There are hundreds, probably thousands of insurance agency blogs out there.
I’ve tracked down about 125 of them. And I’ve made three surprising discoveries, which I will share with you in this post.
Most insurance agencies have three main goals for their websites:
- To get new customers by having top Google rankings
- To build loyalty with existing customers by providing useful, informative and actionable content, and
- (Sometimes) To provide a portal for servicing and communicating with clients.
Of the three main goals, number one — getting new customers by having top Google rankings — is usually the one most desired but least attained.
Everyone knows you need to regularly provide fresh content for your website to attract new visitors. Search engines will find your new content and rank it in their search results. That’s a big reason for having a blog.
One of the most interesting things I found in my study of 125 insurance agency blogs is that only one kind of content has a significant impact on search engine results pages (SERPs):
Most agencies don’t use original content. They use content supplied by insurance companies, agent associations or other sources. A lot of it is free, so why spend the time, effort and money?
Even though dozens or hundreds of other agencies throughout the country are using the exact same content on their blogs, most visitors don’t know it’s duplicate content. They are seeing it for the first time.
From that standpoint, using syndicated, bulk or duplicate content makes sense.
How Google Views Duplicate Content
Unfortunately, the problem with duplicate content isn’t how people react to it. It’s how Google and other search engines react to it. Duplicate content hardly ever gets highly ranked in search results.
It’s only logical. If there are dozens of other agencies using the same content, you just can’t expect to rank high for the keywords found in those blog posts — if at all, as I’ll show with an example in a minute.
By the way, let me point out that Google does not penalize syndicated or duplicate content — as long as you don’t use it with the intent of deceiving search engines.
What Google is referring to are black hat SEO techniques that duplicate content in order to create additional links and stimulate website search engine traffic.
That is not what insurance agencies are doing on their blogs with syndicated content. They are using it as a convenience to provide content.
You Get an Erie Feeling with a Lot of Insurance Agency Blogs
One of the biggest insurance content syndicators is Erie Insurance. They create excellent, helpful insurance content almost daily, which hundreds of agencies throughout the country republish on their websites. Of the 125 insurance agency blogs I found in my search results, which you’ll see at the end of this post, almost one third of them use content from Erie Insurance.
A recent Erie article is titled, “Are Apps Behind the Surge in Traffic Deaths.” Let’s say someone is interested in knowing more about the connection between apps and increased traffic deaths. What are the search engine results when they type these keywords into Google?
The number one result is the article by Erie, “Are Apps Behind the Surge in Traffic Deaths” — with a link to Erie’s website.
You would expect as much, since Erie just wrote it. You might also expect then that many of the agencies that picked up the same syndicated article would start ranking for it right behind Erie, right?
No. That is not what happens at all.
I looked 20 pages deep into the SERPs and could not find a single reference to that article linked to any insurance agency website. Even though I know that dozens of agency websites carried it.
I also tested several other Erie Insurance articles with Google and got similar results. Occasionally an insurance agency would rank high in the results, but the link in the entry would take you directly to the Erie website.
The bottom line is that syndicated insurance content is practically invisible if you’re trying to use it to rank for search engine results.
Whenever Google sees duplicate content, it ranks the most credible source of that content highest. In almost every case that is going to be the original author of the content, such as Erie Insurance, Safeco, PropertyCasualty 360, etc.
Not only will Google rank the original author far higher than any other publishers of the same content, in my findings other publishers (insurance agencies) were hardly ever even mentioned in the first 15 pages.
David vs. Goliath
Clearly, original content has a far better chance of getting highly ranked than syndicated content. It’s true for Erie and it’s true for ABC Insurance.
But here’s a problem for ABC Insurance even if it writes its own original content. If Erie writes an article about preventing car theft and ABC writes a completely different article about the same subject, which article do you think will rank higher?
Most likely, the Erie article will rank higher. I’ll explain why and then I’ll explain how several agencies I found in my study eliminated that problem.
No matter how sophisticated Google’s search algorithms get, its search robots make decisions about what to rank based on keywords. If two articles have the same keywords, Google then looks at authority.
