Posts Tagged ‘ SEO ’
Though social media and blogging are important insurance marketing tactics, many agencies miss out on one highly effective, yet often overlooked component of a successful marketing strategy – the press release.
Press releases are valuable for two reasons:
1. They are effective branding tools. If you operate a local agency, chances are not many people would recognize your agency’s logo or name if they saw it. Getting your name out and into local news sources is one way to improve that.
2. Press releases provide an opportunity to link back to your website. The fact that press releases are often picked up by multiple online publications improves the link profile of your site, which can impact overall SEO in a positive way. What does that mean? It means it can improve the likelihood of people finding your website online.
That’s great! You might be thinking. The trick here is that many insurance agencies struggle with writing press releases. For one, if you use a press release distribution vendor (which you should), you will need to write press releases that have an actual news hook or at least reference a news source in the headline or first paragraph.
That doesn’t sound too difficult, right? Well, in truth it can be challenging. How many times per year does your agency do something news worthy? How often, for example, do you fundraise for a local charity or partner with a local business to create an event or sponsor a community event? If the answer is “often,” that’s amazing! If you’re not writing press releases to promote those activities, your branding and online marketing strategy is really missing out.
If the answer is “not that often,” you may want to consider writing other types of press releases. By “other,” I mean press releases that are related to news events or seasonality. For example, in anticipation of the holiday season, some agencies wrote about how to avoid liquor liability claims when throwing holiday parties. Others wrote about how to avoid home insurance claims due to holiday decorations. The trick to writing these is that they need a news hook. In the first example, the news hook was an actual local news event involving a holiday party and a car accident. In the second example, the news hook involved recent statistics regarding house fires and holiday decorations.
In the next installment, I’ll get into the nitty gritty of how to write a press release that gets results for your insurance agency.Continue Reading »
Google has been very busy updating their algorithm (or ranking system) over the past couple of months. Your organic search strategy depends on making sure that you are always abreast of those changes!
September and October were busy months for the Panda, Penguin, Exact-Match Domain (EMD) (new), and the Page Layout updates. These updates came in as follows:
- 9/18: Panda 3.9.2
- 9/27: Panda #20
- 9/27: Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update
- 10/5: Penguin #3
- 10/9: Pay Layout #2
Google makes updates to their algorithm daily, but once in a while they release changes that make a more significant impact, like the ones above.
The two Panda updates were all about continuing to filter out web spam and low quality content. Google reports that ranking flux was moderate with the first update (3.9.2). Google claims the second update affected 2.4% of search queries, but many of those in the industry claim the update was more impactful than that.
With the EMD update, Google changed the way they handled exact-match domains (low quality URLs containing exact-match keywords – for example: www.AlabamaAutoInsuranceQuotes.com). They led a large-scale devaluation of EMDs, reducing their presence in the search results. Google’s official word is that this update impacted .6% of search queries.
The Penguin update was said by Google to be minor, impacting .3% of searches. The goal of this update, described by Google as a “data refresh,” was to continue the journey of the original Penguin update to reduce the presence of sites that have low quality and irrelevant links to their site.
Google reports that the Page Layout update affected .7% of search queries. The goal of this update was to target sites that contain a large number of ads “above the fold” of their website (i.e. sites that have a lot of ads at the top of their site). The reason Google has started targeting sites of this nature is because users have complained it is too difficult for them to find the important content on the pages of sites with this layout.
The biggest thing to remember with the Google algorithm updates is that their goal is always the same: to provide the search user with the most relevant, quality, and natural result to their search query. Updates like these aim to weed out the spammers and the sites using “black-hat” (or shady) SEO techniques and push up the rankings on sites that are doing things right. This includes providing high quality content to your readers, consistently updating your website content through blogging, actively promoting your brand and engagement with customers/community on social media, etc. Remember, when it comes to organic search, shortcuts don’t pay. Google will have an algorithm to catch and punish new black-hat tactics eventually; don’t put your site in danger!
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About a month ago, Google announced the plan for their upcoming algorithm changes – different than the Panda updates of the past. In this initiative, the search engine stated they would begin to punish websites that are “over-optimized” or “over-SEO’d.” They have since back-pedaled on their statements to push the focus of this campaign to webspam, but nonetheless, “over-optimization” is a component to watch for.
