Because 97% of people learn more about a local company online than anywhere else, it’s imperative your independent insurance agency stays on top of local search trends to rank higher in Google.
In our latest 20 Minute Marketing Webinar, BrightFire Sales Executive Spencer Breidenbach covers recent local search trends, offers tips to effectively manage your listings, and discusses how local listings play an integral role in your agency’s overall efforts to reach more people and improve your website’s SEO.
What to expect from this webinar:
- Why Pay Attention to Local Search Trends?
- Late 2020 Local Search Trends
- 2021 Local Search Trends
- Future Updates to Your Agency’s Local Listings
- How to Respond to Recent Local Search Updates
Finally, Spencer details how BrightFire’s Local Listings Management service can support your insurance agency’s need to stay informed of local search trends and keep your citations up to date on more than 40 of the most important listings sites.
If you have any questions about this webinar or our Local Listings Management service, please contact us or call us at (888) 778-4393.
Chelsea: Hello everyone! My name is Chelsea Peterson, and I’m a Digital Marketing Coordinator here at BrightFire, as well as your host for today’s 20 Minute Marketing Webinar. Thank you all for joining us.
Last month, we discussed Why Customer Lifetime Value is Vital to Your Pay-Per-Click Advertising Success. If you missed it, or any of our previous webinars in the series, you can access the whole 20 Minute Marketing Webinar series on-demand by visiting brightfire.com/webinars.
Our goal with these webinars is to provide you with digital marketing advice and discuss current digital marketing topics in a brief 20-minute format followed by a Q&A period to answer any questions you may have. If you do have questions throughout the webinar, please use the Q&A feature in Zoom found at the bottom of the screen. We’ll do our best to answer all of the questions that come through; otherwise, we will personally reach out to you afterward.
Today’s webinar will cover Recent Local Search Trends to Help Your Insurance Agency’s Business Listings and will be presented by Spencer Breidenbach, one of our Sales Executives here at BrightFire.
He’ll reveal why it’s imperative your agency stays on top of local search trends to rank higher in Google, offer tips to effectively manage your listings, and discuss how local listings play an integral role in your agency’s overall efforts to reach more people and improve your website’s SEO.
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.
With that being said, I’ll go ahead and hand it over to Spencer to kick off today’s webinar.
Spencer: Thanks, Chelsea, and thank you to everyone joining in today. Before we get started, I want to offer a brief background on BrightFire since we have a mix of current customers and agents that are new to BrightFire attending today.
BrightFire began by providing Insurance Agency Websites in 2000. Over the years as the needs of insurance agents grew, we expanded our digital marketing services beyond agency websites to also include Search Engine Optimization, Reviews & Reputation Management, Pay-Per-Click Advertising, Social Media Marketing, and what we’re discussing today – Local Listings Management.
We currently provide our Local Listings Management service to hundreds of agents across the country. We’re always proud to say that our first agency customer in 2000 is still a BrightFire customer today and is enrolled in our Local Listings Management service.
So with that brief background, let’s get started.
Spencer: Today, we will discuss why it’s important that your agency pays attention to local search trends. Then, we’ll jump into some updates from Google My Business and Yelp over the last year that your agency should implement if it hasn’t already. We’ll cover some future updates from Google My Business and Apple Maps that will be important to keep an eye on. Then we’ll go over a few practical steps you can take to respond to these local search updates so your listings will be optimized and easily found by consumers.
Finally, we’ll dive into how BrightFire’s Local Listings Management service can support your agency’s need to stay informed of local search trends and keep your citations up to date on more than 40 of the most important listing sites.
Why Pay Attention to Local Search Trends?
Spencer: So why should you pay attention to local search trends at all? For starters, Google is the most popular search engine worldwide, with just over 74% of the search engine market share, and roughly 46% of searches on Google show a local intent. That means there is a really high likelihood that your Google My Business account is often the first experience users will have with your agency when they start researching insurance companies. Because of this, you’ll want to make sure you’re optimizing your account and taking advantage of every new feature they offer.
In a more general sense, local search engine optimization, or local SEO, offers huge benefits and opportunities for your agency to gain brand awareness and visibility online from highly interested local consumers who are likely ready to make a purchase.
