Insurance Agency Websites That Work
- We recommend migrating your site to WordPress if it isn’t there already.
- Install SEO plugin (SEOPress Pro is recommended and included)
- Create a sitemap.
- Configure and connect Google Analytics
- Monitor your site audits for:
- Load time issues
- Mobile optimization
- Meta and content errors
- Create unique content for your leading pages (800-1k words).
- Use paragraph headings with html tags (H1 for main topic and H2, H3 tags for subtopics using synonyms or related terms)
- Use the keyword or a synonym once or twice in each paragraph. Keep paragraphs to no more than 4-5 sentences.
- Create a 3-500 word blog about a related topic every 2-4wks.
- Optimize it and use hyperlinks back to your high priority pages.
- Use topical images or videos labeled with alt text that match the keyword.
- Content Analysis scoring
- Use the SEO plugin to create a location schema for the home or contact us page.
- Content Schemas
- Make sure you have prominent CTAs- including online quotes where available, “call now” or “chat now”, and easy to navigate forms.
A Website That Works is a Website that Produces Prospects
There is no shortage of website building services. A modern updated design is a prerequisite to turning traffic into prospects, but websites are not the cure all for modernizing your agency. There are absolutely important elements. Part of our business is websites. We build websites. We host websites. We edit websites. We’re going to cover the key elements of a good agency site…but it’s very important to distinguish the functional priorities from the bells and whistles and shiny objects that don’t really add value. The reality for most agencies is that they probably don’t get enough traffic to really gauge what customers do or don’t like about their site. Let me start out by saying that having a website that you’re proud of is important- but in a world where people interact with dozens of apps and sites in a given day- the goal isn’t to impress prospects with your technology. The goal is to anticipate what they are looking for and show it to them…before your competitor does. What you or I think about your website isn’t as relevant as what the data suggests based on how people interact with it- which is why monitoring your site’s performance is so important.
Let’s set aside the customer service portals and other elements targeted at existing customers. I’m not dismissing the importance of those things- but odds are…you’re here to learn how to land more prospects and conversions, so with that in mind- let’s break down the important components of your site into 4 categories:
Design. Engagement. Prospecting. Promotion
Design - Your Website's Curb Appeal
There are other things that are important to the site….but it does start with design.
Think of your website like your physical location if you had dozens of walk-ins each day. You would want your office to give a professional first impression- and that’s exactly what your website should do. You can’t necessarily “win” customers with a professional website, but you can probably lose them. If you really do have an outdated site, it doesn’t tell potential prospects anything useful about you, and it looks like you don’t have the resources to make it look more appealing. A good site isn’t necessarily a deal maker- but it can definitely be a deal breaker if it doesn’t meet minimum expectations for design and usability.
Whether you plan to tackle it yourself or use a vendor, we recommend building and maintaining your site on WordPress. There are a lot of really good site builders- Wix, Squarespace, Godaddy, etc. However, WordPress is the most widely used website platform, and that fact alone makes it the best choice. There is a whole community of developers and services created specifically for WordPress sites, so finding features or custom solutions is usually a fairly easy thing to do.
WordPress is a CMS (Content Management System), but it has an infinite number of design options. The first thing you do is pick a design ‘theme’. There are pre-configured designs you can choose from. This is where a good vendor (with insurance experience) really helps. You can give them examples of sites you like, and a good vendor can mimic them- or at least start with a similar theme and customize it for you. Themes are a head start, but they won’t be a finished product.
If your site is managed on WordPress, you may hear the term ‘plug-in’. This simply refers to a feature or function that is added to your site. Plugins are packages of code that are downloaded and installed on wordpress sites just like a program on your computer or an app on your phone- although many plugins do require varying degrees of technical expertise to configure and use. Most agents probably shouldn’t be creating or editing your own site- especially if this information is new to you, but being familiar with the concepts will help you communicate with your vendor- or with us if we manage your site.
Use a good SEO plugin. Yoast is one of the most well known- but it is also a bit pricey for the Pro version. SEOPress Pro is very comparable and actually has some good features that Yoast doesn’t. As a paid subscriber, you are permitted to use our authentication key for this plugin at no charge. The plugin will analyze each page and show color coded results so you know what to improve.
