Tag Archive | "Businesses"

What Profitable Digital Businesses Hope You Won’t Discover

How often do you feel stuck when trying to grow your business? Since we’re creative people, we like to come…

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Businesses can now opt out of Google’s online food ordering

Here’s how restaurants can opt out of “order online.”



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Ask MarketingSherpa: How do small businesses find clients?

When I get together with other contractors (web designers, marketers, branding specialists, etc.) the first question is generally ‘So, how do you find new clients?” The answer is generally ‘referral,’ but that only provides so much to the pipeline.
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SearchCap: EU link tax, Google service area businesses & match types





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What Elephants, Rats, and Apex Predators Can Teach Us about Creating Durable Businesses

There is a tendency in nature for apex species to get larger and larger. But there is a counterbalance where…

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Why Local Businesses Will Need Websites More than Ever in 2019

Posted by MiriamEllis

64% of 1,411 surveyed local business marketers agree that Google is becoming the new “homepage” for local businesses. Via Moz State of Local SEO Industry Report

…but please don’t come away with the wrong storyline from this statistic.

As local brands and their marketers watch Google play Trojan horse, shifting from top benefactor to top competitor by replacing former “free” publicity with paid packs, Local Service Ads, zero-click SERPs, and related structures, it’s no surprise to see forum members asking, “Do I even need a website anymore?”

Our answer to this question is,“Yes, you’ve never needed a website more than you will in 2019.” In this post, we’ll examine:

  • Why it looks like local businesses don’t need websites
  • Statistical proofs of why local businesses need websites now more than ever
  • The current status of local business websites and most-needed improvements

How Google stopped bearing so many gifts

Within recent memory, a Google query with local intent brought up a big pack of ten nearby businesses, with each entry taking the user directly to these brands’ websites for all of their next steps. A modest amount of marketing effort was rewarded with a shower of Google gifts in the form of rankings, traffic, and conversions.

Then these generous SERPs shrank to seven spots, and then three, with the mobile sea change thrown into the bargain and consisting of layers and layers of Google-owned interfaces instead of direct-to-website links. In 2018, when we rustle through the wrapping paper, the presents we find from Google look cheaper, smaller, and less magnificent.

Consider these five key developments:

1) Zero-click mobile SERPs

This slide from a recent presentation by Rand Fishkin encapsulates his findings regarding the growth of no-click SERPs between 2016–2018. Mobile users have experienced a 20% increase in delivery of search engine results that don’t require them to go any deeper than Google’s own interface.

2) The encroachment of paid ads into local packs

When Dr. Peter J. Myers surveyed 11,000 SERPs in 2018, he found that 35% of competitive local packs feature ads.

3) Google becoming a lead gen agency

At last count, Google’s Local Service Ads program via which they interposition themselves as the paid lead gen agent between businesses and consumers has taken over 23 business categories in 77 US cities.

4) Even your branded SERPs don’t belong to you

When a user specifically searches for your brand and your Google Knowledge Panel pops up, you can likely cope with the long-standing “People Also Search For” set of competitors at the bottom of it. But that’s not the same as Google allowing Groupon to advertise at the top of your KP, or putting lead gen from Doordash and GrubHub front and center to nickel and dime you on your own customers’ orders.

5) Google is being called the new “homepage” for local businesses

As highlighted at the beginning of this post, 64% of marketers agree that Google is becoming the new “homepage” for local businesses. This concept, coined by Mike Blumenthal, signifies that a user looking at a Google Knowledge Panel can get basic business info, make a phone call, get directions, book something, ask a question, take a virtual tour, read microblog posts, see hours of operation, thumb through photos, see busy times, read and leave reviews. Without ever having to click through to a brand’s domain, the user may be fully satisfied.

“Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.”
- Epicurus

There are many more examples we could gather, but they can all be summed up in one way: None of Google’s most recent local initiatives are about driving customers to brands’ own websites. Local SERPs have shrunk and have been re-engineered to keep users within Google’s platforms to generate maximum revenue for Google and their partners.

You may be as philosophical as Epicurus about this and say that Google has every right to be as profitable as they can with their own product, even if they don’t really need to siphon more revenue off local businesses. But if Google’s recent trajectory causes your brand or agency to conclude that websites have become obsolete in this heavily controlled environment, please keep reading.

Your website is your bedrock

“65% of 1,411 surveyed marketers observe strong correlation between organic and local rank.” – Via Moz State of Local SEO Industry Report

What this means is that businesses which rank highly organically are very likely to have high associated local pack rankings. In the following screenshot, if you take away the directory-type platforms, you will see how the brand websites ranking on page 1 for “deli athens ga” are also the two businesses that have made it into Google’s local pack:

How often do the top 3 Google local pack results also have a 1st page organic rankings?

In a small study, we looked at 15 head keywords across 7 US cities and towns. This yielded 315 possible entries in Google’s local pack. Of that 315, 235 of the businesses ranking in the local packs also had page 1 organic rankings. That’s a 75% correlation between organic website rankings and local pack presence.

*It’s worth noting that where local and organic results did not correlate, it was sometimes due the presence of spam GMB listings, or to mystery SERPs that did not make sense at first glance — perhaps as a result of Google testing, in some cases.

