Do you have a great website and want people to visit you so you can develop relationships and write new business? Or are you just getting started, working from the kitchen table, but you want to build your business? Google Places is the place for you.
If your target market is local — as almost every insurance agency’s is, regardless of specialty — probably the best way to get noticed is to activate your Google Places listing. Signing up is free and easy. Go to http://Google,com/Places.
Google Places offers you up to five keyword categories for your listing — and you probably want to use every one of them. Insurance categories are provided for auto, dental, health, home, life, motorcycle and renters. But you can also name your own categories. The default categories are obviously designed for people making consumer as opposed to business insurance purchases. However, if you focus on business insurance and you have a niche market, such as beauty salons, or your specialty is employee benefits, you probably want to use those category names, since people looking for insurance in those categories are likely to use them. If the insurance products you sell are typically also called financial products by your customers, that’s probably a good category for you, too.
When a visitor uses a search term looking for an agent in the geographical area that you’ve defined, your agency name will appear — along with any other agency that fits a similar Google Places profile. But fortunately, Google uses factors other than the name of your firm to decide ranking order. So, you don’t need to resort to tactics like calling yourself AAAAAAAAAAA Insurance, like the auto repair shop in the FedEx commercial.
In a small town, like here in Ashland, Oregon, or even nearby Medford, it’s not that big a deal to be last in the Google Place rankings. That could still mean sitting “above the fold” at number eight or so. Still, it’s always best to be ranked first, and most geographical areas are populated more densely than Southern Oregon. So, how do you improve your rankings? Like regular Google search rankings, you can also optimize your firm’s Google Places listing. By following these tips, you will not only optimize your listing, you will increase your visibility and level of engagement with visitors.
- Fill out your profile. Google likes it when you complete all the information, including hours of operation, payment options, business description and additional information. Provide as much information as possible.
- Provide photos and videos. When visitors click on your “Places page,” they can view your photos and videos in addition to other information you provide. This is a great place to include a short video introduction to your firm. I have seen some agencies put up slick videos with professional voice talent, swoosh sound effects and advanced editing techniques. But the ones I like show a producer sitting at his desk, talking straight, explaining how he does business, and making the viewer feel like he’d like to meet this person and get his help. Same goes for photos. Many agencies actually put stock photos here. I think you can get away with that on your website, but I wouldn’t do it on a Google Place page.
I’ll cover the two most important ways to optimize your Google Places ranking in my next post.