By Shawna Arnold
Using a tracking system on your insurance agency’s website is crucial to growing in your inbound marketing efforts. Whether you’re using a free or paid tool, tracking your website is a great way to show you the who, what, when, where, and why of your traffic and visitors.
I recommend Google Analytics to all agencies that I work with. I find that most business owners with websites are using Google Analytics already, whether they or their website provider set it up. If you’re not using Google Analytics, learn more here. The best part about Google Analytics? It’s free!
For those of you using Google Analytics to track your websites (or will be after reading this post!), let’s take a look at five metrics within the platform that are not only easy to find, but can also tell you a lot about your visitors. Remember, with each visit to your website comes the opportunity to sell someone on why working with your agency is what they need, whether the visitor is a prospect or an existing client.
In Google Analytics, you have five sections under what is called “Standard Reports.” Within these sections is where you’ll find any metrics you need regarding your website:
Five easy metrics to find within these sections are:
- Organic Traffic
The organic traffic tab can be found here:
The organic traffic area will show you some of the keywords you’re getting traffic for. Remember, Google no longer provides this data for all searches. You can take an even deeper dive by adding what are called “secondary dimensions” to see what areas and devices your visitors are coming from or what pages they landed on. Overall, the organic traffic overview should provide you with some insight as to how search visitors are getting to you.
- Referral Traffic
The referral traffic tab can be found here:
The referral traffic area will show you all of the websites (outside of your own) that brought in visitors. This is where you’ll find out if sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, carriers, press release distributors, and more are bringing visitors to your website. This can be helpful in determining how effective your social media posting is in getting visitors to and traction on your website.
- Landing Pages (traffic)
The landing page tab can be found here:
The landing pages area will show you all of the landing pages on your website that are receiving traffic. More often than not, you’ll find that your homepage will receive the most traffic, but this breakdown will give you a look into what insurance product pages and service pages are also bringing in traffic.
The devices tab can be found here:
From a mobile perspective, this area will show you which devices are bringing your website traffic (e.g. iPhones, iPads, Samsung Galaxies, etc.). Mobile web browsing is here to stay. Make sure you have either a responsive website or a mobile version of your website to encourage more mobile users to stay on and interact with your website.
The location tab can be found here:
Within the location tab, you can see what locations across the globe are bringing visitors to your website. You can look as broad as country and as deep as city / town. You can use this data to determine any community related blogging you plan on doing as well as seeing where your clients and prospects are coming from.
Are you using Google Analytics for your insurance agency website? What are the key metrics you’re using in your inbound marketing strategy? Leave feedback in the comments and we’ll see if there are other Google Analytics topics we can elaborate on from there!
About the Author
Shawna Arnold is an Inbound Marketing Manager at Astonish, specializing in SEO and content marketing. She has been with Astonish for five years, allowing her to work closely with a variety of insurance agencies all over the country. She has a passion for SEO, content, social media, and all things inbound marketing. She thrives on educating small businesses and individuals on inbound marketing through blogging, eBooks, white papers, and more.
So far in 2013, we have discussed what will be important in social media for your agency – including the importance of social search.
One thing that will stay consistent about customer service and your agency, whether on the phone or when using social media, is that the client will always come first. Social media platforms have changed the way we not only interact with clients, but also promote our businesses. Connecting with your clients on your agency’s social media sites has always been important for customer service opportunities, networking, and staying in the forefront of their mind. Now, being connected with your clients on social media will become even more important as networks add ways for you to increase client contact and gain referrals.
Google Plus Circles
Besides the fact that Google has announced its Google Plus platform as a social media site, many Internet marketers are promoting the site as a social search tool. What does this mean? It means being able to connect with clients and prospects on the network will increase your chances of them finding your website first when they are searching for insurance. How can you ensure this happens? Send an email campaign out asking your current client base to add your agency to their Google Plus circles. You can also do a search for their names and/or emails on the site to add them.
Facebook Graph Search
Many of you might be reading this section header and saying “huh?” Facebook announced this year they added a search function to the Facebook site. This search function allows users to search for products and services in their area based on what their friends like. This is going to be HUGE in terms of referrals. How great would it be if many of your clients LIKED your agency’s Facebook page, ensuring that your agency would pop up first if their friends were using Facebook to look for insurance recommendations? Another great thing about this tool is Facebook is going to give priority to location. This means if you are a local agency, your page is more likely to appear before large direct writer pages if the person searching lives nearby. This does not mean you need to use Facebook less, but make sure your agency page is consistently being updated with relevant information.
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.
By Shawna Arnold
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!
By Shawna Arnold
It is common knowledge in the Digital Marketing world (or to any search users) how much Google changes – and how important it is to keep up with them.
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!