Keeping up with search engines’ algorithms and ranking factors can be difficult, time-consuming, and confusing. Plus, it can be difficult to identify what advice is accurate and based on fact.
In our latest 20 Minute Marketing Webinar, BrightFire Sales Executive Spencer Breidenbach identifies and debunks common search engine optimization myths to help you better understand what elements search engines look for when ranking websites. He also offers insights to help you feel more confident on knowing how to develop a long-term SEO strategy.
Topics he covers include:
- Website SEO Myths
- SEO Content Myths
- Search Engine Results Page Myths
- SEO Expectations Myths
Finally, Spencer details how BrightFire’s Ultimate SEO Bundle, which includes our Insurance Agency Websites, Reviews & Reputation Management, and Local Listings Management services, offers everything your independent insurance agency needs to get ranked in Google.
Watch The Webinar
If you have any questions about this webinar or our Ultimate SEO Bundle, please contact us or call us at (888) 778-4393.
Chelsea: Hello everyone. My name is Chelsea Peterson. I’m a Digital Marketing Coordinator here at BrightFire, as well as your host for today’s 20 Minute Marketing Webinar. Thank you again for joining us today. We are really excited to have you guys. Last month, if you were here, we discussed Recent Local Search Trends to Help Your Insurance Agency’s Business Listings. If you missed it or any of the previous webinars and our 20 Minute Marketing Webinar series, you can access the whole series on-demand at www.brightfire.com/webinars. Our goal in these webinars is to provide you guys with some digital marketing advice and discuss current digital marketing topics in a brief 20-minute format, followed by a Q&A period at the end to answer any questions that you have. If you do have any questions throughout the webinar at all, you can go ahead and drop them in the Q&A feature found at the bottom of the screen on Zoom, and we’ll answer them all at the end.
Chelsea: If for whatever reason we don’t get to your question, we will reach out to you via email afterward. Today’s webinar topic is Common Insurance SEO Myths Debunked. It will be presented by Spencer Breidenbach, one of our Sales Executives here at BrightFire. Keeping up with search engine algorithms and ranking factors can be difficult, time-consuming, and confusing. That’s why today Spencer will focus on identifying and debunking some common SEO myths so you can create a successful long-term SEO strategy that’ll increase your agency’s visibility and top search engines.
Chelsea: Today’s webinar is being recorded, so everything we discuss will be saved and emailed to you in the next business day or two so you can watch it later on-demand as well. And lastly, we will launch a poll during today’s webinar, so when that is launched, you’ll see the poll pop up on your screen with the question and multiple-choice options. We’ll give you guys roughly 30 seconds to share your response, and then we’ll discuss the anonymous results with the group. With that being said, I’ll go ahead and hand it over to Spencer to kick off today’s webinar.
Spencer: Well, thanks so much, Chelsea. And thanks to everybody taking some time to join in this afternoon. Today there are four broad categories of SEO myths that we’ll cover. We’ll talk about each of these buckets and then dive into more details on some particular myths associated with each. First, we’ll talk through some common misconceptions that folks may have pertaining to their agency’s website. Then we’ll dig a little deeper into the actual content within your website and debunk a few myths regarding the length of content and how many keywords are needed on each page in order to rank these successfully. Then, we’ll move over to some myths we commonly hear regarding the search engine results pages (SERPs) themselves. We’ll talk through some different ranking factor myths and some common misconceptions folks have about their specific circumstances, such as, “Hey, how does my company size or where I’m located affect me?”
Spencer: Then the fourth category we’ll talk through is some general SEO expectations insurance agents have about things like how quickly will you start to see results and how much time and effort is needed to keep up with algorithm updates and stay ahead of your competitors on search engines? Finally, we’ll talk a little bit about how our Ultimate SEO Bundle can support your agency’s efforts to grow your online presence and give you a consolidated effective long-term SEO strategy to address everything. So the first myth we’ve got today is that SEO is only related to my website. A lot of times you’ll talk to agents that believe the only elements that matter, the only criteria Google’s really looking at to determine your rankings, is just solely the on-page ranking factors like the amount of content or the technical performance of their website.