Additionally, many local businesses are not making it to the first page of Google anymore in some categories because the organic SERPs are inundated with best-of lists and directories. Often, local business websites were pushed down to the second page of the organic results. In other words, if spam, “best-ofs,” and mysteries were removed, the local-organic correlation would likely be much higher than 75%.

Further, one recent study found that even when Google’s Local Service Ads are present, 43.9% of clicks went to the organic SERPs. Obviously, if you can make it to the top of the organic SERPs, this puts you in very good CTR shape from a purely organic standpoint.

Your takeaway from this

The local businesses you market may not be able to stave off the onslaught of Google’s zero-click SERPs, paid SERPs, and lead gen features, but where “free” local 3-packs still exist, your very best bet for being included in them is to have the strongest possible website. Moreover, organic SERPs remain a substantial source of clicks.

Far from it being the case that websites have become obsolete, they are the firmest bedrock for maintaining free local SERP visibility amidst an increasing scarcity of opportunities.

This calls for an industry-wide doubling down on organic metrics that matter most.

Bridging the local-organic gap

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
- Aristotle

A 2017 CNBC survey found that 45% of small businesses have no website, and, while most large enterprises have websites, many local businesses qualify as “small.”

Moreover, a recent audit of 9,392 Google My Business listings found that 27% have no website link.

When asked which one task 1,411 marketers want clients to devote more resources to, it’s no coincidence that 66% listed a website-oriented asset. This includes local content development, on-site optimization, local link building, technical analysis of rankings/traffic/conversions, and website design as shown in the following Moz survey graphic:

In an environment in which websites are table stakes for competitive local pack rankings, virtually all local businesses not only need one, but they need it to be as strong as possible so that it achieves maximum organic rankings.

What makes a website strong?

The Moz Beginner’s Guide to SEO offers incredibly detailed guidelines for creating the best possible website. While we recommend that everyone marketing a local business read through this in-depth guide, we can sum up its contents here by stating that strong websites combine:

  • Technical basics
  • Excellent usability
  • On-site optimization
  • Relevant content publication
  • Publicity

For our present purpose, let’s take a special look at those last three elements.

On-site optimization and relevant content publication

There was a time when on-site SEO and content development were treated almost independently of one another. And while local businesses will need a make a little extra effort to put their basic contact information in prominent places on their websites (such as the footer and Contact Us page), publication and optimization should be viewed as a single topic. A modern strategy takes all of the following into account:

  • Keyword and real-world research tell a local business what consumers want
  • These consumer desires are then reflected in what the business publishes on its website, including its homepage, location landing pages, about page, blog and other components
  • Full reflection of consumer desires includes ensuring that human language (discovered via keyword and real-world research) is implemented in all elements of each page, including its tags, headings, descriptions, text, and in some cases, markup

What we’re describing here isn’t a set of disconnected efforts. It’s a single effort that’s integral to researching, writing, and publishing the website. Far from stuffing keywords into a tag or a page’s content, focus has shifted to building topical authority in the eyes of search engines like Google by building an authoritative resource for a particular consumer demographic. The more closely a business is able to reflect customers’ needs (including the language of their needs), in every possible component of its website, the more relevant it becomes.

A hypothetical example of this would be a large medical clinic in Dallas. Last year, their phone staff was inundated with basic questions about flu shots, like where and when to get them, what they cost, would they cause side effects, what about side effects on people with pre-existing health conditions, etc. This year, the medical center’s marketing team took a look at Moz Keyword Explorer and saw that there’s an enormous volume of questions surrounding flu shots:

This tiny segment of the findings of the free keyword research tool, Answer the Public, further illustrates how many questions people have about flu shots:

The medical clinic need not compete nationally for these topics, but at a local level, a page on the website can answer nearly every question a nearby patient could have about this subject. The page, created properly, will reflect human language in its tags, headings, descriptions, text, and markup. It will tell all patients where to come and when to come for this procedure. It has the potential to cut down on time-consuming phone calls.

And, finally, it will build topical authority in the eyes of Google to strengthen the clinic’s chances of ranking well organically… which can then translate to improved local rankings.

It’s important to note that keyword research tools typically do not reflect location very accurately, so research is typically done at a national level, and then adjusted to reflect regional or local language differences and geographic terms, after the fact. In other words, a keyword tool may not accurately reflect exactly how many local consumers in Dallas are asking “Where do I get a flu shot?”, but keyword and real-world research signals that this type of question is definitely being asked. The local business website can reflect this question while also adding in the necessary geographic terms.

Local link building must be brought to the fore of publicity efforts

Moz’s industry survey found that more than one-third of respondents had no local link building strategy in place. Meanwhile, link building was listed as one of the top three tasks to which marketers want their clients to devote more resources. There’s clearly a disconnect going on here. Given the fundamental role links play in building Domain Authority, organic rankings, and subsequent local rankings, building strong websites means bridging this gap.

First, it might help to examine old prejudices that could cause local business marketers and their clients to feel dubious about link building. These most likely stem from link spam which has gotten so out of hand in the general world of SEO that Google has had to penalize it and filter it to the best of their ability.

