Ever post something to an online community before considering the consequences? That post remains on your digital footprint. In California, a new law was passed so minors have the option of requesting that embarrassing or scandalous content be removed from their digital footprint. Not everyone is as lucky as the youths of California. Be smart, so you can remain proud of your digital presence.
What is a digital footprint?
A digital footprint is the trail of data you leave behind when you interact with the online world. Such activities can include:
- Social media activity
- Website and blogging publishing
- Web searches
- Email communication
As an agency, you need to protect your digital trail. Be sure you are creating a brand with integrity…here are some tips:
Choose Appropriate Social Channels
What social channels are most appropriate for YOU? You don’t need to be on every social platform; figure out what you can keep up with and who you want to reach. How much time can you dedicate to digital marketing? Do you want to communicate with individuals or businesses? As a local insurance agency, some of the most important channels to consider are:
Be a Follower
If you are new to digital marketing, don’t blindly try to become a leader. Take some time to evaluate the activities that are already happening because you want to offer content that is deemed useful by the online world. Find out who the industry leaders are, what they are saying, the types of content they are sharing, and what is inspiring the most communication/feedback. Use that information as a starting point to gain some positive traction.
Find Your Voice
Your “voice” should be a representation of your brand. If you don’t have a solid branding strategy in place, get with your team and decide upon one. If your industry doesn’t set you apart, you need branding to give you a unique edge over the competition; after all, there is only one YOU. Your voice is part of your branding efforts – embrace that realization and use it to your benefit. Be sure to maintain consistency across channels.
Keep at It!
You’ve chosen your channels, you’re following others, and you have a voice. Now use them, and use them properly. Merely being present isn’t enough; you need to offer something to the outside world. Get out there and promote yourself – let the digital world know who you are and what you have to offer. And don’t forget to maintain a healthy, positive presence that is a proper reflection of your agency and brand.
When you’re trying to drive relevant traffic to your insurance website, especially when you’re targeting insurance keywords, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Insurance keywords, in general, are highly competitive. That means a lot of people are optimizing their sites for those keywords, therefore it’s harder to attract the people typing those words and phrases into the search engines.
- There are ways to optimize your site for insurance keywords naturally and through inbound marketing activities like social media and blog posting.
We’re going to discuss seven of them in this post. These are highly tactical so you’ll be able to try them on your agency’s blog or social networks today.
#1. Don’t overuse product keywords on product pages.
In other words, you don’t need to mention “auto insurance” and your state in every paragraph of your product pages for the search engines to understand what the page is about. The search engine’s algorithms are more sophisticated now and they’re actually devaluing “keywords stuffing” as a tactic. In fact, that type of action can actually hurt the credibility of your site.
#2. If you want to draw traffic relevant to a product you sell, blog about it.
When you’re blogging around a product you sell, the first thing to keep in mind: no sales language. A blog post is different from a product page. When we say blog about the product, we mean blog about a topic related to the product. Did the insurance laws recently change around a particular policy or coverage in your state? That’s a great way to get the product name and the state in the title of your blog posts. Using those types of keywords in your blog titles can help draw relevant traffic to your site.
It’s important NOT to squeeze those keywords into a blog title or blog post unnaturally though. You really need to make sure you’re only including them because they are highly relevant to what you’re writing about.
#3. Post the blog post you wrote on social networks.
After you write the blog post, promote it on all of your agency’s social networks. Distribute it to agency staff to share on their personal or professional social networks as well. Word of mouth is a powerful tactic, even online. If your blog post is highly relevant and useful or solves a popular problem that insurance consumers face, there’s a chance it might go viral if properly promoted.
#4. Do long tail keyword research for your product-centered blog posts.
Even if you’re writing a product-centered blog post such as, “Does auto insurance cover a hit and run?,” you can do long tail keyword research to determine the best way to phrase that blog title. When we say the “best way to phrase,” we mean the way people are searching for that topic online.
Long tail, by the way, means it’s a longer, more descriptive keyword phrase.
