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Insurance Search Optimization is a Losing Game

August 11th, 2009Posted by akassover in SEO

Many insurance agents have discovered the power of search optimization (“SEO”). Showing up on the first page of Google or Yahoo for the right search phrase can bring a tidal wave of prospects and business to your site. As word of this spreads, agents are jumping on the SEO bandwagon, and many are still seeing the benefit.

While this is working for now, I don’t believe this is a viable strategy for generating new insurance leads in the long-run. Why? A few reasons:

1. We’re all competing for the same keywords.

Agents that are successful with SEO know that state-specific searches, such as “Texas Life Insurance“, produce better traffic for less work than generic phrases such as “Life Insurance”. But with 600,000 or so agents in the country, there are only spots for 10 per state. That allows for 500 agents to make it to the first page, which is less than 00.1% of agents. And with lead generation firms that have larger SEO budgets than agents, there’s slim chance that agents will get all 10 spots. Don’t believe me? Take a look at a few of InsureMe’s state specific pages – Colorado, Texas, California.

2. The more competition, the harder it’s going to get

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The biggest factor to ranking well is having relevant inbound links. It used to take hundreds of links to rank for good terms, but now it often takes thousands or tens-of-thousands. Take the phrase “Texas Health Insurance Quotes” – even the #10 listing on Google for the phrase has over 11,000 inbound links. Think you can match that? This is creating an inbound link race similar to the arms race of the 60′s and 70′s. It becomes all-consuming and nobody wins – at least until someone goes bankrupt. And if you’re a new agent, forget it.

3. Customers won’t tolerate it long term

Right now, customers are still new to buying insurance online. They don’t know what’s a lead generation form vs. what’s an agent. But in the long run, they will. As their trust for agents they discovered through search drops, they will turn again to other means to buy insurance through channels they know they can trust. This will probably look a lot like the traditional means of marketing insurance – referrals, trusted advisors, members of their community.

So enjoy the fruits of your SEO for now, but know that it’s not going to last. You’d better have a traffic strategy in place for the long term.