Not long ago, many digital-only businesses were having a heyday with paid links, link farms, reciprocal links, abusive link anchor text and the like. An online company might accrue thousands of links from completely irrelevant sources, all in hopes of escalating rank. Clearly, these practices aren’t ones an ethical business can feel good about investing in, but they do serve as an interesting object lesson, especially when a local marketer can point out to a client, that best local links are typically going to result from real-world relationship-building.

Local businesses are truly special because they serve a distinct, physical community made up of their own neighbors. The more involved a local business is in its own community, the more naturally link opportunities arise from things like local:

  • Sponsorships
  • Event participation and hosting
  • Online news
  • Blogs
  • Business associations
  • B2B cross-promotions

There are so many ways a local business can build genuine topical and domain authority in a given community by dint of the relationships it develops with neighbors.

An excellent way to get started on this effort is to look at high-ranking local businesses in the same or similar business categories to discover what work they’ve put in to achieve a supportive backlink profile. Moz Link Intersect is an extremely actionable resource for this, enabling a business to input its top competitors to find who is linking to them.

In the following example, a small B&B in Albuquerque looks up two luxurious Tribal resorts in its city:

Link Intersect then lists out a blueprint of opportunities, showing which links one or both competitors have earned. Drilling down, the B&B finds that Marriott.com is linking to both Tribal resorts on an Albuquerque things-to-do page:

The small B&B can then try to earn a spot on that same page, because it hosts lavish tea parties as a thing-to-do. Outreach could depend on the B&B owner knowing someone who works at the local Marriott personally. It could include meeting with them in person, or on the phone, or even via email. If this outreach succeeds, an excellent, relevant link will have been earned to boost organic rank, underpinning local rank.

Then, repeat the process. Aristotle might well have been speaking of link building when he said we are what we repeatedly do and that excellence is a habit. Good marketers can teach customers to have excellent habits in recognizing a good link opportunity when they see it.

Taken altogether

Without a website, a local business lacks the brand-controlled publishing and link-earning platform that so strongly influences organic rankings. In the absence of this, the chances of ranking well in competitive local packs will be significantly less. Taken altogether, the case is clear for local businesses investing substantially in their websites.

Acting now is actually a strategy for the future

“There is nothing permanent except change.”
- Heraclitus

You’ve now determined that strong websites are fundamental to local rankings in competitive markets. You’ve absorbed numerous reasons to encourage local businesses you market to prioritize care of their domains. But there’s one more thing you’ll need to be able to convey, and that’s a sense of urgency.

Right now, every single customer you can still earn from a free local pack listing is immensely valuable for the future.

This isn’t a customer you’ve had to pay Google for, as you very well might six months, a year, or five years from now. Yes, you’ve had to invest plenty in developing the strong website that contributed to the high local ranking, but you haven’t paid a penny directly to Google for this particular lead. Soon, you may be having to fork over commissions to Google for a large portion of your new customers, so acting now is like insurance against future spend.

For this to work out properly, local businesses must take the leads Google is sending them right now for free, and convert them into long-term, loyal customers, with an ultimate value of multiple future transactions without Google as a the middle man. And if these freely won customers can be inspired to act as word-of-mouth advocates for your brand, you will have done something substantial to develop a stream of non-Google-dependent revenue.

This offer may well expire as time goes by. When it comes to the capricious local SERPs, marketers resemble the Greek philosophers who knew that change is the only constant. The Trojan horse has rolled into every US city, and it’s a gift with a questionable shelf life. We can’t predict if or when free packs might become obsolete, but we share your concerns about the way the wind is blowing.

What we can see clearly right now is that websites will be anything but obsolete in 2019. Rather, they are the building blocks of local rankings, precious free leads, and loyal revenue, regardless of how SERPs may alter in future.

For more insights into where local businesses should focus in 2019, be sure to explore the Moz State of Local SEO industry report:

Read the State of Local SEO industry report

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Organic traffic & link building for small businesses

Link building is often one of the most challenging digital marketing tasks for small businesses. In this helpful how-to, columnist Marcus Miller explores how link building works today and what small businesses can do to get started.

The post Organic traffic & link building for small businesses…



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Sour to Sweet: An Advisor Who Transforms Businesses

hero's journey - helping businesses evolve

Every business has moments when it’s on shaky ground.

Sometimes the business is in the middle of a major growth phase. It’s traveling over rocky ground as it transforms from what it was to what it’ll become.

Sometimes it’s simply struggling to put its best face forward on the web.

And sometimes the business lacks the technology or processes needed to get to the next level of growth.

Raúl Colón helps with all of the above.

His story is this month’s Hero’s Journey feature. We’re tapping the collective wisdom of our community members to bring you reports from the front lines of the content marketing world. See all of the Hero’s Journey posts here.

Read on as Raúl tells his story.

How Raúl turns lemons into lemonade

Raúl Colón: Right now, my business works with clients — either management departments of companies or business owners — to recommend new technologies for their businesses.

To accomplish this, I research and take snapshots of their processes.

Once I understand their current state of business, I start mapping out how they can best align their people and processes to help them serve their customers in an efficient and effective manner.

And my business, Limonade, designs and builds websites on WordPress. We create content for clients and consult on how to make their tools work. We also serve as a strategic partner for larger agencies who might need our resources.

Strength in diversity

Raúl Colón: Our strength is that we offer a diverse group of folks from all walks of life.