In fact, 72% of consumers who did a local search visited a store within five miles. 50% of people who did a local search on their phone visited a store within one day, and for people searching on computers and tablets, 34% visited a store within a day.
This data is all possible because of the fact that local SEO puts businesses in front of interested consumers at the exact moment they’re searching for a product or, if we’re talking about insurance specifically, a certain policy, making them much more likely to make a purchase or at least contact your agency.
There are so many more statistics I could share with you, but hopefully these give you a little bit more insight into why it really is so important for your agency to pay attention to the various local search sites and their updated features and benefits so that you can stay competitive in the industry and stay top of mind with your policyholders and prospects.
Late 2020 Updates to Local Search Trends
Spencer: With that understanding of the importance of paying attention to local search trends, let’s go ahead and dive into some of the big announcements and updates from Google My Business and Yelp that occurred at the end of last year.
In September, Google added new COVID-19-related Health & Safety Attributes so business owners can let consumers know whether masks and temperature checks are required for consumers or staff, as well as whether appointments or reservations are needed before an individual can enter the business.
Yelp created a consumer alert to stand against racism in October, which allows consumers to flag companies if they experience or witness an incident involving racism. This is an important feature for your agency to be aware of so you can monitor your Yelp listings closely and best manage your agency’s online reputation.
December was all about communication for Google My Business. First, they made it possible for business owners to respond directly to reviews in the Google Maps and the Google My Business smartphone apps. Google My Business also made it possible to reply to messages your business receives directly from the Google Maps smartphone app, as well as on the desktop version of Google My Business. If your messaging capabilities are turned on, your Google My Business posts can even feature a messaging button so consumers can start a conversation from any posts you create.
One important note on this feature is that Google requires business owners to respond to consumer messages within 24 hours or they may revoke your ability to message consumers through the platform at all. This is in an effort to help ensure people reaching out to businesses through Google’s different channels like Maps and Google My Business are receiving the best customer experience possible.
2021 Updates to Local Search Trends
Spencer: Moving onto the latest updates from this year, in January, Yelp launched a new twist on Health & Safety Features. While Yelp already permitted businesses to share what COVID-19 safety precautions they were taking as of last summer, this new January announcement allows consumers to offer their feedback on whether a business’ stated precautions were actually met.
This feature comes after a Yelp study, which reported that businesses that added COVID-19 updates to their Yelp pages between September and December of 2020 saw consumer interest increase by 41%. Allowing consumers to report on whether or not safety precautions were met offers an added accountability to businesses to make sure they keep their stores and customers safe.
January also saw updates from Google My Business’ Inclusive Highlights, which allow business owners to showcase their companies as women-led, veteran-led, black-owned, and LGBTQ friendly.
There were quite a few local search updates in February, with the first being that the Google My Business Local Pack now shows the year the business was established. By updating this feature, your agency can show consumers how long you’ve been in the industry and gain credibility.
Google also created a Community Feed in the Explore tab of Google Maps, where your agency’s Google My Business posts can receive up to two times more visibility than before. This Community Feed makes it easy for consumers to discover places and businesses near them by sharing both your agency’s most recent posts as well as the latest reviews, photos, and posts added to Google Maps by others in the area.
The last big update that occurred in February was on Yelp. In an effort to only promote honest and organically earned reviews, Yelp updated their recommendation software to unrecommend reviews that were paid for or that came from review exchange groups. Not only does this update ensure consumers receive the most helpful and reliable information, but it also protects businesses that are working hard to build their online presence organically.
In the same category of reviews, Google My Business created a Review Takedown Tool in March that allows business owners to easily report illegitimate reviews. I’m sure this comes as a breath of fresh air for any of you who have received unwarranted reviews in the past that did not truthfully depict an experience someone had with your agency. Both of these review updates confirm that it is so important to focus your efforts on receiving only honest and earned reviews to rank higher in local SEO.
Lastly, the most recent update from Yelp in April is their new Asian-owned business feature. They had previously added the ability to label your business as women-, black-, and Latino-owned, and now agency owners are able to promote their business as Asian-owned.
Leverage any and all of these latest features on your Yelp and Google My Business listings to let customers know your agency is safe to enter, well established, trustworthy, and friendly.
