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by Alec Sharratt on 1st October 2012
The insurance industry is hugely competitive. Whether it is phone insurance, medical insurance or car insurance, there are plenty of companies out there going for gold in Google. When an industry becomes as competitive as this, getting noticed tends to cost more, whether you do SEO or PPC. However, it isn’t necessarily the amount that you spend, but the way in your resources are invested.
In this post I set out to provide you with some ideas and concepts to improve your SEO and PPC campaigns, specifically for the insurance sector.
Don’t ignore the basics!
This is important for any sector and any industry, but it is always worth a mention. Don’t ignore the basics of SEO; get your Meta data in order, do the keyword research and target those keywords effectively by ticking all of the on-page SEO boxes.
Adding “Rich Snippet” mark-up to pages can help improve the listing within the SERPs. For example; adding a star rating that links through to an independent review site (like Google Places) can improve the click through rate of your listing. This visual cue for trust is very appealing to people looking for insurance and can set your listing apart from your competitors.
As the image below clearly illustrates, having a star review can help to make your listing stand out. But more than just standing out, this can improve the click through rate (CTR) of your listing and as such will have a positive feedback on your rankings. Google not only look at CTR as an indicator of relevance but they show you this in Webmaster Tools, thus indicating the importance of CTR.
It is important to note that gaming this can very quickly result in a penalty from Google, so keep it white hat only!
Often in highly competitive sectors it is more common to find nefarious tactics being used by competitors. As such it is important to protect your brand and the image of that brand online. By using a brand protection service you can secure your brand name on all social networks, business listing sites and profile sites.
Promoting your brand name prominently within the backlink anchor text is also a valuable tool to dilute the ratio of branded to non-branded anchor text. This helps to avoid an “over-optimisation” penalty from Google.
Creating and promoting a brand is also crucial in this kind of sector where you can build an image of trust and credibility to your brand. People identify with brands and multiple brands can be used to target different audiences for different offerings or products.
Page one Domination
This ties in neatly with Brand Protection; by dominating the front page of Google for your brand name you can easily control what people see when they are looking for your business. This is essential if your business has received negative press or bad reviews, particularly if they appear on the front page when people search for your brand name.
Having all of the required legal disclaimers, licensing info and company details within the footer of the website is very important. This ultimately builds credibility in the mind of the site visitor and trust is important if you want to convert that traffic.
Having a clear contact and about us page with an address in the country that you are targeting an audience in is also imperative for trust.
I see this a lot, where a site takes you off site to complete a quote form or a purchase; this can look suspicious to someone who has decided to trust the site they are on before being taken off page to provide personal details. Always keep forms and payments on page where possible or use a known trusted service like PayPal to complete transactions.
Avoid adding in unnecessary steps to converting, such as registering with the site or verifying email accounts. This additional step will nearly always take a visitor off of your site to complete the process and adds an obstacle to conversion.
If you imagine going to a shop, picking up a few items and proceeding to the till in order to pay. Except just before you get to the till someone stops you and says that; “before you purchase these products you must provide them with some personal details like your address”. Once you hand over these details they say, please go home and check for a letter we sent, just to verify that the address you gave us is your own. Once you have verified your address you can come back to make your purchase, only when you get back the store is checkout is locked and now you have to use the details they sent you just to get into the queue for the till! There is a reason why shops do not do this and the same reason is why websites should not do it either… It’s annoying and will result in less revenue.
Remarketing is a great way of targeting your advertising to existing customers just prior to their renewal date. By building a remarketing list of visitors that made a purchase, you can set the delay in advertising to 11 months after purchase. Thus when their policy is coming to an end you can get banner ads to target customers specifically renewing their policy. This method of advertising is great for reducing customer churn rates and improves customer retention.
Target the Long-tail
This is applicable to both SEO and PPC, but with PPC the impact is more directly noticed on profits! Insurance is always competitive and as such targeting the big money keywords will cost you big money. Large corporations can afford to make a loss on these keywords or are able to cash in on brand awareness through offline marketing like TV advertising.
Turning a profit on keywords that cost £5 per click, or more, can be very hard and may prove to be an unviable option. However there are plenty of long-tail keywords from which to build a strong and profitable PPC campaign. The trade off with long-tail keywords has always been lower search volume in exchange for lower cost, but by using a larger number of cheaper keywords it is possible to get good amounts of traffic.
As the table below shows, there are a range of options for PPC campaigns of all sizes:
|Compare Car Insurance UK||
|Direct Car Insurance||
A good quality score is the gateway to profitability in AdWords; this and the bid amount determines what you will actually pay per click. So improving quality score will be essential, although this is always the case with AdWords and may not be entirely specific to the insurance industry, I would assert that it is more relevant to highly competitive markets such as these. When the CPC is usually so high, improving the relevance of your ads to the landing page, improving CTR, etc, will all play a big part in turning a profit when margins are small.
Split testing will also play a crucial role in squeezing those margins to get more profits out, improving the conversion rate of your landing pages is one of a few fundamental ways to capitalise on the traffic you are paying for.
Given the cost of traffic, making the most of it once the visitors hit your site is essential. Classic a b split testing is a brilliant technique for determining what converts and what doesn’t convert.
Even in industries abundant with wealthy competitors, there are always techniques, methods and processes for competing. A lot of this involves getting the basics in place, and picking your battles carefully.
Understanding the insurance industry is also key to success; there are aspects of this industry that are, although not necessarily unique, are certainly more prominent… Such is the prevalence of reviews, criticism and attitude towards both insurance and providers by the general public. Trust, credibility and authority all play intrinsic roles in choosing a provider, one could argue more so even than cost.
High costs and ruthless markets play their part in the online game to generate traffic, convert that traffic and generate profits. A well planned strategy backed up by a modicum of cunning and guile can go a long way; lateral moves and oblique approaches to your goals afford you more opportunities to take on larger rivals.