Selling Insurance on the Internet – Can a Small Insurance Agency Website Compete?

 

We’ve all seen the TV ads offering great savings on car insurance online. Companies like Geico and Progressive pump millions of dollars into promotion of their auto insurance websites. Whether or not it’s a good thing to have the uneducated public buying car insurance without the advice of an insurance agent is a debate unto itself. The purpose of this article is to determine whether small, independent insurance agencies can compete with the “big boys” when it comes to buying insurance online.

What the Public Doesn’t Know can Cost Them

When the buying public surfs the internet looking for insurance savings, chances are they will do one of two things. First option, they may go to a known brand name, such as Safeco, Geico, or Progressive and obtain a price quote. Second option, they will search for a local insurance agency through their favorite search engine. Regardless of the promise of big savings, many consumers are more comfortable working with an insurance agent to guide their buying decision. With little knowledge of how insurance works, what coverages they need, and what companies are available, the majority of consumers are willing to pay a little more to get the advice of an insurance agent. But what most consumers don’t know, is that they can usually save MORE money buying through their local independent insurance agent rather than buying online.

Independent Means Choices

Independent insurance agencies write with multiple insurance companies, two of which may actually be Progressive and Safeco. These two companies not only sell insurance online through their own websites, but also through independent insurance agencies. This allows consumers to not only get a competitive price on their insurance, but they also get the benefit of an agent’s expertise as well. Many times the premium through an agency will actually be LESS than the equivalent coverage purchased directly from the company online. Most insurance buyers incorrectly assume that since insurance agents are paid commission, that they will actually pay more when working with their local independent agent.

Location. Location. Optimization.

When it comes to the independent insurance agency website and selling insurance on the internet, local agencies have an advantage over large national companies who spend millions on advertising and marketing of their websites. This advantage is focused website optimization. When a consumer goes online to search for insurance, they are likely to perform a location-based search such as “Omaha Nebraska Auto Insurance” or “Car Insurance in Omaha Nebraska” or maybe “insurance agent in Omaha”. These specific search terms are the bread and butter of an insurance agency website optimization. While the “big boys” spend millions on search engine marketing via paid advertisements, your independent agency can be reaping the benefits of absolutely free “organic” search results.

My Momma Always Said Organic was Best

Organic results are the results that are displayed by Google, Yahoo and MSN in the main search listing. When website designers talk about a website’s rank in the search engines, they are referring to where the site shows up in the organic search listings. Obviously, the higher the ranking, the better the chance of getting a visitor into your site. By focusing on a location-based optimization of your insurance agency website, you stand a much better chance of getting your site into the coveted first few pages of the search engines.

An Example of Good Insurance Website Design

Here is an example. My Nebraska insurance agency website is highly optimized for the state of Nebraska. If I search for “auto insurance” in Google, it sends back over 86 million results. It’s not likely my agency website will rank anywhere near the top for this search, and I don’t WANT to rank near the top, because I would have thousands of requests for insurance outside the state of Nebraska. I want my insurance agency website to rank for relevant searches in MY state, not a state I’m not licensed to sell in.

My agency is located in a rural area, so we obviously write a lot of farm and crop insurance. If I narrow my search for “nebraska insurance”, my agency website ranks 18th out of 14.4 million results. Not bad considering the search term is rather broad. Let’s narrow it down even further, and search for a specific line of insurance. “Nebraska farm insurance” shows my insurance agency website ranked 4th out of over 2 million results. Now we’re getting somewhere. Other lines of insurance include “Nebraska auto insurance”, 21 out of 2.2 million. “Home insurance in Nebraska”, 24th out of over 12 million.

The best part is, there is no “big boy” national auto insurance company ranked higher than my small agency website in any of the major search engines for the terms I want to rank for. Sure, they show up in the paid advertising links on the right side of the browser, but my site could too if I wanted to pay upwards of $10 per click into my website.

Conclusion

Hopefully I’ve shown that with a little work and some focused marketing, you can get your small insurance agency website pushed higher in the search engines. You can not only compete, but beat the Geico’s and Progressive’s in the online insurance world. Onpage optimization isn’t the only factor that will get your site ranked higher, but it is a good start. Build links into your site via online directories, DMOZ listings, even online articles like the one you’re reading, and start making money selling insurance on the internet.

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