Insurance Marketing HQ

Quick Keyword Research Lesson: Google Trends & Google AutoSuggest

Posted on Jun 9, 2014

By Megan Donaldson

There are many keyword research tools available for purchase and free of purchase online. In this article, we’ll explain how to use two free, easy-to-use tools from Google: Google Trends and Google AutoSuggest. These tools are great for determining terms to include in your landing page content and blog posts. They are not designed to provide you with search numbers, but instead to show you common trends in search.

How To Use Google Trends

To use Google Trends, visit Google Trends’ homepage will show you popular search trends across the web that may provide you with some inspiration for a blog or social post. To do more customized research, visit the “Explore” section. Once on the Explore Trends screen, you can begin to customize your research. At the top of the screen are drop down selections for your geographical focus, time period, category, and type of search function. Keep things basic to start; simply select your geographical focus, then start typing in related search topics or search queries. I’ve provided an example below:

Google Trends - Settings and Search Bar

As you can see, the geographical focus is set to California. This means that the results are all going to be based on what people in California are searching. Because of this, we don’t have to include the region in our search. We can start with a head term such as “auto insurance.” A head term is a popularly searched one-or-two word term. The search terms you submit will generate a list of related search queries.

Google Trends - Related Search Results

You’ll notice that Google Trends does not provide numbers to the extent that Google AdWords does, but even Google AdWords provides rounded numbers instead of exact. With Google Trends, you are seeing which terms or phrases are trending more commonly in your target region, so you can adjust the language you use. By using the phrases that people are actually searching, you are more likely to answer a visitor’s question, thereby providing a more positive user experience.

How To Use Google AutoSuggest

Google’s AutoSuggest, or AutoComplete, is probably one of the easiest ways to do keyword research. Just go to, start typing in a search query (but don’t complete the phrase), and the box that drops down while you’re typing is Google AutoSuggest. Google is trying to guess what your search query is by making suggestions of other top trending search queries. This is a great, quick way to get some keyword ideas.

Google AutoSuggest - Search Bar

Google’s suggestions are based upon your region and language, both of which can be adjusted in your search settings. If you are targeting a specific region (state/city), be sure that your search settings reflect this.

Google Search Settings - Location

You can also add a geographical reference to your search phrase to further customize your results. By using a geographical reference, you will be given more geo-specific search suggestions that help ensure the queries are related to your focus region.

Google AutoSuggest also offers up additional modifiers, such as “requirements,” “quote,” or “buy” that will help you create long tail keyword phrases. Long tail keyword phrases allow you to better answer search queries that people are using because they are targeting more specific questions. For example, instead of using the generalized phrase “car insurance” which could relate to any number of searches, “California car insurance requirements” is much more focused and is more likely to answer a specific search query.

So the next time you’re prepping to write a piece of content for the web, research your topic in Google Trends and Google AutoSuggest. Doing so will help you better-target your audience and answer the questions they REALLY want answered.

Have questions about keyword research? Post them here so we can discuss.

About the Author
Megan is a Senior Inbound Marketing Specialist at Astonish, spending most of her professional time fine-tuning inbound strategies, evaluating websites, and researching, researching, researching. After studying Marketing Communications in Western Massachusetts she dedicated herself to the online world through online retailing, web usability, and search engine optimization. Megan is a native Rhode Islander who loves baking crazy confections in her spare time. Have you ever tried an 8 layer cookie cake? YUM.

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10 Reasons Not to Miss the E-Agent Summit

Posted on Aug 20, 2012

Have yet to sign up for the E-Agent Summit? We have gathered 10 reasons why this is an event not to be missed. Who should attend? Astonish welcomes agents, producers, agency principals, bloggers, and more to attend the 4th annual summit this year in Orlando, Florida. Here are 10 reasons you should join us on October 28-30th at the Bonnet Creek Resort:

1. Networking

When you aren’t attending the keynote or breakout sessions, you can network with other agency principals, CSR’s, Marketing Managers, and more! The summit is a great opportunity to meet other agency personnel, marketing experts, and industry veterans to share knowledge, ask questions, and participate in conversation.

2. Speakers

The list of speakers keeps growing. Besides the ALL NEW keynote address by our own Adam DeGraide and Tim Sawyer, some of the speakers featured are Dr. William T. Hold, of the National Alliance, Dennis Chookaszian, Chairman of FASAC, Don Phin, President of HR that Works, and Eric Jansen of FS Marketing Solutions. Come listen and learn from the best in the industry on a diverse group of topics. New speakers being added daily.

3. Social Media

Not sure how to use social media at your agency quite yet? Or maybe you already use social media but want to take it to the next level. This year, we have added specific social media courses that include not only Astonish’s best practices, but insight from agency leaders and bloggers on how they use different social platforms to grow their business.

