In an interview I did with link building expert Eric Ward, he and I discussed whether the Google Penguin update would make site owners pay serious attention to their link building efforts. After all, recovering from a penalty is no easy or short-term task"now that Google is really cracking down on sites they find guilty to be of web spam, would site owners stop looking for the quick and easy way of out of link building? Here is what he said,
Some folks simply do not want to invest in their web site. They want to invest in tactics to make the site they have rank high, regardless of the quality of that site. that's a mistake I see continuing to happen. And even though I call it a mistake, I totally get it. A guy who is an expert at teaching people how to scuba dive and has a simple web site does not want to spend all his time in his office writing a blog about scuba diving. He want[s] to be in the water. His expertise is not writing or content or web sites, his expertise is teaching me how to not die when I'm 50 feet underwater.
I think Eric made a really great point. As someone who lives and breathes SEO I get it and sometimes its hard to understand why other website owners don't. But I love SEO -- its what I've done for nearly 13 years and its what I've built my livelihood on. And a scuba diving instructor is going to feel the same way about his business (I hope so anyway!) Its not that he just doesn't get SEO; its more likely that he'd rather be doing something else! But even though I understand that link building isn't going to be at the top of every site owners list of favorite things to do, the truth of the matter is that the world is going online. If you want your business to stay in business you need to have some kind of online presence and that includes building high-quality links to help your site remain visible.
Here is some bare bones link building advice for the scuba diving instructors of the world:
1. Get Listed Locally
Local business sites like Google Local, Bing Local and Yahoo Local provide free listings where you can put your address, phone number and website URL.
If you cater to a local market and rely on foot traffic to keep your doors open you need to make sure people can find you! There are dozens of other business listing sites out there where you can create a local profile as well. Do a quick search for scuba diving Miami in Google and chances are you'll see a map as well as local listings, probably even before the regular search results.
Also try to get your business listed in local directories like the Chamber of Commerce or BBB. This will help establish your site as a local presence and add quality backlinks to your link profile.
2. Create Business Partnerships
For our scuba diving instructor, one great way to build high-quality links, drive traffic to his site AND get new business is to form business partnerships with other local businesses like hotels, tour companies, deep sea fishing companies and so forth. He gets a link from their site as a preferred partner, as well as referrals for people looking for scuba lessons. In return, he may give his partners a link back from his own site, or maybe even a referral fee.
The key to creating an SEO-friendly business partnership is to make sure that your business is related to your partners. A scuba instructor in Miami probably does a lot of business with tourists, hence partnering with a hotel makes a lot of sense. It doesn't really make sense for him to get a link from a contractors site. that's not a partnership; its a link exchange.
3. Start A Blog
I know the scuba instructor doesn't want to spend his time writing in a blog, but there are work-arounds so he can put in a little effort to get maximum results. For instance, every time he goes out diving he could take a waterproof video camera and shoot footage from the dive. Upload that footage to YouTube, embed it in a blog post with a few hundred work description and tada! that's a piece of content that can generate links for him overtime.
He could also post that video to the company Facebook page so interested customers can get an idea of what they'll see underwater. Videos and photos are great sources of link bait, and capturing images underwater is not something the average person gets to do every day!
The key to a successful blog is to blog about what you know. One blog post could be about different types of creatures they diver has seen; another could be about how scuba divers should act if they see a shark. He could also blog about emergency situations"what do you do if you run out of air? How do you ascend properly in a hurry? He already knows this and (hopefully) teaches all of his customers what they need to know before they get in the water"but a blog lets him share his knowledge with the online world at large and attract links.
Many site owners find that once they start building high-quality links that those links actually beget more links. For instance, one blog post can get shared across a dozen social profiles, which create social signals. Maybe the blog gets quoted in a local newspaper (creating more localized links and brand exposure) or one of the photos from a social profile gets posted to Flickr or Pinterest. A local profile on a site like Yelp can be used to encourage people to review your business, which creates more touch points for your online brand.
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