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Viviana: Hello everyone. Welcome to another edition of the IA Advantage – Employee Takeover Edition. My name is Viviana Buzo and I’m the Director of Marketing for TrustedChoice.com.
This program is made possible through the support of TrustedChoice.com and the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America.
I’m here today to share some exciting news in TrustedChoice.com history, and to help tell this story is our Director of SEO, Steve Gomez. Thanks so much for joining us today, Steve.
Steve: Thanks, Viviana. Happy to be here.
Viviana: TrustedChoice.com was created for both independent insurance agents and shoppers to connect with exactly what they need, and that’s insurance solutions. We have been doing it for over a decade now, and I think we’ve gotten really good at it. Leveraging SEO is one of the major ways we are able to attract insurance consumers who are actively looking for insurance.
Can you explain a little bit about what SEO is, Steve, and how we’ve been using it to attract insurance consumers to our website?
Steve: Yeah, absolutely. You know, a lot of people hear SEO or they hear search engine optimization, but they’re not really sure what it is. It’s really just about improving a website to increase visibility on Google. It’s as simple as that. And of course, you know, other search engines do matter. But for all intents and purposes, I’m just going to say Google because they are the leader in search.
So over the years, this is exactly what we’ve done. We’ve optimized dozens, actually, hundreds of pages across our website to improve the visibility on Google. When people are searching for us, we want to make sure we’re popping up at the top of Google. Being at the top of page one is the most important thing in the eyes of organic search.
You want to gather all the traffic you possibly can when people are searching. And page one is where people go. Very few people will go to page two. So that’s always been our goal. There’s two ways to look at this. We have hundreds of pages across our site for existing content that we want to improve.
You can’t just let it stay stale, not update it. So about every year we’ll update the content, but then you also have to create new content as well. Creating new content is equally important, as long as it’s a topic we don’t have on the site. What I mean by that is, you don’t want to just keep creating content that overlaps with one another. Google does not reward you for having content that they see as duplicate. So what we do is we make sure that it’s a new and interesting topic, something that we don’t have anywhere on the website, create a page on it. We do keyword research. We make sure that we’re going to pop up on page one.
Now, sometimes it can take a few weeks to a few months for a brand new piece of content, but that’s also some of the best traffic we get when we add a brand new page. We see it within a month or two, we’re on page 1, we’re getting traffic. These people come to the site, they enter the funnel and we can connect them directly with an independent insurance agent that will help them with what they’re looking for, whether it’s auto insurance, home insurance, or if they’re looking for insurance for their business. So this strategy has really worked well for us over the past 10 years or so.
Viviana: Well, I’ve been really impressed by what you and the team have done over the years. Can you share some major milestones that have happened over the last decade or so?
Steve: Yeah, definitely. It’s come a long way. We’ve hit several milestones. So our site was launched, I believe, in 2013. And just a few years later, we hit our 7 millionth shopper. And then four years later in 2020, it was 30 million. So I think you can kind of get an idea of where we’re going.
Viviana: And that leads us to our big announcement.
We just welcomed our 40 millionth shopper. It feels like just a few months ago that we celebrated 30 million, which was back in late 2020, just before you joined us, Steve. And since then, we’ve added 10 million more visits in almost three years. That’s quite a jump. So, Steve, how did we do it?
Steve: Yeah, it is quite a jump. We’ve done a lot to help improve traffic on the site. And as you mentioned, I joined the company about 2 years ago, right? When I joined, the 1st goal was to increase organic traffic and a similar goal was to increase funnel starts. So what does this mean? Well, I want to increase the amount of times consumers or business owners land on the site and enter into one of our funnels. And what that means is we want to connect them directly to an independent insurance agent.
