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:
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.
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.
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!
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!Continue Reading »
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.
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:
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!Continue Reading »
Last 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.Continue Reading »
There’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
- 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
- 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.Continue Reading »
There are many facets to a company, and everyone plays an important role in helping build the client base. However, having each team come together for a common cause, especially through social networking, you can greatly help your internet marketing strategy!
To attract more business and secure greater exposure, you can empower your staff with the inside scoop on what’s happening with the company’s social media, why it’s important, and how it benefits customers. According to the blog SpinSucks, this can ultimately be a powerful way to engage your employees and elevate them into brand ambassadors for your company. Some tips to do so include:
It is important to remember that employees who feel valued and appreciated will want to talk about the wonderful place where they work. By creating a positive culture, workers will become more engaged in the company and its goals. So improve your internet marketing strategy by paying it forward to your foundation, your employees, and watch the results show in your customer base!Continue Reading »
Every industry has its own language – the Internet Marketing world is no different. For those of us who work in the industry, it can be so easy to get swept up in the jargon that we forget not everyone uses these terms on a daily basis. At Astonish Results, we’re constantly communicating with clients who do not have backgrounds in Internet Marketing, so it’s important that we stay away from the lingo we’ve become accustomed to and speak in plain English.
My goal for this post is to translate some of the terms we throw around most often into basic English. Here we go…
The practice of marketing products or services over the internet. It is also referred to as online marketing, web marketing, or digital marketing. Internet marketing includes websites, email marketing, search engine optimization, search engine marketing, and social media.
Search Engine Optimization – The practice of helping a website show up in the search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing. Search engine optimization is an internet marketing strategy that analyzes web searches – from determining how the search engines are ranking websites in the search results to figuring out what people are searching for and what specific terms (or keywords) are being used.
Search Engine Marketing – also known as Paid Search – is the practice of increasing a website’s exposure through paid search tactics such as PPC (pay per click). In a very general overview, SEM involves paying to have a search result appear when a search is done for a certain keyword term. If someone clicks on your ad, you pay an agreed upon price. The goals are in line with those of an SEO strategy, but SEO involves organic results and SEM involves paid results.
Link building is the practice of getting other websites to link to your site in order to boost rankings in the search engines. Having a relevant, quality website link to your site is like getting a vote. If the search engines see that other websites want to share your information and promote your website, then they are more likely to deem your site worthy of a higher search ranking.
When we refer to search spiders, or web crawlers, we’re referring to the computer program that can browse the web to find search results. The search engines use search spiders to come up with a quick, up-to-date, organized list of what’s available on the web so the search engine can then determine how relevant the content is – this turns into the search results you see on Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
We all know about plagiarism and the negative consequences associated with it – providing unique content for your website and blog will keep you out of trouble. The search engines love fresh, honest, helpful content – doing so will make your site seem more useful. Every page on your website and every blog post should say something different. You cannot copy content from your website and post it on your blog – the search engines will recognize this as duplicate content and you could be punished. The best way to stay in the search engines’ good graces is to create unique content every time you write.
Search volume is the number of times a certain term is typed into the search engines on a monthly basis. When we decide which keywords should be used in your SEO strategy, we are comparing the search volume for hundreds of terms to determine which are the best fit. In addition to the search volume, we need to look at a term’s search competition before we decide to select it as one of your keywords.
A term’s search competition lets us know how many other sites are trying to be found for the term. If we find that a term has a search competition of 100% then we know it will be very difficult to rank for that keyword because a lot of other sites are also trying to rank for it. We want to find a term that has a high search volume and a low search competition when we are selecting your keywords.
There is much more internet jargon that we use on a daily basis, this was a peak at the topics we reference most often. What are some of the Internet Marketing terms you hear on a regular basis? Let us know if there are any terms you need clarification on and we can feature them in a future post!Continue Reading »
Conducting your own keyword research can be difficult enough – it’s important that you’re not overlooking small tweaks that can really make a difference in the success of your strategy.