Moz, an internet marketing analytics company, has studied the way Google assesses authority and has developed a Domain Authority (DA) grading system as a proxy for Google. It assigns a DA number between 1 and 100 to every website as a measure of how well it is likely to rank in Google’s search results.
When Google looks at the theft prevention planning article, it sees that ABC’s DA is probably 17 while Erie has a DA of 67. And if both have roughly the same title and keywords, it ranks Erie higher than ABC.
The DA of a website takes into consideration many factors, including how many pages it has, how many readers come to the site daily, how many pages they look at, how long they stay, how old the site is, and probably most importantly, how many other sites link to it as an authority website (how many back-links it has).
The DA of most insurance agency websites is between 6 and 29. That makes most agencies mere Davids compared with Goliaths such as news organizations, insurance companies, associations and corporations. The New York Times’s DA is 100, Huffington Post’s is 98, Safeco’s is 70, IIABA’s is 59, www.lifehappens.org’s is 71 and Insurance Journal’s is 76.
In spite of these hefty DAs, there is a way to get your content ranked number one. It’s called the long tail keyword and you’ll be surprised at how effective a content author with low DA can trump a website with a powerful DA.
The Long Tail Keyword
What are long-tail keywords?
With any population, each time you further differentiate by adding a new characteristic, you get fewer results. In a city, there are fewer men than people. There are even fewer men over the age of 21. There still fewer men over 21 with moustaches. And so on. Each time you differentiate you get smaller and smaller populations. If you plot these increasingly refined differentiations on a graph from left to right, the result is what’s called a long tail.
Let’s say your keyword is “independent agent” and you want to rank number one for that keyword.
If you type “independent agent” into Google, you will get 386 million results.
How can you possibly ever get on the first page using that keyword?
How Long Tail Keywords Are Like Slingshots Against the Goliaths
Brooks, Todd & McNeil is an insurance agency in Torrington, CT with a DA of 20. In November 2016, they published an article on their blog called “Why an Independent Insurance Agent is a Good Friend to Have.” When I Google it, their article appears #1 in the search rankings.
Here’s a screenshot showing the result on my computer.
For the screenshot I turned on my MOZ plug-in to show each entry’s DA. You can see that Brooks, Todd & McNeil’s article beat out several powerhouse websites with DAs of 41, 76 and 72. A couple of other independent agents with similar titles also ranked 3rd (DA 17) and 4th (DA 12). (Google has been perfecting its algorithm to identify synonyms better.)
Let’s look at a couple of other top ranking insurance blog posts.
The McFarlin Insurance Agency, Columbia, MD posted “Tips to Reduce Fire Risk in Your House” on November 18, 2016. It’s currently ranked #2 for that keyword phrase. Only Hanover Fire & Casualty with a DA of 28 ranks above it. McFarlin’s DA is 17. Ranked lower down the page are organizations like the Red Cross (DA 96) and US News & World Report (DA 93).
McGhee Insurance, Little Rock, AR posted “Train employees to protect your Business & Auto rates” on November 8, 2016 and ranks #1 for that keyword phrase. McGhee’s DA is 24, while the other non-insurance agency posts down the page one have DAs of 92, 32 and 62. Pacific Unified Insurance Agency in Lawndale, CA ranked #3 on the page with its more negative take on the keyword phrase, “What happens when your employee makes a mistake?”
First, only original content ranks well in Google.
Second, to get past the Goliaths with their giant DA status, use long tail keywords.
Third, agencies that post original content, are much more likely to have higher domain authority than their competitors — and get more visitor traffic, which is the final surprising discovery I made about insurance agency blogs.
To prove this last important lesson, I used the keyword “insurance agency blog” and collected DA information about every insurance agency that appeared in the Google ranking for about 16 pages.
Of the 125 agency websites with blogs that I examined, 50 had original content and 76 did not. 49 of the websites had DAs of 19 and higher. Of those 49 websites with DAs of 19+, about 67% posted original content. Of the 76 websites with lower DAs, about 78% did not post original content.
There is detailed information about each agency in my search in a chart at the end of this post.
