All online businesses are chasing the holy grail of getting on the first page of Google. This is important but achieving this is either expensive or a very labor intensive and long process. What low cost strategies exist beyond pure SEO that are actually viable for small businesses? Here’s why LinkedIn beats SEO for small businesses
Know your strengths…and limitations
I don’t want to rain on your parade but your product isn’t unique. It’s nothing new. It’s been seen before and competing businesses have already dominated Google search results for your chosen search terms. Can you compete with the big boys by publishing quality content over the long term? Sure, but assuming you want to develop your business now, you need a new strategy.
Achieving great SEO in the post-Penguin update world requires backlinking your site to other relevant sites. Remember that Google algorithms favor sites that have links on popular and reputable websites. This approach will generally require an SEO expert who has the contacts and knowledge to disseminate your content. It also requires a skilled copywriter who will create valuable content that is relevant to your product or service, and relevant to the target sites. You will pay a premium for both services.
The backlinking basics:
- Keyword research
- SEO expert
- Hiring a talented content writer with knowledge of your industry
- Building relationships with relevant sites
- Paying for authority posts
The bottom line is your small business cannot afford this kind of strategy. But there is something that all companies do that you can easily and cheaply replicate. Your scope will be more limited in terms of your reach, but it is viable and highly targeted.
Swapping SEO for credibility
Do you want to dedicate all your time and resources to competing with bigger organizations for keyword supremacy, or do you want to build close relationships with a small but targeted group of potential clients? The answer should be the latter.
In short, LinkedIn beats pure SEO for small businesses.
This concept assumes that you have content (typically a blog or other resources like PDFs, guides, and infographics etc.) that you are sharing on your site. You need regular premium content that you can share in LinkedIn, that adds value to your brand.
Technorati reports that 31% of LinkedIn users are influenced by blogs. Make them relevant to your community, and your content becomes a powerful promotional tool. The bottom line is that people read blogs, and form positive impressions of your business. The result? Your service becomes more attractive. LinkedIn beats SEO for small businesses when you implement the following:
- Be the authority in your industry
Whilst it is possible to get click throughs to your sites by posting in LinkedIn groups, this is not the main goal of LinkedIn marketing. The main goal consists of two elements: establishing credibility in your specific field and targeting your specific client base. Yes, you can increase traffic, but your goal as small business to establish a profile and present your business as an authority in your field.
By creating a company profile, following relevant people and groups, publishing content on your profile and in relevant industry groups, you can place yourself at the center of your industry community. Write about what people don’t know, and that adds value to your clients. LinkedIn beats pure SEO for small businesses because you have direct access to the people you want to sell to and impress them with your industry knowledge.
- Copy the big boys
This doesn’t just apply to small businesses – multi million dollar companies with brand recognition do it as well, and trust me, it is a worthwhile endeavour. Large companies with deep pockets will have senior personnel publishing blogs, articles, guides etc. Do they write their own content? Generally speaking, no. As a content writer, I have written LinkedIn posts for CEOs who publish my content as their own. It’s a little cynical, but it’s standard practice. After all, senior personnel have a variety of tasks to complete and delegating responsibilities is not unreasonable. If you have the time to write your own content then go for it. If not, don’t be afraid to find a skilled writer with industry knowledge to write your content for you.
- Secure endorsements
Ask your client to endorse you on LinkedIn. These serve as reviews, much like Yelp reviews. A few endorsements with positive comments instil trust in your brand and will help drive further sales. Don’t be afraid to ask clients to do this for you. If necessary, you can encourage clients to endorse you with discounts on their next order.
- Build relationships
Your business is not built on SEO. It is built on repeat business from loyal customers. In this sense, a few strong client relationships can form the backbone of your business. LinkedIn allows you access to your target client base where you can interact and engage and drive repeat business. As a result, you will be engaging with people in your community. Most of all, respond to comments, write comments on content other people publish in your groups and start conversations. Ask questions, share further relevant content in comments when appropriate.
- Use SlideShare to advertise your work and SELL
Most noteworthy on LinkedIn is the SlideShare feature. SlideShare is a tool on LinkedIn that allows you to share articles, infographics, photos, PowerPoint presentations and more. Consequently, you can showcase your product or service and share knowledge. It’s a great way to show potential clients the quality of your work and drive sales. Whilst lead generation for B2C companies is low at 32%, lead generation for B2B companies is high, with 52% of B2B businesses having generated leads. Want leads? Then you must showcase your work on SlideShare.
Almost ironically, by prioritizing credibility and ignoring SEO, your SEO can be improved drastically. By building a bank of content, you will get click throughs and shares. Google will pick up on your content, and the more you have the more likely you are to be returned in Google search results. LinkedIn beats pure SEO for small businesses because it is cheap, and requires relatively little time and resources. In conclusion, by focusing on credibility, your SEO can grow organically whilst having the added benefit of close industry relationships and credibility.