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Google is once again tweaking its search algorithm with a new change that should have some benefits for it’s users.

Google announced last month that it will rank mobile-optimized sites higher in search results, starting April 21, 2015. Sites that work well on a mobile device should get a “significant” boost over other sites who are not mobile-friendly, Google says. This is a good thing for users and this will help Google remain king of search.

The change should ensure that consumers conducting Google searches on their mobile devices arrive on easily readable sites, rather than large messy desktop-based layouts that are hard to navigate and move around on a small screen.

Google has been kind enough to put out a form for you or for your agencies developer so you can input a URL to see whether the agencies site is mobile-friendly (click on this link to see if your agency site is mobile friendly or not). This recent news has caused several projects and programs that are specific to the insurance industry to scramble around, preparing for the April update.

What scares me is that these same projects and programs are “leaders” in our industry and they’ve built websites within the last 6 months that were not mobile-friendly.

Mobile friendly platforms are not new and they’re readily available. The number of mobile searches grew in the billions over the last year, and the fact that they are still so being in this area is quite concerning. It shows me that those “leaders” are not as innovative as we thought.

I am sure people will be upset with me for saying that, but the fact remained – if Independent Insurance Agencies are going to be around for the next 100 years, we need better consultants in our industry. This is not a cheap shot at one specific person, this is a fact that says a lot about who our agencies are listening to, and shows that we had better start getting our advice from outside the industry.

In addition to the algorithm change, Google said late last month it will begin surfacing content hidden within apps more prominently in search results. This is one of the reasons that I personally feel that your agency needs an App and cannot wait another year without one. My agency uses a company out of North Carolina called, this App company only build Apps for the insurance industry, which is a real good thing for us agencies.

If a developer has enabled App Indexing, Google’s search bots can crawl the contents of an app or your agency app just like a Web page. This is why your agency can’t afford to wait on an agency app – you need to get educated and it better happen fast.

The update, which is a little more than a month away, should allow the information from the app to show up along with regular search results on Google. WOW! That’s big and I hope you and your agency doesn’t wait, if you do it will cost you a lot.

All of these changes make total sense from the consumer’s side, and it also makes sense that Google would want to incentivize App Indexing. Google is all about the consumer and making it easier to match you up with what you’re searching for. The search giant doesn’t have the quite the same reach on  mobile devices as it does on the desktop because people often boot up more narrowly focused apps like Amazon for shopping or Yelp for food instead of using Google to search the entire World Wide Web.

More indexing means more valuable information that Google can present to users and serve ads against.

As an agency owner I’m prepared for this in April. Ask yourself if your website ready and if not, figure out what you are going to do about it.

My advice is to contact a website designer, not an insurance consultant. Get out into the world where you hire a professional website designer and get your site updated and mobile ready. Next, look for your agency App. I did an awful lot of research on apps for the insurance space and what I found is that we agency owner’s need 5 key aspects to our app.

First, we need to make sure that our agency app doesn’t store content on our clients phones. Why? With all of data breaches and theft of information, it would not be wise to have our information stored on a phone, so make sure the app has the information stored in the cloud.

Second, your app needs to be powerful enough to really service your clients. Our agency app allows my client to call in a claim 24/7 with a single touch. It also allows our clients to pay their bill. That service allows me to be like Geico, providing service to my clients around the clock.

Third, is ability the send push notifications, which have a very high open rate. This allows me to talk with clients through the app, it is extremely powerful.

Forth, is the ability to store insurance cards.

Fifth, is the ability to track. My agency app allows me to see who is downloading my agency app.

There is power within the agency app. Take the time and energy to get an agency app and ask your top carrier to pay for it for you. Good luck, and contact me with any questions you may have about an agency app or about a mobile-friendly site.