Keep your load time down. Users hate waiting…and now the Google bots are factoring load time into your rankings. Fancy graphics and animations may look cool, but anything that causes your site to load slower will turn off users and kill SEO.
Easy navigation is important. Intuitive menus and buttons are key. People need to see things where they expect to see them, so using modern platforms and site templates is an absolute must.
Make sure your site is Mobile friendly. Navigate your own site on your phone. How does it look? Google Search Console identifies mobile optimization, and it is also reflected in the weekly site reports- particularly if there are any problems with mobile formatting. A large % of the traffic you want to capture starts on mobile devices, so this is very important. Your site needs to look good and work as intended across all devices and browsers- including mobile devices and tablets which increasingly represent a majority of the online interactions.
A useful tool for finding potential performance problems is called a site audit. Subscribers know that regular site audits are a staple of the platform, but if you’re new- this report summarizes potential errors on your site. Maybe the pages load too slowly, maybe you have broken links, or pages with no links to them. Maybe the SEO settings aren’t quite right. Site audit robots catch all of this stuff and your site should be audited regularly.
Ok- the site looks good and it functions well. Let’s look at the other elements that are really important.
Engagement - Get Your Visitors to Stay a While and Do Something
I am not so subtly skipping over the elephant in the room of generating traffic- which is what our SEO and Ads content is about. We cover that- but not here. Assuming you do generate traffic- what is the first goal of your website? Engagement. When prospects land on the site, of course you want to make a prospect out of them- but first you have to engage them. So let’s talk about content.
Content, content, content. Outsourcing content is an option- and we offer content creation options to our paid subscribers. Let’s call that “stock content” sort of like “stock photos”. Ours, in particular is very affordable, and it can help you fill out a fairly large website in a short period of time…but the truth is…
You should try to replace the stock content over time with original content that represents your agency’s personality and expertise. You and your staff talk to customers everyday. The themes of those repetitive conversations and questions should be addressed throughout your site. If a customer lands on your professional looking site…and then reads information or sees a video that actually addresses questions or concerns that people tend to have, it makes a big first impression. You’re the agent, you’re the expert. Ultimately, your content is what will set you apart from your competitors.
If you sell multiple products, it’s easy to say ‘everything’ needs to be optimized- but start with one page at a time. Pick a high volume keyword that you want to prioritize and write 800-1000 words of well organized content for that topic.
While you’re creating or updating pages and content, you may as well make sure it’s SEO friendly. You want the name of the page to be the main header. WordPress will label this as an “H1 tag” by default. You want secondary topics and paragraphs to be H2 and H3 fonts sizes. Those secondary topic headings should be related to the title, but not exactly the same. In addition, you want to make sure you use the keyword phrase or variation of it at least once every 3-4 sentences, and keep the paragraphs short.
It’s also a good idea to add relevant images on the page to break up the text. Videos are also great as promotional engagement if you feel comfortable doing that. This page you’re reading, for example, is a bit intimidating. It’s instructional content and it’s a lot of information. There’s no simpler way to represent this level of detail, but when you’re working with customer facing content, you would want the web page to look more like a 2nd grade picture book than a doctoral dissertation!
If you do use images or videos, you need to be sure the alt text is properly configured to match. You should have pictures or even video snippets on the pages you are trying to drive traffic to, and the alt text is the name of the image or video that the bots can see. This is different than the caption that may or may not display under the image. The Alt Text is what the search robot sees instead of the picture…since robots don’t understand pictures. The Alt Text (also referred to as ‘alt image tag’) should include your target keyword for that page- and be consistent with what is shown in the image or video.
For example, if you are optimizing a page to capture traffic for people searching information on “car insurance claims”, you can include an image on that page that shows an adjuster reviewing the damage. The instinct would be for the image name to be a description of what is happening (“adjuster assessing vehicle damage”). However, the best use of alt image text is to use the target keyword. In this example, the target keyword is “car insurance claim”, so that is the alt image text that is shown in the wordpress settings for this image. When the search robot analyzes this page- it will have a picture that has the same description as the target keyword and content theme for this page.
Once you have the anchor page optimized, now you can make a goal to write at least 3-500 words each month about that core line of business. When you do, make sure you sprinkle some links from that article back to the page you are promoting. The anchor pages and related pages and blogs should have links back to each other. This creates a network of pages that share common terms and topics, which is very practical for navigating your site and cross-promotion…but it also tells the search robots that there is a lot of relevant content on your site for whatever terms are the focus of those pages.
