By Shawna Arnold
Recently, we discussed the importance of Google Webmaster Tools for your insurance website. This week, we’re going to get into Bing Webmaster Tools, and why you should be implementing this tool as well.
Bing Webmaster Tools 101
Similar to Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools is a free platform that allows you to submit your website and view its technical data. Bing Webmaster Tools presents you with the following information:
- Clicks to your website from search
- Appearance of your website in search results
- Crawl status of pages
- Crawl errors
- Index status of pages
- Top keywords for your website in organic search
- Top pages for organic search traffic
- Incoming links to your website
Bing Webmaster Tools also allows you to submit your sitemap, review its crawl status, and find / fix your website’s crawl errors. Bing’s tool will detail out any “SEO suggestions” they see for your website as well, such as adjusting page title tags and meta descriptions.
Why Bother With Bing?
We know what you’re thinking. Google holds 67% of the market share for search engines, so why put much effort into complying with Bing’s best practices? Bing’s share has been slowly growing over time. With almost 19% of the market, it’s hard to deny that they’re a contender in the search “game.” You don’t want to put all of your eggs in one basket. In this case, you don’t want to rely solely on Google’s data to know how your site performs in search overall. Despite Google have the largest share of the search market, they are increasingly taking information away from website owners, while Bing is not.
While your inbound marketing strategy may have been formed with Google specifically in mind, what is best practice for Google should translate to all search engines. Your website should provide high quality, unique, and engaging content that adequately explains both who your agency is and what insurance products you provide. Your website should also be relevant to search users. If your site meets these criteria, then you’re on the right track, no matter the search engine.
Bing Webmaster Tools not only indicates how your website is performing and its technical status in Bing search, but also in Yahoo search. Yahoo and Bing merged their search algorithms back in 2011; you now only need to use one set of tools between the two search engines to track your website. By using both Google and Bing Webmaster Tools, you’re able to monitor the technical and search performance of your website on all three major search engines.
In learning the technical status of your website and how / why visitors came to your website, you’ll be equipped to make any strategy adjustments necessary to ensure you’re catering well to every search engine’s user base.
Have questions about Bing Webmaster Tools or stories about how it benefited your strategy? Leave a comment so we can discuss.
About The Author
Shawna Arnold is the Inbound Marketing Manager at Astonish, specializing in SEO and content marketing. She has been with Astonish for five years, allowing her to work closely with a variety of insurance agencies all over the country. She has a passion for SEO, content, social media, and all things inbound marketing. She thrives on educating small businesses and individuals on inbound marketing through blogging, eBooks, white papers, and more.
By Jake Bissaro
Owning an independent insurance agency isn’t what it used to be; you already have to compete with major carriers like Allstate and Progressive, but some recent news indicates that the competition is going to heat up even more.
Walmart, already the world’s biggest retailer by a huge margin, has plans to get into the auto insurance business, through an alliance with autoinsurance.com. 200 stores already have a partnership with Metlife selling term life policies, and they want to expand their insurance interests. But this could only be the beginning as new research shows that this may soon become a trend for big business. According to a study published earlier this year by Accenture, 67 percent of insurance customers are open to buying insurance from places other than insurers, and 23 percent say they would seriously consider buying from a non-traditional source like Google or Amazon.
With these new developments, it’s become more important than ever to highlight the advantages of your independent agency. Here are some tips to retain current clients and garner new business.
- Highlight the personal touch- This seems like an obvious thing, but it’s one of the things that sets you apart! It’s simple, but remember to always answer the phone or respond to email requests promptly. An independent agency is the only place you can talk to a real person about insurance that’s not in a call center.
- Explain the difference an independent provider can make – chances are corporate giants like Walmart and Amazon don’t have the choice of providers that your agency does. You can find different combinations of coverage and price and save customers money, so let them know!
- Review your customer’s coverage from time to time. When a few years have gone by, many of your customers may need an update, so periodically go through and make sure everyone is up –to-date. This will show your customers that you’re constantly looking out for their best interests.
- Make the most of every interaction. Think of everyone you talk to as a potential new client and share your experience with them. Everyone who walks in should be able to experience the difference made by an independent agency.
With huge corporations controlling more and more of the business landscape, it’s going to be increasingly more difficult for companies without billions of dollars behind them. As an independent agency, you’ve got to recognize the added competition and prepare for it. There are still lots of consumers out there who want the personalized service and local feel that you have to offer, so it’s time to show them what you can do!