Here’s how to do long tail keyword research:
- Go to the new Google Adwords Keyword Planner (you’ll need a gmail account and you’ll need to login).
- Click “Search for keyword…”
- Type “auto insurance hit and run” into the first search field.
- Click “Get Ideas.”
- Click on the “Keyword Ideas” tab.
- See what comes up!
You’ll want to incorporate the keyword phrase that most closely matches what you’ll be writing about into your blog title.
Based on this research you may want to incorporate “hit and run insurance” into the blog title because there are 320 average monthly searches and the competition is medium, not high.
#5. Include keywords naturally in your meta descriptions.
A meta description is the description that appears underneath the blue hyperlink in search results. It is a great way to let the search engines and consumers know what the content they will be clicking to is about. For blog posts, it’s extremely important not to overlook the value of including insurance keywords and long tail keywords into the meta description, only if the keywords fit naturally though. The same goes for product pages.
#6. Implement a #hashtag strategy both on Facebook and Twitter.
When sharing your optimized, insurance-focused blog post on Facebook and Twitter, make sure you’re using hashtags correctly to reach an even broader audience. Hashtags look like this: #lifeinsurance. And when you incorporate them into a post they turn into hyperlinks. If you click on them, they take you to search results for all the social media posts using that hashtag phrase. A lot of people use these to search for others talking about a topic on social networks. That’s how they could find your agency and even get to your blog.
#7. All of this is no good unless you have an engaged audience on social networks.
Remember that promoting your blog posts on social media is only going to work if you have an engaged audience there. And you’re only going to get an engaged audience if you go and follow relevant people in your community, you comment on their statuses or reTweet their statuses, and if you are consistently providing information that is useful to them – not just from your site but from third party sites as well.
We hope this list gives you a good place to start when trying to draw relevant traffic to your insurance website. And by relevant traffic, we mean traffic that will likely convert into leads!
By Shawna Arnold
Last month, we discussed why “poor quality” websites might be ranking above you. This can be increasingly frustrating, especially when you’re doing everything “right” (e.g. blogging, participating in social media, etc.). We also went over how the search engines work and what to consider in evaluating a website. Now, let’s discuss what you can evaluate in regard to the strengths v. weaknesses between your website and the websites ranking around you!
Going along with the two key questions Google is asking to generate its search results, you need to ask yourself:
- Does my content address the searcher’s intent? Does the content of the websites ranking around me?
- Does my content provider greater unique value than anyone else? Does the content of the websites ranking around me?
Asking these questions will help you determine the content quality and usefulness of both your site and the other sites ranking around you. Having unique, engaging, and high quality content is important to Google and the other search engines.
Here are some other things you can look at to measure strengths and weaknesses between your website and the websites ranking around you…
Search Results / Result Listings
When evaluating the results pages for your website or others, make sure you take a look at the way the listings appear. Does the listing have a great marketing message in the description? Does the title adequately describe what the site is for / what it’s about? Having a poor title or description can work against you or a competitor. Having clear, concise messaging in the title and description that also markets to people and reaches out to them is key.
Another big thing to look at between you and your competitors is branding. How well-known is your agency? What is your authority and recognition within your area and the industry? How about for the companies whose websites are ranking around you?
Something else to consider that connects to brand is a website’s domain authority and recognition. How long has your domain (and those who rank around you) been around? What are your trust factor ratings like, as well as those ranking around you? You can check for these statistics and more with free browser extensions through Moz, Majestic SEO, and more. Typically, such extensions are available on Chrome and Firefox.
An online citation can be a link, brand mentions, social shares and mentions, local reviews and ratings, and much more. It can be overwhelming to try and collect all of this information, and some you might not have access to. Try starting with this list:
- How many backlinks does my website have versus the websites ranking around me? (You can use the aforementioned browser extensions to find this data.)
- How many local reviews does my company have versus the companies ranking around me? (Start with looking at Google, Yahoo, and Yelp.)
