"Built it and they will come" is no longer the case in terms of online web presence... 2015 is the year of "reach out and they will come!"
In this blog post, I will specifically focus on link building as one of the strategies to make your online presence more prominent.
Having a great link-building strategy brings great results. And links building matters and contributes to your SME’s bottom line. Essentially a valid link to contact on your company website is a “vote” in your favour.
The general idea is to create an association between yourself, your product, brand, company or cause with noteworthy, authoritative websites, blogs, news sources or other organisations in the industry. These sources can include review sites, business blogs, local business news sites, web hosting or it providers, government or non-profit organisations linking businesses like yours or similar avenues.
1. Think global, start local, talk to your neighbours
The Internet creates opportunities for you and your business like never before. You can reach clients and users all over the World, but why not start with your immediate circle of trusted business partners, friends and potential users in order to spread the word and create inbound links?
Go for quality, not quantity. Irrelevant mass link-exchange portals will not help your site’s reputation, but carefully selected trusted partner links will (especially if they come from a more established web sources).
A friend of mine runs a local cleaning business and his approach to building online trust was focused on the local community, businesses and social media, as opposed to large scale outreach and mass campaigns. It worked like a charm.
2. Interview experts, local partners, seek out influencers
Make associations with persuasive people in your field and inquire as to whether you can talk with them for your online journal or webpage. This is a smart way to contact their fans and create social connections. Be innovative and genuine with your invitations and make sure you provide them with value. Always remember WIFT - “What’s in it for them?”
“Influencers” - bloggers or people who have a large following in your industry can easily become the tipping point for your online business, but they are not easy to convince or approach… after all they have a reputation to uphold and an “online responsibility” to their audience.
3. Get listed where it matters
Online directories may sound like an easy way in, but it can sometimes be “an easy way out” the rankings. Spammy, irrelevant directories make it easy to list and sometimes offer mass listings on hundreds, maybe thousands of sources, but they simply do not bring value to you or your project. Try to create a presence on relevant industry listing and ranking sites. Find local directories like Yelp and Foursquare, online magazines like Phoenix Business Journal and review sites, and always write a fresh and unique description if possible.
4. Target industry review sites and popular review bloggers
This task can be time consuming but well worth it. Don’t forget to research the review site first for popularity, online rankings, following and the general feel of the language used on the site. Does the review source exist just to collect its own rankings and sell ads? Or does it generate value to its readers? Bloggers who review niche products in line with your business are a great source as well and can if your story is compelling, can be quite approachable.
5. Create something of value - be generous to your audience
Case study, ebook, free online app, mobile app - those are just a few examples of creations which can make a difference, as long as you invest time and effort into making sure you deliver something of value.
Don’t replicate and recycle the same ideas your competitors already implemented, brainstorm with people you trust in order to create something unique.
6. Always interact with your audience.
By being online, you have an opportunity to always interact with your users, ask for their feedback and find out what they really need as long as you provide value and are generous.
Generosity will get you far. Eagerly provide giveaways and added value materials, such as ebooks, white papers, free audits etc. and you will start seeing online social media mentions, links and shares.
Put together online competitions which are easy to enter, but well crafted in terms of asking the right questions for you to gain valuable market insights.
All in all, keep in mind the WIFT principle and respect your potential user’s time. Make it worthwhile for your users to take the time to visit your website and learn about your brand.
The author, Rob is the founder of Gazellehost.com and spent the last 10 years supporting and coaching small businesses in on their online journey. He can be reached on Twitter @robmaroszek