Local Search – Get Real!
Todays’ guest-post is from Jon Quinton of Go Search Marketing…
Getting decent citations and links from local websites should be a fundamental part of any local SEO strategy. I’m a firm believer that this should mean getting out and meeting real people and forming real relationships. Spurting out link requests all day long can drive pretty much anyone to despair. Getting involved in your local business community is a lot more enjoyable and can be really productive in terms of business development AND your local rankings. In fact, this is all about thinking way beyond just getting links. If you can build up real partnerships and earn a good local reputation, the links you need should follow.
What I’m not saying is that the normal methods of SEO and link building can just be forgotten about; making sure your website is SEO friendly and optimised correctly, whilst at the same time building your domain’s authority are still vital. But how about going the extra mile and making a real impact in your local area? If you can incorporate this into your existing online work, then you should be in a much stronger position to dominate the local search results.
So how can you go about making a start in taking your online efforts offline? I’ve personally been looking at ways in which I can improve our local presence at Go Search Marketing, and without too much effort found some pretty interesting ideas:
Just by searching for networking events in my local area, I immediately found quite a nice selection of organisations who host a variety of different networking events where local businesses can get to know each other. One of the most popular style of events I found were breakfast meetings where for the price of a decent breakfast you get to get to know other business owners over a plate of bacon, eggs and of course a fresh coffee.
Due to my standard pre 9am personality failure (just ask my wife), I thought I’d search for some other options and there were plenty around. Ranging from evening events, business awards and workshops, there are absolutely tons of ways that I could go out and start getting involved with other like minded business folk. Taking this back to local SEO, it shouldn’t be too hard to find people with websites that could be interested on working together on some content, or recommending each other’s services (via links). If all else fails then at least you’ve had some decent grub along the way.
It would be pretty unlikely if your local area didn’t feature some businesses with which you could potentially partner up with in some way. Even if it’s just a case of recommending related services, or coming to some agreement with regards to referring clients; there are always opportunities, you’ve just got to find them.
Even though your end goal might be to get some links, try to separate yourself as far as possible from that state of mind. When contacting someone for the first time try not to even mention links or anything to do with SEO. Instead, why not try asking if they’d like to meet for coffee sometime and seeing if there’s any possibility of getting involved and potentially helping each other out with business?
Local Community Projects
How about looking out for local community events and projects that your company can get involved with? If you’re reading your local press on a regular basis, you should easily be able to find some events or projects to help out with or maybe sponsor. For example, in my town every year we have a ‘Race for Life’ which helps to raise awareness for breast cancer. That’s a great opportunity to get involved and help out. Are there any small charities operating in your area? Small charities are usually really gratefully for any help they can get, so why not get in touch and see if you can help out a little?
There’s quite a lot of debate over whether it’s ethical or not to donate time or money to charity for the purpose of building links. My personal view is that it all depends on your attitude and relationship with the charity or local project. If you’re fully committed to helping out and being involved and you happen to get a few links for it, then to me that’s no problem.
Does your town or city have any clubs or societies that hold events? It would be quite unlikely if there was nothing going on at all. Often, smaller societies and clubs are on the lookout for new ideas for their events as they need to fill their calendar and keep their members entertained. It might be Worthing speaking to some of them to find out if there are any speaking opportunities, or maybe to find out if they are looking for anyone to sponsor any upcoming events.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about how SEO and online marketing needs to become more and more integrated with offline marketing and genuine relationship building. With all these great opportunities right on your doorstep, this is approach is none more true than with local search.
About me: I run Go Search Marketing, an SEO consulting business offering advice and services to SME’s and local businesses. Feel free to come and say hi or throw me any questions on twitter @jonquinton1