4. Industry Experts

All of the speakers are experts in their given industry. Learn how to round out policies from the top insurance trainers in the nation, how to grow your business online from consulting executives, how to hire employees from HR professionals, and of course how to FIND, SELL, and KEEP customers and grow your business from those who have done so.

5. Orlando

Does this point even need explaining? This year’s summit is at the Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida. Not only does the hotel have direct complimentary transportation to Disney World for your family that joins the trip, it is located only 30 minutes from Orlando International Airport, and within miles of the area’s top attractions! Did we mention all summit guests receive a 10% discount at the hotel spa?

6. Breakout sessions

If you attended last year’s summit in Las Vegas, you remember the many breakout sessions Astonish had on topics from sales to Facebook. We took your feedback and this year, we have added even MORE sessions for you to attend. Check out the agenda to see what sessions are being added daily!

7. Speak to those who have been there

The E-Agent Summit is an opportunity for you to meet other agents who have been in your position. Ask them how they grew their agency, how they got employee buy in, and how they utilized the Astonish system to change their businesses and their lives! See some of the 2011 E-Agent testimonials.

8. Find Solutions

Each sponsor of this year’s summit has something to offer you. Whether it is a digital marketing system, educational classes, online subscriptions, or an HR program, many of this year’s vendors are happy to discuss how they can help your agency. Not sure what the next step is? We can help! Astonish representatives will be onsite to direct you to the right person to discuss the solution you may need.

9. Golf Tournament

Love to Golf? We have added to the agenda a summit only golf tournament at the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club on Tuesday October 20th starting at 1:00 PM. Bring your clubs or rent them there, but if you are a golf lover, this is not an event to miss!

10. Have fun!

What is the second best part of conferences besides taking away amazing information? Having a good time with other industry professionals! While at the E-Agent Summit be sure to check out the on location spa, go swimming in their 3-acre Florida-style lazy pool, have the family go to Disney World, or join us on Day 2 for a dinner reception with entertainment provided by ARANDA!

Be sure to sign up today for the 2012 E-Agent Summit. Sign up before the end of August to receive a 25% discount when purchasing two or more tickets. Questions? Shoot us an email or give us a call at 888.577.7691. See you in October!



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Strategically Building Your Social Media Audience!

Posted on May 29, 2012

As a leader for your company, you make small and big decisions on a daily basis. However, when it comes to your insurance internet marketing and your social media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, the decision making process may involve aspects you aren’t used to. For example, how do you find your primary audience? What will they like to read about? What is the most effective way to find them? All of these questions may have arisen for you at one point or another.

In the beginning, it may have been just you and your partners, and you did every job. But now, you have others to help, so you can focus on building a social community. Being strategic about the people you want to participate in conversations with on your social media accounts is important. In addition, the content you post and voice you use should attract and engage them. To become an adaptive strategic leader, the kind who can thrive in even uncertain environments, do these three things well:

  • Anticipate: Some leaders lack “peripheral vision.” To anticipate well, you must look for game-changing information in your industry and take advantage of it. Also, search beyond the current boundaries of your business, and finally, build wide networks to help you communicate with your clients better.
  • Think Critically: Critical thinkers question everything. To master this skill, force yourself to reframe problems in order to get to the bottom of things, such as a customer complaint. Also, challenge current beliefs and mindsets, including your own. This will help you think from the perspective of your community.

  • Decide: Many leaders over analyze information. You have to develop processes and enforce them, so that you arrive the solutions you want. To do that well, you have to balance your social media accounts while also making sure they include quality content. Also, take control of incomplete information and when others have diverse views.

Effective leaders combine experience and a strong decision process. This will force you to evaluate, listen, adjust, and learn from each decision. Having all of these important skills will allow you to analyze your insurance internet marketing strategy more closely as well as appeal to a wide range of followers on your social media sites. Engagement is key, and by being a strategic leader, you can make this happen!

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All You Need is LinkLove

Posted on Apr 9, 2012

The world of Internet Marketing is always changing, so Astonish Results makes it a priority to provide employees with opportunities to educate themselves and stay on top of the latest trends. On April 2, I was lucky enough to attend Distilled’s LinkLove conference in Boston.Link Love Boston Logo

LinkLove is the ultimate gathering of the web’s top link builders. We met at the Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School (I like to think spending the day at Harvard made me smarter by osmosis) and had the honor of listening to nine speakers, each with their own area of expertise. The presenters were the best of the best in our field. If there was a king of SEO, Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz would be the reigning monarch…and he was there! Other presenters included Justin Briggs, Ross Hudgens, Rhea Drysdale, Wil Reynolds, John Doherty, Adam Audette, Colby Almond and Tom Critchlow – all AWESOME.