The update, dubbed “Penguin,” officially rolled out on April 24. The Penguin update is looking to penalize websites that utilize some of the following:
- Aggressive keyword targeting (over-optimization)
- Overuse of keyword domains (over-optimization)
- Low quality article marketing (spam)
- Keyword stuffing in links (spam)
Google aims to bring searchers the most natural results they can, first and foremost. This update is aimed toward giving the Google user the most positive experience and most relevant results.
So, what can you do to help your website? Keep things natural and relevant! When writing your landing page content or your blogging content, make sure that your content is driven by topics and information that would be useful to your customers and/or prospects. You can keep your content topic-driven without losing any of your keyword optimization.
For example, if you’re writing a blog post on some updates in health insurance legislature in your area, you can easily integrate any specific health insurance keywords you have without throwing them in the reader’s face – it’s all about natural integration and keeping the post topic-driven. If your post is about a legislative update, make sure you stay on topic and give the reader all of the information needed. If your health insurance keyword only naturally fits one time in the post without sacrificing the message, then so be it. It’s important now, more than ever, that Google and the other search engines see that your content is high quality and useful to the reader – not just a 500-word post stuffed with keywords you want to be found for.
You should use the same principles in your link building as well – keep it natural. For example, if you are writing a guest post on a local community blog and you’re trying to bring visitors to your website for a health insurance term, make sure you can integrate it without sacrificing the content quality or spamming the reader. Make sure your post is relevant to the topic of the keyword and don’t squeeze in numerous links. The best practice with using keywords in links it to keep it simple – post one link back to your website using your term and only if it fits into the content without disrupting the reader. If you have a blog on your website and you’re linking to other pages within the site, use the same principles; keep keyword links minimal, simple, and non-disruptive.
There are already reports of websites seeing negative effects as a result of the Penguin update, as well as sites see positive results, such as higher keyword rankings, better traffic, etc. As long as you are utilizing best practices and ensuring your internet marketing strategies are in line with what Google is looking for in a high quality website, you should eventually see the fruits of your labor. Think of how you feel when you visit a website that spams you, whether it’s through low quality content, excessive links, or obvious keyword stuffing. Enacting a high-quality SEO strategy takes time – these are long-term strategies. But, at the end of the day, you’ll thank your internet marketing team, representatives, or even yourself for sticking it out and taking the “righteous” path in your SEO strategy.
How is your website responding to the Penguin update? Tweet me @astonish_shawna with any Penguin stories or suggestions!Continue Reading »
In my last blog post, I discussed the importance of link building on the web, and how links can improve your Google PageRank. Here at Astonish we have our own link building methods, but these are some you can try yourself.
Although it might seem like a no-brainer, one of the best methods of getting a link is by e-mailing your friends, family, and loyal customers. You already know that they would recommend you in person, so it makes sense that they would be happy to recommend you on the web as well. Unless you ask, you’ll never know if one of them might have a popular website or blog on which a link to your site could result in tons of views!
Another way to get links is to ask the owners of other websites if they will link to yours. A good place to start is with pages that already link to similar content to yours, or that might have content which is related to (but not in direct competition with) yours in some way. If you sell car insurance, you might want to ask local autobody shops, driver training schools, or maybe even car dealers for links. Some of these companies may desire some sort of payment for putting a link on their site; in exchange, you could offer to link back to their sites on your webpage.
Making a donation can be another avenue to getting a link. Frequently charities and nonprofits list the names of the companies and individuals who contribute to their cause as a way of saying thanks. Some might be happy to add a link along with your name, if you ask. Check out their website beforehand, to see if anyone else has a backlink. Not only would you be doing something good for your community, but your company would be benefiting as well. If you donate to a school or teaching hospital, you might even get your link on a “.edu” website, which are highly trusted sites.
If you try these different methods, you will probably be rewarded with a numerous links from a variety of domains. This can be a big factor in improving your Google PageRank. A small effort or cost on your part could potentially turn into great results for your company. Get your links out there, and you never know what the returns might be.