Spencer: Obviously, that part of it is super important, but it’s not only that, that Google’s looking at. They want to take into account the entire overall online credibility of your independent insurance agency in determining that ranking. That’s also including off-page ranking factors like how many backlinks you have, meaning how many other websites see your agency as credible and link to one of your pages. Other really influential factors are your online reviews and local listings like Google My Business and Yelp. Search engines want to show their visitors content that’s going to be the most helpful and relevant to them. Bing and Google, among others, are going to be more likely to rank your agency if they see that you’re keeping your local business listings actively updated with correct information.
Spencer: They’ll also check to see that the info you’ve got, not only present, but that it’s really 100% consistent across all the different listings that they’ll be checking. In addition to that, you’ll rank higher if other individuals offer reviews and ratings showcasing what they’ve gotten out of the relationship and that they enjoy working with your agency. Moving on to the next SEO myth, I often will hear agents say, “Hey, I have to have a page up for every single city I want to sell insurance in, right? In this case, when I’m talking about pages here, what I mean is publishing similar product pages, but just duplicating them to make specific ones to different areas. You might have something like, “Auto insurance Arlington,” “Car Insurance in Dallas,” and “Houston Auto Insurance.”
Spencer: In that example, each page is just the same boilerplate content, but it’s just subbing out the names of different cities in Texas that are being represented. That’s not really necessary or doing a whole lot for you. Instead, you can indicate which cities your agency serves in the footer of your website or say something like, “Acme Insurance Agency provides auto insurance in Arlington, Dallas, and Houston, Texas.” The only times we would really recommend creating separate pages would be if your agency has multiple physical locations. In that scenario, you should create a contact page highlighting each location for your agency, and Google and all of those online local listings will treat each of those locations separately. So, you’ll want to have separate listings and accounts set up for each location.
Spencer: Again, that’s for pages like Yelp and Google My Business. Those are a couple of the most important listings, but there are dozens of others out there that are important. You should also add each physical location’s name, address, and phone number, or you’ll hear this referred to as NAP for short. Make sure you also add that info for each location on the footer of your website and on the contact page as well. The next broad category of SEO myths still pertains to websites, but here we’re going to talk more about the actual content on your web pages. The first myth we’ll tackle in this category is, “Adding lots of insurance or geographic keywords to my website content is going to get me ranked higher in and of itself.” This is one that we hear a ton, and this is a really old-school tactic called “keyword stuffing.”
Spencer: People believe the more keywords that they have on their web pages, the more they’re going to improve their Google ranking. That idea, years back, led to an extreme act called keyword stuffing where people post something like this example where insurance is almost in every single sentence, and it’s just crammed in there. People used to even say, “I’m just going to put a list of keywords in the footer of my website,” even it’s not relevant content, and just list things to cram it in there. This used to work, but over time it has become an outdated tactic or even something that’s going to impact your your rankings negatively. Over the years, search engines have gotten smarter and more focused on authentic credibility and relevance.
Spencer: As they started to see more and more people overuse and abuse that tactic, they update their algorithm to detect this and either not have it help people or actively have it hurt how they’re showing up. I don’t want you to think after this myth that keywords don’t matter, because they most certainly do matter a lot. But like anything else, you want to use them strategically and thoughtfully and not try to cram as many in as possible. Focus instead on writing as you would speak or read actual content elsewhere and just fit those keywords in naturally where they would make sense and be contextual. This leads us to our next myth, which is that you should write to please bots more than your actual human website visitors.
Spencer: When you’re using keyword stuffing as an approach, whether you’re really realizing it or not, your focus is shifting from, “Hey I’m trying to please human users,” to, “I’m trying to please the search engine bots that crawl our website.” When you do that, you end up deterring actual readers and prospects because when they start reading through the content, things may be hard to understand or get really repetitive and they can disengage from it. So, you have to keep your actual readers in mind as you write. If it helps, just read it out loud afterward and make sure that the content flows naturally and is going to make sense to a real person. Even if that means deleting a few keywords here and there, your independent insurance agency’s SEO is going to benefit in the long run.
