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The Banyan Theory Blog

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Insurance Websites

Welcome to the Banyan Theory blog, where we write about anything and everything related to insurance websites, including design, search engine optimization, and tips to improve your own site.

Why HTTPS - Part 1: The Basics

This is part of our Why HTTPS series.

You may have noticed a strong uptick recently in the number of websites you visit that use HTTPS. Or you may have noticed that many companies, like Google and Safeco, have begun encouraging website owners to support HTTPS on their own websites. If you’re curious about the reasons behind this, and the reasons you should add HTTPS support to your website, you’re in the right place. This is the first of a series of blog posts I’ll be writing on the topic.

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Whole-Site SSL

We recently launched a new feature called Whole-Site SSL, which allows us to use SSL on every page of your website.

Before going any further, it’s important to first point out that every insurance website we have ever built and hosted has used SSL on the pages that collect sensitive information, starting with our first one in 2007. If your website is hosted with us, your forms are protected with SSL.

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Heartbleed Followup

It’s been a little over a month since the Hearbleed bug was revealed. In case you missed it, I wrote an article telling you what you needed to know regarding your website and your Banyan Theory account login — mainly that they were not affected.

Now that the dust has settled, I’d like to explain how the bug works and how important it is that you change your passwords on other sites that were affected.

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Internet Explorer Zero-Day

If you use Internet Explorer to browse the web, be aware that there is a dangerous new code-execution vulnerability. Microsoft has not issued a fix yet, making this a zero-day exploit (as in, zero days between the discovery of the vulnerability and the first attack).

All versions of Internet Explorer are vulnerable (6 through 11).

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Heartbleed SSL Bug

On Monday April 7, a new vulnerability called Heartbleed was revealed in OpenSSL, a software library widely used to protect websites served over HTTPS. The good news: the websites and apps we host were not impacted. The bad news: there are a great many websites and online services that were vulnerable.

Here’s what you need to know:

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Smog Insurance Anyone?

Here's an interesting blog topic for our insurance agents today: China's largest travel agency will be offering smog insurance for their travelers. Claims can be filed for the portion of their vacation spoiled by severe smog in certain cities in China.

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Disable Java to Stay Safe Online

Java has not had a good 2013 so far, suffering from several critical security vulnerabilities in just the first few weeks of the year. The vulnerabilities are so dangerous that the Department of Homeland Security is advising people to disable Java in their web browsers.

Read on to find out how to keep your computers safe by disabling the Java web plugin.

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Validating Your Forms Are Secure

We often receive the following request from our customers:

It’s time for our business insurance policy to renew, and the insurance company says our contact form is not secure. They will not renew our policy unless the form is secured with HTTPS. Can you help?

What your insurance company wants is to make sure any information your customers submit through your website is secure (encrypted in a way that it cannot be intercepted).

It may appear to the untrained eye that your contact form is not secure, but if we host your website, you can rest assured that it is. If you want to know how you can verify this, whether we host your website or not, continue reading…

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Why We Don't Use Flash

Flash websites were all the rage in the early 2000s. So was Britney Spears. Since then, the web and the means of surfing the web have evolved, while Flash has remained largely unchanged. Having a Flash website doesn't mean that you have a bad website. It just means that it doesn't work like most mainstream websites, and won't work on most mobile devices. There are many reasons that we don't create Flash-based websites and advise our clients to stay away from it. Here, I offer our primary reasons.

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Getting to Like Facebook Likes

Likes seem to be the driving force behind companies and corporations making the transition into Facebook and social media. Why are all these companies out there trying to get people to click on their Like buttons? What actually happens when somebody likes your agency's Facebook Page?

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How We're Preparing for the End of the World

If you have an insurance website from Banyan Theory, you’ll be happy to know that we’ve taken steps to protect your site from the upcoming end of the world (which, as the Mayans have told us, will occur on December 21, 2012). We want to ensure that your website will remain available in the off chance that anyone survives the end of the world and they need information about their insurance.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been formulating ideas that would protect our servers from such a scenario. Here are our ideas:

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Advertising Your Domain Name

When advertising your website to potential customers or existing clients, there is a difference in how to do reference your domain on a printed ad (like a mailed post card or sign) vs. an email or link on another website.

For print, keep the website reference as short as possible.

When listing it online, always use your primary domain for SEO purposes.

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What is a Primary Domain?

If you have multiple domain names, you should pick one for your primary domain name. If you only have one, be sure to decide whether your primary domain uses the "www" or not. While your customers may not care, Google will, so this is an important search engine optimization step - and one that you can do yourself for free!

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Optimizing Your Google Place Page

Ever wondered how to get your insurance agency listed in Google search results with other local agents? The trick is to claim and optimize your Google Place Page. While this isn't a silver bullet, it will certainly help your agency rank higher (and possibly in the top 3-10 local listings) when someone searches for "[your city] car insurance". In this article, I'll walk you through finding, claiming and optimizing your Google Place Page.

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Introducing: The New Banyan Theory Website

It’s been in the works for a while, and we’re very excited to finally [re]-launch our very own website!

Complete with something for everyone, the new lightrailsites.com features the latest additions to our website program for insurance agents, an interactive real-time pricing tool, and this blog!

We plan on covering a wide variety of topics centered around creating and managing insurance agency websites. Here’s some of the articles you can look forward to in the coming months:

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