Regularly updating your B2B website is necessary to keep up with changes to the Google algorithm, as well as web design best practices. If it’s been a while since you’ve tested your site for optimum performance (an issue may B2Bs have), you risk not being found by potential customers. Here are a few tips to revamping your website to maximize good traffic.
Mobile Responsive Design
If your B2B website isn’t mobile responsive (i.e., viewable on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets and adaptable to any screen size), it should be. With most consumers using their smartphones for web browsing and online research, a mobile responsive site is crucial to reaching your potential customers, especially B2B customers, who may be doing their research on their phones quickly between meetings or sales calls.
If you’re using a WordPress site, you can easily find templates that are mobile responsive; entirely custom websites are trickier, and require testing to ensure that they appear and function as you intend on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Accurate metadata is critical for being indexed by search engines. Metadata, if you’re not familiar, describes the individual pages on your B2B website. Title metadata affects how titles appear in browser windows; meta descriptions are the text that shows up on search engine results pages, and keyword metadata designates a specific keyword for the page. Ensure that you have custom meta descriptions, a keyword designated, and appropriate title metadata for each page of your website, or search engines, and the potential clients using those search engines, won’t find your site.
Fix Broken Links and Redirects
Broken links annoy site visitors and can lower your search engine rankings. Luckily, they’re easy to fix. You can go through all of the links and all of the pages to ensure that they work, or you could use a tool like Check My Links. If you find broken links or 404 errors, you can resolve the issue by updating the link, if possible, or using a 301 redirect, which will help you maintain the original ranking power of the page, as well as the original keywords and metadata, while still helping visitors find the what they’re looking for.
Get Rid of Pop-Ups
Google has started penalizing certain kinds of pop-ups, called intrusive mobile interstitials, which your current site may be using. If your B2B website has a pop-up message that viewers have to dismiss before they can view the page content on a mobile device (aka a standalone interstitial), a layout where the top portion of the page looks like a standalone interstitial, or a pop-up that covers the main content of the page while they are looking through the page Google will penalize your site, as these types of pop-ups are intrusive and affect the viewer accessibility of content on mobile devices.
Completing these quick checkups on your B2B website can make all the difference in your search engine ranking and site performance, driving more qualified traffic to your site. For more on revamping your site to enhance SEO, check out our SEO Site Checkup. If you have questions on how to improve your B2B site’s SEO, get in touch. Our SEO experts can help you achieve excellent site rankings and implement SEO best practices.
The inbound and digital marketing sphere has changed quite a bit in the past year. Where last year, we were just hearing about personal assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, this year, they’ve been fully installed in thousands of homes. Fewer consumers are searching with desktops, and the great majority of all web searches are conducted via mobile device. In addition to all the technology improvements and changes, there’s been a noticeable shift in consumer habits to the hyperlocal. More and more people are searching businesses, restaurants, and services within their own area, which provides a lot of opportunities for digital marketers but does require a bit of a change in tactics.
As inbound marketers ourselves, we’ve been reviewing our progress this past year and looking forward to new trends likely to arise in 2018. If you’re working on optimizing your inbound and digital marketing strategies in the new year, here’s our inbound marketing forecast for 2018: a few of the biggest changes we expect to see that will directly affect how we do our jobs and help our clients.
Greater Focus on Mobile
Mobile devices continue to function as the number one way consumers search the web, meaning mobile search is going to change the game in 2018. No matter whether they’re looking for a nearby restaurant or searching for a video on how to change their own oil, most people Google their questions first via a mobile device. The idea that searches are primarily done on mobile devices first isn’t a huge surprise; Google has been optimizing their indexing system to prioritize mobile users for a few years now. Just because it’s old news, though, doesn’t mean digital marketers shouldn’t pay attention. All SEO initiatives should be implemented with mobile users first in mind, and anyone without a mobile responsive website should really consider an update within the year.
It’s good to remember that Google launched their Mobile-First Indexing system in 2017, and we’re just beginning to see the full effects. That system prioritizes mobile versions of sites first and foremost, and indexes websites based on the content hosted on the mobile version, rather than the desktop version. So, if you’re still running an “m.” mobile site with abbreviated content, you’ll want to make some changes to ensure your site continues to rank well for competitive keywords.