If you are promoting multiple lines of business, you’ll need to rotate and spit out multiple blogs throughout the month. You can write about current events that have insurance implications in your area- and tie that back to a particular product or industry page. This is also where on-going service can become valuable. Our full service SEO will generate some relevant blogs on a regular basis and post them to your site for you. They will link back to the relevant pages and keep a steady stream of new content flowing on your site.
Later, we’ll talk about promoting your website…and the easiest thing to promote is great content!! You should use an SEO plugin to confirm that your content is properly optimized (especially your high volume pages) – but we cover that in more detail in the SEO section.
Prospecting - Take the Prospect Any Way They are Willing to Come
If your site is engaging- the next thing you want to do is turn that engagement into potential prospects. That happens using strategically placed and formatted “Calls to Action” (CTAs). This includes calls, quotes, and submissions or quote requests.
Instant, accurate online quotes are the pinnacle of engagement. The customer gets what they want- and you get the information of a warm prospect that has expressed an immediate interest. There are a number of comparative raters that offer consumer quote capacity in personal lines, and your carriers may also have proprietary systems available. Which ones should you use? Great question. You answer it. Seriously.
Your customers are coming to you for guidance online. Your messaging needs to communicate expectations and differentiate you from simply being a calculator. Online quoting is not simply about pricing comparison. The odds are good that there are at least 3 other agents in your town that represent the same company- or multiple companies. The next generation of agency websites will need to incorporate the art of communicating value differences between policies and insurance companies as if the person were sitting in your office. This isn’t easy- but it’s one of the things we are putting a lot of thought into and we are working on some exciting solutions. For now- online customer quoting is still in its infancy- but we recommend using the best tools at your disposal and we also do custom development for agencies that want to be on the leading edge of consumer quoting.
Aside from instant quoting, other CTAs would include phone calls or online chats. These invitations should be placed prominently on every page on your site. It should feel to the user like your staff is waiting with baited breath to help the next person that takes the time to call (and then they should feel that way when they actually call)!
If you don’t have online quotes and the person doesn’t want to call, you also want to allow for “shy conversions”. Why do people type their information in…instead of just calling you? I don’t know- but they do…and if you handle these properly, it can save you a lot of time. Don’t tell them they are doing your data entry work for you…just let it happen. The easier and more compelling your interfaces are, the more information you are likely to get from prospective customers.
The last several engagement items we covered all lead to 2 important factors: time spent on your site, and engagement with your site (clicks, calls, data, etc). In search engines, the rich get richer. You may have noticed the cycle referenced on our home page. This is more than a promotional gimmick- this the reality of the way traffic cycles accelerates.. or tanks. If more people engage your site more often, you move up. If few people spend little time, you will have a ceiling on your SEO- even if all of the site structure elements are solid. If you have good SEO and no engagement, you get no interactions. If you have good engagement and CTAs but no traffic, it doesn’t do you much good. The trick is to get each of these wheels turning at the same time.
Promotion - Let Large Audiences Know What a Valuable Resource Your Website Is
Ok, the last bit of our DEPP acronym is Promotion- and this is where we dovetail into SEO and paid advertising.
Align the message, target demographic, and SEO/ad method with the optimal landing page and desired CTA. For example: search engines love content. Our SEO strategy section will focus heavily on pages with lots of text- because that is what is most likely to rank very well. Content heavy pages also work well as landing pages for display ads because they are shown to people who aren’t actively shopping but saw your ad (over and over again…) and decided to check you out. You don’t want to hit them immediately with requests for information. You want to provide valuable content and build credibility. On the other hand- if you’re running ads for customers looking for “workers comp quote”….you better land them on a page that gives them workers comp quotes or tells them up front how to get a quote. Otherwise you just wasted your money.
All of the promotion of your site is done elsewhere online…and even in person through word of mouth and other very traditional networking processes. The most important thing is to make sure that what you are promoting matches what the prospect expects to see when they interact with your brand and your website. That is true whether you run an ad on Google or you strike up a conversation with someone in the grocery store…with your mask on, of course!