For example, I studied accounting and worked as an IT Security Consultant for one of the big four accounting firms. I’ve been a business and technology consultant for around 15 years.

We look at what we call our “ingredients from past experiences” to create a unique recipe for each client’s situation.

Because of our diverse backgrounds, we can look at a process from different perspectives and identify where it’s failing. For instance, many businesses think that a website or web application will fix all of their problems.

We step back and look at the existing business environment and make recommendations that work with what they already have. Instead of reinventing the wheel or duplicating tools, we look into making the business and its existing processes stronger.

We do a lot of coaching with our local clients in Puerto Rico. Some clients want us to travel to their locations. And we have virtual clients we’ve never met in person.

Evolving from the “bad news guy” to the “solutions guy”

Raúl Colón: My business started when I wanted to go on my own as an IT Security Consultant.

At first, it was difficult to get work in IT Security. Most companies that could hire me as a Senior Security Consultant wanted a big firm name signing off on their audits and assessments.

As an IT Auditor and IT Security Consultant, I was not welcomed in most places. People saw me as the person coming to evaluate what they did wrong.

If I found something wrong as an IT Security Consultant, it could impact the employment of those who did not do their jobs. For that reason, some people even saw me as a threat to their employment.

In between projects, I dusted off my website-building skills and decided to build a job board. This was 2008 when the recession was affecting everyone, and in Puerto Rico there were massive layoffs in every industry — even the government.

The job board brought in a lot of traffic with no marketing budget.

When I initially wanted to create the job board, I looked to hire someone else to build it for me. But I ran into many folks who were offering poor web development and design services.

So, I used my project management skills to build a team that could help with design and development.

Over time, we built a few websites and started consulting on web development and online business strategy.

It was a different type of experience; I would walk into a business and knew that I was there to help make their business processes stronger.

I enjoy it when people see me as someone who is there to help — not threaten their jobs.

A step back to move forward

Raúl Colón: We focus a lot on making sure that our clients’ processes are up to date and working.

But our biggest challenge is making sure we have our own processes in place. It happens to all businesses — occasionally, we get a bit lazy with the administrative stuff.

Recently, we took a few weeks to look at all of our internal processes and prioritize them.

We wanted to make sure our clients get the best experience from what we offer. Anything that improves the client experience is a priority.

Our second priority is business development and continuing to search for new opportunities.

We identified two tools — one for project management that is made for small teams, and the other one for our sales process that is easy to work with.

Both tools help us keep tabs on what we feel is important.

Keeping content flowing for a variety of clients

Raúl Colón: We enjoy helping our clients complete certain tasks they would not complete otherwise.

For example, many small businesses want to have a blog and email newsletter, but time constraints make it difficult for them to create, edit, and publish.

We step in and help clients with these steps.

  • On some occasions, we create, they edit, and we publish.
  • Other times, they create, we edit, and then we publish.

On every occasion, a lot of knowledge transfer happens and clients really enjoy being part of the process and learning how their systems work.

Keeping the content updated on their blogs, newsletters, websites, and social platforms means more business for our clients, and that has won us their loyalty.

The Rainmaker Digital products Raúl uses

Raúl Colón: My business operates smoothly thanks to the Genesis Framework.

I moved from Drupal to WordPress in 2011.

Genesis made it easy but also helped me understand WordPress development to the point that we now create our own themes using the Genesis Framework.

In the past, we used Scribe for help with content SEO. I have also bought other products, such as Premise, which saved me and my clients a lot of time. These product features are now consolidated on the Rainmaker Platform.

Raúl’s plans for expansion

Raúl Colón: My goal is to keep expanding my business outside of the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

I want my main role to go from developing websites to helping others understand how websites work.

Find Raúl Colón online …

Thanks to Raúl for appearing in our Hero’s Journey series.

Do you have questions for him? Ask them in the comments.

We’ll be back next month with another story to teach, inspire, and encourage you along your journey.

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Online Marketing News: Facebook Feed Buzzes Businesses, Promoted Pins Get Powerful, Twitter Shows Search

Influencer Marketing Golden Ticket

Is Influencer Marketing the Next Golden Ticket? [INFOGRAPHIC] – Influencer marketing is growing like crazy. Will it become the next golden ticket? Check out this infographic to find out. The Shelf

Google Webmaster Tools Rebrands To Google Search Console – Google aims to get more users on Google Webmaster Tools by renaming it to Google Search Console. Search Engine Land

Twitter’s Objective-Based Ads Are Now Available To All Advertisers – Company officially launches beta program that it says has helped improve efficiency and cut costs for advertisers who pay only for certain types of engagement, like website clicks, conversions, lead generation or video views. Marketing Land

Tweets Now Appear In Google Search – Twitter and Google announced that tweets now appear in mobile searches. They will make their way to desktop searches in the future. Find out more about how they’ll be appearing. Twitter

Google to Add ‘Buy’ Button to Search Results Within Next Few Weeks – Within the next few weeks Google will be rolling out a “buy” button that will allow people to purchase certain items directly from its search results pages. Search Engine Journal

YouTube Adds Click-to-Shop Button to TrueView Ads – YouTube is tweaking its commercials to be more like interactive infomercials. Ad Age

Google Launches Shopping Ads For YouTube, Integration With Merchant Center – Thursday, YouTube announced a version of product listing ads are coming to retailers’ video ads with TrueView for Shopping. Search Engine Land