- Do I have a rating on my Google Local page? How does it compare to the websites of the companies ranking around me?
Generally, websites with more relevant and authoritative backlinks, local reviews, and local ratings/rankings will perform better than those lacking these elements.
Website Design & User Experience
This can be hard to truly evaluate without someone technical on your side, but simply look at the design of your website compared to the designs of the websites ranking around you. Ask yourself some simple questions, such as:
- Do you find that those websites ranking around you are easy to navigate?
- Were you able to easily find out what their products and services are?
- Were you able to easily find out how to contact the business?
- Did they provide multiple methods of contact? (e.g. a contact form, email address, social media links, etc.)
- As a consumer, would you want to learn more about their services or purchase their products?
- Was the navigation of their site easy to use or confusing for you?
There is so much more you can get into with design and user experience, but start by asking yourself these simple questions and try and stack up your competition and compare with your own website.
When evaluating the strengths and weaknesses between your website and those ranking around you, remember that Google intent will always be to provide search users with the most relevant and valuable results. Make sure you evaluate things like branding, design, user experience, content, citations, and search listings before you assume that the sites ranking around you are poor quality or shouldn’t be there. Not all things are as they appear on quick glance!
You may have heard about the latest social network out there and available to iPhone users – Vine. The app has been making huge moves in the industry. Compared to other apps of its kind, it has made a huge impact. Increasingly, users of the social media are downloading and “vining” their lives.
Right now, you may be thinking what is Vine? Initially, you may be picturing Tarzan swinging through the trees in the jungle – and while this would make a great USE of the app, it is not an actual “vine” at all. Here is what we know about Vine.
• The mobile app is owned by Twitter
• It allows you to capture and share short, looping videos
• The videos are 6 seconds long – or less
• It allows you to capture motion and sound
• Hashtags can be used
• You can “follow,” “like” and “comment” on other users’ videos
• The application can be linked to a Twitter account
Similar to the idea of only being able to use 140 characters on Twitter, the creators of Vine hope to inspire creativity in users. Vine makers hope users can see and share life in a “fun, simple way.” It is available for free in the app store for Apple users, and soon, the creators hope to bring it to other platforms and android devices.
Is Vine Popular?
We all remember MySpace – it was immensely popular, and then Facebook took over the social networking sphere. The thing about Vine is this: it wasn’t the first mover. There were several other video apps available prior to its creation. Actually, several of those apps had many users as well. However, since January, when Vine was introduced by Twitter, the tides have been changing for social media.
According to industry statistics, Vine has grown its users by 50% in one month alone.
How can an insurance company use Vine?
Similar to many other social media networks, insurance agencies across the United States may be wondering how they can actually use Vine. Insurance is a service – it is not a tangible product. However, there are many ways you can get creative with Vine and use it to promote your brand!
Here are some tactics that seem to work well with Vine:
1. Sneak Peaks: You have six seconds – this works perfectly for showing teasers and sneak peaks. Is your agency about to unveil a new service option? Use your six seconds to show some aspect of it, and have your clients guess what it might be!
2. Humanize Your Agency: Vine is a great way to show the character of your agents. Use your videos to let your clients get to know the funny, exciting, and creative things you do in your office as a team!
3. Show New Offerings: Have you changed or updated a policy offering? Use Vine to show the bullet points and contact information for more info!
Remember, these are videos that everyone will be able to see. You want to use Vine to demonstrate what makes your agency great and show people who you are!
The use of social media is crucial to your digital marketing strategy. You want to intrigue and engage your client base and, since technology has made social media such a readily accessible piece of our daily lives, a key way to engage is through social media.
Your agency has likely turned to platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest or LinkedIn to get your message across and engage web audiences. And since Facebook is a major part of the social media revolution, when Facebook makes changes… the world listens.
The Facebook Update
In order to progress and stay ahead of the social media game, Facebook works hard to tap into users’ unique needs and preferences. You already know that sharing photo or video content puts you at the top of the news feed and allows you to reach more viewers because Facebook has made it so, but now, Facebook wants to take that a step further.