Spencer: If you think about it from an analytical standpoint, if you’re writing to please bots and add every possible variation of a keyword, people are quickly going to start leaving your website and getting frustrated instead of converting into customers. You want to focus instead on providing high-quality content that accurately explains what your website visitors need to know about your agency to offer them a really good user experience. The last SEO content myth that we’ve got for this category is probably one that you’ve heard of before or thought of: longer content is the only way to rank higher. There have been studies released that show the average word count on highly ranked content is about 1,500 words.
Spencer: It can be tempting to think that you have to at least that many words on every single page and every single blog post in order to rank. But again, it goes back to what we talked about in that last couple of myths. You’ve got to keep that real human and user in mind. Who’s reading your content? What are they looking for when they come to your website? Likely, you’ll either have new prospects coming in to get a quote or it might be an existing customer coming in to address a question like, “I think I want to check and see, is my engagement ring and wedding ring going to be covered with my homeowner’s policy?” In a scenario like that, your reader probably doesn’t want or need to go through a whole 1,500-word blog post to get an insurance quote.
Spencer: Instead, think about that user’s intent when they come to that specific page and focus on quality over quantity. Have a goal in mind, with every single product page or blog post you’re writing, and just stick to that one and only one purpose for that piece of content that you’re writing. At the end of the day, if you’re delivering on what your visitor wants to find and is looking for, they’ll be a lot more likely to engage when they see calls to action on that page they’re looking at and actually reach out and become a known prospect you can follow up with and quote, even if it means you’re providing shorter, more concise content that answers a question a visitor has. So again, don’t write for search engines to improve your SEO rankings, but rather, write for that target audience and answer the questions and intents that they have when they’re looking at a particular page.
Spencer: When Google sees your content is relevant and helpful and getting engagement, it won’t matter how long the content is, that’s going to have a positive impact on your website rankings. I think now’s a good time to go ahead and launch our poll for today, which is, “How often do you publish a new blog post?” Let me get that launched for you guys. You should see that pop up now. I’ll give you roughly 30 seconds so everybody has the opportunity to select the option that applies, and remember, all of your responses are anonymized.
Spencer: Cool. Thanks. We’re getting some more folks coming in. I’ll keep that up for maybe another 10, 15 seconds. Alright, I’ll go ahead and share those results on the screen for you all. So, it looks like our number one is, “I never post blog posts or don’t have a blog,” with over half of our respondents saying that. And then second, it looks like we’ve got a good number of folks who are getting content out weekly or on a monthly or less-than-monthly basis. Those are all great starting points. It’s absolutely great to have something coming out, even if it’s not consistent all the time. A lot of times when users land on your site, if they see this is getting updated, they can happily say, “Great, this agent’s last blog post was June 22nd. That signals that they’re really active and more responsive on their website. I feel like if I reach out here, and give them my contact info, I feel good that they’re going to get back to me about a quote quickly.”
Spencer: So that’s definitely a good thing to prioritize. I definitely understand that everybody’s probably focused on big picture stuff with the day-to-day tasks of talking to prospects and trying to grow your agency, but it’s definitely something that’s good to get in as much as possible. That’s one of the reasons we do provide blog content that posts automatically with our websites, and thanks again to everybody who responded to that one and sent your answers in. Okay, now let’s move on to the myths we hear about the search engine results pages, or SERPs. The first one’s a really common one. I’ll hear “Your SEO is failing if you don’t rank literally number one in that first position.”
Spencer: Of course everybody wants to be ranked first for every keyword. But it just isn’t feasible for every agency to rank first, even on a local SEO level. No matter how experienced an individual or an SEO agency is, there’s no real, honest way to absolutely guarantee that the effort put into an SEO strategy is going to get you ranked in that number one position for keywords. Just be cautious if somebody’s making the claim that they can do that result for you, because there’s no honest way to promise that and guarantee that that’s possible.