About The Author
Jake Bissaro is the newest Inbound Marketing Specialist at Astonish, and strives to translate the personality of clients into first-rate web pages. He graduated from UMass Amherst last year, and previously worked as a technical writer before joining the team at Astonish. In addition to web writing, he works as a journalist, writing about local arts in Rhode Island.
By: Allie Viau
When it comes to your agency’s website, the “if you build it, they will come” optimism simply does not apply. Unless you work hard to market your site and entice online visitors, chances are you will not find the reach you are hoping for.
So, how can your agency drive traffic to your website? While paid advertisements are always an option, many agents today do not realize the true value of organic, or unpaid, marketing. Inbound marketing strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO), social media, blogging, and others all work together to market in a way that is attractive to your audience, not disruptive.
Independent insurance agencies that adopt a holistic inbound marketing strategy can achieve increased traffic, among other benefits. In order to see the maximum results from these efforts, the strategy needs to be an agency-wide initiative. Each and every team member should be on board and contributing. By doing so, your agency can leverage inbound marketing to create new customer opportunities, improve client retention, and increase the number of referrals your agency receives.
So, how can you use inbound marketing, specifically SEO, social media, blogs, and press releases to drive traffic to your website?
Search Engine Optimization
SEO is the process of improving and promoting a website in order to increase web traffic received via search engines. Since between 50 and 60-percent of web traffic is driven by search engines today, it is crucial to make sure that your agency is following up to date SEO best practices (which are, unfortunately, changing constantly). Today, search engine optimization is not just about pleasing search engines, but web visitors as well. By working to “optimize” your site, you will help drive traffic to your website over time since you are making it easier for users to find you through online search.
Since the insurance industry is one of the most competitive in terms of search traffic, if your agency is not on board with SEO yet, you will have a difficult time competing in the future. Not only will SEO help bring in more traffic, but it can bring in higher quality traffic. Studies show that on average, SEO leads have a 14.6% sales close rate. This blows away the 1.7% close rate for outbound leads such as print ads, direct mailing, etc.
As a local agency, one great benefit of social media is to differentiate your agency from its competitors, especially from the major carriers, and driving traffic to your site instead of theirs. For example, by engaging with customers and prospects through social media, your agency can interact with consumers on a more personal, human level. By sharing information about your agency, products, and brand via social media, you can build long-term customers and also drive traffic to your site. Everyone you connect with on social media has easy access to your site to learn more about your products, fill out a quote form, or give your agency a call.
Modern consumers now consider user-generated content, such as reviews or testimonials, to be more reliable than advertisements or other forms of content. This user-generated content is what social media sites are made of. Taking advantage of these platforms can result in increased opportunities, referrals, and in turn, traffic.
Still don’t believe in the business powers of social media? 80% of Facebook users prefer to connect with brands on Facebook, and 50% of twitter users say they are more likely to become a customer of a business that they follow.
More than half of consumers state that blogs impact their purchase decisions. What does this mean for agencies? Your prospects and customers are using blogs to find information, so if you are not blogging, you are missing out. Maintaining a blog that contains relevant, unique, and compelling content is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your agency’s website. Regular blogging can improve your SEO, since it works to develop the credibility and reliability of your site in the eyes of the search engines. And, search engines are not the only ones to correlate blogging with credibility. Studies have shown that blogs are considered to be more trustworthy than Google+, online forums, online magazines, branded sites, Pinterest, and Twitter.
Improving your SEO will indirectly increase your site traffic, but blogging also provides significant direct traffic to your website. Businesses that blog 20 times per month have 5 times more traffic than those that do not. Blogging about your insurance products, your local community, your team members, and other relevant topics will increase your agency’s reach and drive more people to your site.
Customers are looking online for product and company information more than ever. However, it is not enough to simply have a website. Insurance agencies that work together as a team to implement an integrated inbound marketing strategy will be more successful in terms of traffic, retention, opportunities, and referrals than agencies that do not.
About The Author
Allie Viau is an Inbound Marketing Specialist at Astonish. She creates a variety of content including website landing pages, blogs, and press releases. Allie is passionate about helping small businesses build their brand equity online through quality content and other inbound marketing strategies. She spends her free time baking, painting, and traveling as much as possible.