When it comes to keyword research, make sure you’re not doing the following:
- Using broad match data instead of exact match dataSearch volume and competition rates are two very important metrics to consider in your keyword research. While a keyword may look amazing in the broad match data view, that’s really not the case. Broad match keywords tend to have a lot more traffic than exact match, but this won’t help your strategy. The catch with broad match keywords is that you cannot guarantee what combination of the words within each keyword phrase people are searching for – there is no precise science to broad match keyword phrases.The number for exact match keywords tells you how many people are looking for that exact keyword phrase on a monthly basis. Using this data in your strategy will ensure that you know exactly what you’re getting into in terms of what the traffic and competition rates are for your keywords.No tool is 100% accurate in reporting search volume data, but with exact match, you can get the best data available – this will help you decided which keywords are right to target.
- Having Unrealistic Expectations
This is big point. You cannot be unrealistic in your expectations of your strategy. Keywords with high search volume are definitely terms you want to include in your strategy – but not at the cost of competition. If a keyword has a high search volume and a really high competition rate, then chances are that’s not a good keyword for you. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice a little search volume in order to get keywords that you can actually compete for. Volume is a one of the most important factors in creating a strategy – but it’s not everything.
- Researching Keywords Without Variation
Search engines, Google especially, are placing a lot more importance these days on humanizing content and keywords. You really have to consider both the user who will be reading your site and pleasing the search engines when you’re building a strategy. In this regard, it’s important to make sure you explore all variations of a keyword. For example, someone who is searching for auto insurance could actually be looking for a number of things, such as an auto insurance quote, auto insurance rates, etc. Same goes for plurality as well – i.e. California insurance agents versus California insurance agent. It’s important to humanize your data and research as much as possible and make sure the context of your keywords is correct.
There’s a lot that goes into keyword research and building a solid SEO strategy, but sometimes remember the “little” details can really help. Are you performing any of your own keyword research? Share your tips and tricks with me on Twitter, @Astonish_Shawna.Continue Reading »
Backlinks are essential to your SEO strategy – there’s no doubt about that. But with linking can come confusion and questions. Is this site trustworthy for link exchanging? What keywords do I use for my links? How many links is best? We could go on and on.
A recent SEOMoz community posts on backlinks got me to thinking – what are the linking mistakes that people are most likely to make? With that, the best question to ask about your backlink strategy is: are you making these linking mistakes?
Linking Mistake 1: Building Links with Only 1 Keyword Phrase
Using your keywords in your backlink strategy is extremely important; otherwise, how would it fully aid in your SEO strategy? However, you want to be careful not to zone in on only one keyword – give your keywords equal love in your backlinking. One of the keys to a successful linking campaign is to make sure it looks natural. Acquiring 1,000 links to your site all at once using the same keyword looks fishy. You don’t want to do anything in your link building that makes your site look spammy to the search engines. And you don’t just have to stop at your product keywords – you can use your brand name for building effective backlinks as well.
Linking Mistake 2: Only Linking to Your Homepage
You want to attract links to various pages of your website, not just the homepage. Why? Because this will build a good overall linking structure which can lead to a better overall page rank and will strengthen the authority of all the pages. Building links to just your homepage will only build up authority on your homepage – you want all of your pages to come up in the SERPs for an effective SEO strategy. You also want to drive your user to the right relevant link – i.e. if you’re linking with an auto insurance keyword, link to the auto page.
Linking Mistake 3: Trying to Obtain a Ridiculous Number of Links
The number of backlinks you obtain is definitely important to your overall linking strategy, but you don’t want it to overcome you. Too many times people get so caught up in getting the highest number of links possible that the quality of links suffers. Take your time when building links – make sure you always choose quality over quantity.
Linking Mistake 4: Don’t Judge a Page by Its Page Rank
Although page rank is a popular metric for determining a site’s clout, it’s not very clear on how a site’s page rank ultimately affects SERP positions. Page authority is really what you want to be judging sites by when looking for places to distribute or exchange links. Many SEO tools are already incorporating page authority into their link metrics. For example, SEOMoz has created two helpful metrics in measuring a site’s authority – mozRank and mozTrust. The importance of knowing a site’s page authority is growing quickly; you want to make sure you are placing links with a trustworthy, relevant, and authoritative site. If something looks fishy about the site right off the bat, then it’s time to walk away. Also, make sure the content on the site is relevant to your link needs and to its readers, just as you would with your own site content.