Spencer: So while earning the top positions are a great SEO goal to have, and reaching that first spot on Google or Bing is going to help you get more web traffic to your site, your SEO strategy can still be successful, even if you’re not even reaching the top three results on the first page. At the end of the day, you want to look at results like, “Am I getting more prospects to visit my site? Even if my visitors are fewer than I’d like, am I still getting folks who are converting into customers out of it?”
Spencer: Those are the questions that matter. I know you guys who are running a blog site and just trying to get visitors and sell more ad spend, you guys are trying to attract folks who are going to become clients and add to your book of business. There’s always going to be search engine algorithm changes that require SEO optimization of a new site, as well as competitors striving to rank for the same keywords that you are that can keep you from hitting number one, but your angle should always be focused on continual growth with it and improvement for your individual agency no matter what the individual numbers or rankings look like for your agency.
Spencer: On a more extreme side, sometimes folks will say, SEO is not going to work for me at all because I’m a small agency, and there’s no way I’m going to compete with bigger companies. That kind of brings up our next myth. Actually, SEO is really important for agencies of all sizes. Especially after everything going on the past year and a half, a lot of folks are actively looking to support small businesses. There are a lot of people out there who think, “I don’t want to talk to some big national brand and just get lost in a call center where I’m just a cog in the machine.” They’re looking to say, “I want somebody who’s small like me and is actually going to value me as a client.”
Spencer: They definitely want to have those interactions and relationships with the individuals that they’re giving the business to, which greatly benefits you as an independent agent. So you shouldn’t just write off SEO altogether. Instead, you want to focus on where you really can excel as a small agency, such as your local SEO efforts where that local map pack comes into play. Google treats almost all of your insurance searches as having at least some degree of local intent. You’ll likely see a few of the big national brands in the normal results, but somewhere on that first page, you’ll see the local map pack showcasing local agencies selling insurance. And that’s where you really want to strive to be showing up.
Spencer: On the topic of local SEO, this brings us to our last myth related to the search engine results pages, which is, “Local SEO is not important to me if I don’t have a brick and mortar location.” Whether you’re working in a virtual office, shared space, or working from home, you still can create a service area business listing on Google My Business. That type of account will still ask for an address for Google to send a verification code to, but you can opt to hide your address so Internet users aren’t able to see it listed publicly. I’ve also had a few folks say, “I’m willing to make my home address public,” but it is important to note Google requires you to have permanent signage in place outside of your home in order to be able to do that or otherwise they’ll say, “Hey, you know what? This is a residential home,” and they’ll pull that public listing eventually.
Spencer: The good news is you can still show up on Google Maps even if you’re hiding your address. With the service area business listings, you’ll be asked to enter up to 20 zip codes or cities that you service and your local listing will show only your main city and state in place of the full address. Bright-Line Insurance Services is a good example. As you can see when I searched directly for their agency, it highlighted the whole state as the service area, instead of just pinpointing an exact location.
Spencer: And then when you search for “independent insurance agent in Sandy Springs,” they still show up in the list of all relevant agencies to the left. That goes to show it is still really important to work to improve your local SEO efforts. Even if you don’t have a physical building, add your service area and keywords into the content on your website, and you’ll optimize your local listings by filling out every selection offered, including your business name, address, phone number, brief description services offered, year established, etc. Add any kind of detail that it will allow you to submit because the more information you provide to Google, the more credible your agency will appear and the more your SEO rankings will improve.
Spencer: Now let’s dive into our last bucket of myths for today – different expectations folks can come in with about SEO. A really popular one we’ll hear is, “SEO is a quick way to boost lead generation.” We all want to see improvements in our rankings as soon as we optimize or update our listings and website pages. It’s really important to remember that SEO is a long-term strategy. Sometimes if you’re targeting some super niche terms, niche policy types with a lower search volume, you may see some improvements more quickly there, but every agency’s digital footprint and SEO history is different.