Is it time for your agency to start creating original content for your website?
How I Did My Google Blog Search
I entered the search term, “insurance agency blogs.” After I got past the insurance company blogs and articles about resources for agents who want to write blogs, I started to see listings for actual insurance agency blogs.
In order to determine whether a blog was original or not, I tested it using CopyScape, which does a good job checking for duplicate content. If you copy and paste several hundred words into its search engine, it will tell you all the other places that copy appears, showing the percentage of duplication. I did not do this to more than a few posts on each website. If I made any errors, please let me know.
On some sites there was syndicated content and original content, which I describe as “Mixed.” If I could figure out where the content originated, I listed the source. If there was content duplicated on several agency websites but I couldn’t determine the source, I just wrote “Syndicated.”
By the way, I had originally planned to also include information about backlinks for some of the websites, especially those with high DA. I decided that the DA score did an adequate job of reflecting those sites that had a lot of backlinks. The backlinks were typically chambers of commerce, directories, insurance companies and news releases. Agencies that take the time to nurture backlinks as well as post original content have much higher DAs than their competition.
In my next post, I’ll talk about and show you some of the most interesting insurance agency blogs I found.
Don’t forget to sign up for my webinar in December. Get the details here:
|Firm Name||Location||Content Source||Days Since Last Post||Blog URL||DA|
|1||Donna Hosfeld Insurance||Macungie, PA||Original||1||https://donnahosfeld.wordpress.com/||97|
|2||Embrace Pet Insurance||Cleveland, OH||Original||49||http://www.embracepetinsurance.com/blog/||52|
|3||Pekin Insurance||Pekin, IL||Original||1||http://blog.pekininsurance.com/business||51|
|7||South Group Insurance Services||Biloxi, etc., MS||Original||1013||https://southgroup.net/blog||32|
|8||Stratum Insurance Agency||Newport Beach, CAÿ||Foremost Insurance||unk||https://stratuminsurance.com/blog/||29|
|9||Sav-on Insurance Agencies||Seattle, WA||Original||14||http://sav-on.blogspot.com/||28|
|10||Morse Insurance Agency||North Easton, MA||Original||5||https://www.morseins.com/blog||27|
|11||GMG Insurance Agency||Newton, PA||Original||4||http://www.gmgins.com/blog-page/||27|
|12||McMahon Insurance Agency||Ocean City, NJ||Property Casualty 360||0||https://mcmahonagency.com/blog/||27|
|13||Carlisle Insurance||Corpus Cristi, TX||Original||707||http://www.carlisleins.com/blog/||26|
|14||Williams Agency||Bradford, PA||Original||382||http://williams-agency.net/wp/||25|
|15||Dean & Draper||Houston, TX||Original||2||http://www.deandraper.com/blog||25|
|16||Boyle Insurance||Memphis, TN||Original||603||https://boyleinsuranceagency.com/blog||25|
|17||McGhee Insurance Agency||Little Rock, AR||Original||14||http://www.mcgheeinsurance.com/blog/||24|
|18||Salzburg Insurance Agency||Norfok, Virginia Beach, VA||Original||4||http://www.salzberginsurance.com/blog/||24|
|19||Millers Insurance Agency||Downington, PA||Original||5||http://www.miainc.com/blog/||23|
|20||Odell Studer Insurance Brokers||King of Prussia, NJ||Syndicated||28||https://www.odellstudner.com/odell-studner-blog/||23|
|21||Breeden Insurance||Lexington, NC||Erie Insurance||1||http://www.breedeninsurance.com/||22|
