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Insurance Agency SEO: The Good and the Bad

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When it comes to rising to the top of the results pages of search engines such as Google or Bing, there are two basic approaches: “white hat” search engine optimization, or SEO (think of the good guys in the old Westerns) and “black hat” SEO (the bad guys in the same genre).

White hat SEO: Long-tail keyword phrases and keyword density. SEO begins when you create a list of preferred keywords, often referred to as trophy words. Examples might include: “New York Liability Insurance,” “New England Business Insurance,” “New Jersey Truck Insurance” or “Professional Liability Insurance.” These phrases are known as long-tail keywords and should appear on your website in a variety of ways.

Once your agency has determined the best keyword phrases (after reviewing them in Google AdWords or other keyword analytics tool), your agency should populate your website using your preferred keywords. This needs to be accomplished in your metadata (description, meta keywords, page title, etc.) and in the actual website content.

Your agency should also measure on-page keyword density. Each page should be optimized for one to three phrases. Many experts consider 5 percent to 6 percent to be the optimum density for the major search engines. Proper keyword density, meta best practices, quality inbound links and a robust social-media marketing initiative will yield positive results for your agency’s web-marketing plans.

Black hat SEO. This brings us to our first black hat “don’t”: keyword stuffing. Continuously repeating your keyword phrase (“Texas Business Insurance,” for example) to achieve an abnormally high density is known as keyword stuffing. Search engines eventually take note of this tactic and marginalize the webpage, causing inferior rankings.

Other black-hat SEO approaches include link farms, hidden content and gateway pages. Link farms are little more than a listing of companies and their website links. If you’re contacted by an organization that boasts they can provide 10,000 inbound links to your website, you must be wary of black-hat tactics being employed. These days, Google and Bing have accounted for link farms in their complex ranking algorithms.

Hidden content is another black-hat tactic. A good example of this is using both text and background that are the same color, allowing agencies to stuff invisible keywords on your website without taking up prime real estate. Gateway pages (or doorway pages) should not be confused with legitimate landing pages. The former, which link back to a designated webpage, are being abused by some companies, since they can be generated in the hundreds or even thousands. Search engines are wise to these tactics, too.

Once your agency has researched and selected your trophy words, you should create relevant content with optimized meta tags and keyword density. The next step is to supplement these efforts with blogging, e-publishing, YouTube videos and other social-media marketing campaigns. Make sure your marketing campaign is not leveraging any black-hat tactics and you will see your insurance agency SEO results consistently improve.

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Alan Blume is an author, and as founder and CEO of StartUpSelling Inc., he works with small businesses on lead generation, sales, marketing, website design and branding. For more information, go to