I learned a ton and look forward to implementing some things I learned in to Astonish’s link building tactics, but there are also some things I learned that are great for you as a business owner to keep in mind:

  1. Focus on good, quality content. When you invest in top-notch content, you can target multiple marketing channels all at once resulting in stronger social following, more brand visibility, higher organic search rankings, more direct traffic, bigger fan base and more referring links.
  2. Discover what your audience shares. Although insurance is a necessity, it is not necessarily the most interesting of subject matters for your target audience. Think about what kind of people buy insurance from you, and then think about what those folks are interested in in their daily lives. You want them to find some kind of value in the content you post so they like it enough to share with their friends and family. They may not be shopping for insurance right now…but they will be eventually and they will remember that fun little agency that posts interesting content. Tip: Check out Followerwonk– you can browse the profiles of your Twitter followers and analyze them. It gives great insight in to what your followers like!
  3. Thinking of trying Pinterest? There’s a lot of buzz around the 3rd most popular social media website. When is the best time to “Pin” your content? Colby Almond says that you should submit your content at 5AM or 5PM. Why? Because traffic is highest at 6AM and 6PM.

I want to thank Distilled for hosting such an outstanding conference and Astonish Results for giving me the opportunity to attend. I can’t wait to put all of the speakers’ great tips and tricks in to action for our clients!

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Google’s Freshness Update

Posted on Nov 11, 2011

By Megan Donaldson
Google Freshness UpdateLast week Google released information about another algorithm change that will have an effect on their search results. Their algorithm is an intricate set of instructions and functions that helps Google determine how certain sites should rank in the SERPs, or search engine results pages. Precisely how the Google algorithms work is highly confidential but every once in a while we’ll catch a glimmer of insight into what Google is looking for from us.

The current algorithm update is focused on the freshness of content on the web – it’s being referred to as the “Freshness Update”. Google wants to gear their search results toward the most relevant AND up to date information available. This is not a new initiative for Google, but simply an improvement to their ongoing efforts. Google reports that the percentage of effected queries has doubled, meaning that 35% of searches will now see fresher results.

So, what does this mean for you?

For those of you who are clients of Astonish Results, you’ve heard over and over again how important and beneficial it is to be involved in blogging and social media. Our nagging is being reinforced by this Google algorithm update. Keeping up with your blogging and social media efforts is the easiest way to continuously send updated content to the web. So log into your onsite blog and make sure you’re giving Google what they want – fresh and exciting content!

Bringing it back to the basics, the search engines are looking to provide searchers with the best experience possible. So whether you are trying to keep up with Google’s algorithm updates or are looking for best practice tips from Bing’s webmaster guidelines, it’s important to make the needs of searchers a priority. If you’re providing searchers with up to date, useful information then you have a solid platform to build off of.

About the Author
Megan is an Inbound Marketing Specialist at Astonish, spending most of her professional time fine-tuning inbound strategies, evaluating websites, and researching, researching, researching. After studying Marketing Communications in Western Massachusetts she dedicated herself to the online world through online retailing, web design and search engine optimization. Megan is a native Rhode Islander who loves baking crazy confections in her spare time. Have you ever tried an 8 layer cookie cake? YUM.

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A Review of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines

Posted on Oct 14, 2011

By Megan Donaldson

Google Webmaster GuidelinesThere’s no way around it – Google is the head honcho of the search engine world. If we want our websites to show up in the search results (and stay there) we need to acknowledge Google’s webmaster guidelines. While we may not follow these guidelines to the T, it’s clear that following Google’s suggested best practices will mean a healthier life-cycle for our sites.

Google breaks down their guidelines into three main sections: Design and Content Guidelines, Technical Guidelines, and Quality Guidelines. Let’s take a look at what Google wants from each category.

Design and Content Guidelines

  • Easy to Navigate
  • Provide useful, relevant content
  • Keep the number of links on each page to a reasonable number
  • Include appropriate keywords in your content

Technical Guidelines

  • Test your site to be sure it displays correctly in different browsers.
  • Optimize your site speed and performance
  • Regularly monitor your site’s performance
  • Allow search spiders to crawl your sites without session IDs

Quality Guidelines

  • Don’t try to trick your users or the web with cloaking (presenting different content to the search engines than you users).
  • Avoid tricks to improve search rankings.
  • Don’t take part in link schemes

Specific Quality Guidelines

  • Avoid hidden text and links
  • Don’t use cloaking
  • Don’t create multiple pages or sub-domains with duplicate content
  • Don’t fill your content with irrelevant keywords

Overall, Google wants websites to provide unique, useful and relevant information on sites that are easy to use – the end goal being happy searchers. This was verified with their recent Panda update which focused on increasing the exposure of sites with quality content. As we always say here at Astonish Results, quality content is king.

About the Author
Megan is an Inbound Marketing Specialist at Astonish, spending most of her professional time fine-tuning inbound strategies, evaluating websites, and researching, researching, researching. After studying Marketing Communications in Western Massachusetts she dedicated herself to the online world through online retailing, web design and search engine optimization. Megan is a native Rhode Islander who loves baking crazy confections in her spare time. Have you ever tried an 8 layer cookie cake? YUM.

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