New SEO Trends to Watch For
When it comes to SEO, digital marketers are always aiming at a moving target. 2018 is no different, and new technology like personal assistants, as well as the rise of video marketing, shift our target yet again. Google also holds a heavy influence on SEO best practices, so we’ll start there:
Nix Mobile Pop-Ups
As part of Google’s revamped mobile-first indexing, they’re frowning upon mobile pop-ups that interfere with user experience. Where in the past, pop-ups were a great way to get the user’s attention and convince them to give you an email address, Google has determined that they frustrate mobile users. Now, mobile sites using pop-ups that cover a certain percentage of the screen could receive slight penalties that will affect search rankings. Check Hubspot’s article on pop-up mobile marketing for the nitty-gritty.
SEO for Voice Search and Personal Assistants
Probably one of the biggest trends we see coming down the pipeline this year are voice searches and searches via personal assistants like Amazon Alexa, Siri, and Google Home. They’ll be a big game changer for SEO experts, but if you get ahead of the game, you’re likely to rank highly for relevant long-tail keywords with low competition.
When it comes to voice search, the name of the game is intent, and it’s actually a great boon to digital marketers. Basically, instead of typing in keywords like “blueberry pancakes” or “snow shovel”, a consumer is going to ask Alexa, “Where can I find the best blueberry pancakes near me?” or “Where can I purchase a snow shovel?”. The difference is that in the voice search, you know exactly where a consumer is in the buyer’s journey, and you can bid on long-tail keywords that you know point to qualified leads who are ready to buy.
It’s all well and good to bid on paid ads you know will get you leads, but you’ll have to do a little bit more work than that if you’d like to rank for some of those key voice searches. Digital marketers and inbound marketers alike will be focused on creating more natural content that’s centered around questions and phrases a human would actually use, rather than Google’s search bots.
Social Media Shift
As you’d imagine, the social media world has continued to shift into 2018. Facebook has long been the primary platform for marketers, but other social media sites are beefing up their advertising platforms to remain competitive. What’s more, because consumer needs and desires have changed, the way we’re using social media is set to shift this year. Here’s a look at a few of the bigger changes we expect to see in 2018:
Instagram for B2Cs
Since no one’s really figured out how to monetize Twitter, and possibly never will, many B2C companies have turned to Instagram, and the numbers are looking pretty good. Though Facebook will continue to be the social media ad-king through 2018, thanks to its exceptional targeting tools, many B2Cs have been seeing increasing success with Instagram. In less than a year, its new Instagram Stories have become more popular than Snapchat, and companies are seeing a great deal of engagement from brand influencers on the platform. What’s more, you’ll see Instagram continue to bulk up its advertising controls to ensure that digital marketer’s messages get through to the target consumers.
LinkedIn for B2Bs
No surprise here: LinkedIn continues to be a key social media platform for B2Bs. What’s new, though, is LinkedIn’s improvements to the platform. They refreshed their interface, for starters, but they’ve also made significant, positive changes to their advertising platform, which is looking pretty slick. Marketers can choose the shape, size, and style of their ads, target the ads to certain industries and even specific companies, and LinkedIn also offers an expansion feature, where they choose audiences similar to the ones you’re targeting, so you can expand your ad’s reach in an educated way. This improves LinkedIn’s worth to B2B advertisers and makes it easier to speak to those target buyers where they live.
Increased Engagement Across Social Media Platforms
Social media marketing has long been an integral part of any marketer’s toolbox, but in 2018, it’s looking like increased engagement is what sells. Today’s consumer wants their experience with any company to feel genuine, rather than pushed on them. That’s why companies like Starbucks are seeing tons of positive engagement from campaigns like the “White Cup Contest” where consumers were invited to draw on Starbucks cups and submit their designs to social media platforms via the #whitecupcontest hashtag. The winning design was then printed on a reusable Starbucks cup and sold across the country.
Today’s consumer wants to feel like they’re a part of the process, and have a say in what their favorite companies do and produce. Customer reviews have long held a great deal of sway in Google rankings, but in 2018, we’ll start to see consumer engagement surpass just reviews. If you’re looking to get the word out about your company, we suggest you invite increased engagement across social media platforms in whatever way you can, whether that’s asking for consumer opinions, or starting a contest like Starbucks’ White Cup Contest, that gets consumers invested in your brand.
