The SEO Crossroads: Go Local Or Stay Organic?

March 5, 2018 Dylan Brooks

SEO Crossroads blog image

Are you looking to grow your insurance agency online? Search engine optimization (or SEO) can be your golden ticket.

With effective SEO techniques, your agency can appear in search results. All at the exact moment consumers have an insurance need.

It’s a great way to drive targeted web traffic and potential leads to your agency. And unlike most forms of advertising, it’s not pay-to-play.

Still, you need to be diligent and strategic to get the most out of SEO. This includes choosing the right focus for your agency’s needs.

That process begins with a big decision. Should you go local with your SEO efforts or stay organic?

The Two Pillars of SEO

All SEO is not created equal. At least not anymore.

Several years ago, there was only one type of SEO. Agencies used traditional, organic SEO strategies to earn first-page rankings on search engines.

In those days, the search result pages were simple. They featured a couple of ads, followed by 10 website links. SEO industry professionals call these the organic results. If your agency appeared in the top three organic results for a keyword, you could expect lots of visits to your website.

Google soon realized their results page layout didn’t serve all searchers. In particular, the search experience was miserable for those searching for nearby businesses.

So, the search giant set out to solve this problem. Google unveiled universal search in 2007. This update connected the search engine to other Google products, including Google Maps.

Map results started showing up in the search results soon after. SEO professionals dubbed this section the map pack.

Here’s what that section looks like today.

Google Map Pack Seattle Insurance Agencies

This shift in search result appearance led to a split in SEO strategy.

Organic SEO tactics weren’t effective for earning map pack rankings. So, local SEO emerged to fill the void. But, it also caused a chasm.

There are now two distinct search strategies for businesses to grapple with. This leaves agencies with one critical decision.

What’s the Big Difference?

Local SEO and organic SEO have similar objectives. Both aim to increase your visibility in the search results.

The difference lies in their focus. Each strategy targets a separate segment of the search ecosystem. Here’s a closer look at each strategy.

Local SEO

Local SEO focuses on location attributes. For your agency, this means your office location (or locations). A local SEO strategy can boost your agency’s relevance in the area near your office.

Local SEO tactics include…

What does success look like for local SEO?

Your agency can show up in the map pack for searches such as Home insurance Boulder, Colorado. The same can apply for auto, business, life, or health insurance searches.

Your agency can also show up in the map pack when someone nearby searches Insurance agencies near me.

Local SEO caters to target consumers who are on the go. These consumers are looking for close by businesses that provide instant service. And they’re likely to call you or drop by your office to get that service.

Organic SEO

Organic SEO focuses on trustworthiness. When you pursue an organic SEO strategy, you aim to establish your agency as an authority. You want your website to be the best resource for consumers’ insurance needs.

Organic SEO tactics include…

What does success look like for organic SEO?

Your agency can show up for searches such as Auto insurance options for a single car household. (Or for similar types of home, business, life, or health insurance searches.) You might even get a featured snippet for the result, as shown below.

google snippet uninsured motorist


Organic SEO caters to consumers with a longer buying cycle. These consumers might not be looking to buy a policy when they visit your website. They might not even want to contact your agency at that moment. But if they like what they see on your website, they could return with their wallets in tow. And if they do, they could become valuable, long-term customers.

Organic SEO is all about the long game. By building consumer trust online, you can tap a critical lead pipeline.  But it takes patience, consistency and hard work to get results.

Which Strategy Should Your Agency Choose?

Both local and organic SEO strategies have unique, tangible benefits. So, which strategy should your agency move forward with?

It depends.

Take a close look at your business model. Do you maintain several offices in a city? A few office locations in many metro areas? Do you focus on low rates or local accessibility?

Are phone calls and walk-ins your agency lifeblood?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, a local SEO strategy would serve you well. Prepare to leverage your location data. That’s your quickest path to getting results.

If you’re looking to target a wider geographic area, organic SEO will work better for you. You'll also want to choose this strategy if your agency targets a wide set of consumer needs. It will take groundwork and persistence to see results with organic SEO. But it will be worth the wait.

Regardless of which strategy you choose, you come out ahead. Why? Because you’ll tap into the vast resources of the internet to reach your target consumers. All without paying for spray and pray advertising.

So, what are you waiting for? Make your choice, and set a course on your SEO journey today!


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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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