Google Alerts is a free service offered by Google that will email you anytime Google finds a new webpage that contains words that you specify. Since Google already knows about most existing webpages Google Alerts pretty much notifies you of NEW webpages.
As an example, I have a Google Alert that sends me an instant email when Google finds a new webpage that contains my business name: “InsuranceSplash”. This lets me know almost instantly whenever my business is mentioned anywhere online!
For a real-life demonstration of how cool this can be, check out this forum discussion on Insurance-Forums.com. A few agents were talking about some articles I wrote and once I received notification I was able to make my own post thanking them for the recognition right away. Without Google Alerts I never would have known!
Google Alerts only takes a few minutes to set up and any insurance agent can use it to monitor and protect their online reputation, find new sales opportunities, and boost traffic to their agency websites.
Here’s 11 ways Google Alerts can help your agency marketing:
#1 – Monitor Mentions of Your Agency Name
This one is the most important – that’s why I made it #1. Every single agency should have a Google Alert setup to be notified about mentions of your agency name. With this Alert, when someone writes about your agency anywhere online you’ll know about it right away. This allows you to potentially nip bad situations in the butt, correct mentions of your business with the wrong contact information, thank people for mentioning you, and generally keep the online pulse of your agency. If you have a very common name like “ABC Insurance” you might need to be a bit more specific by adding a region. At the bottom of this article, I’ve added some tips that will help you get more specific results with your alerts.
#2 – Monitor Mentions Your Own Name
Pretty similar to number one, having a Google Alert set up to monitor your name can be very helpful. It may be more challenging for some people depending on the popularity of your name. Take me, John Carroll, for example. There are thousands of me across the world including a high school in Maryland and a college in Ohio! But, I could setup a Google Alert for a phrase like: “John Carroll” “insurance marketing”. This would give me results anytime Google finds a new page with both “John Carroll” and “insurance marketing” on it. If I find I still get too many irrelevant results I can always go back to my Google Alerts and either turn this alert off, or make it even more specific.
#3 – Monitor Mentions of your Website
Just like #1 and #2, this one helps you monitor your online presence by finding webpages that mention your agency’s webpage. Here’s a possible SEO trick that you can use for this Google Alert: SEO experts agree that having more mentions of your agency’s name, address, and phone number across the web will help you with search rankings. When you find webpages that list your website but fail to include your name, address, and phone number there may be an opportunity to reach out to the author of the webpage to see if you can get your full information added, or if there’s a mistake, you’ll be able to correct it!
#4 – Monitor Mentions of Your Competition
Ooh, now we’re getting devious! Want to know what that guy down the street is up to? You might find some interesting information like: events that he’s sponsoring that you may also be able to get in on or webpages that mention local insurance agents and are missing your agency. Heck you might even get lucky and find some sales opportunities of people complaining about him online or read his name in the police blotter!
#5 – Find Local Marketing Opportunities
Ever find out about a community or networking event that you could have been a part of or sponsored after it already happened? With Google Alerts you could prevent this from happening. Just setup a Google Alert for something like: myTown “community event” or myTown meeting or myTown “networking event”. I won’t tell you exactly what to put in there, but with a little experimenting you can set things up so you won’t miss an opportunity to get out there and shake hands.
#6 – Prospect Research
This one’s more for the commercial agents… If you’re trying to get an opportunity to quote a really big client, or maybe a really big sale just barely slipped through your fingers, setup a Google Alert to monitor their business or maybe the key person you’re trying to schmooze. That way when they’re mentioned in a news article or somewhere else online you can use it as a reason to contact. Be creative, maybe you could make a nice comment on the webpage about the company (that clearly identifies yourself) or if it’s a local newspaper story you could buy the paper copy, cut out the article, and mail it to them.
#7 – Local Insurance Related News
There’s a lot of local news events that could be used to generate leads. For example, if you set up a Google Alert to notify you of competitor rate increases you could use this information to reach out to people you quoted in the past but were unable to close. Believe it or not, a large percentage of people you quoted but didn’t sell are still with the same carrier. There may also be some ways you could monitor the news for certain unfortunate events and reach out to people in those neighborhoods about relevant products. For example, if there were an apartment fire you could send a postcard about renters insurance to everyone in the apartment complex. I’m not saying you should be the insurance agent equivalent of an ambulance chaser, but we all know events like that close to home can have a big impact on people’s openness to buying insurance.
#8 – Answer Insurance Related Questions
Want to look like an expert? You could set up Google Alerts to answer people’s questions about insurance. There’s plenty of sites like Yahoo Answers, or Quora where people ask questions. If you want to take the time to do this, I imagine the best thing to do would be to set up open ended search strings in order to get insurance related questions without too much junk. Check out this example to give you an idea:
#9 – Comment on Relevant Blogs
Google Alerts allows you to limit the type of notifications you receive to just one type of website. This includes “blogs”. If you were trying to be known as an expert and build online relationships within a certain field of insurance, you could set up Google Alerts to fill your inbox with blog comment opportunities. I should warn you, there’s a lot of garbage blogs out there that are only created for SEO purposes. Don’t waste your time making comments unless you get the impression the article was well-written and on a worthy site.
#10 – Fix Broken Links to Your Website
This tip is very useful for any agency with a complicated or oft-misspelled domain name. You can set up a Google Alert with all the common misspellings of your website name and that way any time someone tries to link to your webpage and they get it wrong you’ll be notified and can reach out to them to correct it. It might never happen, but it only takes a few moments to set up the alert.
#11 – Competitor Link Sniping
I mentioned in #4 that you can use Google Alerts to keep tabs on your competition to see what websites and webpages their business is mentioned on. You could do the same for links to their website. Set up a Google Alert of their domain name like this: link:competitorsdomain.com and you’ll be notified sometimes when a new website links to theirs. Obviously every website that links to your competition is not always going to link to you, but if a website is already linking to the agency across the street, there’s a chance they might link to your website depending on their reason for linking to the other agent.
Here’s useful syntax tricks to use with your Google Alerts:
Exact Keyword Alert:
You can tell Google Alerts to only show pages that show an exact keyword. For example, if you setup an Alert for the word “insurance”, Google may also show you results including the word “insurer” or “insuring”. Adding a plus sign before the word (+insurance) will make sure that you only get results with exact matches.
Exact Key Phrase Alert:
When you setup an alert for more than one word, Google returns results with all of those words but not necessarily in that order. If you put your phrase in quotes “insurance agent” the pages Google Alerts you to will only have those words in that exact order without any words between them.
Alternate Keyword Alert:
To setup an Alert with alternate results, use “OR” between the words (the letters OR must be capitalized). For example, “agent OR broker” will return results with either word. For a more complex alerts, put part of the phrase in parenthesis: (agent OR broker) “life insurance”.
Synonyms For Alerts:
If you want your alerts to include pages with related terms, use a tilde (~) in front of the word. For example, if you use this feature to search for the word “~broker”, Google should include alerts with “broker,” “agent,” and “agency”.
Alerts From a Single Website:
If you want Alerts only for pages on a specific site, use the “site:” operator. For example, if you want to track mentions of your insurance agency here on InsuranceSplash, your Alert would look like this: “insurance agencies” site:insurancesplash.com.
And here’s a quick video tutorial on how to set up a Google Alert:
Questions about setting up Google Alerts? Other Google Alert ideas that could help other agents? Don’t be a wuss, put it in the comments below!!!