Future Updates to Local Search and Local Listings Management
Spencer: There are also a couple of future updates I want to cover that could really make an impact on how you manage your local listings and online brand reputation as a whole. The first is currently in beta testing, and it is Google My Business Call Tracking. This future feature will give the listing account owners deeper insights into how many calls were received, as well as how many of those calls your agency answered and how many you missed.
Google will be able to better track these phone analytics because when a consumer clicks on your phone number in your listing, they will be connected through a call forwarding number. On your end of these calls, you’ll receive an automated message that says, “Call from Google,” so you can better personalize your conversation knowing how those leads found you.
The other future local search trend to look out for is on Apple Maps. Soon, they will introduce their own native review system, instead of relying on reviews from third-party sites like Yelp. Research shows Apple Maps is working on creating a feature that will allow consumers to click thumbs up or down on a place as a whole, as well as on individual products and services businesses offer. They will also include an area for consumers to add their own photos.
Not only will this new feature increase your need to closely monitor your Apple Maps listings, but this will also add yet another platform to monitor for and respond to reviews to best manage your agency’s online reputation.
As a quick side note, if you are interested in learning more about how to best respond to online reviews to boost your agency’s online reputation, you can discover everything you need to know in BrightFire’s Ultimate Guide to Online Reviews for Insurance Agencies at brightfire.com/ultimate-guide-reviews.
How to Respond to Recent Local Search Updates
Spencer: So now you’ve learned all about some recent local search trends from this past year, as well as a couple of new features that will make their debuts soon. But what do you do with this information?
Let’s dive into a few tips on how you can act on these trends to boost your agency’s listings, improve your local SEO rankings, and get found more easily across the web.
The first, of course, is to claim and manage your listings. You can have listings automatically created for your agency on Yelp, Google My Business, and both Google and Apple Maps. Make sure you claim these listings so you have control over the information displayed on your listings, including your agency name, website URL, address, phone number, and so on.
As you are claiming all of your listings, it’s important to make sure they have a consistent NAP – name, address, and phone number. Studies show that 80% of people lose faith in a local business when their online listings show incorrect information, so having consistent information across the Internet helps your agency appear credible, active, and trustworthy to consumers.
If you haven’t yet, add in the year you were established, as well as the health and safety precautions that your agency is taking. For example, let customers know if your staff is wearing masks and if you’re requiring customers to wear them. Share whether you’re allowing customers to come to your office by appointment only, and add in any relevant inclusion features on Yelp and Google My Business such as woman-owned, black-owned, or veteran-led. These are quick updates you can make that help consumers relate to your agency and feel safe during the pandemic.
Another tip I would offer is to turn on your messaging feature. Being available to consumers wherever they are in the exact moments that they are trying to reach your agency is greatly beneficial to both the individuals reaching out to you and to your agency. This is an easy way to connect with prospects right off the bat and make them feel comfortable communicating with your agency and moving through the buyer’s journey. Just remember to respond to your messages within 24 hours so you stay in Google’s good graces.
Next up I would recommend creating frequent Google My Business posts to gain more visibility in the Community Feed and on the usual search engine results pages. Treat your Google My Business listing like any other social media platform where consumers can learn about your agency, see that you are active, and message you directly from the platform if they are interested in learning more.
It’s worth mentioning that BrightFire does include posting on Google My Business as part of our Social Media Marketing service, and we would be happy to discuss how BrightFire can help your agency maintain a consistent stream of content on your social media channels if you are interested.
In addition, remember that trying to game the system isn’t the way to go when it comes to reviews on your local listings. There are many ways to ask policyholders for real reviews – like Net Promoter Score surveys – so you shouldn’t try to cheat the system by generating fake reviews to look better on Google or Yelp. At the end of the day, these listing sites are only getting smarter, and your agency will benefit in the long run from posting, promoting, and responding to only credible and honest reviews.
This brings me to my last tip for today, which is to closely monitor your listings, and promptly respond to all of your reviews. The more recent a review is and the more reviews that you have listed, the more likely consumers are to trust them.
How BrightFire Helps with Local Listings Management
Spencer: Now I know that was a lot of information, and keeping up with the latest local search trends on each local listing site such as Google My Business, Bing, and Apple Maps can be difficult and time-consuming.