|22||TW Cooper Insurand Group||Coopersburg, PA||Erie Insurance||1||http://www.twcooperinsurance.com/blog/||22|
|23||Oakland Insurance||Clarkston, MI||Original||12||https://oaklandinsurance.com/insurance-agency-blog/||22|
|24||Claude Reynolds Insurance Agency||Louisville, KY||Original||824||http://www.claudereynoldsinsurance.com/blog/||22|
|25||Mitchell & Mitchell||Novato, CA||Mixed||0||http://www.mitchellandmitchell.com/blog/||22|
|26||Riley Insurance Agnecy||Brunswick, Maine||Safeco||18||http://www.rileyinsuranceagency.com/blog||22|
|27||Darr Schackow Insurance||Gainesville, FL||Mixed||43||http://www.darrschackowinsurance.com/blog/||22|
|28||Amber Insurance||Port Charlotte, FL||Syndicated||6||https://ambergins.wordpress.com/2016/11/16/are-you-shopping-online-this-holiday/||22|
|29||Dan Kitajima Insurance Agency||Tustin, CA||Original||27||http://www.dankitajimainsuranceagency.com/blog/||21|
|30||Box Insurance Agency||Grapevine, TX||Original||117||http://boxinsurance.com/blog/||21|
|31||Assured SRA||Kansas City, MO||Original||6||http://www.srains.com/blog/||21|
|32||Triest Agency||Charleston, SC||Original||13||http://www.triestagency.com/blog/||21|
|33||Bourg Insurance||Baton Rouge, LA||Original||239||http://www.bourginsurance.com/blog/||20|
|34||Brooks Todd & McNeil||Torrington, CT||Original||15||http://www.brookstoddmcneil.com/blog/||20|
|35||TCU Insurance Agency||Elkhart, IN||Original||13||http://www.tcuinsurance.com/blog/||20|
|36||Insurance Guy Beer Blog/||Auburn, ME||Original||86||http://insuranceguybeerblog.com/||20|
|37||White Insurance Agency||Black Moutain, NC||Syndicated||34||http://www.whiteinsurance.com/blog||20|
|38||Paciotti Insurance||Dickson City, PA||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.paciottiinsurance.com/blog/||19|
|39||Howard agency||Butler, PA||Erie Insurance||6||http://www.howardinsurance.com/blog/||19|
|40||Langlois Insurance Agency||New Lenox, IL||Original||36||https://www.langloisinsurance.com/blog/||19|
|41||Boyle Insurance||Memphis, TN||Original||6||http://boyleinsurance.projcap.com/||19|
|43||Chelsea Insurance Agency||Norwich, CT||Original||494||http://www.chelseainsurance.com/blog/||19|
|44||Keating Insurance Agency||West Hartford, CT||Property Casualty 360||0||http://www.keatinginsurance.com/blog/what-a-business-owners-policy-does-not-cover.aspx||19|
|45||Ashcraft Associates||Alexandria, VA||Erie Insurance||1||http://www.ashcraft-assoc.com/blog/||18|
|46||Tanner Insurance Agency||Madison, NY||Original||0||http://www.tiains.com/blog||18|
|47||Hecht & Hecht||Portland, OR||Original||672||http://www.hechtins.com/blog/||18|
|48||Lawton Insurance Agency||Lewisburg, PA||Original||0||http://www.lawtonins.com/blog/||18|
|49||Adler-Belomont Dye||San Luis Obispo, CA||Syndicated||18||http://adlerbelmontdye.com/blog/||18|
|50||Lehigh Agency Insurance||Bethlehem, PA||Erie Insurance||38||http://www.lehighagency.com/blog/||17|
|51||Yutz-Merle Insurance||Stroudsburg, PA||Erie Insurance||38||http://www.yutzmerkle.com/blog/||17|
|52||Platinum One Insurance Agency||Overland Park, KS||Erie Insurance||5||http://www.platinumoneinsurance.com/blog/||17|
|53||Franklin Insurance Agency||Franklin, PA||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.franklin-insurance.com/blog/||17|
|54||Wyatt Insurance||Wytheville, VA||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.wyattins.com/blog/||17|
|55||McFarlin Insurance Agency||Columbia, MD||mostly original||4||http://www.mcfarlininsurance.com/blog/||17|
|56||Texas Insurance Agency||Pasadena, TX||Original/Erie Insurance||5||http://www.texasinsuranceagency.net/blog/||17|