New Marketing Platforms to Explore
New technology invites new marketing opportunities. In 2018, we expect to see a great deal of changes as to where, and how we market digitally thanks to video media’s rise in popularity, and the ease of use that home assistants provide. Again, technology isn’t the only thing that’s causing a shift in how marketers get their jobs done. Changing consumer habits will affect how we market as well this year. Here are three big changes we expect to see in 2018:
We’ve already talked about voice marketing a bit, but it really is a burgeoning aspect of digital marketing that we can’t ignore. If you’re looking for new ways to expand your digital marketing efforts, keep voice search and personal assistants in mind. Consumers are searching with those long-tail keywords, which means content that’s targeted to more natural, native phrases will start to see better rankings and more engagement.
In addition to the fact that mobile internet use will increase, mobile video consumption is predicted to grow by more than 25% in 2018. Live video was one of the biggest new trends to hit social media this past year, and as attention spans grow shorter, many marketers are finding that video marketing is a key way to grab and hold onto new leads. Video marketing also speaks to the transparency that younger consumers appreciate and search for.
When you show consumers how your product works, what your employees look like, and exactly what you do every day at your company, you’re providing a genuine experience for new potential leads, and that’s what younger consumers appreciate, and are latching onto more often. Break into video marketing easily with a simple tour of your company’s store, factory, or facility. People love to see “how things are made” and an up-close look at what you do makes it easier for consumers to associate you as more than just a brand—a marketing strategy that’s proven to sell.
With the rise of voice search and local-first movements encouraging consumers to support their community by purchasing from local, small businesses, local marketing has begun to see a significant increase in the past few years. Expect to see considerably more local marketing in 2018, as Google has now rolled out Google Posts for small businesses, Facebook’s introduced Facebook Local, and Google has rebranded their home services advertising platform to Google Local Services.
There’s a huge push to stand out in the local area, and these advertising options are making it much easier for local businesses to be seen, and discovered by local searchers. Continue to optimize your local marketing strategy by pushing keywords focused on location, ensuring NAP is consistent across platforms, and regularly updating your business’ Google Business Page, as well as your Facebook Page and website.
Inbound Marketing Strategies to Implement in 2018
At HA Digital Marketing, we’re firm believers in the power and success of inbound marketing, which is why we apply the inbound philosophy to everything we do for our clients. Inbound is proven to draw in qualified leads, and turn them into long-term customers, which is why we’ll be implementing the following inbound marketing strategies as we move into 2018:
Better Understanding of Buyer’s Journey
Today’s consumer values transparency, trust, and information. They don’t want to be marketed to, but they do appreciate information that’s relevant to their specific pain points. That’s why in 2018, digital marketers should strive to use data to identify pain points for each and every step of their company’s buyer’s journey. Learn what sort of content they appreciate, and when, and use that data to better inform your overall marketing strategy. Potential clients will thank you for the attention, and your optimized marketing strategy will shorten the sales cycle.
In the same vein, 2018 is the year to forget mass email blasts and generalized ads. Consumers can spot them from a mile away, and they don’t get anyone’s attention anymore. Instead, focus on hyper-segmenting your content and emails, and ensuring you’re generating a personalized experience for each potential client. It doesn’t have to be difficult either. There are a number of tools out there that can help you automatically incorporate each lead’s name to different landing pages, emails, and advertisements. From there, it’s a matter of segmenting your content by industry and job title so that each lead is receiving content that speaks specifically to their job, and their unique pain points.
Topic Cluster Content Strategy
Another inbound marketing strategy that’s on the rise in 2018 is called topic clusters, or content clusters. A topic cluster content strategy offers an organized way to create content that hits every major long-tail keyword related to each major focus area of your company and boosts your search engine rankings by linking those different pages of related content together. It sounds confusing and difficult to implement, but it’s probably not all that different from what you’ve been doing, if you’ve got a comprehensive content strategy already. Here’s a visual of what a topic cluster for content strategy looks like:
Not so scary after all, right?
Start with a pillar page. This is a page that offers a general overview of one topic in the broadest terms. Think of it like a topic 101 page: the basics that everyone should know about your topic. Let’s say you’re the owner of a coffee roasting company looking to generate some online traffic. Your first pillar page might be “Roasting Coffee 101: The Basics.” You’ll give your readers the most general information about roasting coffee. Then, your subsequent topic pages will be related to that pillar page, but will offer more depth on one specific subject, allowing you to target a long-tail keyword like “The Best Way to Roast Arabica Beans.” Each cluster content page like that one will link to the pillar page, offering your readers more information on the subject they’re already interested in.