Google Upgrades AdWords Editor to Support Labels – Google has made a worldwide update of AdWords Editor that will offer labels, support for upgraded URLs, call-only ads, in-app mobile ads, and custom affinity audiences. Search Engine Watch

Pinterest to Enhance Promoted Pin Ad Capabilities – The visual discovery platform is going to add a slew of new features to promoted pins, including app promotion. How can marketers benefit from these updates? Pinterest is going to make promoted pins more appealing to advertisers by adding a new suite of ad solutions. ClickZ

Google Says Its Google Preferred Viewers 29% More Likely To Visit Brand Sites After Watching YouTube – According to a study conducted by Google this year, nearly one in ten of its Google Preferred desktop viewers do not watch traditional TV. Marketing Land

The Google-Twitter Deal Goes Live, Giving Tweets Prominent Placement In Google’s Results – Tweets now appear for trending topics in a new carousel format. Twitter doesn’t earn directly off display but will gain new traffic. Search Engine Land

Facebook Now Lets People Call Businesses From News Feed Ads – The social network adds “Call Now” button, enhancing the local awareness ad program for local businesses. Marketing Land

 

 

From our Online Marketing Community:

In response to Content Marketing: 6 Steps for Building a Massive AudienceJason Quey said, “Great insight Evan, just buffered this! I believe many should focus on the right strategy to a good content foundation.”

On Stand Out or Don’t Bother: Sally Hogshead on Harnessing Your Fascination Advantage, Sebastian Mealer shared, “I love the advice and framework. I took the test and arrived at the two advantages I expected. What I think is great about this is communicating and displaying your strengths, and remembering to focus on them in messages as well as time. Very helpful in distilling unique strengths and value into a concise statement.”

And Daniel Dessinger commented, “Some great tips here. I missed this session at the conference. Thanks so much for sharing with us. I definitely think #4 is our greatest opportunity. It’s easy to focus on competitors and peers and to make sure one is doing what they do. It’s not a creative stance, but it’s more of a CYA approach. Realizing that the REAL success lies in differentiation is a GREAT way to break out of the mold and begin paving a better path for one’s business.”

Then in response to Dr. Evil’s Guide to Landing Page Design and Optimization, Monica Michaela said, “Hi! I totally agree that “confusion is the enemy of action”. Being very clear helps you build trust between your company and your potential customer.
I also believe that having security badges or/and money-back guarantees on your landing page definitely increases the numbers of conversions because everybody wants to feel safe and trust the company they are buying from. Who wouldn’t? =)”

What were the top online and digital marketing news stories for you this week?

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Infographic: The Shelf


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11 Ways for Local Businesses to Get Links

Posted by Casey_Meraz

Let’s face it: Local link building is hard. Even if you have the budget and resources needed to earn or build links it will take time. Having a strong link profile is essential to your website’s success in search engines. 

If you’re new to link building and want to develop a more in-depth understanding, check out this great resource from MOZ on link building
here

In this guide we will look at
11 practical ways you can start earning links for your local business, which will make an impact on your bottom line today. 

Who should care about local link building?

When I talk about local link building I don’t mean that these links are for local businesses exclusively. If you’re trying to boost the authority of your website, one good way is to get links from locally relevant sources.
This guide is for all types of businesses who want to increase their site’s link authority. 

Since local business types vary from fast food restaurants, to ski rental shops, to law firms, and everything in-between, the tactics below are applicable across the spectrum.  

About these links

Some of these links are harder to get than others. While it’s easy to start with the low hanging fruit, you should put a plan together to go after the harder ones. These are the links your competitors won’t get because they’re just too darn lazy. This is how real businesses set themselves apart in the customer’s eyes and the search engine’s eyes and build a brand that’s worth remembering. Aim for quality over quantity and don’t settle for crummy links.

How do you define a good link?

I recently read an article by Eric Enge from 
Stonetemple that summed up what type of links you should be looking for pretty nicely. In this article he mentioned three key points to help define the type of links you’re looking for. They were:


  1. Links that will drive direct referral traffic
  2. Links that build visibility with your target audience for your brand
  3. Links that build your reputation

The link building methods I’ll be covering today will achieve at least one of the goals each. I always think it’s important to “think outside of the link” and the above three points make that practical. In addition to getting the link for an SEO benefit, will it actually drive relevant traffic? If so, that’s a great link to chase. The same goes for links built that place you in front of your target audience and links that build your reputation. 

Keeping this in mind, lets build some links!


#1 Create controversy and get in the news

Creating a controversial story may seem hard at first glance, but it reminds me of this quote from Peter Marshall
“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.” If your clients don’t have any controversy or a cause to believe in, then they aren’t real people.

You can’t agree with 100% of the people 100% of the time and you just have to find out what that is. Some companies like Spirit Airlines seem to do this quite often, but the little guys can do this too with minimal investment.

Using this method you can get links from places like:

The Wall Street Journal, The Denver Post and other local newspapers, Lexis Nexis

Actual case study

We were recently working with an attorney who was looking to earn links at a decent scale. We proposed a scholarship contest. While scholarship links from .edus are cool, we like
The Wall Street Journal and high authority news site links even more. After speaking with this client, who is a DUI attorney, we discussed how everybody talks about how destructive driving drunk is, but rarely do people admit to the habit.

