Outrank Your Competitors and Engage More Customers:

An insurer’s guide to search engine optimization

by Ashley Popham

 
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Everybody’s Googling It

Google is the largest search engine in the world, with 65% of total global website traffic originating from Google searches[1]. Google is such a prominent search engine that the phrase “just Google it” has become synonymous with the term “search”. The company’s increasing popularity and dominance among internet users has made pagerank a key focus for digital marketers.

In 2016, Google users in the US performed 11 billion monthly desktop searches and 18.7 billion monthly mobile searches at an average rate of 2.3 million searches per second[2]. Among these searches are millions of consumers shopping for insurance coverage. Carriers who want to engage with these potential customers must optimize their web presence for preferred ranking among search engines.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays a key role in increasing the amount of visitors attracted to a website. Search engines like Google use numerous algorithms to compare pages against each other and return relevant content to users. Pages optimized for search engines appear higher on the list of search results than pages not optimized for search.

Below are 8 search engine optimization tactics that will help your website outrank competitors and drive consumers to your brand.

  1. Keywords
    Users find websites by typing keywords into search engines, and search engines use keywords to find and index web pages. Carriers can make it easier for search engines to locate and analyze their site by adding keywords to page titles, headings and descriptions. Keyword strategies are most effective when website content closely aligns with search terms. Keyword placement is valued over keyword use, so be sure to avoid keyword spamming in the body of your content.

    If your audience’s keywords are hyper competitive, it may be difficult to increase your pagerank. To find keywords that aren’t as highly competitive, use tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ubersuggest, and Keyword Analysis by Searchmetrics.
     

  2. Descriptive Tags
    Some website content such as images cannot be indexed by a text-based search engine. Images can include an alt attribute that provides a text description of the image contents. Include descriptive image alt tags with relevant keywords to promote favorable search engine indexing.
     

  3. Backlinks
    Links from relevant, authoritative websites back to your website positively affect pagerank. Ask associations, agents, reinsurers, rating bureaus, and vendor partners to link to your website to elevate your web presence. Purchased backlinks are discouraged and result in unfavorable SEO results[3]. Companies like SEMrush check website backlinks for quality.
     

  4. Company Location
    Google’s 2014 Pigeon algorithm update gives local businesses greater precedence on users’ searches[4]. Due to this, the addition of your business’s address on your website gives the site greater ranking for users in your city. If you service customers locally, add company location to your website.
     

  5. Accessibility
    Responsive design supports incoming traffic from all devices including computers, tablets, and smartphones. Responsive design attracts new and returning visitors as screen size, platform, and orientation adjust based on user behavior and environment. You can test your site’s responsiveness at http://mattkersley.com/responsive/.
     

  6. Navigation
    Clear navigation makes it easy for users to find and absorb content. Label buttons and titles, avoid overcrowding drop-down menus and navigation bars, add search and breadcrumbs, remove broken links, and test for 404 page errors to increase user accessibility on your website.
     

  7. Load Time
    Users expect online interactions to be quick and seamless. Usability studies show that 47% of consumers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less, and audiences will bounce at a 40% rate after 3 seconds of load time[5]. High bounce rates negatively affect your pagerank, so be sure to remove barriers that hinder customer-brand interaction on your websites. Minimizing plug-in use and ensuring file sizes are below 100kb help keep load times reasonable.[6]
     

  8. Content
    Google gives preference to pages with comprehensive content. According to a recent report conducted by searchmetrics, the average word count for top-ranking content ranges from 1,140-1,285 words[3]. When creating content, focus on providing customers with comprehensive coverage of the topic, rather than short blurbs that only skim the surface.

    Additionally, search engines prefer sites with more organized content. Carriers should use interactive elements, unordered lists, and internal links to logically guide users and search engines through website information.[7]

     

Conclusion

The majority of website traffic comes from organic search. Carriers looking to increase inbound traffic from organic search must implement tactics that increase both customer engagement and pagerank. By optimizing web pages for search engines, carriers can rise to the top of organic search results to drive more customers to their website.

 

Resources

[1] Sterling, Greg. August 21, 2015 at 8:12 pm. Search Engine Land. Google Controls 65 Percent Of Search, Bing 33 Percent [comScore] http://searchengineland.com/google-controls-65-percent-of-search-bing-33-percent-comscore-228765

[2] Smith, Craig. Last Updated November 17, 2016. DMR. 100 Amazing Google Search Statistics and Fun Facts (November 2016) http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-a-gigantic-list-of-google-stats-and-facts/

[3] Search Metrics. Search Ranking Factors 2015: Understand how the deck is stacked. [Report]: http://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors/

[4] Ahmad, Irfan. October 6, 2015. DIGITAL INFORMATION WORLD. Be #SEO Smart in 2015 [Infographic]: http://www.digitalinformationworld.com/2015/10/infographic-seo-strategies-to-implement-in-2015.html

[5] Work, Sean. KissMetrics. How Loading Time Affects Your Bottom Line. https://blog.kissmetrics.com/loading-time/

[6] IConversion Media. December 7, 2015. ICONVERSION MEDIA BLOG SITE. Key Factors for SEO for 2016 and Beyond [Article]: http://iconversionmedia.com/blog/2015/12/07/key-factors-for-seo-for-2016-and-beyond/

[7] DeMers, Jayson. NOV 10, 2015 at 02:44 PM. Forbes. The Fundamental Guide to SEO in 2016. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2015/11/10/the-fundamental-guide-to-seo-in-2016/#792bfd986322

Article previously appeared in IAIP and PAMIC Pulse.