To deliver the best results possible to users, Google wants to show legitimate and popular businesses in their search results. In order to do this, it must base its judgment off what is being said about your brand online. After some data collection and analysis, we have learned that sometimes the best online website promotion is done completely off your website. Here are a few of the ways we believe can be used to translate offline business practices to SEO signals.
Branding Signals for SEO
- Business Location: There’s nothing more off line than your physical location. However, having your company listed on sites like Google Maps, Yelp, and Foursquare is a good way give online value to your brick-and-mortar business. This is a commonly used method of identifying real businesses because it is easy to verify these physical locations. Generic sites may not have an actual office to contact or visit.
- Strong and Growing Staff: A successful business typically hires new staff. In many ways the Internet has become the most used resource for job hunters. By posting your jobs online it may give search engines a clue to the legitimacy of your business. Search engines can take their cues from a few places to determine the growth of a work force:
- Job listings posted online (Indeed, Simply Hired, etc.)
- People listing the company as part of their work experience on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
- Business profiles on sites like LinkedIn
- Business Accreditations: In the offline world, receiving awards and joining trade associations increases the trust placed in your business. Online it helps to have your business profile on sites and directories that focus on advancing marketplace trust, such as Better Business Bureau (bbb.org) and trade association directories.
- Major Company News: Newspaper and magazine articles are a major channel for spreading the word about developments within a company. On the Internet, the same effect can be generated through online press releases, which can be posted on sites like prweb.com. Topics that particularly serve to promote a business include:
- New products or services
- Nominations for business awards
- Business expansion (e.g., opening a new branch in another city)
- Recent events (e.g., lectures from the CEO at a conference)
- Business milestones (e.g., celebrating the 10th anniversary of the company)
- Loyal Customer Base: It’s fairly easy to tell who your loyal customers are in the real world. They are your regular customers and returning clients. Fan engagement works on the same principle, in which those who value your service will frequently return or refer back to your company. This type of engagement is especially easy to see on social media sites, such as Facebook “Likes” and Twitter “Followers”.
- Business Reputation: Generally you can rely on your friends and neighbors for assessments of products or goods. Your chamber of commerce should also keep business records of local businesses. To get more perspective online, you can rely on reviews on sites like Google Maps and ripoffreport.com.
- Referral Leads: Featured in blog posts or recommended in an online discussion. Essentially, these external sources are vouching for the quality of the company by directing others to the site just as you would tell a friend about a good restaurant you discovered.
- Videos: Maybe you had a TV commercial produced or an instructional video made for your clients. Placing those videos on popular video sites like Youtube and Vimeo is a great way to get additional visibility for your brand online. Especially considering that Youtube is the second most used search engine.
- Business Deliverables: Any established business probably has brochures and company photos. Try sharing those on document and presentation sharing websites like Scribd or sharing company photos on sites like Flickr and Instagram.
- Expertise: In the offline world, you may create a presentation, submit articles for publication, or consult with a potential lead over the phone to demonstrate expertise in your field. Online you have several options to showcase your knowledge of the industry, including:
- Participation in relevant forum discussion
- Post on Q&A websites, such as Yahoo Answers
- Guest blog posts also.
While there are some branding signals that you can integrate into your company website (such as creating thorough Staff, About, and Contact pages), signals from offsite sources will be the ones to ultimately legitimate a business in keep you in good standing with the search engines.
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