Blogging isn’t just for foodies, influencers, and tech geeks anymore. Insurance agencies can take advantage of this feature on their websites to drive traffic and bring more value to their customers.
“Blogging really serves two major audiences. You have the people who are actually going to be reading it and then you have the search engine,” said Becky Schroeder, chief marketing officer at Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC). “It helps by driving traffic to a website because you’re creating this content and answering the questions people are searching for, and search engines love fresh content, so if you are regularly adding fresh content on your website via blogging, that search engine is going to eat that up, especially if you’re answering [those key] questions.”
Another benefit is that a blog can help establish an agency’s expertise. You can say, ‘I’m an expert’ all you want, but a blog actually shows you putting that expertise to work, says Schroeder. If you’re providing answers for people’s queries about insurance, that in turn starts to build trust with consumers and establishes a relationship before they even contact the agency.
Sometimes, agency owners can turn to other experts in the world of insurance to contribute guest blogs to the website, which besides taking a load off the agency to write a blog post, can also help drive search engine optimization (SEO).
“The benefits of having somebody guest blog on your own blog is that you understand you’re not the expert in everything, and there are other services or professionals associated with insurance in some way or form that have expertise that your audience may benefit from,” explained Schroeder. “You’re giving your referral partners some exposure to your audience as well as showing that you have relationships that can help [consumers] in other ways, and then, hopefully, your referral partner or your guest blogger would return in kind, and offer you an opportunity to guest blog to their audience.”
The backlinking is likewise beneficial, if that partner offers you a chance to guest blog on their website. An agency can then backlink to that post to their own website, which is another part of the algorithm that search engines use to establish how credible a website is when they’re serving up the search results.
“If you have quality backlinks and you have a number of quality backlinks, the search engines will see that and [determine that] this is a good website for this query,” said Schroeder.
However, agents need to keep in mind that they’re writing for people and not search engines. If you’re just stuffing in keywords into a post, that’s going to be pretty obvious, explains Schroeder. Include occasional keywords, but keep the content consumer-focused or else risk people leaving the website quickly.
“You want people to stay and read, and hopefully click around and read more,” she explained. “When they are doing that, that’s another signal to the search engines again that this is a quality website. They’re providing value to the users and this is something that we want to be able to serve up more.”
In terms of how often an agency should be posting to their blog, owners should place more value on consistency than quantity. Figure out how many blog posts you can commit to and then meet that goal, whether it’s over a week, month or year, said the ITC expert.
“The only thing worse than not blogging at all is to be inconsistent. A neglected blog does not leave people with a favorable impression of you,” Schroeder told Insurance Business. “Keep in mind that, as an owner, you also don’t have to be the one creating all the content. You can enlist help either within the agency or outside the agency – there are resources available that don’t cost as much as agents think they cost. The website provider may offer content help, so reach out to your website provider and ask them, ‘do you have anyone on staff who can help me with some content and what does that look like?’ Or as the agency owner, do you have anybody on staff who likes creating content and wants to do it? Or do you have it in your budget to hire a marketing person who could come in and start that process for you, among other things?”
Finally, after you’re done creating the content, make sure to add visuals and don’t just use Google Images. Schroeder recommends buying licensed stock photos or taking your own photos to avoid getting a nasty cease and desist letter from Getty. After all, blog posts with images get 94% more views.
Then, share, share, and share some more. Post links to the blog post on social media, include it in your e-newsletter, or if you do email marketing, you can use content from your blog in those emails, as well as when you’re trying to cross-sell or prospect, says Schroeder.
While all of these steps can seem daunting for an insurance agency, which likely has many other things on its plate, the most important takeaway is to just get started.
“One of the biggest mistakes I hear about, and I see agents do, is they think they’re not going to be a good writer and they’re afraid to make mistakes, so they don’t ever start,” said Schroeder. “If you are committed to building your online presence and you are committed to using your website as a platform and a way to generate traffic and internet leads for your agency, this is something you have to be doing. And you cannot be afraid to start, you can’t be afraid to make the mistakes. Making the mistakes is where you’re going to perfect it and where you’re going to do the most of your learning, and it’s going to get better the more you do it.”