Thanks to Rand Fishkin for inspiring this topic. If you want to learn more, here’s his presentation on the evolution of search engines:
Hi, it’s Aaron Kassover from AgentMethods talking about insurance websites. I am back at the white board today. I’ve been neglecting my board lately, so I thought I’d come here and draw you some pictures. You can see my fine art work. I want to talk specifically about some big changes in search engines and sort of the way search engines are working, the way they’re approaching search, and how this affects and potentially hurts or helps your business, and some things that you should be doing to sort of improve your rankings online. It’s sort of a change of mindset that’s happening.
*I’ve drawn this beautiful diagram. You can see my high quality artwork here showing kind of the online process where we have a customer who’s saying, “I need insurance” and they go to search engines like Google or Bing or Yahoo and they type in a phrase like Health Insurance Washington because we’re looking to buy insurance. We’re looking to find the agent who can help them. Search engines go and they look at their index of the web and they serve up a list of webpages they think that might be able to help. The customer goes to the webpage and then hopefully ends up at the insurance agent who is saying “I can help”, the insurance agent. *
*Now, what’s going on here is the customer is really looking for insurance. They are looking for an insurance agent that can help them, but Google and Bing, and Yahoo can only serve up web pages. And so historically, they have really focused on looking at what the best web pages are, and they’ve done things like what we’ve talked about which is they’ve looked at backlinks, and they’ve looked at content to see which web pages have the most backlinks, have the best content, which webpages have the best content. What’s happened, and we saw this with the most recent update to Google, is that they’ve realized that web site owners have sort of gamed the system where they’ve said, “Okay, you know what, I might not even be an insurance agent, maybe I can’t answer the customer’s question, but I’m going to go out here and create a bunch of content, a bunch of articles that look to search engines like they’re good, they might actually not be good, but I’m going to create a bunch of content, and then I’m going to create tens of thousands of backlinks to those content and I’m going to make sure that we rank top in search engines because we have the most backlinks and the best content.” *
In reality, they don’t have the insurance agent behind the scenes, maybe they’re lead generation sites, or they’re selling pay-per-click ads on their site, or other things. So they’ve kind of gamed the system and they’ve hijacked the customer’s quest. What we’ve seen recently with the most recent update to Google is that they have looked at other ways to identify quality. And essentially what they’re trying to do is other than looking at the site, they’re skipping the website and looking at the business behind the site, looking at the brand or the business behind the site because that’s ultimately what the customer is looking for. They are trying to go from “a customer has a need” to matching the customer with that need, which is generally the business behind the site.
*Now, the way they’ve done this is they first sort of asked the question about quality and I’m going to read a quote from Amit Singhal, who is an engineer at Google, and he said that they got raters to look at websites and they asked them would you be comfortable giving this site your credit card. Would you be comfortable getting medicine prescribed by this site to your kids? So they are really asking very fundamental “do you trust this website?” And we, as humans, know that when we look at a website, we’re looking for signals to see if there is a business behind it that we trust; the site doesn’t end there. And so Google began to recognize those signals, as well, and they’ve worked them into their algorithm. *
What this means for you is that you aren’t just focusing now on backlinks and contents; you have to focus on building a business, building a brand, and making sure the signals are present to show people that your website is backed by a real brand, by a real business, and that you can be trusted with credit cards, you can be trusted with medical prescriptions, which you won’t be giving, but that’s kind of the question they’re asking, “Can you be trusted?” It’s a total change in thinking; we’re not just focusing on backlinks and contents anymore. We have to really focus on building our brand, building trust, and making sure that we’re giving the signals to show real quality. This is kind of how search engines are changing from the big picture.
I’m going to do another presentation tomorrow and we’re going to talk more specifically about some of the signals you can give here to show that you are trustworthy insurance agent, that your brand can be trusted, and that this will help you show up in search engines.
That’s what I have for today. I will have on insurance agent websites and specifically more on building trust and building a brand online tomorrow. Thanks for watching.