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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

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“I’m on the Internet. Now where is all the business I’m supposed to be getting?”

That question inspired the annual technology feature for this magazine. In our previous tech editions, we focused on the how — for example, how to go paperless and how to go virtual.

But what I heard from some advisors is that it is tough out there on the Internet. After spending time and money to develop a website and market it, they have zilch to show for it.

The solution goes back to the root of technology. The word itself does not mean the technical stuff, such as computers, but it is knowledge, the “ology” part of the equation. It’s how you build it and then what you do with it.

Here is the good news: You know how to do this already. At least the second half of the process. The first half is the content.

Agents and advisors who have gone online might have content at this point, which is a good start. But many advisors probably look at the word “content” with all the joy reserved for colonoscopies. You know you have to do it, but how about next month? Maybe next year?

Like a colonoscopy, waiting is not the healthy choice for getting online and building content. Advisors who do dawdle might find the community and niche they created in the real world occupied by someone else in the virtual one by the time they get there.

Unlike a colonoscopy, content can be fun and even easy. Chris Huntley, one of the advisors featured in the main article, built an impressive bank of 500 articles on his website, which propelled his business. He started simply by taking his notes on tough cases and converting them to articles.

Here is something Huntley did besides building a large database — he learned how his own business works. He identified what niche was natural to him by focusing on the work he already was doing for clients. Huntley also absorbed the lessons he drew from each tough case. The best way to put an experience into context is to write about it. It’s the same reason journaling is a popular way to appreciate a person’s own life.

This specialized content is gold on the Internet. It always has been, but its stock is soaring these days because of changes in Google’s algorithms. This means the search engine’s guardians are constantly refining results to outmaneuver people who game the system.

Over most of this year, Google rolled out the latest version of the algorithm Panda, which knocked many of the big players down a few pegs. It also elevated smaller sites with local content.

Some of those who lost out in the latest update were posting content they cut-n-pasted from somewhere else and relied on fake linking strategies. This is an opportunity for the meek to run out and inherit the World Wide Web.

Of course, just parking great content on a site is not going to get traffic. The solution is essentially an extension of the prospecting that successful advisors do. Salespeople already know that having the best product in the world means nothing if no one knows about it.

It’s part of networking. Say an advisor attending a community event meets a business owner who has three children he wants to pass his business on to. If the advisor happened to write about a similar situation that was solved with a life insurance strategy, wouldn’t that advisor seem to be a very handy expert if he or she forwarded that article to the owner?

Also, if an advisor wrote about how breast cancer survivors can still get affordable life insurance, wouldn’t it be a public service to send a link to the local breast cancer awareness group? That is the idea with getting real links to content. Google has become more adept at recognizing when real groups link to content that is of genuine interest to them.

The search engine wants what everybody else wants: real answers to questions. Much of Google’s work on algorithms is to secure top spots for good content. In fact, some articles that Huntley wrote five or more years ago are still ranking No. 1 in some searches. That is despite a few Google updates that shook up the rest of the world relying on search engine traffic.

This is all bad news for people who figured they could buy cheap, generic content and then purchase a bushel of links from a link farm. It is great news for people who want to bring real value to others.

So, the path to becoming an effective Internet marketer follows routes similar to any lasting success, by orienting toward the points of ingenuity and integrity.

After all, if you head toward cheap, vapid and sleazy, that is where you will end up.

Steven A. Morelli is editor-in-chief for InsuranceNewsNet. He has more than 25 years of experience as a reporter and editor for newspapers, magazines and insurance periodicals. Steve may be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @INNSteveM. [email protected].


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