If there's one universal truth about the world of search, it's that it's always changing.
Search engines tweak their algorithms regularly. Tactics that once helped insurance agency websites rank can become obsolete overnight. This constant game of catch-up has been going on for more than a decade.
But, the game is moving to a new field. Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon are expanding search beyond web browsers. They aim to reach consumers in the exact moments when they're looking for something.
There are opportunities in staking an early claim on these emerging areas of search. You could stand to gain new clients at the moment they're looking for you.
Here are three areas of the new frontier of search you should be exploring.
Beacons are small hardware devices that can send messages to nearby Bluetooth-enabled phones. Businesses can install them in their physical locations for localized marketing purposes.
A retailer might use beacons to send store maps or special coupons to shoppers at the front door.
To receive messages from beacons, a consumer must download the retailer's app. Then, they must choose to opt in to receive these messages.
Thus far, businesses have only been using their own apps to send beacon messages.
But, Google is looking to change the game.
Google's Eddystone platform can tie beacon messaging to a larger network of beacons.
We know only a little about how Google uses shared Eddystone data. But, it likely helps to improve their mapping and local search offerings.
Google could integrate beacon-enabled businesses into search results on mobile devices. This means your insurance agency could reap the benefits.
By marketing for beacons, Google can send nearby people to your office or phone line at their moment of need. This streamlined process stands to increase your lead counts and revenue.
If you're interested in beacons, you must invest in the devices. You might also need the expertise of a developer to install them.
Even if you don't have the time or resources to beacon-ize to your agency, you can still work out a strategy for them.
Which messages would you want to project to nearby consumers? Can you beam quick answers to their in-the-moment questions? The answers to these questions are key to winning at beacon-related search.
Voice searches occur when users verbally share their query with a search-enabled device.
This can be a car console, a smartphone or a stationary device like the Amazon Echo.
Voice search is en vogue. More than 40 percent of adults and 55 percent of teens were using a virtual assistant as of October 2014.
These devices dig into Google's search index to provide instant answers to their questions.
Josh Bowe recently wrote an article about optimizing your marketing strategy for voice search. I highly recommend checking it out if you haven't read it yet.
I encourage you to leverage voice searches and think beyond search results.
Look at what consumers are asking for and the context in which they are asking it. Then, make sure your insurance agency website can provide an answer.
Some personal assistants are now able to bypass Google search results. They give answers directly from a webpage instead of displaying a list of search results.
A context-based voice search strategy increases your chances of winning in these Google-free situations.
Voice-enabled personal assistants and directional beacons won't be able to solve all our problems. There is still plenty of room for websites in the new frontier of search.
But, there is little room for slow-loading websites.
As technology improves, consumer patience wanes. A slow-loading website is no longer an option.
Google has worked to create a speedy solution called accelerated mobile pages (AMP).
Because it's simplified, AMP loads more than three times faster than regular pages. Often in less than a second.
Still, there are some tradeoffs. AMP doesn't support forms or several other features. Insurance agencies capturing leads through their website can't put the framework in place sitewide.
But, the folks behind AMP are reportedly working on solutions for these problems. Subsequently, Google plans on making page speed a search ranking factor soon.
So now's the right time to think about your AMP implementation strategy. As with beacons, you will likely need a developer.
Also, use Google Page Speed Insights to see how your existing website could load faster.
Beacons, voice search and AMP are more than flashy tech innovations. They're avenues to reach consumers in their moment of need and provide relevant solutions.
Agencies who use these innovations put the consumer first. These are the agencies who stand to improve their ROI substantially.
Have any questions about these search innovations? Let us know in the comments, and we'll answer.