These are a handful of mistakes SEO-ers and their clients tend to make when starting or continuing a link building campaign. Even though gaining links to your site is important, it’s also crucial that you take a step back and carefully evaluate the way you’re linking and the sites you want to link with. What are you doing to ensure a successful and quality link building campaign? Any other ideas on what not to do in the basics of building backlinks? Tweet me @Astonish_Shawna!Continue Reading »
For search engine marketers who utilize paid search advertising, defining a campaign goal is amongst the first things to do when planning a campaign launch. What is the desired result of our PPC efforts? Is it to enhance our brand image by being visible on relevant and important keywords? Is it to drive web traffic to your site and increases visits? Or are you trying to get your visitor to be something more, to perform a certain activity? In the search engine marketing world, we call these actions “conversions”, and they can take many different forms: online retail purchases, information downloads, lead generation (contact information via user input), appointment request, insurance quote request, and many more.
Now that the internet, and our own web site development capabilities, has developed to a point that we can offer our visitors a specific conversion point, it is important to optimize our PPC campaigns to target those users who are most likely to perform our desired action. Not only do we want to drive paid search traffic to our site, we want to drive qualified paid search traffic to our site. After all, if we’re paying for the visits, we want to make the best use of our money by doing two things:
Using an insurance agency as our example, how can we best qualify our PPC traffic to convert into a lead, via an “insurance quote request”? Let’s start with these two simple steps to get qualified leads. Stay tuned for my next blog post, which will cover two more steps to qualify your PPC traffic.
Step 1: Target value-based keywords
Sure, broad keywords will drive the most traffic to your site, but are they right for your campaign? The keyword “insurance” has a Google-estimated search volume of roughly 56,000,000 per month, a staggering amount, but it will also cost your company at least $35 every time someone clicks on your ad from this keyword search. Not only is it expensive, but do you really know what the visitor is actually looking for? After all, if someone is searching on the keyword “insurance”, they could be searching for any number of different things: insurance claim information, insurance careers, insurance research, etc. Do you really want to spend over $30 for every click, just to find out what the intent of the search was? Me neither. That’s why it is important to closely examine your keyword list to include some prudent generalized keywords (“auto insurance”, “car insurance”) in your campaign, but also to include some long-tail keywords that will attract those visitors that are more likely to request an insurance quote (“auto insurance quote”, “car insurance quote”, “home insurance prices”, “how can I get motorcycle insurance?”, “Pennsylvania homeowners insurance”).
By targeting these terms, you’re not only driving traffic that is more likely to generate a lead, but you’re also paying less for that traffic. Longer-tail keywords are less competitive in the search landscape, and therefore will cost you less per click than the broad keywords like “insurance”.
Step 2: Eliminate traffic that you absolutely do not want
Now that you’ve targeted the keywords that you are sure will drive qualified traffic, wouldn’t it be cool to eliminate the keywords that you don’t want to target? Introducing negative keywords. By utilizing this facet of your PPC campaign, you can tell the search engines which keywords that you do not want you ads associated with. By adding negative keywords to your campaign, you are providing a list of terms that, when a user incorporates them in their search, your search engine will know to never show your ad. This is particularly helpful because it will cut down on traffic to your site that has very little chance of converting into your desired action.
Continuing with the insurance agency example, and remembering that we are trying visitors to request a quote, I would begin my negative keyword list with terms that are too broad, are not relevant to our conversion point, or are misleading for our product. With that being said, the first negative keywords that I would target are aimed at careers in insurance. Add these keywords to your list: careers, jobs, employment, job, career, training.
See what you’ve done? You’ve eliminated the many people who are looking for jobs from your search universe. When you’re trying to drive revenue through quotes, why would you want to spend advertising money on people that are looking to further their career?
What other keywords can you think of that would drive traffic to your site, but almost certainly won’t drive conversions?
Check back here for my next post, where I’ll talk about how your paid search ad copy and landing pages can further help to qualify your traffic.
Continue Reading »