Google Properties In Search Results: Friend or Foe?

April 2, 2018 Dylan Brooks

 

Google properties blog image
 

Are you planning a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign for your insurance website? If so, you can expect to see more website visits, leads and customers. But, these results don’t grow on trees. You’ll need to rank on the first results page for queries consumers enter in search engines.

You can also expect competition. Plenty of other agencies are chasing the same goal. Industry goliaths such as State Farm, Allstate and GEICO are as well. With only up to 10 listings in the search results, the competition is tough.

But, what if I told you the prime provider of these search results is also a competitor?

Google has added features that can undercut the websites listed in results. These features provide information directly in the search results. They also give searchers another place to click.

These features might seem like bad news. But they can help you achieve your goals.

Let’s take a closer look.
 

How Did We Get Here?

Several years ago, search results were simple. Each time a searcher entered a query, they got a results page. That page had 10 links to websites deemed to best answer the query, along with a few search ads.

This model worked well for insurance agencies. Google served as the middleman between interested searchers and agency websites. The only costs agencies incurred were the time and effort to optimize their websites.

Then, things changed. Google realized it could answer searcher questions directly in the results. This would keep searchers on Google for longer periods of time. It would also allow Google to learn more about its users.

So, Google incorporated rich results into search pages. It started with simple features, such as weather forecasts and sports scores. But it quickly expanded to more threatening territory for insurance agents.
 

A Tour Of Google Search Features

Here are a few Google features that seem particularly troubling.

  1. Searchers can find phone numbers directly in Google.

 

Google mobile search

 

  1. Searchers can calculate rates directly in Google.

Google mortgage calculator mobile

 

  1. Searchers can learn about companies through a knowledge box directly in Google.

 

Safeco google info box mobile

 

  1. Searchers who ask a question might get see an answer box directly in Google. And they might even see answer boxes for similar questions.

 

Google answer box mobile

 

  1. Searchers looking for insurance in their area might see a “Map Pack” directly in Google.

 

Google Map Pack mobile

 

These features are similar in two ways.

  1. They keep searchers on Google, instead of directing them to other websites.
  2. They push the search results further down the page.

These issues are particularly striking on mobile. That’s why I used a smartphone for all the screenshots above.

Nearly 60 percent of Google search traffic comes from mobile devices. The above features push regular results out of view on these devices. This means searchers must scroll down the page to find the first organic result. Not all will do so.

If you’re thinking this is only a Google feature, think again. Bing adopted many of the same features, particularly on mobile. There’s no avoiding the invasion of rich results.
 

How Rich Results Can Help Your Agency

The proliferation of rich results might sound like a threat. But, it’s also an opportunity.

Rich results feature content from websites listed in the search results. They also include a link to the website they reference.

If your website is one of the lucky ones chosen, you could get double visibility. Your rich result will have prime placement in the search results. Your regular search result will also appear further down the page.

By garnering a rich result, your agency can serve many searcher intents. This increases the chances of gaining new business.

And the benefits don’t end there! Each time your agency gains a rich result, your competitors miss out on one. This extra visibility can make your agency stand out, and help build trust in your brand.
 

How Do I Get A Rich Result?

Rich results can be a powerful tool for your insurance agency. But can you snag them?

The answer varies by the type of rich result you’re seeking. Let’s break it down.
 

Phone Numbers and Map Packs

These rich results come from your business’ information. Google pulls relevant data from websites for these results. But it needs a little help to do so.

Make sure to mark up your website with structured data. That’s special code featuring your insurance agency’s contact information. Visitors won’t see this code, but Google will. It tells them which phone number, business name and address to show in rich results.

Here’s Google’s guide to setting up structured data. You also might want to work with a website developer on this project.
 

Answer Boxes

These rich results pull from website content. They answer questions by providing relevant, authoritative information.

If you’re looking to gain answer boxes, get a lay of the land first. Plug some question-based searches into Google and see which types of answer boxes come up.

Take a close look at the format used in the results. Are they full paragraphs, bulleted lists, charts or tables? Or something else? This is a clue. You might need to add this formatting to your website content to earn an answer box.

Then take a close look at the content referenced in each answer box. Consider how well this content answers the question you entered. Then write content on your website that answers the question even better.

High quality content is key here. Google wants to feature the best possible answers to each query searchers enter. If you take the time to add these answers to your website, your agency can reap the rewards.
 

The Future

Rich results are here to stay. As voice search also grows, these results will only become more important.

Devices such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home read back only one result for each search query. Personal assistants, such as Siri and Cortana, do the same. It’s clear that the status quo of 10 blue links in the search results is no longer set in stone.

Don’t fret! Take this opportunity to make your website stand out. Add structured data. Draft content that best answers searchers’ questions. And watch your agency website soar above the competition.

 

 

About the Author

Dylan Brooks

Dylan Brooks helps ITC clients improve the visibility of their agency websites, working directly with them to improve their search engine rankings. Dylan has a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Miami, and he is pursuing an Masters in Business Administration from Southern Methodist University. Dylan has extensive experience with writing, strategy and marketing analytics. In his spare time, Dylan enjoys cooking, watching football, and spending time outdoors in and around Dallas.

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