Navigating The Searchscape To Refine Your Marketing

December 9, 2019 Dylan Brooks

Navigating the searchscape title

As you plan out your insurance agency’s marketing mix, it’s hard to ignore search marketing. After all, what’s more valuable than finding consumers looking for exactly what you offer?

Search marketing can help you avoid the roulette wheel of outbound sales. It’s easier to measure than TV or radio ads. And it costs less than lead provider services.

Yet, search marketing has its unique challenges. It lives on a moving target — the search landscape, or searchscape.

There are several reasons why the searchscape keeps on evolving. Changes in consumer behavior play a part. So does the continual rise of new technology solutions. The revenue goals of search engine providers Google and Microsoft loom large too.

If search marketing is in your agency’s future, you must understand the searchscape. Taking a nuanced view will help your agency tailor its strategies to consumer needs. And it will protect you against volatility.

This process starts by familiarizing yourself with the four types of searches.


The Four Types Of Searches

At first glance, the search process might seem straightforward. Someone enters a phrase into a search engine. Then they’re provided options that match the intent of that phrase.

If you offer what the searcher is looking for, you’re in business. You’ll have the inside track to a new consumer and new revenue. Your agency lives long and prospers. The end.

Well, not exactly.

The process might seem simple. But under the surface, things are more complex.

Let’s look closer at that search phrase. How did the searcher state their request? And what might those words say about what they’re looking for?

The answers to these questions can vary. But they tend to fall into four buckets.

Those buckets represent the four types of searches:

  • Branded
  • Navigational
  • Informational
  • Transactional

Each of these searches can be valuable to your agency. But they impact your business in different ways. And they each call for different strategies.

Let’s investigate.


Branded Searches

Branded searches are phrases that include your brand name. This could be your full agency name or a variation of it. For example, let’s say I opened a business named Dylan Brooks Insurance Agency. A branded search phrase for it might be Brooks Insurance. The phrase Dylan Brooks Insurance would be another one. And the full agency name — Dylan Brooks Insurance Agency — would be a third.

Branded searches are critical for businesses that sell iconic physical products. Think of phrases like Nike shoes or Coca-Cola 20 oz bottles. The name is what draws the searcher’s interest in these cases.

Branded searches are not prevalent in insurance. Shoppers are more likely to search North Face jacket. They’re less likely to search Progressive insurance policy. Searchers would rather focus on the type of coverage than the carrier name.

Yet, branded searches are still useful to your agency. If consumers are using them, it means they’re familiar with your brand name. These consumers might be longtime customers. Or they could be people who’ve never owned a policy with you but know someone who has.

If you’re getting a lot of branded searches, make sure your website conveys your brand promise. This means building out the content on your homepage and About Us page. And it means featuring customer reviews throughout the website.

Above all, you want to showcase what makes your agency stand out. This can build trust. And that trust can lead to new business opportunities down the line.


Navigational Searches

Navigational searches are phrases where the searcher considers the proximity of businesses. Examples include insurance agencies near me or directions to the nearest insurance agency.

Your physical location is your greatest asset for navigational searches. Someone nearby is looking for the services you offer, and your agency happens to be in the area.

This is serendipity at its highest power.

Still, it’s important to recognize that navigational searches might not equal leads. A consumer might be looking to talk to an agent face-to-face. Or they might want to get some paperwork filed.

If you’re getting a lot of navigational searches, make it easy for consumers to find your office. Add the location and office hours to your website. Make sure your contact information is up to date. And claim your profiles on Google Maps and Bing Places.

All this work might not close the sale outright. But it can open the door to potential new ones. After all, walk-ins can be some of the best prospects.


Informational Searches

Informational searches are phrases where the searcher is looking to learn something. These searches are often specific, and they’re phrased as questions. For instance, Am I required by law to have collision coverage on my car insurance? is an informational search.

Informational searches offer a great opportunity for your agency to grow its audience. If you can provide searchers the information they’re looking for, you can prove your value. This, in turn, can expand your brand’s reach.

There are many ways to get started with this project. You can answer common insurance questions on your website’s blog. You can film a video series and add it to a video library page. And you can beef up your website’s product pages.

But a word of warning. Informational searchers are not looking to buy. At least not in the moment. If your informational content seems too salesy, they’ll head elsewhere.

Focus on serving the searcher’s needs. If you do that, the rest can take care of itself.


Transactional Searches

Transactional searches are phrases where the searcher is looking to buy. They might appear as home insurance quote or life insurance cost.

Transactional searches seem like the Holy Grail for good reason. Someone is looking to buy what you offer. And you don’t have to pay a fee to reach them. You only need your website to show up in search results.

But it’s not all rosy.

The through-line from these phrases to revenue can attract plenty of competitors. Gaining that coveted top search result can be easier said than done.

Plus, these searchers are often short on patience. They want a quick and seamless experience. If your website is slow or your forms are clunky, they’ll bail.

The rewards from these phrases can be immense. But it takes some work to reap them.


Why The Four Types Of Searches Matter

Now that we’ve taken a deep dive into search marketing, what have we learned?

For one thing, the search phrases your website appears for can tell a story. Is your agency only showing up for branded searches? That could mean you’re not getting in front of new audiences. Are most of the search queries you get navigational phrases? That could mean you have trouble reaching consumers across town.

But the most essential takeaway is this: To succeed in search marketing, you will need to harness all four types of searches.

Yes, only the transactional phrases pad your bottom line in an instant. But online consumers don’t hand over their money without doing their due diligence. They research what they’re buying. They look for the most convenient places to buy. And they consider how trustworthy each of those places is.

The searchscape covers these bases. Informational searches help with the research. Navigational searches wrangle with the convenience factor. And branded searches speak to trustworthiness.

(Note: If your agency doesn’t have a physical office, the rules are different. Navigational phrases are irrelevant here. Only focus on informational, branded and transactional search phrases.)

Only by owning all four phases can you master search marketing.

So, add some nuance to your search marketing strategy. You’ll be glad you did.

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 an MBA from Southern Methodist University. Dylan has extensive experience with writing, strategy and marketing analytics. In his spare time, Dylan enjoys cooking, participating in 5K races, and spending time around Dallas.

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