But helping your readers dive further into your site, and understand your product more fully aren’t the only benefits of topic clusters. Topic clusters also function to link content for one target audience or buyer persona together, and they link all of those similar-themed keywords together as well. This helps you boost your search engine rankings, as if one page does really well, the others linked to it will also see a positive boost in rankings, thanks to your strategic hyperlinks. So, if your company’s New Years resolution was to boost your Google rankings, know that topic clusters are an ideal place to start.
We’re going to see a ton of changes to the digital marketing sphere this year, some we can predict, and others that we can’t. What we know is that mobile traffic will only continue to rise, as will local marketing and targeted advertising via social media platforms. Savvy digital marketers will recognize these trends early in the year, and work to optimize their marketing strategies to accommodate them, as well as newer technology like personal assistants and live video. As we mentioned before, digital marketing is always a bit like trying to hit a moving target, and 2018 will be no different.
If you’ve got any questions on the trends and strategies mentioned in this article, or if you’d like more information about digital marketing in the new year, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’ll be optimizing our digital marketing strategy to fit with new 2018 trends, and would love to help you out too! If you’re interested in making use of our years of experience and digital marketing savvy, it all starts with a conversation.
If you’re a home services provider, your services are what’s important, and visitors to your site will want to know exactly what you do and how you do it. What’s more, service pages dedicated to relevant keywords help you rank well on organic Google search results. That’s why it’s so important to write engaging service pages for your website. But how do you write service pages that will get customers’ attention?
An effective service page does four things: defines the service, demonstrates the value of the service, explains your process, and explains how your company is unique in how that service is provided. In order to do those four things, you need to know who you’re writing to and how the service will benefit this person. If you own a landscaping company and one of your services is lawn mowing, one of your audiences may be working homeowners. Your service can benefit them by ensuring that their lawn is cut every week and looks great, but another benefit is that it saves them time.
How Do You Stand Out From the Crowd?
When it comes to how your service differs from that of the competition, thinking about your audience is crucial. If we continue with the mowing example, maybe you differ from the competition because you allow clients to choose the date and time their lawn is mowed, which provides them with the benefit of scheduling for a time when they’re at work, so that you’re not in each others’ way, and they’re not being awoken early by mowers on a weekend (it’s the worst).
Explain What your Service Is, and How You Do It
Defining the service and your process is also crucial. While lawn mowing might seem self-explanatory, there are still some things people will need to know about how you do it. Do you use riding mowers or push mowers? Are they zero-turn mowers? Is weed-whacking included? How often will you mow? If it storms during a regular mow time, how will the mow be rescheduled? All of these questions are things your service page can address. If your clients can get the answers to their questions on your site, that’s less fielding questions and answering the phone for you, and the more confidence your clients will have in your services.
Once you’ve considered all of these things, you’ll have compelling content for your service pages, content that will answer your potential customers’ questions and inspire them to pick up the phone and give you a call. Not only that, well-written service pages will help your site’s SEO, which will help you get found by other potential clients.
Today’s home buyer is skeptical. They know there are a number of builders out there looking to make a quick dime, and they won’t even consider talking to anyone before they’ve done a great deal of research. They’re looking for a home builder who understands the type of home they want to build, and one they can trust to get the job done in an honest way. If you’re a home builder in today’s market, you’ll have noticed that it takes a bit longer to get clients on board, and you’re probably looking for ways you can close sales more quickly. One of the absolute best ways to ensure your home building company stands out from the competition is to include video testimonials.
Why Video Testimonials?
Video testimonials offer the highest level of social proof to skeptical home buyers. Not only do they serve as a great way to get positive content up about your building abilities, but they also prove that the quality service you talk about on your website is a genuine benefit of working with you. It’s a way of providing word of mouth referrals in a digital age.
Video testimonials give your company authority and credibility. Any home builder can say that they offer superior communication, and strive to build the dream homes that each of their clients are looking for. By providing video testimonials, you’re proving that your company really is that great by offering a credible third-party review to your potential clients. Video testimonials function just like the online reviews you see on Amazon, but better. If you were purchasing a new blender on Amazon, it’s likely that you’d select a few promising options, and then compare the reviews for each model.