Spencer: It could take several weeks or several months to see improvements in your agency’s rankings, and you should be wary of any SEO experts or marketing companies that promise you instant results with SEO. Because again, it’s up to Google to see consistent changes, nobody has control to just flip on a light switch with Google. Even after updating or optimizing content, it still takes time for Google to crawl your website and process the changes that they’re seeing. So, you shouldn’t assume your SEO efforts aren’t working just because you’re not seeing an immediate impact from it. That leads into our next myth about SEO expectations. Namely, that SEO is a one-time thing. You don’t do it once and say, “I can move on after my agency’s website is built and launched. I’m good to go.”
Spencer: But SEO, like many things, is a continuous process and a cycle of researching strategies, making updates based on what you’re seeing, and then waiting to gauge the results of those updates. By continually optimizing your SEO content to meet your website visitor’s expectations and needs, you’ll attract more website traffic. That can ultimately result in more leads, as well as more leads converting into sales. On the flip side, if you never update your site to keep it current with SEO best practices, or your end user’s needs, you definitely run the risk of falling behind. At the end of the day, you’re not the only one out there who’s trying to rank first in your area on the search engine results pages. Because of that, optimizing your content and local listings to provide the best info for your target audience is a never-ending process.
Spencer: As far as your local listings go, you can’t set them up and forget about them either. As we mentioned in our last webinar about local search trends, search engines are constantly updating their algorithms and priorities, which necessitates monitoring what’s going on. “Do we need to make updates based on what Google is starting to prioritize or how they’ve changed their criteria?” They also allow you to fill out new features on your listings that monitor and respond to any reviews that you might receive. Google ranks companies higher if they have full profiles that are updated frequently since those get perceived as more relevant, trustworthy, interactive, and helpful to consumers. Our last myth of the day is, “SEO is something that my IT guy can take care of for me.”
Spencer: Obviously, IT is really important and requires a lot of background, experience, and education, but their expertise is in making sure that agencies’ computers and networks are running smoothly. And that’s a really different skillset from what’s required to design, build, and maintain a website. Building a successful SEO strategy is a completely different skillset. Whoever’s managing your SEO strategy should have a marketing background and expertise in local SEO, content marketing, local business listings, review marketing, and then the technical performance aspect of what Google’s looking for on your website. All of those things are important, and it’s really good to make sure it’s handled by people who are highly experienced in those particular areas.
Spencer: So, if you believe your website, SEO, and overall online presence can be better, our digital marketing experts can help with the Ultimate SEO Bundle. We only serve the insurance vertical, and we have over 20 years of experience building Insurance Agency Websites and managing SEO. We definitely have the expertise to help your agency improve with your search ranking results. When you choose to enroll in our Ultimate SEO Bundle, we’ll be developing a successful, long-term SEO strategy that includes a properly optimized agency website, accurate and well maintained local listings, and helping you get a consistent stream of customer reviews coming in. When you combine those three of our digital marketing services – Insurance Agency Websites, Review & Reputation Management, and Local Listings Management – we’ll be tackling all of the biggest three criteria that Google is looking at to help you rank higher stand apart from your competitors, as well as attract new prospects and buyers.
Spencer: Our agency website service includes a custom design, weekly blog posts, ongoing SEO updates, and a Sales Tool Suite that’ll help you save time, increase productivity, and convert more of those prospects that are coming in. Our Reviews & Reputation Management service helps you grow and protect your reputation online. We want to allow you to easily monitor and respond to your reviews with a robust and user-friendly dashboard. We’ll also help you generate new reviews through our email campaigns that include Net Promoter Score survey questions. Lastly, our Local Listings Management service will create, manage, and update your agency’s contact info.
Spencer: We want to target over 40 of the biggest aggregators and local business listings that have the most authority with Google. So, not only is that going to give search engines the data they want to deem your agency credible and rank your site higher, but it’ll also help provide valuable backlinks from credible sites that help Internet users easily find you and your agency across the web to be able to contact you. If, for example, somebody finds you in Apple Maps and that’s their go-to, they can reach out to you without ever having clicked on your website itself.
