White Hat and Black Hat SEO?
Assuming that your insurance agency is now familiar with terms like insurance agency SEO, insurance agency search engine optimization and insurance agency search engine marketing, you’re aware that this is the process in which agents seek to place their websites at top of Google or Bing’s search engine results pages (SERP). There are two basic approaches to accomplish improved search engine rankings, White Hat SEO (think of the good guys in the old Western’s) and Black Hat SEO (the bad guys in the same genre).
Long Tail Keyword Phrases and Keyword Density
Insurance Agency Search Engine Optimization begins by creating a list of preferred insurance keyword phrases, often referred to as trophy words. Examples of this may include: New York Liability Insurance, New England Business Insurance, New Jersey Truck Insurance or Professional Liability Insurance. These phrases are known as long tail keywords and should appear on insurance agency websites in a variety of ways. Once your agency has determined the best keyword phrases (after reviewing them in Google AdWords or other keyword analytics tool), your agency should populate your website using your preferred keywords. This needs to be accomplished with your metadata (description, meta keywords, page title, etc.) and on the actual content which appears on your web page. Your agency should also measure “on page” keyword density. Each page should be optimized for one to three phrases. Experts and empirical data varies on this, but many consider 5% to 6% to be optimum density for the major search engines. Proper keyword density, meta best practices, quality inbound links to your insurance agency website and a robust social media marketing initiative will yield positive results for your insurance agency SEO web marketing plans.
Black Hat SEO and Link Farms
This brings us to our first black hat watch out tip revolving around keyword density also known as keyword stuffing. Continuously repeating your keyword phrase (Texas Business Insurance for example) resulting in abnormally high density is keyword stuffing, is a black hat SEO tactic. Search engines will ultimately take note of this, resulting in marginalization of that website page, which in turn will cause inferior rankings. Other black hat SEO approaches include Link Farms, Hidden Content and Gateway Pages. Let’s review each of these. Link farms are little more than a listing of companies and their website links. If you’re contacted by an organization that boasts they can provide “10,000 inbound links” to your website, you must carefully assess the type and quality of these links (and the company which is contacting you) to ensure there are no black hat tactics being employed. These days, Google and Bing are trending toward quality over quantity, and discount link farms in their complex ranking algorithms.
Gateway Pages and Hidden (invisible) Content
Hidden content is another black hat SEO tactic. A good example of this is using both text and background that are the same color, allowing agencies to stuff “invisible keywords” on your website without taking up prime real estate. Search engines, however, are looking for this tactic, and if discovered, your website can again be penalized. Gateway pages should not be confused with legitimate landing pages. A landing page is appropriately optimized for your specific solution. For example, you can create a landing page for Professional Liability Insurance, featuring relevant content and appropriate keyword density exclusively for your PLI products and services. One could argue that Gateway Pages (sometimes referred to as Doorway Pages) originally had the same intent, but are now being abused by some companies, as they can be computer generated in the hundreds or even thousands. This refers back to the Link Farming or Link Building black hat tactic because the thousands of generated pages can include a “follow” link back to a designated website. This tactic was purportedly used by a major retailer over the last holiday season, which resulted in their website being removed by Google from Google Page One results.
Once your agency has researched and selected your trophy words (your targeted long tail keyword phrases), you should begin by creating relevant content with optimized meta, meta tags and keyword density, then supplementing these efforts with blogging, ePublishing, YouTube Videos and other Social Media Marketing campaigns. Make sure you or your marketing agency are not leveraging any black hat tactics and you will see your insurance agency SEO results consistently improve. And remember, no matter how impressive or relevant that big photo or image happens to be on your insurance agency website, these do nothing to help your SEO efforts. For more information visit the StartUpSelling Insurance Agency SEO page.