That’s exactly how video testimonials work, but the interesting thing about video testimonials is that they’re irrefutable. Some consumers are still wary of written testimonials because, in reality, anyone could have written them. Video testimonials are much harder to fake, which makes them all that more credible. They’re especially useful for home builders because choosing to build a new home is a major investment. New homeowners are going to want all the proof they can get that your company is legitimate and honest before they even consider calling up your sales department.
How to Get Video Testimonials
It’s actually surprisingly easy to get video testimonials for home builders. If you think about it, you’ve worked closely with a homeowner for months while their home was under construction. You know the homeowners well, and you’ve provided them with the space they’ll call home for decades. Most previous clients will be comfortable talking to you, since they know you well, and as long as they’re satisfied with their home, most of them will be happy to provide a video testimonial.
To get video testimonials from previous clients, all you really need to do is ask. Think of the projects you’re most proud of, and the homes you know your clients love. Then ask if they’d be willing to help your company out by offering a short video testimonial.
It’s a good idea to encourage those giving testimonials to talk about the entire process. You want to leave the testimonial up to the client as much as possible because it should be authentic, but if they ask for a little direction, make it clear that they can talk about the process as a whole. How was it like to work with you through the building process, and of course, how did they feel about the end product? Consumers love a story, and the more information they can get on how your home building company functions throughout the process, the better.
Add Progress Photos
Your video testimonials can be relatively informal if you like, but it’s also helpful to consider putting together images of the end product and adding them into the video. This way, potential clients watching your testimonial videos can see and hear from the client but also see visual proof of the work you did for that client. It’s a great way to add another layer of authenticity and showcase the beautiful craftsmanship your company is known for.
Feature a Number of Testimonials
Be sure to feature testimonials that are relevant to each target persona. Whether you often work with doctors, wealthy stay-at-home moms, or new couples looking for that first home together, be sure to collect video testimonial from clients who fit into each of your target personas. The more testimonials you have, the better. If you start getting more testimonials than you know what to do with, make a separate page on your website that’s dedicated to testimonials. You can still feature individual videos on other pages, but it’s helpful to have a spot that’s easy to find for those potential clients looking to hear from past clients.
Where Do I Put My Video Testimonials?
Once you have a few video testimonials put together, don’t be afraid to share them anywhere and everywhere. Definitely put them on your website, consider featuring them on your blog, and share them on your social media accounts. Don’t flood every channel of your digital platform with video testimonials all at once, but consider sprinkling those testimonials in anywhere it seems relevant, in a way that’s not aggressive.
For example, you don’t want every single Facebook post you make this month to be a video testimonial, but you might consider posting one new video each week. You won’t want to have 15 testimonials on your homepage, but you could feature one or two in convenient locations, and link to the rest if potential clients want to learn more. It’s also worth considering embedding a video in your regular email newsletter. The testimonial shouldn’t be front and center, and it shouldn’t overshadow whatever helpful content you’re providing in the newsletter, but it’s a good idea to include a testimonial at the end of the email, where people are sure to see it after they’ve gotten through your helpful content.
Use Video Testimonials to Shorten Sales Cycle
If you’re a home builder looking to boost leads and shorten the sales cycle, video testimonials are one great way to do it. They offer credibility and authenticity to your home building company, and they help assuage the worries of skeptical consumers. While video testimonials alone can’t get you more sales, they’re an integral part of a comprehensive, effective digital marketing strategy for any quality home builder. If you’ve got more questions about growing your company’s online presence, or you’d like to professionally implement video testimonials to your website, get in touch.
When it comes to digital marketing, you’ve got a lot of options to choose from to drive sales. There’s paid advertising on engines like Google, there’s paid advertising on social media sites, there are ways to drive organic traffic through your website, and there are equally as many ways to drive engagement through social media. With all the options, it’s tough to figure out which methods might be right for your company, and how much time and money to invest in each.
For this blog post, we’re going to focus primarily on SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SMM (Social Media Marketing), the two free ways to drive traffic and boost sales. We get the most questions about these two digital marketing methods, likely because they’re the cheapest ways to get eyes on your site, and they’re the two methods that are the most proven.
