If you care about your agency's digital future, don't use black hat SEO techniques. Good SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.
Previously, we covered what black hat SEO techniques are and how you can start the long road to recovery if you used those techniques before. In this third and final part of our black hat series, I want to explain white hat SEO techniques and how we use them to help our customers.
Our goal at ITC is to help insurance agencies improve their online marketing incrementally every month, continuously building from a sturdy base. Here are some ways we do that.
Google is pretty specific about what you should not do in your SEO program. If you follow the guidelines listed on this page, you won't face penalties from Google. Many of these recommendations are common sense, but people always try to game the system. The Penguin updates hit those black hat techniques hard. Although you can't know for sure what the next update will hold, pay attention to what Google says. You should have a pretty good idea of what will work in the future and what will not.
Start On-Site, Move Outward
If your insurance website is poorly optimized, Google will have a difficult time reading it. This is why a sturdy base is important. If you don't get the on-site optimization right, you will be at a disadvantage. Only once your website is properly optimized should you start your other SEO strategies. We spend the initial month of SEO services optimizing an agent's website for the search engines. Then we move on to our other off-site strategies.
Unique vs. Other Content
Content is king, right? You might think you can post anything since content is so important. That is not the case. If you don't have unique content written by a human and not a spinning program (A spinning program finds synonyms and gives you the option of replacing them so the content is unique.), your content isn't going to help your SEO efforts.
Google's Panda updates emphasize this even more. Not only does your content need to be unique, it needs to be relevant to your audience. Insurance gives you a wider range to write about than you might think. Don't write another 'How to Save Money on Your Auto Insurance!!!!' post. Think about related topics your audience will find valuable like car technology. Customers can get discounts for daytime running lights, an anti-theft device and passive restraint features. Wouldn't that be relevant information for someone looking to buy auto insurance?
The internal pages on your website have information that is related to information on other pages of your site. For example, if you write commercial lines, you might have commercial auto, commercial earthquake, commercial property and commercial real estate pages. Since those pages are related, it makes sense to link them to each other. A simple sentence at the end of the page can list the other products you offer. If you want something more custom, you can link buttons, images or designate a specific area on each page to link to other products.
Our insurance agency websites come with several built-in features for interlinking. Navigation menu links and footer links should appear on almost all of your pages. There is also an option for a right hand column on each page. Depending on what forms you have turned on, the default form links will show up on the default line of business pages.
Google can see customized text, which allows you to emphasize words or phrases. We like to emphasize certain keywords and geo-targets in content throughout an insurance agency website by using bold or italics. Be careful to not bold or italicize too many words though. If your content looks horrible with bolded and italicized words everywhere, visitors will leave. Remember your content needs to look normal to a visitor reading it. Google can also read the header tags used in your content. It is good SEO practice to use your keywords or geo-targets in H1 or H2 tags.
These are some of the ways we do SEO that have proven successful for our customers. Good SEO is an investment, either of time or money. There is no magic bullet or quick fix. If you don't have the time but still want to invest in SEO, give us a call at (800) 383-3482, and one of our digital marketing sales specialists would be happy to answer your questions.
About the Author
Phillip Long serves as the primary contact point for all of ITC's search engine optimization clients. As the internet marketing product manager, he coaches and guides insurance agents throughout the SEO program, ensuring they progress smoothly. Phillip's specialties include conceptualizing marketing campaigns, SEO, and customer service. He has a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Texas at Arlington with a focus in management and communication.Follow on Twitter More Content by Phillip Long