In a recent BrightLocal survey, a mix of small-business owners and search agencies answered small-business marketing questions. When asked which online marketing channel was the best for small business, the overwhelming majority chose search engine referrals.
Getting found on Google, Bing, and Yahoo Local makes a big difference for small companies. Here’s why:
- High-quality leads. When people type queries into a search engine field, they’re trying to solve a problem. They don’t just see your company name; they see you as the solution to the problem.
- Significant ROI. Agencies and small-business owners earned more revenue as a result of investing time, effort, and money in SEO than they earned from other types of digital marketing.
- More Web traffic. At least 40 percent of a small company’s website traffic comes from customers clicking links on search results pages. Google AdWords, direct traffic, and social network referrals doesn’t even come close.
Improving Search Rankings Performance
Link building, or increasing the number of inbound links to your website, can provide a significant boost to your local search rankings. Inbound links to your website tell search engines someone liked your content or your company enough to link to it. When those links come from well-respected sites, they’re considered more authoritative, and they improve your search ranking factors even more.
Acquiring inbound links requires time and effort, and busy entrepreneurs wear many hats as it is. You probably assume you lack the time and resources for link building. In truth, you can start building high-quality inbound links without a lot of time and SEO know-how. Just mix a little link building with what you’re already doing to promote your business or hire a knowledgeable SEO agency to boost your search engine presence for you.
Start With Your NAP
An incredibly easy way to help search engines identify your business is to develop a uniform presentation for your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). On your website, on any off-page business listing, and on any social network account, your NAP should look exactly the same.
Once you’ve developed a format for your NAP, correct your NAP on all of your website pages so it looks exactly the same. Check your “Contact Us” page, your homepage, and any widgets appearing on every page to update all instances of your business NAP. Then, start adding it to sites you already use or to easy-to-join directories. Here are a few suggestions:
Social Network Profiles
Estimated time: One hour
- Update your NAP. Visit your profile pages for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and other social networks. Add the same NAP to every profile, and add a link back to your website.
- Create custom URLs. On Facebook, visit http://www.facebook.com/username. Select your Page, and choose a URL matching either your company name or your domain name. On LinkedIn, go to the Edit Profile screen. Click Edit next to the existing profile link, and update it to match your other social networks.
- Add images. Upload attractive cover images and profile photos for each network.
Claim Listings on Review Sites and Search Engine Directories
Estimated time: One hour
Visit Google My Business, Bing Places for Business, and Yahoo Local to either add or claim your business listing for each of the major search engines. Also, visit website review sites relevant to your business, like Yelp or TripAdvisor, and either claim or add your listing. Make sure you use the same NAP for every listing, and when each site sends an email asking you to verify your listing, respond quickly.
Update Your Professional Organization Profiles
Estimated time: 15 minutes
If you’re a member of any professional organizations, add or update your online member listing to include your NAP and business URL.
Update Your Alumni Directory
Estimated time: 20 minutes
Contact your university alumni association and add your business contact information, including your updated NAP and Web address, to the association’s online alumni directory.
Take Advantage of Community Organization Directories
Estimated time: 20 minutes
If you’re a member of the Lion’s Club, Rotary Club, Optimist Octagon International, or the like, add your business Web address and NAP to the online member directory.
Join Local Small-Business Associations and Chambers of Commerce
Estimated time: 15 minutes to one hour
Become a member of local small-business associations and your local Chamber of Commerce. Ask to be listed in their online directories.
Build Awareness and Links Simultaneously
In addition to adding your NAP and links to important referring pages, make link building part of promoting your company in the community. See if one of these options might work for you:
Ask Followers to Share Your Content
Estimated time: Five minutes
Instead of just posting blog post URLs in email newsletters or on social networks, ask your followers to share your content by creating high-quality seed content. Your links could end up within their social network feeds, on their blog sites, or in other unexpected yet beneficial places.
Participate in Community Events
Estimated time: Five minutes to write a check; a few hours to a few days for full participation
Difficulty: Easy to medium
Sponsor a local charity event, donate to a youth program, or rent a booth at a local festival. Ask to include your NAP and URL on promotional Web pages, social media posts, email messages, and print materials.
Do a Local Newspaper, Radio, Television, or Podcast Interview
Estimated time: 15 minutes to two hours
Seek out opportunities for print, audio, and video interviews. On the page where customers can access the interview, ask for a link back to your site, and include your NAP when possible.
Present at a Local Meeting or Conference
Estimated time: Two hours to prepare, one hour to present
Prepare a presentation related to your business or area of expertise, and share your presentation at a local organization. Ask to include your business URL and NAP on the organization’s website, Facebook Events page, marketing emails, and more.
Some Link Building Isn’t Hard, So Commit to Taking Action Today.
Getting started with link building doesn’t have to be hard, and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Implement these quick link-building tips to improve your inbound link profile, boost your search rankings, and get more traffic to your website.