Last time I wrote about the importance of using Google Places to improve your insurance agency’s chances of being found on the Internet. Even if you don’t have a website, you can still use these search tools to optimize your Google Places listing.
Get good reviews. Once you’ve set up your Google Places listing, when someone finds you, they will also see a “Place page” under your firm name. This is where clients can write a review of your services. I highly recommend agents take the opportunity to ask for a review whenever a client makes a favorable remark or expresses satisfaction with something you’ve done. This high visibility venue is the perfect place for it. (If you’ve got a website, why not post it there, too?)
In addition to writing about your service, reviewers can rate it with stars; five stars are max. Frankly, I haven’t seen a review yet that wasn’t five stars! By the way, once someone has written a review for your Google Places listing, the words “Place page” are replaced with “n Google review(s)” (where n equals the number of reviews posted). Besides helping your rankings, shoppers are obviously going to be more attracted to listings with reviews, so the more the better.
Get listed in as many other directories as you can. This is the other really important thing you should do. Google likes to see that other, well-visited websites have also listed your business. This validates you as important and Google awards your agency with a higher ranking. Here are some of the directories you want to be sure you’re listed in:
- Yahoo Local. (http://listings.local.yahoo.com) You’ll provide much of the same information here as at Google Places. This listing is free, but for $9.95 per month you can get Yahoo’s Enhanced service, featuring more room for your company description and tagline, more photos, and analystics on the number of times your listings are viewed and clicked. You also get “Maximum Exposure Placement,” which makes “your listing more discoverable to web searchers.” Even though only about 15% of searches are done on Yahoo (as compared to about 72% for Google), Enhanced service might be something to try out at some point.
- Angie’s List. (http://angieslist.com) Another aggregator of consumer service reviews, Angie’s reviews also get posted to Google Places. Currently 1.5 million people subscribe to Angie’s List and they post about 45,000 reviews per month. Compared to Google and Yahoo, these aren’t big numbers. But since subscribers pay to belong, they probably consider what they say in their reviews a little more seriously than those found on free sites. In other words, they matter. The cost to businesses is nothing, so it can’t hurt to join.
Here are some more free listings:
- Ibegin: (http://www.ibegin.com/business-center/submit/) Focus is on business listings. They claim over 1 million searches per month in US and Canada.
- InfoUSA: (http://lp.infousa.com/) Vendor claims 85% of online directories are powered by InfoUSA, including MSN and AOL brands and 90% of in-car navigation.
- Insider Pages: (https://signup.citygrid.com/) Like Yelp and those that follow in this list, an aggregator of consumer reviews. Ranks agents by number of stars assigned by reviewers.
- Local.com: (https://advertise.local.com/) Free, but like many directories here, “enhanced listings” (that is, paid listings) get preferred placement.
- Merchant Circle: (http://www.merchantcircle.com/signup) My search experience on this site is that they are heavily weighted with ads and search results are minimal. But, hey, it’s free.
- Yelp: (https://biz.yelp.com/support/unlocking) Fastest growing website of its kind; has more than 54 million unique visitors.
Universal Business Listing service. There are many more social networks, yellow page services, portals and guides, free and paid out there — in addition to mobile search engines on Andriod, iPhone and Blackberry devices. You may want to buy services from Universal Business Listing. Depending on the level of service you want, you’ll pay between $39 and $599 a year and get listed virtually everywhere that’s digital. (http://ubl.org)
You can have the best website, the best service and products, but if people can’t find you in today’s electronic version of the Yellow Pages, you’re losing a lot of potential business. Website-ready or not, you owe it to your success to get into these directories, especially Google Places.