|57||Marshall Insurance 16||Stallings, NC||Mixed||8||http://www.marshallins.net/do-you-have-the-right-amount-of-coverage-under-your-n-c-auto-liability-insurance-policy/||16|
|58||Schaefer & Delauder Insurance||Germantown, MD||Original||0||http://www.schaeferinsurance.com/insurance-blogs||16|
|60||Ahrens Insurance||Ocala, FL||Original||13||http://www.ahrensinsuranceagency.com/blog/||16|
|61||VRP Insurance Agency||Holbrook, NY||Original||1281||http://www.vrpinsurance.com/blog/||16|
|62||Baldwin Insurance Agency Blog||Kearney, MO||Safeco||6||http://www.baldwinoffices.com/blog/||16|
|63||Clayton Hanley||St. Louis, MO||Safeco||18||https://www.claytonhanley.com/blog||16|
|64||Lautenbach Insurance Agency||Littleon, CO||Safeco||18||http://lautenbachinsurance.com/blog/||16|
|65||Heaton Bennett||Austin, TX||Syndicated||0||http://insureaustin.com/blog.html||16|
|66||Oberyman Insurance||Woodbridge, VA||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.oberrymaninsurance.com/blog/||15|
|67||Burchfiel-Overbay & Associates||Sevierville, TN||Erie Insurance||1||http://www.boainsurance.net/blog/||15|
|68||CMR Insurance Agency||Arlington, VA||Erie Insurance||1||http://www.cmrinsure.com/blog/||15|
|69||First Independent-Descamps||Shaker Heights, MI||Mostly Original||14||http://www.firstindependentinsurance.com/||15|
|70||Arizon Capital Insurance||Mesa, AZ||Original||449||http://arizonacapitalinsurance.com/will-i-need-an-sr-22-in-arizona-after-a-dui/||15|
|71||Regency Insurance Agency||Painesville Twp., OH||Original||168||http://www.regencyinsurance.net/blog/||15|
|72||Eric Stewarts Ins Ag||Franklin, TN||Sourced||49||https://www.ericinsures.com/blog/||15|
|73||Fourrier||Baton Rouge, LA||Syndicated||13||http://www.fourrieragency.com/blog/||15|
|74||E.F. Butz Agency||Emmaus, PA||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.efbutzins.com/blog/||14|
|75||Haney Associates||Emmaus, PA||Erie Insurance||6||http://www.haneyassociates.com/||14|
|76||Edison Insurance Group||Fort Myers, FL||Erie Insurance||6||http://www.edisonins.com/||14|
|77||Keenan Insurance||Doylestown, PA||Original||46||http://www.keenanfarmers.com/blog/||14|
|78||Kipper Insurance Agency/KIAC||Carlsbad, CA||Original||8||http://www.kipperinsurance.com/blog/||14|
|79||Freedom Agency||Cullman, AL||Original||186||http://www.freedomagency.net/blog/||14|
|80||Turnbuagh Insurance Agency||Burlinton, VT||Safeco||18||https://www.turnbaughinsurance.com/blog||14|
|81||Ozanich Insurance Grokers||Tacoma, WA||Safeco||18||http://www.ozanich-ins.com/news||14|
|82||Smathers Insurance Agency||Clarion, PA||Sourced||105||http://www.smathersinsurance.com/blog/||14|
|84||Renz Insurance||Medina, OH||Erie Insurance||1||http://www.renzinsurance.com/blog/||13|
|85||Elizabeth Rook||Lakeland, TN||Erie Insurance||1||http://www.rookinsurance.com/blog/||13|
|86||Viera Insurance Agnecy||Melbourne, FL||Original||152||http://vierainsuranceagency.com/blog.html||13|
|87||Cronin Insurance Agency||Boca Raton, FL||Original||0||https://www.cronininsurance.com/blogs||13|
|88||Leap Carpenter Kemps||Merced, CA||Syndicated||0||http://www.lckinsurance.com/are-you-shopping-online-this-holiday/||13|
|89||Atlas Insurance Agency||Highland, MI||Syndicated||0||http://mikearce.com/blog/||13|
|90||Bahr Insu Ag||California, MD||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.bahrinsurance.com/blog/||12|
|91||Riviere Insurance Agency||Thibodaux, LA||Erie Insurance||6||http://www.riviereinsurance.com/blog/||12|
|92||TWFG Ins Srvcs||Metairie, LA||Erie Insurance||6||http://www.rickyrogers.com/||12|
