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Link Building for Business Networking

Link Building tactics to build a better SEO strategy for business networking events.
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A few ways to encourage inbound links is found in MarketingSherpa's article Link Building: 5 tactics to build a better SEO strategy:

Step #1: Simplify and Design

Be prepared. Make a great first impression! That means designing your event, and your Internet communications for simple use by your prospects and clients.
  • Limit links to 3 to get where they want to go.
  • Make your communications appealing (to them, not to you). Ask. Be on their platforms. Talk in their language. Show their photos (with permission). ETC.
  • Make communications reliable -- create a schedule and stick to it.
  • Learn about your specific customers and/or prospects and speak directly to and with them. And speak about your key topic. Don't wander off into adjacent topics or rants. Be a trusted source of information about your specialty.

Step #2: Repurpose

Repurpose reliable data from respected sources. Universities and trade groups publish great research. Write skillful summaries and applications for your industry niche.

Step #3: High-value Links

Earn high-value links from these universities and nonprofits by showing them what you do that is relevant the THEIR needs. Infographics, clever data visualization and cool charts are much appreciated by researchers.

Step #4: Social Networking

Participate in social networks by writing great content that people actually read and attract links by identifying online leaders in your industry (bloggers and editors) and build a productive relationship with them. Collaborate in creative ways such as interviewing them for your blog; contributing content to their blogs and ask to collaborate on a project such as an event or research project that overlaps both your interests. Be helpful.

Step #5: Share Content

Share content on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn -- and industry specific sites such as Pinterest or a trade association forum. Other sites such as Digg, Answer sites such as Yahoo or Google Answers, etc. Be sure the content you share is loved ... and is hosted on your website so that links are attributed to your domain. Interns can be helpful in putting together quotes, infographics, Top 10 lists, etc. that will get attention.

Step #6: Be Aware

Know your competition. Tactics vary by industry. Know what the baseline expectations are for people in your industry. Create a list of your top competitors for search rankings. Then use link-analysis tools to understand where they get inbound links and how they acquire them. Two competitive analysis tools are provided by SEOmoz and SEOBook. And then, when in Rome, do as the Romans do...

Create your own sports-inspired playbook that includes tactics that work in the field.

Make a list of:

Directories, trade associations, etc.

Identify quality directories that show discretion in what they publish and have review processes controlled by a person, not a robot.

Government, research firms, university centers, etc.

These links can be very powerful and difficult to get. Note any that point to your competitors -- and try to reverse engineer how your competitor got into their circle. Some tactics used might include interviews with people in the organization; feature content, research or data from them; or create videos or other content that furthers this organization's mission.

Social networks, blogs, forums, etc.

Investigate how competitors earned links from these sources. Did they consistently share good content? Pitch high profile bloggers? Participate in lively discussions? Offer products for blogger reviews?

Successful link-building strategies aim for 20 to 50 links, not 2 or 3. So note which tactics succeed, and which fall short of success.

Publish a blog worth reading.

Not all blogs are created equal... and company blogs often fall short when they lack personality, are written for SEO and not people, are promotional vs informative, and are inconsistent in timing, topic and quality. Remember, blogging is about storytelling and about people. Readers want a blog with a point of view, a personality, some humor, some vision, some thoughtfulness and always, timeliness. Whether we know it or not, business is a people business. :-)

Create a plan for maintaining your blog's focus.

Research topics that get traction in your industry. List questions a potential customer would have. Use this information to set topics and titles for future posts (plan dozens of them) and then create a schedule that is season-sensitive for when you will publish posts about each topic.

Work on your schedule of posts for six months in advance so you can gather data, research, news, etc. that fits your topics. Depth comes with time!

Aim for long term success.

The Internet is a marketing strategy -- not just a short term sales opportunity. It's a powerful tool that lets us connect people into a community with shared interests, opportunities for participation and fostering real relationships that can be taken off-line into telephone conversations, meeting at events and even doing deals together. All those valuable outcomes take time.

Contributing content to other websites (such as SureToMeet.com and SolutionsForEvents.com) can be an effective way to build links if you have creators in your team (writers, artists, videographers, interviewers, etc). Ask them to contribute to other sites and broker exchanges.

It's important to know your business niche's "system" before you start offering content to other websites. Study why people link to websites in your particular industry. Networkers have specific goals -- identify them. They might need supply chain contacts, or sales prospects, or friends and mentors. Fast paced industries require different networking than mature industries that need to acquire innovative startups or research. But in all this turmoil, people are people and they also need to meet personal goals such as professional respect and visibility, appreciation, a sense of accomplishment, leadership opportunities or to be mentored or be a mentor. You can help them reach personal goals by:

  • Contibuting to content without the hassle of total authorship
  • Providing helpful, funny or otherwise valuable information
  • Referencing their insights in a discussion, blog or report (that takes organization!)
  • Highlight a resource
  • Know and respect usage guidelines when sharing people's content
  • Foster partnerships with specific websites
For a wonderful array of how-to marketing articles and case studies about social media, SEO and content marketing, sign up for MarketingSherpa's Inbound Marketing Newsletter.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, Managing Editor of Solutions For Green

Publication Date: 5/1/2012
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