important because it is considered rich media and the search engines love this! We take video a step further and include search engine optimization (SEO) with our client videos. This allows them to show up in search results and can direct more traffic to your website. What content should your videos contain? How about an agent explaining what comprehensive coverage covers, or what water damage isn’t covered by a typical home insurance policy. The topics are limitless.

4. Get a Mobile Website

Okay, we’ve been hearing it for a few years now, but currently only about 15% of our agents website traffic comes through on mobile devices. 2013 just might be the year that this changes. How many people do you know have a smartphone? A tablet? Probably quite a few! Mobile will soon outpace the desktop for search. Your agency should be prepared with a mobile friendly website. Be sure to include a link to your whole site, but general guidelines for a mobile website should be a clear location, phone number and brief description of your business. Keep it simple with minimal pictures to improve load times.

5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization can be a painstaking process, requires constant attention and you must follow Google’s strict webmaster guidelines to ensure you don’t get put into the “sandbox.” Take that and pair it with the fact that insurance is one of the most competitive industries on the internet and you’ve got quite a task ahead of you! When optimizing your website look for easy wins. It’s not easy to rank for “Insurance Seattle, WA” so don’t waste your homepage on that term. Look for niche markets such as a small insurance company you represent with a large local presence. Here in the northwest we have several such as Mutual of Enumclaw, PEMCO, Oregon Mutual, Sublimity and more! Optimizing for these terms gives you a better chance of ranking on page one than if you were to try to compete with national carriers such as Farmers, Allstate and GEICO. Look for local optimization wins and be sure to utilize Google’s free keyword tool (just Google “keyword tool.”)

6. LinkedIn

Tosten Marketing can tell you first hand that we’ve gotten business through LinkedIn! LinkedIn is a powerful tool to create a professional network unlike any other. Think about all that is “overshared” on Facebook and then contrast that with the professional posts that are written on LinkedIn. LinkedIn offers you the opportunity to work with others such as real estate agents, mortgage brokers and other small business owners to generate business for each other. If you haven’t already, create a profile, spend some time clearly explaining what you do and then start searching for people to network with. Networking does generate referrals! We’re proof!

7. Create a Newsletter

It is said that it is 75% less expensive to retain an existing customer that it is to gain a new one. It is also said that the #2 reason (second only to price) that people leave their insurance agent is they haven’t heard from their agent. A newsletter is a fantastic way to stay in touch with your existing customers. In your newsletter, talk about seasonal risks such as boating or motorcycles, pipes freezing and cleaning your gutters. Talk about a new insurance company you have, highlight a new endorsement you offer. By sending out a newsletter you can touch your customers, showing that your agency is still working for them, informing of any changes that may impact them. They add value.

By taking these steps now, you’re sure to get more business and make for a better year for your insurance agency. If you feel that the above tips are too much, please feel free to contact us. We know you’ll be amazed at the value we offer our clients. Best of luck in the New Year!