Spencer: So, how can you get started? As I mentioned a minute ago, BrightFire’s Ultimate SEO Bundle includes three of our digital marketing services, Insurance Agency Websites, Reviews & Reputation Management, and Local Listings Management. It only costs $190 per month for the bundled services, which saves your agency $30 per month compared with doing the three services separately – the standalone cost of each combined. Like all of our marketing services, there’s no setup fee or contract, and a 30-day, money-back guarantee is always included with everything we offer. With our onboarding, we really want to take the burden off of you as much as possible. It would take basically three brief phone calls to get everything rolling so we’re able to build things out and take care of everything for you.
Spencer: Typically, we can launch each of these services within a week of your onboarding call. As a thank you for attending today, we’re offering a $50 promotion to webinar attendees. You can receive a $50 account credit for signing up either for that Ultimate SEO Bundle or any of the three individual services that would be included in it. That promo will end on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. So, to get started with an SEO strategy from our digital marketing experts, you can visit our website at www.brightfire.com, or you can always give us a call at (888) 778-4393. And that concludes our presentation on Common Insurance SEO Myths Debunked. I’ll now pass it over to Chelsea to start the Q&A session if anyone has any questions.
Chelsea: Great. Thanks so much, Spencer. We went through a lot of myths today, so we will do our best to answer the questions that come through. But again, if for whatever reason we aren’t able to address your question during the webinar, someone from BrightFire will follow up with you individually. So, Spencer, the first question we have here is, “What does BrightFire do to keep up with search engine algorithm updates?”
Spencer: That’s a really good question. First of all, BrightFire is a certified Google partner and we stay up to date and monitor Google best practices through our industry network and closely monitoring the performance of the thousands of agency websites that we have built and still manage for clients. We receive notifications of new changes or trends and can update a client’s website. When we see Google has changed this priority, we may need to tweak how we approach this and then roll out those updates to our clients’ sites. We’re also always looking to improve our services and strategies to help agents succeed in being found in Google or other search engines like Bing or Duck Duck Go.
Chelsea: Awesome. Another question we have here is, “How often should we publish a new blog?”
Spencer: Oh, sure. That’s a great question. So there’s no hard answer on that. Everybody has different time constraints and, again, it kind of goes back to the quality versus quantity we were talking about earlier. It would be ideal if you could post a blog article every single day. But I realize that that’s not going to be realistic for a lot of agencies if you don’t have a full-time marketing person on staff. It would be much better to say, “I’ve got 30 minutes a week I can set aside to focus on this.” You’d be better off doing something really well thought out and unique and with good info in it and doing one post a week or once every two weeks, if that’s what you got time for, versus really trying to cram and crank out lower-quality content on a daily basis or something like that.
Chelsea: Awesome. Well, for the sake of time today, I think that is all the time we have for questions. I know we had a couple that we didn’t get to, so we will be sure to email you guys afterward. But thank you again to everyone who did submit and everyone joining in today. Before we close, I would like to remind everyone of our upcoming 20 Minute Marketing Webinars. Our next webinar in July is, The Three A’s of Reputation Management for Insurance: Awareness, Assessment, & Action. It’s important you know what policyholders are saying online about your agency so that you can stay on top of consumers’ minds while standing apart from the competition as well. In this webinar, we’ll show you guys how to analyze your agency’s current online reputation and offer steps to effectively manage your reviews so that you can improve policyholder satisfaction, consumer engagement, and lead generation. This webinar will be held Thursday, July 29, 2021, at 2:00 PM Eastern or 11:00 AM Pacific.
Chelsea: And then our webinar in August is, Unlock the Power of Engagement in Insurance Social Media Marketing. In today’s digital age, there’s no question that social media should be part of your marketing strategy. But, to truly increase brand trustworthiness and loyalty, your agency should really go above and beyond simply being present and only occasionally posting on social media. When you join us in this webinar, we’ll dive into how engaging with your followers on your social media channels can really have a substantially positive impact on your brand and book of business. This webinar will be held on Thursday, August 26, 2021, at 2:00 PM, Eastern or 11:00 AM Pacific as well. You can reserve your spot at any of our webinars by visiting our website at www.brightfire.com/webinars. And that does it for today! From me, Spencer, and the rest of the BrightFire team, we’d like to thank you all again for attending today. I hope you all have a great day!