Most often, people want to know which method is right for them: SEO or SMM. And it makes sense. You don’t want to spend time or money on a digital marketing method that won’t produce the best ROI for your company. But unfortunately, a solution isn’t as easy as picking one or the other. No matter what it is you’re selling, a quality digital marketing strategy makes use of both SEO and SMM strategies. Think of it like this:
SEO is the bones of your operation. First and foremost, you’re catering to the robots that run the Google algorithm, because without their favor, your site will never see the light of day.
SMM is the skin, hair, and makeup. It’s what gives your company a personality, and it’s ultimately what attracts actual people to your website when they trust you as an authority in your industry.
Unfortunately, one can’t exist without the other. If you think about it, when you offer deck repairs and someone types in “deck repair near me” into Google, it’s quality SEO that’s going to make sure your website pops up on the first page of search results. But if you’re looking to get the word out about your deck repair company, social media marketing is what is going to build your following, and let people know that you exist in the first place, before they even head to Google.
So, it’s important to remember that the question isn’t “which one should I use”, but “how should I combine my SEO and SMM efforts to produce the greatest results for me?”
And that question isn’t as easily answered.
Getting Started with SEO
If you’re just starting out, we always recommend you focus on basic SEO. Make sure your site is at least visible to Google, because if Google can’t see your site, no one can see your site. For more info on SEO basics, be sure to check out our Complete Guide to Inbound Marketing. Again, SEO is the bones of your operation, and you need to have quality SEO to have a foundation where you can drive your social media marketing finds. Make sure your website is functional and up-to-date. It should be responsive and user-friendly, so people who make it to your site don’t just bounce right off.
Then focus on creating content that will help you rank for a number of keywords important to you company. Again, you have to rank for people to see your site. Social media marketing is an awesome way to raise awareness about your company, but it’s important to remember that it doesn’t contribute to positive rankings in any way, and it doesn’t typically get more eyes on your site. SEO typically draws fewer people in, but it’s more effective at converting the people who do make it to your site to customers. So developing SEO content means developing content that solves pain points, and targets keywords. With a base of quality content like this, you can begin to start SMM.
Adding in Quality SMM
Remember that SMM doesn’t mean just creating a Facebook page. Facebook is a graveyard of well-intentioned business pages that no one ever posted to. Just because you have a Facebook page doesn’t mean you’re going to get followers. SMM means creating a Facebook page, and creating community around that. Focus on generating content that makes people want to interact with you, rather than buy something from you. If you build or remodel homes, post pictures of your projects and invite people to comment. If you’re a lawyer, consider posting fun infographics that breakdown complex legal concepts into easy bite-sized pieces of info, and ask for people to tell you if it makes the concept easier for them to understand. Remember that the primary goal of SMM is to create a community, rather than sell things.
SMM is quick and fleeting. Someone sees your social media post on Facebook or Twitter, and they share it or like it. Most often, SMM doesn’t actually send many people to your site. It functions more to create a community around your company, increasing your reach and alerting this online community that you exist. The goal of SMM is to build a presence that can later be harnessed for sales. Search engine optimization has a much more transactional approach of getting eyes on your page. SEO is focused on converting people who do eventually wind up on your site, while SMM works to make sure people know your site and your business exist, even if they don’t go to it.
SEO + SMM = The Ultimate Win
SMM functions as a sort of long game. You’re developing a community around your company’s social media presence, and once that community comes to trust you as an authority in your field, and someone they genuinely enjoy interacting with, they’ll convert to clients when they eventually need your services.
SEO ensures that when there are people who need your services right now, your site is discoverable. A combination of SMM and SEO ensure you’re playing on both fields: the immediate, right now leads, and the long-game: that social media community who will eventually become lifetime clients.
Any quality digital marketing strategy combines both search engine optimization and social media marketing, to ensure you’re catering to both the robots who shape the digital platform your site lives on, and the actual people you need to buy your product and service.
We get that digital marketing strategies are complex, often confusing concepts. If you have more questions on properly harnessing the powers of both SEO and SMM, don’t hesitate to reach out. Evenbound has been in the game for years now, and we’d be happy to help you figure out how to best combine your search engine optimization with your social media marketing strategies.
There’s always a lot of swirling opinions on the internet about what Google still uses to rank websites, and what they don’t. While only Google’s algorithm knows exactly what it’s measuring to rank your website, there are a few things SEO experts have come to agree on as key factors in search engine results page rankings. And yes, one of those things is still the number of quality links that exist to your page. While it’s great to have links to external sites within your own pages, Google still uses the number of legitimate websites who are linking to you, to determine how worthy you are of a higher page rank.
