In a follow-up post to a workshop I co-presented at the Vermont Travel Industry Conference, here’s a quick list of ten ways a website can curate interest with search engines – beyond optimizing the content with keywords, phrases and meta data. I refer to Google here, but any search engine that creates opportunities for profiles, accounts and content that can be indexed and searched is relevant.
10 ways to get found online beyond SEO
Set up your business’ Google Places account if you haven’t already, and keep it updated. This is one of the hubs you’ll want to monitor as you would Yelp, TripAdvisor, Social Media, etc. The Roger Smith Hotel in NYC has a robust Places profile, with contact info, location information, reviews, ratings, map, photos, and all sorts of information at the Googler’s fingertips.
2. Google Profile
Additionally and exclusive of your business, setting up a Google Profile for you-as-a-person provides another opportunity for your business to be found online, as you’ll list it and other professional information in your profile. Executive Chef Gianfranco Chiarini’s Google profile is an excellent example of a professional profile promoting the places he’s crossed paths with.
A blog is the fastest way to increase your Google page rank. Maintaining a blog for your business is key to keeping your website on the radar of search engines. Fresh content such as blog posts can be made available to interested readers via RSS (Readers) and delivered to email inboxes by opting in, and provides consistent, naturally keyword-rich content to search engines. SocialMediaExaminer.com has an excellent article about getting started with a business blog. Copyblogger.com is a good resource for how to write for an online audience.
4. Blog commenting
Commenting on other blogs allows you to leave a trail of thoughts and commentary. Sign up for a Gravatar so that when you leave a comment, your avatar appears next to it. This digital breadcrumb helps define your opinions as trustworthy and authoritative. Pick a handful of blogs that you find useful, and you’ll likely find readers of those same blogs paying your own website and blog a visit. Excellent blogs to explore and comment on include OPENforum, SmallBizTrends, and blogs listed in a wide variety of industries on AllTop.com. Don’t forget your local bloggers.
Ever notice when you Google something, a strip of videos might pop up near the top of the first page of listings? In fact, type in New york oyster restaurants into a Google search field and marvel at all the videos that are listed alongside the listings. This is no accident – the restaurants that pop up have videos embedded into their Google Place accounts (see above). You can even set up a branded YouTube Channel (or Vimeo, Viddler, Tubemogel) to upload, tag, create playlists, and favorite other people’s videos. Embed your videos into your blog and webpages, and share them on your social places.
6. Social Media
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, Posterous, and mobile location-based applications like Foursquare, GoWalla, BrightKite or MyTown, or whatever is popular in your area. Post links to your blogs, videos, Flickr galleries, along with links to anything relevant you find cool and interesting – and what your audience might find valuable.
7. Link sharing
Link sharing is a lot like cross-promoting. Ask a neighbor (like a local biz or event) to swap links. You promote them with a link, and they return the favor.
8. Review websites
Review websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, CitySearch, UrbanSpoon and so many others, along with Google Places, are all websites you should be monitoring for good press, bad press and general listening to what customers are saying about you. Stay on top of them and attend to reviews and comments that require action. Not necessarily review websites, but certain mobile location apps like Foursquare allow people can leave tips about your business for other users. Peek in often to see what your customers are sharing about you, and keep these sites updated with your most current information.
9. Online Industry Hubs
Search for businesses on article hubs like Alltop, Technorati and PostRank. If your blog has something to offer to certain topic genres, ask to be considered for a link. I’m a big fan of AllTop. Automatically posted from the Deep Dish Creative blog, my posts can be found in the AllTop Tourism Industry page. I find all sorts of fresh information relating to the tourism and travel in that section. Travel & Tourism-related Twitter chats such as #tourismchat, #TNI among others are a gold mine of information from industry thought leaders and people in the field. Tune in, listen and dip a toe into conversations that are important to your business.
10. Repurposing Blog Posts
Get more mileage from your blog posts by repurposing the content via other online channels. NetworkedBlogs is a Facebook application that brings your blog feed into a tab on your Facebook fan page. It automatically pulls your blog posts in to your fan page so no need for any other action. Like all of Facebook, its instantly sharable. Ezinearticles.com allows you to add articles to their search engine gold mine. You’ll want to cull down the outbound links and imagery, but that website is a regular top-ranker with topics of all sorts. Similarly, Examiner.com allows you to claim a category or niche to write about. Slideshare and Docstoc are also great places to park presentations or reformat your blog posts into presentation-type documents to make available for download and sharing. If you think they are valuable enough, you could even charge for access to them.
Page 25 (of 26) of the presentation from the VTIC workshop has several dozen links to these and other resources for getting found online. Find the Beyond SEO – Targeted Visibility Across the Web slide deck here, and view the Resources page (pg. 25) in full screen to access the links.
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