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If press release distribution is part of your Internet Marketing strategy, you’re on the right track with your insurance marketing strategies. However, you may wonder how valuable these optimized releases are when you take a look at your news release summary reports. Was the release picked up by relevant news outlets? Have you received any media inquiries? If the answers to these questions are “yes,” great! But you can do better.
Taking a holistic approach with your internet marketing strategy by interweaving your press release content within your blogs and social media updates can really boost your results. Consider this recent story published on one of Mediabistro.com’s blogs. The #CancersNoJoke campaign from @AbolishCancer, which focused on raising awareness for the need for bone marrow donors across the U.S., ran for one week on Twitter. After spending just $200 on creating a press release, the team behind the campaign was able to gain 22 million unique impressions by spreading the word on the social media site. So, what does this mean for you?
If you want to make the most of your press releases, don’t forget to share them on your blog and social media pages. Create a hashtag on Twitter so that you and your followers can spread the word about your press release content more effectively, and so you’ll be able to easily track how many people are talking about your release on the social platform. While it’s important to engage in press release distribution, social media and blogging, don’t do each of these separately; use all three combined to reach more potential customers. Even if your business needs a little social networking training before you get started, it will certainly pay off in the results!
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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 »
Link building plays a significant part in how high your website ranks in the search engines. There are a variety of different ways to get links back to your website, but one of the most effective methods is to step away from the computer and out in to your community.
1) Sponsor an Event. Nearly every city or town has a few popular events that happen every year – music festivals, 5k runs, county fairs and restaurant weeks. What better opportunity to get your name in front of a big chunk of the local population? Check to see if any of these events have websites and if so, whether or not they link to their sponsors. If you find an event that makes sense for your business to sponsor and it seems like they will link to your website, go for it.
2) Be a Speaker. If you have a special talent for public speaking, you may have some great link building opportunities. Investigate your options to speak at local and national conferences and events. Finding knowledgeable, charismatic orators can be a challenge, so jumping on board with a relevant conference will usually be a mutually beneficial relationship. Bonus points if you can get a gig speaking at a college or university; their .edu URL holds extra authority and link juice.
3) Host Your Own Networking Event. Everyone loves free food and good company, but not everyone likes to play host. Put together a small (or large, if you’re feeling ambitious) networking event and hold it at your office or a more spacious venue. You could invite local artists to display their work, plan to have a guest speaker or maybe offer some kind of door prize or raffle. Whatever you choose, you need to give the attendees a reason to show up. Once you have decided the logistics of the event, use social media to spread the news. Write a post for your blog, Tweet your Followers and update your Facebook Fans; hopefully, those who follow you will begin to re-purpose your content and alert their followers about the event as well. The goal is to not just throw a great party, but get a nice amount of back links in the process.
These are just a few ways to get started with link building in your community. Don’t be afraid to get out there and network in person – you never know what kind of back link you might be able to secure!Continue Reading »
Whether your agency writes onsite blogs, offsite blogs, link building articles or all of the above, you obviously know the importance of having solid content. Content for the web is unlike any other forms because you’re trying to cater to a real audience (people) and also the search engines. While it may not seem like much on the surface, it’s actually a more daunting task than it seems. When contributing content to the web, it’s always important you’re holding yourself to a high standard to improve your insurance marketing website.
In the days of social media, blogging and search engines, quality content is more important than it has ever been. There’s no use in churning out writing that doesn’t live up to a certain level of integrity and style, so here are some tips to help you and your agency keep yourself alive in Google:
- Keep it concise: One of the general rules of thumb of online content is to keep as short as possible while still effectively delivering your message. Now, we’re not saying to write a single paragraph and leave it that, but to also not write a book, either. As an independent agency trying to get its website to show up in the rankings, you need to focus more on multiple posts and articles, not just a long one every so often. So get to the point as quickly as possible and leave out any unnecessary information.
- Use Headings: Naturally, human beings prefer to be directed at what they should be reading instead of just blindly going through content. If you publish a blog post or article that is on the longer side, it may be wise to separate each section with headings and/or subheadings to make it easier on the reader. With headings, readers will be able to skim down the page and read the parts that may be more of interest or value to them.
