Insurance agencies with multiple locations should list their offices separately on Google. There. I said it. According to the universal laws of internet physics, local business listings are only effective if they’re… you guessed it, local. So by grouping all offices under one digital roof you’re significantly damaging your chances of becoming discovered online. Let me explain.
A common misconception with SEO is that it revolves entirely around directing people to your website. The truth is, people are introduced to businesses everyday without visiting a website at all. These businesses are found via Google’s official local listings, serving as a directory, like an online phonebook. And many businesses rank high on local search without having a website at all. That’s because Google now gives preference to local businesses over national chains – essentially negating robust organic SEO strategies altogether.
Put it this way, when someone searches for insurance online they’ll be shown paid advertisements, local business listings, and organic websites. Each type has its own search signals, but it’s really the local search results that insurance agents should focus on. Rather than competing with national companies on organic SEO, local agencies can rank high within their communities, that is, assuming they’re listed correctly. And keep in mind, that each of your agency locations should have its own local listing.
Google knows where you’re at
Ever wonder how Google provides you local search results, even without you telling it where to look? Rather convenient. Little creepy. Sort of like the Eye of Sauron (Lord of the Rings …c’mon) watching your every click. Well, it turns out Google looks at a combination of factors before returning search results. Including what you’re searching for, the words you use to describe it, and the physical location of the device performing the search.
After you enter your search and click ‘Google Search’ the magic begins (this also works when using the ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’ button, for those of you that are, well…feeling lucky). Google fires up it’s billion-dollar algorithm and considers things like key words, spelling, language, and your location by way of your IP address. It will place priority to some search signals over others, but in the end you’ll have the most relevant search results Google can muster.
Let’s take a common example when someone looks for insurance online. When searching for ‘home insurance’ Google uses your IP address to determine your location and display local agencies. But if you type ‘home insurance Denver’ you’ll see Denver agencies, regardless of your location. In both cases the local search results will show Denver residents agencies located in the city of Denver and nowhere else.
Location, location, location. Google places significant weight on the distance a search query is from local establishments when determining search rankings. And I mean a lot of weight. There is a set proximity from the location a person conducts their search (based on IP address or search term) and the businesses that pop up in the results. This distance depends on population density, but it typically extends to a particular city.
Say, for example, a Denver-based insurance agency has offices located in surrounding cities Boulder and Aurora. Residents searching for “home insurance” in Aurora or “home insurance Aurora co” will be shown local agencies within a determined radius around the city of Aurora. If this insurance agency decided to focus solely on their Denver location on Google they would miss out on all searches coming from people near their satellite offices. In this case Aurora and Boulder offices will be essentially invisible to their most relevant prospects searching for insurance online. To demonstrate I searched for home insurance in Aurora and was only shown agencies within the city. Those in Denver were outside the display radius.
Claiming each location
Google offers a couple tools to make it easy for businesses to claim and manage their different business locations. For those companies with 10 or more they have Google My Business Locations. But most insurance agencies will have fewer than 10, in which case they’ll use their Google My Business dashboard.
The first step is to round up all your offices and claim them. I recommend the business owner takes administrative control of each location and keeps them organized inside Google My Business. You can later assign managing rights to other agents if you’d like.
Each office location is likely already listed on Google, without you even lifting a finger. Google, like all the major search engines, work with data aggregators to collect local business information from public directories. Yet simply being listed isn’t enough. You need to claim each listing to optimize your likelihood of becoming discovered online, and to make sure your information is accurate.
Google makes it simple for business owners claim /add their business on Google. Start by going to the link below and following their detailed instructions. Make sure to complete your business listing information as completely and accurately as possible for each location. Don’t forget use the local business address and phone number – it’s important to stay away from toll-free numbers.
Be sure to first search for each location on Google before creating new listings to prevent duplicates. Everything you’ll need will be at the link below.
Keep in mind that Google requires each of your agency offices to have the same name for all locations. For example, “Jurgens Insurance” should use the name “Jurgens Insurance” for each city rather than “Jurgens Insurance at Aurora” or “Jurgens Insurance – Denver.” The local address and phone number will designate that you have separate offices, so no need to clarify by distorting the business name. Small details like this are very important to increasing local SEO.