In the past, SEO experts and webmasters alike have attempted to hack this factor of page ranking with various “link building” techniques, some of which worked, and some of which really didn’t. It’s good to know that while you’re researching link building, you should really only trust blogs and content about link building that have been published in the past year. Google always updates their algorithms regularly, but the past few years especially have seen massive, internet revolutionizing updates that also affect how you should go about link building.
Because of those updates, it has become really tricky to link build in a way that doesn’t end up in a Google site penalization. Older tricks like posting links to your page in the comments section, guest blogging, and most definitely link-building schemes, will only result in the penalization of your site by Google. So, since link building still matters for page rank, how can you do it in a way that’s above-board, and will get you the links you want, without a Google penalization?
Have Something Worth Linking To
The absolute best way to get legitimate links is to first have something people want to link to. Whether you’ve got an e-commerce site with cool products, or your site has a number of interesting, informational content pages like blogs posts and how-to’s, the only way you’ll get people to link to those pages is if they like what you have to offer, and if it makes their lives easier in some way. So, if you’ve got a basic website with no blog, and nothing to make it interesting to others in your industry, it’s unlikely that anyone will organically link to you. On the other hand, if you’ve established yourself as an authority in your industry, and offer a great deal of helpful content on your website, you’re more likely to get some quality links.
Build a Community Around Your Content
The best, easiest way to build links is to have people organically link to your pages of their own free will. When you have quality content that speaks to your target audience, you’ll start to build a community of followers. Those followers will check in regularly to read any new content you’ve got, and the more they do, the greater the opportunity that someone will link or share your page.
When someone likes your website and your page content, they’re more likely to link to your page when they create their own content. That sort of linking is the best you can get: people who genuinely like what you have to offer, and want to tell their own followers about it. Unfortunately, it’s not that efficient, and it requires a great deal of relying on other people. While it’s possibly the best way to get links, there’s no guaranteeing when or if it will happen. So, if you’re not comfortable relying on just organic links, the following steps might help:
Once you’ve got content on your site that people might actually want to link to, go ahead and ask people nicely! Reach out to other website owners in your industry who hold a bit of authority to ask if they’d consider linking to a certain page or blog post on your website. The best way to go about this efficiently is to follow these three steps:
Set up Templates
It’s not wrong to have a general template that goes out to each person you ask to link to your website. There’s no point in reinventing the wheel twice, so draft a really great email that talks about your company and why the page you’re requesting they link to should mean something to them. What’s more, offer to link to their site in return. People are more likely to agree when there’s something in it for them. Be sure to include your contact information, along with a sincere thank you.
While it’s great to have a standard template, it’s important that you’re still personalizing each email according to who you’re sending it to. At the very least, each email should be addressed to one specific person in the company, and ideally, your email’s intro paragraph should mention something specific about them that drew you to their website. The more general your address, the less likely you are to get a response. People get millions of emails a day, and if it doesn’t seem like your email was meant specifically for them, they’ll probably delete it.
Don’t Mass Email
Finally, once you’re ready to send out your request emails, be sure you don’t mass email. There’s nothing worse than getting an email asking you to do someone a personal favor, only to see that 25 other people also got the same exact email. It often comes across as rude, and most people won’t respond when they realize your email wasn’t meant just for them. What’s more, try to send your requests to just one person in the company, especially if you’re using a template. People in the same office do actually talk, and if multiple employees get the same exact email, they’re likely to think it’s some sort of scam.
Never Buy Links
As a final, cautionary note, we’d just like to remind you that it’s always, always bad practice to buy links. No matter how legitimate the company seems, if you buy links your site will face penalties. Google constantly updates their algorithm to sniff out link-buying activity and will flag your site almost immediately if you do buy links. The best way to build links is to do it organically, either by building a community around your site’s content or by asking others in your industry to link to your site.
We get it, link building is a tricky subject. It always has been, and it probably will continue to be, so long as Google uses it as a ranking factor. That said, there are good, white hat methods to go about link building, that can work to get you those links you’re looking for without danger of penalization. If you’re feeling wary of link building, or you’d like a little advice on how you could boost your site’s search engine rankings, get in touch. Search engine optimization is kind of our job, and we’d be happy to help you figure out how best to boost your rankings.