- Inverted Pyramid: Ever hear of the “Inverted Pyramid”? In journalism, the inverted pyramid refers to the strategy of placing information in any given article. Normally, the most important information will be up top and fill most of the article, followed by secondary information in the middle and any related but not as important information at the bottom. If you want to lower your bounce rate, you’ll want to make sure you have the important stuff at the top so the reader has a chance to take it in before leaving your website.
As an independent insurance agency, you want your website to not only serve as a way for people to sign up for quotes, but to also reel in potential customers through search engine optimization. Your content is the bridge connecting your website to new leads, so take pride in whatever you write. Remember: keep it simple, thoughtful and fun!Continue Reading »
We have all heard that content is king and while this is true, there are other things to keep in mind while blogging. Of course you want to write a blog that is interesting and relevant to your readers, but you also need to make sure you spread the word to as many people as possible. What good is a well written blog if no one reads it?
For as many times as we have heard someone preach about the importance of a blog’s content we have also heard that the content needs to be “SEO friendly”. All of this is true but there are other things you can do to optimize on your blogging efforts.
Here a number of things which are just as helpful for driving traffic to the site that you may not have heard about yet:
1. Using email to promote your blog
If you have an email list why not use it for your blog? Email is a very effective channel of communication that should not be forgotten about. Sending a brief preview of your blog in an email or company newsletter with a link to “read more” will boost readership of your blog and traffic to your site. You could also include a link to your blog in your signature or reference your blog when addressing a specific question from a client or potential customer. With Social Media being the hot topic everyone is talking about it is easy to forget about email, but you shouldn’t.
2. Announcing your blog on Facebook and twitter
Like I said, social media is all the craze these days- and it can be used to broadcast your blog to a larger audience. By posting a link and a short enticing message about your blog on your social media pages you will be sure to drive more people to your blog. There is also an opportunity for people to share your content through their own accounts and help your content “go viral”. In this day in age the challenge is not deciding whether or not your company will use social media but instead how well you will use it.
3. Taking advantage of social sharing sites
In addition to sharing your blogs on your own social profiles you should consider taking advantage of social sharing sites such as StumbleUpon, Tumblr, and Reddit. These sites provide great channels for sharing your content but this requires some additional work. Each site has their own set of rules and formats for posting so you must make sure you play by those rules. If you want to receive the benefits of these online communities you must become a respectful member of the communities.
So the next time you publish a blog remember these tips and tools for optimizing your efforts. First you must write a blog with great content and then you must make sure that content gets the attention it deserves. Good luck and happy blogging!Continue Reading »
Traditionally, Insurance Agencies were “Mom & Pop” businesses located on Main Streets. The agents typically met their clients in the neighborhood where they worked. They’d walk out on the street and greet potential clients with a handshake and a smile. Perhaps they had booths at town events or sponsored the local baseball team. They’d provide great customer service and their clients would give them referrals. The best way to gain new clients was to build strong personal links in the community.
Nowadays, potential clients generally search on the Internet for insurance rather than on Main Street. About 50% of new website traffic comes from search engines, and roughly 70% of that traffic comes directly from Google. A potential client will probably open a search engine and type in something like, “Rhode Island home insurance,” and click on the results. They might click a few of the links, and request a few quotes, but chances are they will only click the links on the first search engine result page. In fact, the top 10 results receive about 90% of the traffic. The potential client is not going to go to the 10th results page and start clicking there. That’s why you need to optimize your site! Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of helping customers find your website via search engines. A website with great SEO will come up higher in searches on sites like Google. That means an optimized site will probably have increased traffic, and therefore, the company which runs the site will have more potential business opportunities and sales.
One way to increase your SEO is through link building…and no, I don’t mean the Main Street kind! Web Link building is placing links to your website on other websites so that you can generate more traffic. If a potential client is reading a website or blog about insurance, and it links back to your agency’s website, you might get a new client. Or, if your website is linked on other webpages which have a high page rank (quality of the site, affecting the order in which results are shown on search engines), that will tell the search engines that your site is important and should show up higher in searches too! This is really beneficial since we know that a higher search result means more traffic and more potential clients.
While it will always be important to build links in your community, remember the importance of building web links as well!Continue Reading »