Sometimes for small businesses, the web can feel like an unfair battleground. Huge companies with huge budgets seem to dominate. But local firms can still carve out their own niche, and it is easy to boost search rankings by simply taking offline local marketing tactics and adapting them for a digital world.
Here are five ways any local firm can use to boost its search rankings.
Build contacts with the local press
Getting online press coverage is a great way of building valuable links. Obviously, you’re not going to attract the attention of national and international papers, not unless you’re doing something special, but the thirst for stories at a local level is almost insatiable.
Local hacks are always looking for leads to fill pages and these days that means online coverage too.
If you haven’t already, get in touch with your local paper’s business desk. Make sure you have a story for them first though – things like charity days or celebrity appearances are the bread and butter of local papers.
Organise something fun, then give local journalists plenty of notice of the event and you should end up with some online coverage.
Ask politely if they can include a link to your site in the story, but even if they don’t put on in the rise of co-occurrence as a ranking factor means you’re going to benefit anyway.
Once you’ve got to know a local journalist, do everything you can to build on the relationship – that way more coverage will be forthcoming.
Use your existing business contacts
In today’s online world building links is all about building relationships. If you’ve already achieved a degree of success offline, then you’ll have built plenty of relationships already.
The trick is knowing how to use these to connections to get valuable links.Your best chance of getting a good link from a business connection is by providing them with a guest post. If you know someone who already has a well established website with a blog, then ask if you can write an entry for it.
Offer tips based on your experience of business, and make sure anyone reading the blog will be able to go away and take action based on your advice. The result will be a great article, which will raise your standing and get you a link. Not only does this have SEO benefits, but if the link is on a high-traffic site, then you can expect to get visitors too.
Don’t limit your efforts to commercial sites, chambers of commerce and other small business communities offer excellent link opportunities.
Make your blog something special
If you haven’t got a blog, get one right now. If you have got one, come up with a content plan to make the most of it. Think of new, exciting ways you can approach topics which are relevant to your industry – you’ll be surprised how easy this can be.
Of course, not everyone feels comfortable writing, and if you find yourself in this category then it really is worth spending a bit of money to hire an individual or agency who can do it on your behalf.
Combine this with a social media strategy, and you will not only attract links but also get some word of mouth marketing going.
Ask vendors to take a testimonial
If you use and love someone’s service, get in touch with them and tell them you’re willing to supply a testimonial for their website in exchange for a link back to your website. Firms love testimonials because they show the company in a good light.
Not everyone will say yes, but plenty will and you’ll get a bunch of links out of it.
Learn a bit about SEO
This last point is perhaps the most important regardless of whether you plan to do your link building yourself or hire an agency to do it. Take the time to get to grips with the basics of SEO – read industry blogs, use free trials of tools and find out what makes a good link. That way you’ll know how to build the right links yourself or, if you use an agency, you’ll know if they try to pull a fast one.
Knowledge is one of the most powerful tools when it comes to any form of SEO, so make sure your equipped with it.