A Google knowledge panel is the box of information that typically appears to the right of search results. When someone searches for an insurance agency’s name, for instance, that box will show up on the side and provide the searcher with more information about the business.
Agents can – and should – make good use of this panel to boost their agency’s ranking in search results, according to one expert. In fact, she tells Insurance Business that having a complete panel is one of the top ranking factors for local searches.
“The algorithm doesn’t just consider the proximity and relevance of the agency to where the user is, but also the activity and the quality of their information, which is why you want to have a complete and updated knowledge panel,” said Becky Schroeder, chief marketing officer at Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC). “When you optimize your Google business profile, which powers that knowledge panel, you are signaling to Google to rank you higher in those local results – and the higher you rank, the more visibility you get, which ultimately can lead to more traffic, more leads, and more sales.”
Agencies should be aware that there is also a similar feature called a branded panel on Google, which users might be familiar with if they’ve ever searched for a celebrity or notable company on Google. There’s no application process to get a branded panel. Instead, Google decides if a brand is worthy of that type of panel based on whether the engine thinks the company or individual has enough authority. It takes a lot of time and effort to increase someone’s chances of getting that branded panel, and even then, they’re not guaranteed to get it because it’s ultimately Google’s decision.
That’s why local panels are the feature that agencies should focus on. According to Schroeder, agencies should be filling out everything they can in their panel across its different sections, from the contact information to the business description and hours of operation, as well as products and services offered. After filling this information out once – and making sure that it’s correct – an agency is usually good to leave it as is, as long as the info stays updated.
On the other hand, there are parts of the local panel that agencies need to keep a closer eye on and return to more frequently, including their photos, reviews, Google posts, and the Q&A component where customers can submit queries. “Those are the things that you have to continually update and touch to get the most out of that panel,” noted Schroeder.
However, the number one thing that the expert advises is that agencies ensure all of their knowledge panel information matches exactly what is on their websites, since Google considers inconsistencies between what a business tells Google and what appears on its website to be spam. Even if a business spells out ‘Saint’ in their street name on their website, but then writes ‘St.’ in the local panel, that can be problematic for the search engine.
Additionally, if an agency is blogging, they need to make sure that they’re sharing that content using Google posts, and with their business description, agencies should use all of the 750 characters provided, with the first 250 (what shows up before the ‘Read more’ link) containing the most important information.
“Keep in mind that you don’t have to write all new content … you can repurpose the content from your ‘About Us’ page or your home page,” said Schroeder. “You also don’t necessarily have to repeat important information from other parts of your profile [in the description]. You don’t have to write, ‘Our agency offers auto, home, and life insurance,’ because people are going to see that in the products that you offer, so you can focus more on your value proposition. Talk about what makes you different, and don’t include links or HTML in that description, because that’s a no-no from Google’s perspective.”
Don’t skimp on the photos either, Schroeder noted, because including them increases the likelihood that someone is going to engage with an agency profile and click through to the website.
“For the photo section, you want to use quality pictures that you own – so no stock imagery, and no photos with branding,” she continued. “Show your office, show your staff, show your clients, so that people will get an idea of who you are from looking at that knowledge panel on Google.”