This one goes out to all you small business owners who desperately need some off-site SEO, but feel like you don’t have time to do it.
I’m sure you already work a billion hours a week and feel completely overwhelmed by everything else going on, but you don’t have the funds yet to hire an SEO company or a marketing professional to help you out. Am I right?
What I’m suggesting here is a five-hour program for slowly building up your off-site SEO in an ethical way that will show results if you’re consistent and smart about it.
Spend one hour, five days a week on off-site SEO. I’ve conveniently broken this up for you so you don’t even have to worry about scheduling it. I know you’re that busy.
Monday: Read Blogs
People in your industry or town are writing something, somewhere online, and it might even be worth reading. Blogging is not solely the province of self-absorbed armchair philosophers and stay-at-home-moms. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those two types of bloggers.
But you’ll also find that there are hundreds, nay, thousands (millions?) of people blogging about myriad topics and ideas, some of which you’re bound to be interested in.
Every Monday spend one hour reading and commenting on blogs in your industry or town. You’ll learn something, you’ll make new (virtual) friends, and you might just build a connection with someone who will one day let you guest blog on their site, all but guaranteeing you a backlink. You may also decide to ask the blogger to post something on your own website, should you decide to implement a blog.
Tuesday: Local Listings
You’d be surprised at how often businesses are listed incorrectly online, through the yellow pages and other local directories. Google gets confused when it receives disparate signals about your location, and it may harm you in local search to have a variety of incorrect addresses.
Every Tuesday spend one hour researching your business online, through sites like Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Yellow Pages, Localeze, Acxiom, CitySearch, Yelp, and others.
Google maps will allow you to hide your address if you don’t actually serve customers at your location, but it helps Google to know what city you’re based out of in general. Also, do a search for your brand and you may discover that you appear with incorrect or incomplete information in lesser-known directories that I haven’t listed above.
Once you work through each of the major search engine directories and local phonebook-type sites (that will take you several weeks at least), then do some competitive research to see where your competitors are listed with their address. Then, seek these listings for yourself (see competitive research below).
Wednesday: Social Media
According to some sources, Wednesday is the best day of the week to get comments and responses from items you post on social media.
Whether you post from your own private accounts, or you’ve created a business page, make sure you spend at least a few minutes every day engaging in social media, in addition to this schedule.
Every Wednesday spend one hour carefully researching a current event in your industry or town, and posting a question about it on social networks to try and generate buzz or conversation.
If you’re stumped for an interesting and current story, then think about an interesting image you’ve seen online that people may want to share. We’ve had a lot of success with “shareable” images, and this can bring more people to your Facebook page, Twitter feed, Pinterest boards, etc.
However you decide to engage people on social media, make sure you spend a solid hour on Wednesday planning your post and responding to people who comment on it.
Thursday: Competitive Research
Yes, there are fancy SEO tools and software that we use, but you can start by just doing a search for your competitor and see where they appear online. Is your competitor all over the news? Do they host events? Sponsor charitable organizations? Attend tradeshows? Have a booth at expositions?
Every Thursday spend one hour finding out what your competitors are doing, make a very clear spreadsheet of where they’re listed, and then make a plan of attack.
Maybe you need to write press releases. Maybe you should start a blog. Maybe you can offer an interesting story to the local news. Figure out what others are doing, and don’t be afraid to expand on their ideas and create something even better.
Friday: Existing Networks
Every Friday spend one hour contacting your friends, family members, business partners, associates, vendors, and clients, and ask for a link back to your site.
Having real links back to your site is one of the very best things you can do for your online presence. And by “real links” I mean links that actual people put on their website because they actually like you.
You can build links at online directories until your face turns blue, but a link from a colleague may be infinitely more valuable, both in the robotic eyes of Google, and in terms of providing a referral to your services or products.
To begin with, make a spreadsheet of all the people you know and work with, and research the possibilities of having them link to you. If they have a blog, propose a blog topic that you could write for them. People love well-written posts, and it benefits both you and them.
Alright, your week is over and now you should go enjoy your weekend. While I could push 7 hours a week on you and insist that your weekends are devoured by your work, I want you to take a couple days off and live in this world.
The more you enjoy your life, the more connections you’ll make, and the more both you and your business will benefit from this. Volunteer, spend time with friends, join a meetup, whatever! Just make sure to enjoy your life. Please?