From this idea, we came up with the concept of
Scholarship for Colorado students who admit to drinking and driving.

After the scholarship information was published on the site, we reached out to our local newspaper,
The Denver Post, and informed them of the scholarship. From here, they went on to interview our client and write an article on the topic titled “Scholarship for Colorado students who admit to drinking and driving” that links to the scholarship page. 

Once the
Denver Post article was published, it was easy to get other major publications to cover the story, including The Wall Street Journal:

 

How you can do this


Step 1:
Develop an idea that strikes a chord with people. Think about issues that are universally familiar and tend to be polarizing in some way.


Step 2:
Develop the on-page asset needed to support it. In this case we opted for the scholarship.


Step 3:
Once the asset is created, pitch it to a local newspaper.


Step 4:
If the story is picked up by a newspaper you can then pitch it to other major publications like The Wall Street Journal. Many websites have contact forms and areas to submit a tip. Something simple like “Hey I thought you guys might find this funny” with a link to the news publication article will do the trick since it adds credibility. 


Step 5:
Share it on social media with groups that might be interested in the topic.


Step 6:
Consider paying for some exposure on Outbrain to widen the audience. 

PRO tip: Don’t skimp on the content, graphics, or any step in this process. This will be fruitful if done right but will fall flat on your face if you try to take shortcuts. 


#2 Easily get contest nomination links

Almost every city whether big or small has some type of local business awards. The awards might be run by a small local newspaper with a website, the chamber of commerce, or even another organization. In addition to these
“Best Of” type awards, there are also awards based on age like Top 40 Under 40 or by type of business including Best Restaurant or Best Law Firm.

The trick is to find the opportunities that are a good fit for your business and get listed. Sometimes you have to win to get mentioned and other times you just need to get nominated.  

Get links from places like:

Chamber of commerce, news publications, and major publications if you’re good enough :)

Getting a link from the Chamber of Commerce like the example above is very relevant as it only serves businesses within that city. It’s also a plus for informed local shoppers. 

How you can do it

The best way to find these potentially lucrative links is to do a Google Search. You need to start by coming up with a list of potential sources. Since these are generally city or state specific, it’s a good idea to use one of these search strings:

Here are some ideas to get the wheels turning in your brain:

  • “Nominate a business”+”STATE NAME” (Example: “Nominate a business”+”Colorado”)
  • “City Name”+”Nominate a business” (Example: “Los Angeles”+”Nominate a business”)
  • “best of STATE or CITY”+”nominate” (Example: ”best of Colorado”+”nominate”)
  • “best BUSINESS TYPE”+”nominate”+”city” (Example: ”best restaurant”+”nominate”+”denver”)
  • “AGE under AGE”+”GEO MODIFIER” (Example: “30 under 30″+”Denver”)
  • “nominate”+”young entrepreneur” (Example: “nominate”+”young entrepreneur)

Once you have curated a list of awards you want to try to apply for you can then send your pitch to each of these websites directly. Typically they have nomination forms that you would fill out or a certain procedure. If you can’t find out how, don’t be afraid to ask!


#3 Get eco-friendly links

Is your business green? Does it operate according to low energy standards or are you at least on track to be green? Why not help out the environment and get a link out of it as well? Now while you probably won’t show up on
Newsweek‘s America’s Greenest Companies 2014 for doing this, there are a lot of offline benefits to being green as well. I already mentioned saving the environment, but did you realize there are eco-friendly shoppers? Some shoppers do the majority of their business with companies that are eco-friendly and I suspect this will just continue to soar.

Get links from places like:

Mostly business directories and local news organizations who promote green businesses. 
 

How you can do it

With this industry there are some low hanging fruits, but just like all link building, you should be smart about your approach. While it might be tempting to go out and get a link on a directory, I would personally spend time scrutinizing it to make sure it’s a strong website that’s human-edited and controlled. If you don’t find it reputable, nobody else will (including Google). That’s why it’s best to focus on local opportunities such as your local newspaper or community directory.

Make sure to familiarize yourself with the Green Terminology 
here. Once you have a good idea of what you’re looking for, you can conduct some easy searches such as the ones below to find directories. Again, please be sure to scrutinize them.


Search for directories by using search phrases like:

  • Eco-friendly business directory
  • Green business directories


#4 Sponsor a meetup group

An example of a meetup group sponsorship link

While of course we’re talking about links here, I always like to see the other side of a link and the actual benefit it will give you. Did you know you can sponsor meetup groups and get a link as well as get in front of your potential customers?

Meetup.com is a powerhouse website that connects like minded groups of people together through events they call meetups. If you have a good grasp of your target audience and you know where they hang out, you can get in front of them more easily.

For example, let’s say that you’re a bike store. Would it make sense to sponsor a local meetup biking club? Yes! 

How you can do it

Sponsoring a meetup group does require the group owner to accept your sponsorship and terms. Your goal however is to get your business name, logo, discount, and link in the ad as shown in the example. If you’re ambitious and a local store you could ask to have your NAP displayed as well for Local SEO purposes. 

