One of the best and easiest ways to jumpstart your link-building efforts is to ask friends and family who have websites. I recommend you send out an email announcing your new site and ask them for a link. You can even call this a link-warming party (or not—depends on your sense of humor!).
Local directories are designed to help consumers find local products and services. You can set up each of these directory listings manually, or use a local listings service like Yext or UBL.org. With local directory listings, it’s critical that you’re absolutely consistent with your business details.
Top Local Business Directories:
RESOURCE: Local Directory Lists and Services
A local authority site is simply an online hub whose content is centered around a specific community, such as a local newspaper website, Chamber of Commerce, local trade association, news station, community bulletin board, or an advertising site serving that specific community. A great strategy to get links from local authority sites is to volunteer to be a guest blogger, writing a valuable article for these sites or doing an interview related to your area of expertise. Press coverage is also a great opportunity to increase your local SEO authority. If you get a mention in the press, be sure to write a blog post or a press release (discussed on p.). Contact the media entity and ask for rights to publish and link to the articles or videos about your business. Finally, ensure that the media sites link back to yours.
Many business owners fall into the trap of getting involved in too many social media sites but not spending the time to understand or gain benefits from any one of them as a lead generation channel. Here’s a quick list of surefire steps you can take for immediate social media traction:
Top Social Media Sites
First, claim your business name, starting an account on the “big four” social media sites—Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The first three allow you to create business pages. Be sure and include a link back to your website!
KEY CONCEPT: Build Your Audience Now to Set the Stage for Content Marketing
One of the most important activities you can engage in is increasing your count of fans and followers on social media sites. When you get to the last chapter of this book and launch your STAND OUT content marketing strategy, you’ll be glad you did. Each piece of content you publish will be “syndicated” to your audience across several channels including social media, multimedia sites, and even to your own email list. The bigger your fan/follower base, the more reach your content will have. Pay attention to who follows your competitors on Facebook and Twitter and make friends with them. If you do the groundwork in this chapter, your content strategy will almost certainly increase your traffic and leads exponentially!
SOCIAL MEDIA RESOURCES
A great way to gain more authority within your niche is having other, more authoritative sites within your niche link to yours. Virtually every business category imaginable has at least a handful of associations, publications, or online directories focused on it. Getting your business listed on these sites may involve purchasing advertising, offering to write an article (which gets you attribution in the form of a link to your site), or simply contacting the site owners with a polite request.
Close cousins to industry directories and authority sites, these websites are centered on single, or small, closely related groups of, specific topics. Blogs and forums usually have tight-knit communities whose members spend significant time and effort discussing and sharing ideas focused on their passions or professions.
These sites are great platforms for interacting with other members of your community, keeping abreast of industry changes, tools, and best practices, and even meeting potential partners or clients. Industry blogs from other markets are also great sources for new ideas to blog about.
Blogs and forums are also great sources for relevant links to your website. Most forums and blogs allow visitors to register, creating a profile that includes their name and some personal information, including website URL and email address.
There are two simple rules of engagement on these sites:
RESOURCE: Technorati Blog Directory
Technorati is a search engine that’s focused on blogs, with over 100 million blogs listed and counting. If you’re having trouble finding industry blogs, use Technorati to find popular blogs related to your topic and business niche.
KEY CONCEPT: Use Guest Blogging to Increase Your Audience
A key step in understanding the “lay of the land” when it comes to your online niche is creating a list of highly trafficked, influential blogs. Create a list of the top five blogs that your audience already reads. You’re probably already familiar with a few of them, but if not, do a Google search for “[your niche] blog” and check Technorati (above). Once you have a short list of power blogs in your industry, contact these bloggers and reach out to them via a short, personalized email, offering to write a guest blog or article for their site (this is called a “guest post”). Many bloggers will take you up on your offer, assuming you can produce an original, high-quality article that your/their audience will find useful. Guest posting can benefit both parties, providing a source of quality content for the site owner and additional traffic and exposure for the guest writer.
According to Wikipedia, “A social bookmarking service is a centralized online service which enables users to add, annotate, edit, and share bookmarks of Web documents.”
If you’ve ever saved a “bookmark” in your Web browser to allow for quick access, you’re familiar with the concept. Social bookmarking simply applies this same process to the web, allowing people to tag notable Web pages and share these bookmarks with others. The best way to use social bookmarking sites is to first join these communities, making friends and getting the lay of the land, then sharing helpful or interesting content with the community once you’re familiar with these sites. Each time you publish a new piece of content, be sure to post links to the content on a few top bookmarking sites.
Social bookmarking sites can be a real driver of website traffic. Sites like Digg and Reddit that use popularity/voting systems can be great vehicles for getting your content viewed by hundreds or even thousands of new visitors. In Chapter 10, we’ll cover a process for automatically syndicating your content to social bookmarking sites. For now, just be sure to list your business using the best practices outlined above.
Top Social Bookmarking Sites
Multimedia sharing sites like YouTube, Vimeo, Picasa, and Flickr may seem more appropriate for checking out the latest shots of kittens grappling, but a deeper look will reveal several powerful applications for small business owners. Creating a YouTube channel for your business can spark a whole new channel for online visibility, traffic, and leads, not to mention backlinks. Register your business on one or two of these sites:
Top Photo and Video Sites
Once again, Wikipedia says it best:
“An article directory is a website with collections of articles written about different subjects. Sometimes article directories are referred to as content farms, which are websites created to produce mass content.”
In a nutshell, article directories are sites that allow outside authors to publish content. For example, if you were a family lawyer trying to generate traffic and links to your site, you could sign up for a reputable article directory like eHow, write an original article called “5 Tips For a Divorce-Free Marriage,” and publish it on the directory.
Top Article Directories
Article directories have undergone a fair amount of scrutiny lately in terms of their “link value.” Google has even gone so far as to de-index several low-quality directories out there, due mainly to their liberal rules related to duplicate and poor content.
However, if you take the time to write a truly helpful, quality article and publish it on one of the following higher quality article directories, you’ll enjoy notable “link juice”:
The purpose of a press release, or news release, is to announce something new or noteworthy related to your business—like an innovative product or service—with the goal of getting your release “picked up” and published by media outlets, thereby gaining traffic to your site and obtaining backlinks to your site.
When used properly, press releases can be very effective. It’s important to use them sparingly, though—only when you have a truly interesting or newsworthy story to tell. I also recommend using a paid service like http://prweb.com since, as with many things, you get what you pay for.
Although press releases may not be a core element of your SEO and backlinking strategy, they can be extremely effective. I recommend you try at least one or two tastefully executed releases when the need arises.
Top Press Release Sites
PRESS RELEASE RESOURCES:
What About Paid Online Advertising?
While these paid sources can be great sources of qualified traffic and leads, hold off on paid campaigns until your online marketing funnel is clearly defined and measured. I have seen too many businesses spend hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars on Adwords campaigns, directories, and other paid campaigns that resulted in a very poor ROI due to improper campaign setup, traffic driven to poorly converting Web pages, and lack of measurement of results.
Once you implement a complete online marketing strategy, you should most certainly invest in pay-per-click (PPC), Facebook, Google Adwords and other forms of paid advertising. But for now, spend your time and money on creating and marketing great content. Once you have a solid foundation in place—a website with specific landing pages, helpful blog and/or video content, and Analytics to track your results—you’ll see much greater results (and spend less money) with paid traffic sources, as you’ll be plugging additional traffic sources into a funnel that’s already working.
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