Are you making the most of your friends and family? [SEO Wednesdays]

Everyone wants to be better-placed in the Google results, and most of us know that the best way to do this is to get more external links to our website. It really is quite simple. Yet the majority of marketing managers are more than happy to let this task linger at number five on the to-do list, constantly bringing in new and less important jobs above it. Starting a proper link-building campaign is like the telephone call you really don’t want to make; you’ll find anything else, however trivial, to do instead.

In business-to-business marketing, that’s a strange thing, because we have an opportunity which many organisations don’t have: a network of closely-related websites whose owners we know, and who have reasons to be interested in mutual promotion. They are, of course, our parent companies, the companies who we distribute for, and our own distributors and resellers.

It’s such an easy win to go through all of these related sites, and check that there are at least simple links to our own websites. If there aren’t… well, why not?

The next improvement we can make is to ensure that the links from our principals and distributors are sending the right message to Google. The least effective example is a logo or company name on the other site which links to you. Sure, it tells Google that your site exists, and the other site thinks that it’s of some value. But the link doesn’t tell Google what your site is any good for; it’s a bit like telling shoppers to step inside but not telling them what’s in the shop. At best, it’ll help you rank better for searches on your own company name. Somehow, you need to encourage the owner of the other website to put a bit of text and some direct page references into their links. Google takes a lot of notice of the words in the link itself, but also in the surrounding content. If I was asking another website to mention ours, I’d be very happy to see something like this:

Business Marketing Online Ltd (BMON) provides Google AdWords Management outsourcing for industrial and scientific companies. BMON supports all of its clients with wider online marketing support, and has recently launched an ultra-low-cost video production service.

Sure, that’s promotional puff, but if the other site has an interest in your business doing well, then why wouldn’t they run something like that? This sort of link is much better because it tells Google about specific topics with which you wish to be related, and helps the specific pages mentioned rank more highly for searches on those subjects.

If you hire a good search engine optimisation agency to improve your Google rankings, this is precisely the sort of thing they’ll try to do, because it’s what works. However, you probably have the opportunity to get these types of links on the quality of external site which the SEO folks, as external consultants, can only dream of. What’s more, it won’t cost you a penny. Getting this initiative moving should be a priority project.

Discussion

  1. David Turner

    I must say that this is far more difficult than you might suggest. Major distributors are very unlikely to accommodate such tailored entries for a supplier and many (including the two largest national PT distributors in the UK) actively prohibit links to supplier websites, regardless of the mutual benefits. The best you could hope for, in my opinion, is that on their sole page for your product grouping that the principle product term is a text link to your site, and that’s IF you’re their preferred supplier for that product line. Remember they have 1000s of product lines and multiple suppliers for each. End user customers increasingly don’t even allow their name to be quoted in success stories so they certainly wouldn’t feature such an endorsement on their sites. Reputable industry news sources remain the logical, but currently ineffective, option.

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