|93||Sanderson Ins Ag||Beavercreek, OH||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.sandersonagency.com/blog/||12|
|95||Batesburg Ins Agency||Batesburg, SC||Original||48||https://www.batesburginsuranceagency.com/blog/||12|
|96||Miller Insurance||Beaumont, RX||Original||5||http://www.millerbeaumont.com/blog/||12|
|97||K B Hamlett||Yanceyville, NC||Syndicated||2||https://kbhamlettinsurance.com/newsletter.html||12|
|98||Smiley Insurance||Gainsville, GA||Syndicated||0||http://www.smileyins.com/blog/||12|
|99||Watlon Ebert Insurance Agency||Cressona, PA||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.waltonebert.com/blog/||11|
|100||Donald J. Medeiros||Fall River, MA||Erie Insurance||6||http://www.donmedeirosinsurance.com/blog/||11|
|101||Wigand Insurance Group||Indianapolis, IN||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.wigandinsurance.com/||11|
|102||Lone Star Insurance Agency||Burleson, TX||Original||96||http://www.lonestarinsuranceagency.com/blog/||11|
|103||Bryan Insurance Ag||Bethlehem, PA||Syndicated||0||http://www.bryanagency.com/blog/||11|
|104||Landis Insurance||Coatesville, PA||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.landisinsurance.com/blog/||10|
|105||Palmetto Choice||Spartenburg, SC||Syndicated||14||http://www.palmettochoice.com/blog/||10|
|106||Takoda Insurance||Abilene, TX||Syndicated||42||http://www.takodainsurance.com/blog/||10|
|107||Ashcraft Associates||Jamestown, NC||Erie Insurance||1||http://www.piedmonttriadinsurance.com/blog/||9|
|108||The Rowan Group||Whitesboro, NY||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.rowaninsurance.com/blog||9|
|109||Terra Insurance Services||Philadelphia, PA||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.insuremephilly.com/||9|
|110||Winterville Ins Ag||Winterville, NC||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.wintervilleinsurance.com/blog/||9|
|111||Piedmont Triad Ins9urance||Greensboro, NC||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.piedmonttriadinsurance.com/blog/||9|
|112||Mappus Insurance||Mouth Pleasant, SC||Sourced||18||http://www.mappusinsurance.com/blog/||9|
|113||Allen Furr||Roswell, GA||Syndicated||5||http://www.allenandfurr.com/blog/||9|
|114||Crowder & Holloway||South Hil, VA||Compilations||9||http://www.crowderandholloway.com/blog/||8|
|115||Gronski Lehman||Williamsport, PA||Erie Insurance||1||http://www.gronskilehmaninsurance.com/blog/||8|
|116||Volan Agency||Berea, OH||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.volaninsurance.com/blog/||8|
|117||Zappia Insurance||Pittsburgn, PA||Syndicated||52||http://www.keystoneinsurance.us/?page_id=50||8|
|118||Huffman Insurance Agency||Richlands, VA||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.huffmanins.com/blog/||7|
|119||EL Webster Ins Ag||Waldorf, MD||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.elwins.com/blog/||7|
|120||MAH Invest & Insurance||Brookville, IN||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.brookvilleinsurance.com/||7|
|121||John W Neighbarger Ins Ag||Reynoldsburg, OH||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.neighbargerins.com/||6|
|122||TWFG Ins Srvcs||Milbrae, CA||Sourced||13||http://www.blwinsuranceagency.com/blog/||6|
|123||CIS Insurance Agency||Hamilton, AL||Safeco||11||https://www.cisinsagency.com/blog||5|
|124||Affordable Insurancew Group||Kernersville, NC||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.aigagencies.com/blog/||1|
|125||Christopher Peters Agency||North Tonawanda, NY||Erie Insurance||0||http://www.cpetersagency.com/||1|