5 reasons search engine optimization is harder than you think
By Aaron Kassover
There's a myth spreading among the insurance community and it's time to put it to rest. The myth is that an agent can launch a simple website, do a few search engine optimization tricks and see his or her website rocket to the first page of Google, Bing and Yahoo, resulting in a flood of leads. While I wish this was true, it simply isn't.
It's time to face the facts: Search engine optimization is hard in any industry. It's even harder in insurance. Why is it so hard? Consider these facts:
1. There are only 10 spots on the first page of Google.
Think about how many agents are in your market with websites. Add all of the lead vendors, carriers and online brokers. They're all battling it out for those same precious top spots. Keep in mind, hundreds of thousands play, but only 10 win. Do you really think you have what it takes?
2. Everyone has access to the same tricks you do.
So you bought a book on SEO, read a few forum posts explaining some tricks and looked through the SEOmoz Search Engine Link Ranking factors? So what? We all read the exact same things, and we've all put this information into place years ago. The days of simply putting a few keywords in your title tag, meta tag or domain name are long gone. These tricks are no longer winning strategies — they're simply the cost of entry.
3. Tricks don't matter anyway.
Even if your SEO tactics weren't already old news, it doesn't matter. The goal of a search engine isn't to rank the site with the best optimization first, it's to rank the site with the best information first. And search engines are employing tens of thousands of super smart people to make sure they aren't being tricked. You aren't going to outsmart the search engines.
4. Your competition has deeper pockets, more resources and a bigger upside than you do.
Right now, there are hundreds of companies in the industry with a staff of full-time search engine optimization experts hard at work to move their site up in ranking. They've got millions of dollars in their budget and, because they sell nationwide, direct, at a large scale or across multiple product lines, they've got the potential for millions of dollars in revenue. With more at stack and more to gain, you can bet they're working very hard to get to the top. 5. You are probably underestimating how much work it takes to be successful with search engine optimization.
Getting your site to rank well for search engines is probably harder than you think. Consider this: the no. 10 spot on Google right now (that's the site that's just barely made it on the first page) for the phrase “health insurance agent” has “health insurance” in their domain name, hundreds of pages of great unique content and 84,000 back-links to the page. Do you have a plan to build 100 back-links, much less 84,000?
There are going to be naysayers to this article. Can an individual agent buck the trend and rank well for high-traffic search phrases? Absolutely. But, it doesn't come easy. It takes hard work over a long period of time (often the result of years of work). Most important, it isn't as simple as launching a site and doing a few quick tricks.
All hope is not lost. The Internet is still the most important marketing channel available today to insurance agents — just don't count on search engines as your primary lead source without first fully understanding how hard it will be to be successful. In my next article, I'll outline several strategies for online marketing that you can control, that are nowhere near as hard as search engine optimization and (most importantly) that work!
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