Getting backlinks, inbound links, linkpop, link juice – whatever you call it – they all mean the same: the more links you have to your web pages, the higher Google and other search engines tend to rank your site. Besides the proper use of key words in your content, creating links to your site is the major focus of most search engine optimization (SEO) efforts for websites. The idea is your site gains in credibility and authority when others not only visit your pages, but link to them. It also gains visitors from the linking sites, as well.
There’s a lot of truth in this approach, particularly when popular, well-regarded sites link up with yours. It’s like an expert or Oprah endorsement, sending fans your way.
But how many small businesses have Oprah clicking to their sites? Most of the time, you’re just happy to get increasingly more people in your own area finding your business on the web and liking what they see.
But what about your competitors who’ve hired SEO experts to get hundreds of links pointing to their sites?
You Have Two Options
Option1: Traditional Search Engine Optimization Backlinks
Go hire an SEO company to plaster links to your site all over the Internet. Some of those links will be useful to people looking for your services, such as relevant web directories. Many other links, such as multiple submissions of the same content to obscure article directories will not. So what if you’ve got 500 backlinks. No one will find them. No one will read them. Google just looks at them as duplicate content of little or no value. What’s more, Google’s Panda and Penguin updates will probably penalize your site for low-value or irrelevant backlinks
Option 2: Web Presence Optimization
Stop Obsessing over SEO and optimize your entire web presence instead. Here are some ways to stand out of the crowd.
Add Keywords to Page Titles and Content
Use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool and Google Analytics to find the keywords people are most likely to search for your products and services. Incorporate these in your page titles and content.
Set up Google Places site even if you don’t have a website of your own, or verify what Google has already created site you. Add to your Google Places site information, photos and videos of interest to prospective customers. Watch for ratings from Google users or those posted on ratings sites, such as Yelp, and respond accordingly.
Get on Google+
Add Google+ to the mix and you will have a Google+ Local, all your pages fully indexed for search. Reviews for your company will also end up in people’s Google+ feeds.
Nowadays people are using their cell phones and other mobile devices, to research and call businesses. If your site doesn’t render easily on their screens, they will call another instead.
Make sure, too, your website creates value for customers and motivates them to want to do business with you. Share helpful tips and ideas. Create informative videos and/or newsletters. Write a blog. Contribute to other people’s blogs with insightful comments or become a guest blogger for other’s sites. Invite more established bloggers to contribute posts on your site.
Use social media tools effectively. LinkedIn, for example, can drive qualified leads to your website, as long as you take the time to use the many features it offers, including a LinkedIn company page. Participate in groups, start your own group and make the most of your professional profile.
Engage more people with a Facebook business fan page that rewards them for “Liking” your business with special content, deals, contests and, education about your products or services.
Get onto Twitter to let others know what your business offers and share in the discussions. Acknowledge any mentions, and if there is an adverse comment, deal with them as you would any unhappy customer.
Brand all your media consistently and be committed to updating your followers regularly.
Focus on Your Customer
By focusing on creating value rather than links, you will discover that you will get increasingly more customers. You will also have meaningful backlinks from people who care about your business and all the extras you provide. What’s more Google will notice.
What are you doing to optimize your web presence? Why not share your experience in a comment below.