The “long tail” describes keyword searches that are three words or more. These searches happen less frequently than generic searches on insurance, but they can be valuable. Why? Because they are specific, they often show high intent to purchase and they are easier to rank for in Google.

In aggregate, “long-tail” searches make up a much greater percentage of what Google sees each day than simple searches like “insurance quotes.” There is a famous chart circulated around the internet that illustrates the size, and value, of the long tail.  

Long tail keywords

Chart: ProBlogTricks.com

As an insurance agent, consider the value of a customer that comes to your website from a specific search like “20 year term life quote married over 50 with hypertension.” You immediately know what the person wants to buy. And guess what? The long tail is where small, independent agents have a chance to compete with the big brands and carriers. 

Shorter keyword searches are often more generic and informational in their intent. These are not keyword searches that signal an intent to buy:

  • Life insurance types
  • Insurance companies

The question is, how can you take advantage of the long tail? Here’s how.

First, ask yourself: How do my customers search? 

The easiest way to answer this question is a simple exercise. Think back to the last five policies you wrote. Were they unique? What was unique about the customer — their health, their personal situation, their family situation? There should be a perfect, long-tail keyword phrase you could write to describe that customer. 

“Well, she was 52, recently divorced, and was taking anxiety medication. But the anxiety had been diagnosed as simple social anxiety because she didn’t do well in crowds. She’s been on the medication for ten years.”

A bit of a complicated case, but that’s beside the point. What’s the keyword phrase for this customer? How would she start her journey with a blank Google search bar?  My guess is she would type in: “life insurance for divorced female 52 on anxiety meds.” 

That’s a great long-tail phrase! Why? Because it’s:

  1. Unique
  2. Specific
  3. Easy to Rank For

It also has a little hair on it, with her medications. If you place it, the commissions will be strong.

The value of keywords with low search volume

More descriptive search phrases tend to get exponentially less number of searches per month. That doesn’t mean they are of little value. In fact, it can mean quite the opposite. They have intent. In life insurance, they often are more complicated cases.  Hard to place business may not be everyone’s preference, but if you can make it work, the commissions can be nice.

In fact, I recently did a write-up on just this very thing with a young agency we work with that sells life insurance. Obviously ranking for the term “life insurance” is tough for any agency, let alone a relatively young company. With this in mind, we knew our keywords had to be long tail, so instead we decided to target “life insurance with high cholesterol.”

Now this phrase might only get 10-30 searches per month, but it’s more specific and should be much easier to rank for. If half of those searches end up on your site, and half of those submit a form or decide to call, that’s still five new leads each month — completely free.

Better yet, a more specific phrase indicates higher intent to purchase. This isn’t someone searching to understand what life insurance is and if they need it. A phrase like “life insurance with high cholesterol” is more likely to mean that they need life insurance and want to know how their high cholesterol is going to affect their policy.

Long-tail keywords as a competitive advantage

If this strategy can generate such high-quality leads, then you might be wondering why the more established insurance agencies haven’t caught on yet. In truth, they have. But long-tail keywords remain the most competitive spot for young and small agencies to compete with more established agencies simply because there are too many search terms to target all of them.

According to a study by Hitwise, 70 percent of all search traffic falls in the long tail. And long-tail terms, being unique and specific by nature, seem to grow exponentially once you start looking. Even an agency with thousands of pages can’t keep up with each and every long-tail keyword.

And on top of new long-tail keywords emerging continuously, those you already rank for can change. It’s important to always update old content with new information, and adapt to what people are searching for. If you can do this more quickly than your competitors, you can maintain your rankings and take theirs. To add, extending and updating your articles often produces value for your readers, so your rankings are more likely to translate into conversions.

Long-tail keywords are always changing and will always make up a bulk of searches across the internet. While you may never be able to rank for the most popular keywords, you can still rank for unique searches that provide quality leads. The key is to stay on top of what people are searching for, and understand which terms are going to drive your conversions.

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