So the objective here is to connect users with an independent insurance agent who then can find them the coverage that they need by matching them with an insurance company. And from an organic traffic perspective, when people go to Google or other search engines and land on our website after they perform a search, we need to have the content they’re looking for. That’s always number one. It really is because if, if you don’t have the exact phrase or topic on the site that someone’s looking for, they can’t find you. It’s as simple as that. So this could be like having a page on car insurance or a page on home insurance, of course, but it’s actually much more than just a broad topic that typically will drive organic traffic.
A lot of the time, you know, we find that pages that get the most traffic are very specific searches. So it could be something like “cost of business insurance” or looking for a business insurance calculator. One that surprised me was a search for “most comfortable cars for bad backs.” Believe it or not, that’s actually driven a lot of traffic to the site. And it seems like kind of a weird topic to have on an insurance website, but when you think about it, if a user’s looking for this, clearly they’re looking for a car to purchase. And that means they will have a need for car insurance. So if they find our content one, two, three on Google on the top of page one, there’s a good chance they’re going to read the content and then they’re going to see that call to action that’s looking for them to request a quote for car insurance. And that of course is the goal, connect them to an independent insurance agent.
It’s not just personal topics on the site. We also have things like bakery insurance. So if I own a bakery and I’m looking for insurance, that’s most likely exactly what I’ll search for. So I’ll go on Google, I’ll type in “bakery insurance.” We’ve consistently been at the top of page one for that search for many years, even before I joined the company.
And one of the things with SEO is you have to maintain where you rank. So you can’t just say, “okay, I’m not do any more work on this page.” Now you have to keep updating it, make sure if there’s new ways users are searching, you add those keywords on the page. So keeping it fresh is really important in the eyes of Google.
And speaking of them, they constantly are changing their algorithm. So how they rank a website and rank pages on a website changes in a matter of sometimes months, I think in 2023 alone they had at least two or three algorithm changes that we have to stay on top of. For example, many, many years ago, you could have a website where your pages, maybe they take a couple seconds to load and it didn’t matter. You were still on the top of page one if you had the right content. Well, Google was like, “No, no, no, user experience is important here.” So page speed then became a factor essentially. So if your site loaded the content slower for the user, they more-or-less penalized you by saying, “we’re not going to rank you as high as the competitor.”
So on our site, we’ve always had relatively fast-loading pages. This wasn’t an issue, but to stay on top of the competition, we had to make sure our pages were as fast, if not faster than all the competitors. So that’s one thing that we did.
But you know, there’s multiple strategies to help our overall SEO. Like I mentioned, keeping content fresh. Has to be updated at least once every year. A good example is the average cost of car insurance. That’s not going to stay the same every single year. It’s going to go up or down slightly pretty much every year. So that’s something we have to update.
Another strategy, this is one of my favorite ones, creating brand new content on the site. So I think I mentioned earlier “business insurance calculator.” We created a page for that, just a standalone page titled A Business Insurance Calculator, which of course has a calculator to calculate the cost of business insurance and then some other content as well that talks about, you know, the common types of insurance that a business will need.
And then the last strategy that I’ll mention is called technical SEO. So what this is all about is improving the site’s technical aspects to increase our page rankings at Google.
So you’re probably catching a trend here. It’s all about Google. You want to do as much as you can to have them look at your site as authoritative and they say, “okay, we’re going to rank you higher because you’re doing all the right things.” So for example, making the website faster, as I mentioned, easy to navigate, so you have a good navigation across the site. You can find the pages and more understandable for search engines. Those are kind of the pillars of technical SEO. Which is sometimes referred to as tech SEO.
And then some additional examples.You know, sometimes you go to a website, you find a broken link, and it goes to a page that says page not found. That’s a terrible experience, right? No one wants that. Fixing broken links, and they happen. We don’t have a ton across our site, but if a page was removed or moved to a different location on the site, that’s when these occur. So essentially myself and my team, we go through the site pretty much on a weekly, if not monthly basis, just to make sure there’s no broken links. We go through, clean those up. That helps increase our score with Google.
