It has been said that if Google can’t find you no one can. That’s certainly the case with commercial surety bonds, a product that many small contractors first learn about through the internet. If your agency doesn’t appear near the top of Google’s ranking, you could be missing out on lucrative bond placements and additional opportunities to cross-sell to small business clients.
Larger contractors may already have an established relationship with a bond producer, but smaller or “emerging” contractors are a prime source of new business for commercial bonds. And often these contractors begin their search for a bond online. Contractors may need permit bonds in a city they haven’t worked in before, or they may be starting a new business and need to get their first bond.
Nine times out of 10, they’re using keywords like “sidewalk paver bond” and “Houston” to find a bond producer near them that can meet their needs. If your agency’s name pops up, you’ve done a good job at what marketers call search engine optimization (SEO). If your agency’s name is nowhere to be found, you’ve got some work to do.
Luckily, it’s not hard to improve your SEO. There are plenty of resources available to help you, ranging from free online tools to firms that specialize in SEO and content marketing. A good place to start is with your own web team to see if they can help you incorporate surety bonds into your marketing strategy.
Seven ways to improve your SEO
- Add surety keywords to your agency’s website Include words in your web content that describe the types of bonds you sell and the geographic locations you serve. Instead of using broad keywords like “bond” or “license,” use long-tail keywords such as “auto dealer bond in Columbus, Ohio.” Free tools such as Moz Keyword Explorer, Keyword Tool, Google Trends and Google AdWords Keyword Planner can help you identify effective keywords for your market. There are also more robust paid research tools such as SEMrush and Ahrefs.
- Improve the speed of your website. A slow website can hurt your chances of being viewed by a potential client. Plus, search engines give higher rankings to fast websites. Check your site speed using Google’s free PageSpeed Insights.
- Check your Google business profile. Google offers a free business profile that is displayed when people find you on Google Search or Maps. If it’s already activated, be sure your address, telephone number, location and web address are up to date. You can also add services and photos to your profile.
- Get listed on other websites and online directories. If you’re a member of the National Association of Surety Bond Producers, make sure you’re listed in NASBP’s Surety Pro Locator. Other online listings you might consider include your local Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, state insurance departments, independent agents’ groups, and local and state licensing sites. Links from other websites to yours, known as backlinks, can improve your search rankings.
- Design your site with mobile in mind. Most internet searches today are on a mobile device, so make sure your site works well on a smartphone or tablet. Anna Baluch, writing in Forbes Advisor, recommends that you “use a responsive design, simplify your navigation, eliminate pop-ups and keep all content short and concise. Don’t forget to improve page speed as well.”
- Conduct an SEO audit. Usually done by an outside firm, a technical audit of your website checks page titles, meta descriptions, sitemaps, site architecture, links, plugins and other technical aspects to determine whether your site is optimized.
- Don’t forget social media. From creating a listing on Yelp to building a presence on social channels that reach your prospects, your online brand strategy shouldn’t be limited to just your website. Take the time to create a social calendar so you are posting fresh content on a regular schedule. Make sure to link to content on your website.
Above all, your site should serve up content that is relevant and specific to what you’ve promised in your keywords and page titles. There’s no substitute for useful, well written content that answers the questions a client is likely to ask. A good strategy is to anticipate the steps in the bond-buying process and to write your content accordingly.
The time you spend on surety SEO only adds to the strength of your overall commercial book of business. Surety is one more area where you can help protect your clients and enhance their ability to operate efficiently. Your expertise should not be kept secret. Be sure to show up.
Greg is an Executive Surety Marketing Representative for Old Republic Surety.