“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” -Leo Tolstoy
The digital age provides endless business opportunities. And with these opportunities come heightened expectations.
Prosperity that once took companies years to achieve can appear overnight. When word of this success spreads, so do demands for instant gratification.
This phenomenon is particularly prescient with digital marketing. There’s a common perception that a viral campaign can drive hockey stick growth.
Yet, when it comes to search marketing, this is not the case. It can take years for your agency to see blockbuster growth.
Here’s why you must build search marketing success over time.
The Great Litmus Test
The digital marketing landscape is wide open. Millions of businesses have an online storefront. And these storefronts generate billions in revenue opportunities.
The search landscape is more restrictive. In the United States, Google and Microsoft share about 87 percent of all search volume (as of October 2018).
If your insurance website appears high in search results for a phrase, you can get new visitors. This, in turn, can lead to new revenue sources — and profitability.
If your website doesn’t show up in the first page of the search results, you lose this opportunity. It’s as if your brand isn’t on the store shelves. Out of sight, out of mind.
Sure, your existing customer base might be loyal. And they might spread the word to their friends and connections. But your agency won’t be able to reach the wider market. You won’t access consumers who’ve never heard of you and don’t know anyone who has.
Insurance agencies need to reach this market for next-level growth. And search marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to get there.
So, some agencies spend inordinate time working on quick wins. They enact short-sighted tactics to give their search rankings an instant boost.
These tactics can work — for a time. But they rarely lead to long term wins.
When it comes to search marketing, instant and lasting success is a myth. That’s because you can’t bypass key determinants of high rankings. You must build them over time.
Those determinants are trust and authority.
Search engines consider these elements each time they return a results page. As such, trust and authority are on trial billions of times a day.
Search engines weigh trust and authority because they can. But they also consider these factors because they must.
Their viability depends on it.
The Search Engine Conundrum
The major players in search marketing have entrenched market share. But they’re still feeling the heat.
Amazon, Facebook, and new forms of technology all threaten Google and Microsoft. More consumers are turning to these channels for their needs. These consumers are bypassing search engines.
Internet searches should have a lasting place in the digital ecosystem. But for search engines to remain relevant, they must prove their worth. They must show they’re the best source of online information.
Search engines must provide relevant information to prove their continued value. And they must remove bias in the results they return.
This is much easier said than done.
Bias is inherent in search engines. These are human inventions. And humans have a natural bias.
Complicated algorithms can’t wipe away this bias. As such, we can’t put full trust in the search results we see.
If you don’t believe this is true, take 10 minutes to watch this TED talk. It might change your perspective.
(Go ahead. I’ll wait.)
Now that we’re in agreement that inherent bias exists, what search engines do to quash it?
By and large, the search engines are using authority to solve this problem. They have given authority scores heavy influence when ranking websites.
Google has even hired contractors to analyze websites already present in search results. These contractors do not have a direct impact on search rankings. They instead act as quality control.
Quality raters follow a published set of guidelines. They determine how authoritative and trustworthy each website is. They take special note if a website impacts someone’s finances or health. (As a financial instrument, insurance falls into this realm.)
Whether through manual quality control or automated algorithms, search engines fixate on authority.
One question lies at the heart of their ranking process. Why should consumers trust this website over any other?
What proof lies behind the words, images and videos the website shares? Has the website proved its worth, time and again? Do the resources they provide best meet the searcher’s specific needs?
Only professionals with a track record of expertise can best answer these questions. And building this track record takes time.
As such, it’s close to impossible to become a search marketing success story overnight.
The concept of authority prolongs the search marketing timeline. But it also provides a simple roadmap for success.
Rather than obsessing over keyword variations, agencies can pour efforts into growing authority.
Authority building is a Kaizen initiative. It’s a long-term project demanding continuous improvement.
Here’s how to put this process in place for your agency.
First, leverage the expertise you’ve accrued. To do this, emphasize your agency’s longevity on your website. Share the origin story. Discuss the years of expertise each agent and customer service rep bring to the table.
Then, continue to improve upon your base.
Answer common questions on your agency’s blog. Or create a video series, so consumers can put a face to the advice. Update webpages with locally-relevant information such as state-based coverage limits.
Back up your claims in this content with evidence. This evidence can come from statistics you’ve compiled. Or it can derive from your experience working with customers.
Reach out to business partners who can vouch for your expertise. See if they can link to your website from theirs. Or, if you can, collaborate on projects that tie their services to yours.
Be active on social media. Promote your brand identity on your agency’s social media channels. Show your agency is human and has its own personality. Stimulate discussion with consumers and build a following.
Build a strong review profile. Earn quality reviews for your agency on Facebook and Google Maps. Respond to all reviews you receive. And take the content within them — good or bad — as valuable feedback.
None of this will take a single day. In fact, the process might take years. Years of consistent effort. Years of building authority, brick by brick.
But continuous improvement is worth the effort.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Yet its legacy endures.
If you take the time to build toward success, your agency will as well.
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