Making sure the website is mobile-friendly. That’s something we did years ago.Google changed to a mobile-first index, which means they index the pages on your website for how they show up on Google search based on how it looks on a mobile phone or tablet. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a laptop or a desktop anymore. Now they care about what it looks like on mobile. So that was a huge thing that we did several years ago. And our site looks great on mobile.
And then lastly, and not last, but a stretch of the imagination, having descriptive URLs. So that’s when you’re in the browser bar and you see the name of the page, you want to actually have words there. You don’t want to just have random numbers that don’t make any sense. You want to have descriptive URLs that clearly tell the user and the search engine crawlers that are looking at your site what topic. So if you have a page on home insurance, it should say “homeowners – insurance” and the URL. So, you know, I can go on for days there. There’s so much with technical SEO, as well as onsite SEO tactics and strategies, but I’ll stop there because there’s a lot to really get into.
Viviana: We get a lot of feedback from agents that they only want to work with consumers that fit their appetites. So can you explain how this traffic is driving high-intent consumers to agents on our websites? I mean, that’s our mission and that’s to bring the right appetite to the right agents. So how are we doing this?
Steve: Yeah, it’s a great question. And that’s the beauty of having a site with so many different topics. We can really target and influence different types of searches. So for example, I mentioned “business insurance calculator.” I keep going back to that, but I want to explain exactly how this works to connect a business owner directly to an independent insurance agent. So if I own a business and I’m looking for “business insurance costs” or “business insurance calculator”, I want to calculate the cost. I’m going to search for that. Google’s going to show us high up on page one because when we built the page, that was our strategy. We wanted to make sure we had the right phrases, the right keywords. And content, I mean, content is king. You’ll hear me say that time and time again, you have to have the content in order for Google to find your site and to rank you highly. So what happens is the user lands on our site, they read up on business insurance, they fill in the information in the calculator, they click through and it takes them directly through the funnel. So then what happens is they connect with an independent insurance agent right then and there, and then they connect them with a company that can help them with whatever policies they may need for their business insurance.
Same goes for personal topics. So if I’m looking for an umbrella liability policy or renter’s insurance or homeowner’s insurance or auto insurance, we have those topics on our website, Google ranks us for the different topics we have and the different types of searches users perform on Google. They land on the site, they click through the call to action to get a quote, they enter their information, and again, we connect them directly to independent insurance agencies that have the appetite for that specific type of insurance.
Viviana: Well, I’m personally really looking forward to whenever we do hit 50 million. So, Steve, me and the IA channel are looking to you to make sure that happens. So, no pressure.
Steve: Yeah, I mean, as you probably could have done the math, you know, we’ve been averaging just over 3 million visitors to the site per year, and we’ve seen some nice growth since I’ve joined the company as well for organic traffic. So I am confident we’ll get there in hopefully under three years this time. We’d love to get there in two years, two and a half. But we’ll see. I’m feeling good about it.
Viviana: Thank you, Steve. I think you gave us a lot of information. We at TrustedChoice.com appreciate all the work you’re doing. I think the IA channel appreciates it. And to mark the special occasion and show our appreciation to both insurance agents who have been part of our journey and those that are still waiting to join us, we’re offering a 15 percent discount on select Advantage subscriptions. And this is for our Advantage SEO, Advantage Preferred, and Advantage Professional editions. Visit TrustedChoice.com/Advantage and use the code CELEBRATE40 at checkout or get in touch with one of our account executives.
Thank you, Steve, again for joining us.
Steve: Thanks so much for having me. Really appreciate it.
Viviana: We want to thank everyone who makes this program possible, including Central Insurance, Main Street America, Safeco, Selective, State Auto, Travelers, Westfield, WR Berkeley, and of course the Big “I”. And one more reminder, check out your agency profile or your IA company profile on TrustedChoice.com. Your digital footprint matters now more than ever.
This has been the IA Advantage and I’m Viviana Buzo signing off. Thanks for joining us.