 

Step 1: Start by determining what type of groups might appeal to your audience. I have included some tricky examples below:

  • Attorneys - Maybe sponsoring a cycling- or driving-based meetup with the safety approach
  • Doctors – Sponsor a healthy living meetup
  • Airsoft or Paintball Store – Sponsor a singles group by offering an event
  • Construction – Sponsor a charity group or a new homeowners’ group

That’s enough to get the wheels turning. Write these ideas down and proceed to the next step. 

Step 2: Turn to Google to make your search easier! Use the search strings below to only search the meetup.com website with the keywords you’re looking for:

site:meetup.com state+keyword  or  site:meetup.com city+keyword

Step 3: Click through the results and find a meetup group that seems to fit the bill. 

Step 4: Show up to the next scheduled local meetup group. Network. Meet the group owner and see if they’re seeking sponsorship’s. 

Step 5: Negotiate and get your site up! 


#5 Host a community event

If you want to do event link building check out my
local event link building post here or Kane Jamison’s event link post here. While those posts go more into how you can really promote an event and build some awesome local links, I want to talk specifically about how you can get listed on your city’s website by hosting a community event. The thing I like most about events is that you get to give back to your community and help people. Not even a link feels as good as that. 

The only real requirements for this one is that you host an event where the entire community is invited and get a blessing from the town. In the example below you can see how a church in my town of Parker, Colorado was able to get a link by hosting an Easter Egg Hunt.

So not only are they getting exposure from people in their town (their target audience), they’re getting the link and mentions here too. If the event was hosted at your office or business location, then you can get the added superior benefit of your NAP listed on their website!

If it’s a county-wide event, you can get listed on the county website and if the event is public safety you might be able to get the Fire Department and Police Departments on board as well. Plus this can come with the added benefit of news coverage. 

Get links from places like:

Your city’s website and major community news sources

How you can do it

The first thing you need to do is figure out what type of event you want to host. Depending on the size of your town and the size of the event, it can be a big deal. I’m a bit of a event fanatic so for me it comes easy. Don’t be afraid to start small though as long as you’re creating and providing a productive resource for your community. 

Some potential ideas include: 

  • Trash Pickup Day – Host a trash pickup day where the meeting place is your business or you sponsor the bags.
  • Toy Drop off for Needy Kids - Host a toy drive or drop off for kids in need.
  • Seminar – Host a seminar in your area of expertise that will be the most beneficial to residents. If you like this idea then also try starting a meetup group (see #4 above). 

Step 1: Figure out the event type.

Step 2: Get the town on board with the idea and schedule a date at least 60 days out. 

Step 3: Create the details page on your website with all pertinent event details. 

Step 4: Make sure it goes up on the town’s website with your company event page linked.

Step 5: Promote the heck out of it using the event promotion guide here

Pro tip 1: Invite local press to your event to cover it. Be sure to meet and greet them and get to know them. More on this later.

Pro tip 2: Invite the local Boy Scouts or other community organizations as well. If their name is attached to the event, you might get more exposure and more link opportunities. 


#6 Sponsor or donate to a local club or organization

Sponsorship links can be a slippery slope, but there’s also a place for them. Over the years I have given back to a number of causes I support and have been an active member in charities and nonprofit organizations. Chances are you or someone you know is a part of one right now. 

There are a lot of clubs in almost any community. Have you ever heard of the Rotary Club, Kiwanis, Lions Club, etc. These are commonly found in many communities and they typically have state, district, or chapter websites. 

Below is a quick example I pulled from the Los Angeles Rotary Club sponsors webpage:

But don’t stop there. While the major clubs are popular, there are also a lot of other potential sponsorship causes and organizations. This is commonly touched on so I’m not going to go into too much detail, but here are some easy search stings you can use to find some opportunities. 

  • “city inurl:sponsors” (Example: Los Angeles inurl:sponsors)
  • “city inurl:sponsor” (Example: Los Angeles inurl:sponsor)
  • “city intitle:sponsors” (Example: Los Angeles intitle:sponsors)
  • keyword donations
    (Example: Safety donations)

After you have explored these opportunities simply reach out to the organizers and see what type of commitment they’re looking for. 

Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to promote your sponsorship. If you’re giving to a good cause, let the community know! 


#7 Student, teacher, and alumni discounts 

If you’ve done link building research you may have heard of the university discount link building where you can offer a discount to the students and faculty of a university. That has a place and it might be a good place for local links if you have a university nearby. But did you realize there are other student discount opportunities as well?

Typically when I look for opportunities locally I open my eyes a little wider and look for other opportunities like:

  1. K-12 Schools. These can be goldmines and aren’t really talked about much.
  2. Organization discounts. Organizations have students too. Take the Colorado Symphony for example. 
  3. Alumni discounts. Sometimes these organizations also offer alumni listings for free. 

Get links from places like:

Organizations, schools, K-12 schools, educational websites

How you can do it

This is another scenario where we will turn to Google and seek opportunities:

  • site:.org “student discounts” -  Looks for organizations that offer student discounts
  • site:.org “high school”+”student Discount” – Checks for offers available to high school students
  • site:.edu “staff discounts” – Searches .edu domains for staff discounts (colleges and universities) 
  • site:.edu “student discounts” - Searches .edu domains for student discounts (colleges and universities)

Pro tip: Don’t be afraid to add geo modifiers. Remember that anything in “” will search exactly so plurals should be searched separately. 