Fortunately, BrightFire’s Local Listings Management service can help you stay abreast of these trends and keep your local listings up to date on more than 40 of the most important sites and directories so consumers can easily reach your agency, with or without visiting your website.
Our team of digital marketing experts will closely monitor your accounts and make sure your important agency information is consistent across all of your listings so they help your agency build brand awareness and drive more leads, both online and in-person.
When you subscribe to Local Listings Management, BrightFire handles all of the hard work for you by claiming and managing your current listings, monitoring for any duplicate listings or inconsistencies in your agency’s information, and updating all of your listings if your contact information ever changes.
How to Get Started with Local Listings Management
Spencer: So how can you get started? BrightFire’s Local Listings Management service only costs $40 per month per location. Like all of our digital marketing services, there are no setup fees or contracts, and a 30-day money-back guarantee is always included.
Additionally, our Ultimate SEO Bundle, which includes Local Listings Management, an Insurance Agency Website, and Reviews & Reputation Management, costs $190 per month and saves your agency $30 per month compared to the standalone cost of these services.
Our onboarding process is designed to take the burden off of you as much as possible and consists of one 30-minute phone call. Typically, we can launch our Local Listings Management service within a week of your onboarding call.
As a thank you for attending today, we’re offering a $50 promo to webinar attendees. You can receive a $50 account credit for signing up for our Local Listings Management service. This promo ends Tuesday, June 8th.
To get started effectively managing your agency’s listings, please visit our website at www.brightfire.com, or you can also speak with a BrightFire expert at 888-778-4393.
Q&A on Local Listings Management for Insurance
Spencer: That concludes our presentation on Recent Local Search Trends to Help Your Insurance Agency’s Business Listings.
I’ll now pass it over to Chelsea to start the Q&A session if anyone has any questions!
Chelsea: Thank you, Spencer! As a reminder to our attendees, we’ll do our best to answer any questions that come through. If we do not address your question during the webinar, someone from BrightFire will follow up with you via email later to answer your question. Let’s get started.
“What will BrightFire do if I have three locations?”
Spencer: The Local Listings Management service covers a single office location. Each physical location has its own set of listings since directory listings are for a single physical office location. We recommend you enroll in this service for each of your office locations.
“How long does it take for updates to be made to my local listings?”
Spencer: It depends on the listing network. Some networks allow for instant updates while others are only updated periodically. We’ll monitor your local listings to make sure our updates are published as quickly as possible.
“What if I already have listings I’m managing through a third-party service or on my own?”
Spencer: Most agencies already have some listings, but may not be aware of all of them since they were auto-generated by a local listing site. Typically, many listings, especially those agencies aren’t aware of, have inaccurate or incomplete business information. Our Local Listings Management service will audit and correct your local listings for you. If you have an existing provider for Local Listings Management, BrightFire can take over the management of your listings.
Chelsea: Alright, I think that is all the time we have for questions today. Thank you to everyone who submitted a question, and again, we’ll follow up with you individually after the webinar if we didn’t get to your question today.
Before we close, I’d like to remind everyone of our upcoming 20 Minute Marketing Webinars.
Upcoming 20 Minute Marketing Webinars
Chelsea: Our next webinar is, “Common Insurance SEO Myths Debunked.” 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. Is content still king? Are backlinks still relevant?
Join us in this webinar as we identify and debunk common search engine optimization myths to help you create a successful, long-term SEO strategy that will increase your insurance agency’s visibility in top search engines.
This will be held Thursday, June 24, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern or 11:00 a.m. Pacific.
And then our webinar in July is about, “The 3 A’s of Reputation Management for Insurance: Awareness, Assessment, & Action.”
It’s important you know what policyholders are saying online about your independent insurance agency to stay on top of consumers’ minds while standing apart from the competition.
In this webinar, we’ll show you how to analyze your agency’s current online reputation and offer pragmatic steps to effectively manage your online reviews so you can improve policyholder satisfaction, consumer engagement, and lead generation.
This webinar will be held Thursday, July 29, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern or 11:00 a.m. Pacific.
You can reserve your spot at these webinars by visiting the webinars page on our website at brightfire.com/webinars.
So that does it for today! From me, Spencer, and the rest of the BrightFire team, we’d like to thank all of you for attending.