Facebook plans to unleash a new addition to their news feed: more news feeds. In order to better tap into user interests, Facebook users will have more options when using the social network. Currently, one news feed streams updates from friends, pages and advertisements – from the music being listened to, the photos being shared and the articles being read. However, Facebook wants to change that.
Users will now have the option to have multiple feeds, including a photo feed, a video feed, a news feed or even music or offers.
With the changes, Facebook hopes to be able to use the newly free space to make photos larger and show more stories that are targeted to a specific user. This will help get rid of the current clutter in newsfeeds and in theory, users will spend more time actively engaged.
Keep your audience scrolling.
With the new changes to the newsfeed, Facebook hopes to keep users engaged for longer, scrolling through their “personal” newsfeeds and thus, more focused on the content shared. Are you prepared to adjust your strategy to be sure you are reaching your intended audience?
A change in engagement means you need to remember to…
- Post relevant content – share things that your followers are interested in viewing.
- Keep your posts to no more than 5 times per week. Over-posting will add to the “clutter” that the newly designed newsfeeds are aiming to eliminate.
- Photos and video content are more engaging and more often shared, use that to your advantage when posting.
- Develop a strategy that works for your brand and keep it consistent to keep followers coming back for more.
Once Facebook unveils the full scope of the variety of newsfeeds, think of how your insurance agency can create a social media strategy around it. You will want to be present on as many feeds as possible while still being relevant.
We’ll keep you posted on the changes as they continue to develop and remember, when in doubt, ask your followers what they want!
By Shawna Arnold
A recent article over at SEOMoz discussed the importance of diversity in your SEO strategy and it really got us thinking. The idea of diversity is important for your entire digital marketing strategy, from SEO to social media to email marketing. SEOMoz calls it diversity, but here at Astonish, we call it a blended strategy!
Blending your digital marketing strategies may be easier than you think. When looking to diversify, pay attention to your:
- Traffic Sources
- Point of View
Not only is it important to diversify your links to keep things fresh, but it’s also important to stay on the up-and-up with Google. You want to make sure that there is a variety of ways for visitors to get to you and you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket. If you’re getting the majority of your links from directories, try grabbing opportunities to guest blog with a local newspaper (Patch.com is great for this) or a local organization / chamber of commerce. Even the highest quality of link building tactic (PR, guest blogging, directories, etc.) can become low quality if you abuse it. Spread the link love and build your backlink portfolio.
Similarly to the places you have links back to your site, you want to make sure you have a variety of outside sources bringing traffic to your site. Whether you’re bringing people in from email marketing or social media, make sure you keep it diverse. If your agency is really strong on Facebook and you’re bringing visitors to your website from there, try integrating more focus on Twitter and Google+ and pushing visitors from those sites.
Point of View
Diversifying your point of view may be a little trickier than your links and traffic sources. For the most part, your point of view is who you are as an agency. But it also has to do with your attitude. You don’t have to change who you are and the message you send by changing your point of view, but rather just change your attitude. The insurance industry can be a tough market for content generation whether it is through email, blogging, or social media. One rut you don’t want to get into is thinking your industry is too boring for creativity – that is the WRONG idea to have! You have to approach your marketing efforts with a fresh perspective and passion for your subject matter. If you’re bored with your content, then your readers, customers, and potential customers will feel that way too. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone to come up with new ideas – look at your agency as an outsider, go through some of your sales processes as if you’re a new customer, have one of your staff members explain to you why your agency is different and better than all the rest. Consider the things you’re doing within your community or for charitable organizations. A renewed positive attitude can do just the trick in triggering content ideas.
If you adjust anything in your digital marketing efforts for 2013, let it be the diversity in what you’re doing – make sure you’re using a blended strategy. The change up will pay off, giving you a new gusto for your marketing efforts, improved attitude, and in turn better interaction and engagement for your audience!