#8 Create and promote a local resource

So you want to send good local link signals and showcase you’re the expert of a local area? What better way than to create a community resource page on your website? Not only will it attract potential links with the proper marketing, it’s also going to show that you’re the expert in your area. 

The good thing about creating a local resource is that you or the local operator running that location probably already has a good idea about the city in general. Even if they’re not the most familiar with the area, some research can solve that.

Get links from places like:

Hotels, travel websites, news organizations

How you can do it

Start by coming up with a list of ideas. Locally-based ideas can vary greatly. Here are a few to helps the mice turn the wheel:

  • Best of Local Guides – Best restaurants in the city or county, top bars, top microbreweries (I like beer, OK), top city attractions, top things for singles, top things for families, a perfect day trip for families, etc. 
  • Local Calendar Creation – Create a local calendar of popular events by topic. High school football calendars, movie premiere dates, HOA meetings, and more. 

Once you have the idea, you can move onto the creation of the asset. Notice my use of the word asset. If I’m going to spend the time to create this piece, I want to make sure it’s a linkable asset. That means that it should be substantial and also look great. If the content is weak, you’re going to get a weak appeal. 

Once you have built your guide, the real key is promoting it and getting the exposure you need. Make sure to share it with relevant audiences such as Facebook and Google Plus groups. If there are town groups such as “You know you grew up in CITY, when…” those might be a good place to promote your resource. 

Figure out where your community members hang out and post it there. Sometimes even city or town run pages will be willing to post or promote your piece. This is just another reason why you need to create a quality piece of content and not just do the bare minimum. 


#9 Get manufacturer and wholesaler links

This is an easy one that is often overlooked by small businesses. If you operate a retail business or sell a product that somebody else manufactures, then you have a link opportunity. Many product manufacturers want to show their customers where to buy their products. This might be a store locator or it could just be an authorized reseller list. Either way you need to take advantage of it. This is an opportunity that even local businesses can take advantage of quickly. 

One of the reasons we have extensive client intake forms is to address this issue. A lot of times clients will say that they’re listed without actually knowing. It’s best to find out for yourself by getting a complete list of all manufacturers they represent. If they have a website you can get a link. 

Get links from places like:

Larger manufacturing companies

How you can do it

Even small stores might represent products from 100+ different manufacturers. Even if they don’t buy manufacturer direct they can still get a link from the manufacturer just by asking. 

Step 1: Create a list of all of the brands the client carries and whether they buy direct or from a wholesaler.

Step 2: Visit each manufacturer and distributor website. Find out if they have a store locator or somewhere where they list where you can buy their products.

Step 3: Reach out to those that do from a company email address including all pertinent information (include NAP!) and the link to your website or store location.

Step 4: For those who don’t list this information, outreach to them and ask them if they are willing to set it up. After all it will only help you both sell more products. 

Pro tip: Some websites will only display your Name, Address, Phone Number. But if they don’t link to you don’t be afraid to ask. A lot of times they can make the change and add your link. 


#10 Build relationships with local influencers

If you want to earn links that will really set you apart from the rest of the herd, you need to start thinking about 
building actual relationships with influencers. Finding influencers and getting connected can be hard; you have to be real while doing it. These people can range from your local competition, to politicians, to journalists. Finding and connecting with them requires some work, but it’s worth the payoff. 

Get links from places like:

Niche publications, your competition’s website, local news media, government websites

How you can do it

The reality is, while some of this research and networking can be done online, at some point, you’re going to have to get out of your office and interact with real humans!

For our example, let’s look at how we might go about forming a relationship with a member of the local media. First off you will want to find a list of press associations in your area. This might be city based or state based. The easiest way to look for these is just to search for them in Google by typing in your state name + press association or press organization.

Once you have the list of the organization(s) you want to work with, check out their membership fees but more importantly their events and conferences. These are the real goldmines. Many of these organizations have an annual conference or event that you can attend. This is where you can usually expect to meet the people with the most connections. It’s important to speak with them in person, exchange contact information, and express your willingness to contribute. If you have an intriguing idea for a specific writer, for example, someone who always writes about tech news, you may be able to pitch a problem you see in your industry that exposes consumers. Your job is to figure out what interests them and offer to help in any way. 


#11 Leverage business relationships

In many cases small businesses may already have complementary businesses that might be willing to give a link to your website. In fact, it might make sense from a referral standpoint too. If you use or refer your business to another type of business this is a great opportunity. 

Get links from places like:

Other business websites 

How you can do this

Getting these opportunities are as easy as curating the list and doing the outreach. Here are some examples for different business types:

  • Attorneys can get links from: Process servers, investigators, and other services they refer business to
  • Mortgage Brokers can link to recommended realtors and vice-versa
  • Doctors can get links from schools (emergency clinic references), insurance companies, and other doctors.

Another way to go about this is to approach like-minded companies that offer services you don’t and you don’t plan on offering. For example if you’re a greeting card store you might be able to get links from gift stores.


Conclusion

Although good link building takes time, thought, and a good amount of effort, it’s easy enough that anyone can do it. With so many different options and ways you can earn links, this is just a small sample that you can use to start gaining new ones today.

Please feel free to share your favorite link building tips. The more the better!

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