The goal of most link building campaigns is to drive traffic to your site and get amazing rankings. However, consider this: with all the available social media channels where people will be engaging with your brand, why not view them with the same importance as your main site?
What will happen if your site gets penalized, banned, hacked, or is cursed with loads of downtime? Sure, PPC is great for this, but what about everything else?
“Ranking” well in other arenas can be a key way of soldiering on until your problem has been fixed. It can also open up some great avenues that lead to new conversions.
Before you build links to all these non-main-site properties though, you need to actually do the same thing you’d do for your site: build up a great presence that’s actually worthy of generating links. Link to these “others” from your main site, and link to your main site from them.
Rank Without Your Site
Does your Facebook page show up in the SERPs when a search for your brand is conducted? If you have one, it probably does, but let’s take that idea and extrapolate it to something a bit more complex. Facebook pages rank well, as we know, so just the act of having one usually means it’s going to show up for your brand. What about for keywords though?
Just so we all remember that there are more great sites than Facebook, let’s take a look at another example. For a search on “Greensboro tree service” I see relevant local results from the following sites listed:
- Yellow Pages
- Google Places
- Google Maps
- Better Business Bureau
- Service Magic (a directory site)
In fact, in the top 10 for this search, if you ignore the local results that show, 3 out of 10 results are from sites that are not actual tree service sites. That equates to 3 out of 10 chances to rank without your site, in other words.
Write Something Somewhere Else (Like I’m Doing Here!)
My agency doesn’t have a work blog because I write for other sites and don’t honestly think that I have all that much to say without repeating myself on my own site. When we started the SEO Chicks blog, several people expressed concern that I was building visibility for something that wasn’t only my own, but then that led to other opportunities.
It led to links, to personal rankings, and to the chance to connect with a wider audience. If you can only have a few listings ranking for your site, why not try and rank other pieces of your work and fill up the SERPs? If you do this properly, you can get great results for your personal brand, your company brand, or your target keywords.
Let’s take the lovely Debra Mastaler as an example here, since she writes for this site and has some great other authority rankings in the top 10 for her name:
In a name search for Debra, you get her sites (new and old), her Twitter profile, author and speaker profiles, and an interview with an industry site. In this case, 6 out of 10 results are from sites that don’t specifically belong to her.
These sites contain links to Debra’s company sites of course, so they’ve been great for link building for traffic most importantly. Debra’s company ranks number 1 for her name, but mine does not, as you can see here:
In fact, most of my business does not come from my actual website (and since it’s an outdated and somewhat crappy site, I’m not complaining.) Most of it comes through referrals from other SEOs, the articles that I write, or interviews that I’ve done.
My site doesn’t rank well for a lot of key terms for my industry but my name pops up as the author of several articles written about link building. Those articles drive quality traffic to me, whether it’s through an author contact form or my actual website.
Brand Yourself Through Non-Site Channels
My cousin has a tire shop that has a website. He also has an awesome Facebook page for it where citizens of my tiny town actually interact. Now, if you are from such a small place, you’ll understand that being wished Happy Holidays by your tire shop employees fosters goodwill and makes you go there when you need new tires. It’s quite simple.
They promote their latest specials, they give out tips about tire pressure, etc, and they give you the info that’s usually annoyingly hard to find on regular websites (store hours, for a prime example.)
Quiksilver has an awesome YouTube brand channel. From road trips to surfing videos, they promote seriously cool content here. As of this time, they have 20,781 subscribers with 11,302,038 video views.
What I like about this is that they use YouTube for things other than selling their clothes. You may see a cool surfing video where the surfer is wearing a suit that you like so since it’s on the Quiksilver brand channel, you’ll go to the site and try to find it. It’s a great way to keep branding.
Figure Out Where Your Users Are & Be There (When They Are There!)
There are a few “when to tweet” services out there but I usually rely on Crowdbooster for this. You have to keep a few things in mind when you’re promoting content of course, with regards to when to do it.
I personally respond very, very well to Papa John’s emails about whatever special happens to be running that day, as they usually hit my inbox at the perfect time (for me with this, that is usually mid-morning when I’m starting to wonder about lunch or around 3pm when I’m struggling to figure out what the kids will eat for dinner.)
If those emails hit my inbox at 10pm, they wouldn’t be effective for me. You can check your site’s metrics to see where your traffic is coming from and make sure that you’re addressing users when they’re likely to be online.
Find out where else your target market hangs out. Competitive analyses can be very good for this so see if your competitors have a Facebook page that’s full of interaction. Are people commenting about your restaurant on Yelp? Then monitor what they say and respond.
Setting up Google alerts, Twitter alerts, and Facebook alerts should cover the majority of what’s said about you online but obviously something like a mention on a private forum that is offlimits to search engines isn’t going to find its way to you. That’s why you might need to do a bit of digging in order to unearth potentially “hidden” communities.
Rank In the Real World, Not Just The Engines
There are plenty of chances for this…conferences, smaller industry events, etc. Do people know your name, do they associate you or your brand with quality, do they reference you when someone asks “who can you recommend to do X for me?”
I live in the South in an old wooden house, so I am quite well acquainted with a local pest control company. If someone mentions seeing a spider the size of his head crawling under the bed, I’ll recommend this company. They’re always on time, the employee who comes out is able to ignore my killer bloodhound, and he’s extremely polite and efficient. Every single time. They rank in my world, so to speak.
A personal recommendation, many times, trumps what you find in the SERPs.
Remember: everyone has a preference for interaction. Some people love Facebook pages, some people can’t live without Twitter, some just want to go to your site. Some people want to read reactions from your customers and a Facebook page is usually perfect for this.
No matter what you do, your actual website isn’t going to be number one all the time. People look elsewhere for what they need so why not be there?
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.