One of the primary tenets of good online marketing is ensuring that your small business carves out a visible space in the larger community. This applies both to the online community as it relates to your industry and the geographic community that you’re a part of, the latter in particular if the goods and services you offer are primarily targeted at local consumers. In terms of search engine optimization, building positive relationships is important as it’s likely to lead to more links to your website.
By establishing positive relationships with bloggers, publications and other businesses and organizations active within your industry and community, you can help expand the reach and awareness of your own business. The value of networking to business is nothing new and certainly not exclusive to the benefits it provides to search engine optimization, but there are new techniques and venues to explore for developing beneficial relationships for your business.
In person networking is still one of the best means of creating new contacts. Local networking events and conferences provide valuable opportunities for meeting people in your community and industry who can help with an exchange of ideas, projects and links. You can learn about services and products being provided that can help your businesses, while also raising the profile of your ability to help other businesses and individuals with your own goods and services.
Moving more into the online sphere, there are multiple useful strategies that can be deployed for online networking. Social media is in some ways an ideal tool for this. LinkedIn was developed for precisely this purpose. It offers an easy means to stay connected to those contacts you meet at the live networking events, as well as an easy to use solution for seeking out new relationships with individuals doing work of relevance to your industry. There are many industry specific groups you can join on LinkedIn to stay informed of and contribute to conversations occurring of importance to your profession.
Though in many ways less direct, Twitter is another tool many are coming to find useful for networking. You can follow prominent industry leaders, journalists or bloggers with an emphasis in your area, as well as other local businesses and organizations to stay afloat of any events, updates and notable comments or articles they’re likely to highlight. By contributing thoughtful and useful information via your Twitter messages, you can gain more attention for yourself and your business and cull a following of your own. Much of the value of Twitter lies in interaction: showing that you’re listening and interested in what others are saying and also willing to provide valuable information as well.
While it involves a little more time and work, developing a presence on industry blogs, listservs, forums and message boards provides another venue for increasing your online profile and getting the attention of those in your field that could serve as productive networking contacts. Following the most pertinent online resources and adding insightful comments where appropriate will demonstrate your value to the community and ensure that people are more likely to think of you and your business when a need arises for the services you offer.
One of the themes that appears commonly in discussions of what makes for good SEO is finding opportunities to add value. Use the knowledge you’ve developed in your industry to provide helpful information to others and it will go far towards raising your profile in your industry and helping you develop and maintain the kinds of relationships that are crucial for long-term success. All of this will help lead to a growing awareness of your business and a greater likelihood of others to link to your website and increase your page ranking.