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A lot of people think SEO is a very technical marketing strategy involving digital wizardry and advanced coding skills which only boffins are capable of doing.
I say this is complete nonsense. People who read my blog articles on SEO on a regular basis or who have worked with me in person will know this already. For the rest of you welcome…
There is so much mumbo jumbo flying about the SEO world it’s untrue. I want everyone to know that SEO isn’t that hard or technical most of the time. And I also want my clients to know that what I am doing is totally white-hat and transparent and doesn’t involve a team of guys in India who build junk links.
Whilst an excellent search marketing whizz certainly has a very strong technical background and level of ability, I’ve found that really simple, common sense stuff often gets the best results. You’ll find that a really good digital marketing consultant will spend a great deal of his or her time doing really simple non-technical work. #Ready?
So what is my Killer Offline SEO Strategy for Startups? How can a Bunch of Guys & Gals with a Big Idea and Very Little Cash Begin to Move their Website up the Search Results by Doing a bit of Offline Work?
I’m assuming that you’ve already got a website which has a load of useful articles and pages (what I call killer content) relevant to your target market. For those who don’t have that yet then I suggest you begin there and come back to this guide when you’re ready because without that you’re wasting everybody’s time including mine.
Offline SEO – A Really Simple Strategy
So today we are going to talk about two very effective ways you can improve your search presence without using a computer really very much at all. It’s time to turn your head away from the screen and enter the world of alternative and totally effective offline SEO which some people pay a lot of money for.
1 Get on the Phone
Okay so you might need to turn back to the screen to do a bit of research for this one and if you really are a startup you’re definitely using Viber or something. But the main activity is most definitely offline. You are not writing code and you are not making digital sparks fly around the room or doing anything remotely technical. You are using common sense and some old-skool (with a k) sales tactics.
The aim of the game is this: you identify a bunch of people who might actually be genuinely interested in reading your killer content or perhaps knowing about your fantastic new product or service.
You are particularly trying to find people who will possibly share this via a small local publication and a website. Think clubs. Think village and town websites. Think local news. Think societies. Also think about local businesses and organisations that are not direct competitors to you but perhaps are related to your business somehow.
They need to have a website whoever they are. It doesn’t really matter if it hasn’t been updated since 1998. In fact, I would say that might well even be a really good thing. So long as it’s a website and it’s local and relevant in a vague way to what you do: it’s a target.
Make a list. It needn’t be a long list. Start with ten people/businesses/organisations/groups. Focus on quality over quantity. Keep it local. You need a contact name and a phone number and a bit of background so you can have a nice chat.
Pro tip: you can often find domain name owner telephone numbers by doing a whois lookup.
Here’s a Simple Real Life Example
I did this for a tree surgeon. I came up with a list of fifteen targets. It took me half an hour in Google to do that. A few on my list were local garden centres. One was a private allotment group. Another was a local student newspaper. There rest were village websites owned by well-to-do individuals who like to blog about things like dog mess and speeding cars and other such fascinating subject matters.
All were local. All were well established. All had websites. All were perfect targets. I could get a lot more targets but this was enough to begin having some fun.
The objective is to get a link from their website to yours. Be creative in how you go about it. By this I mean do just about anything. I always say that when it comes to launching a new business it’s no holds barred. The easiest way is to give them a reason to link to you. Give them some bait. Sometimes just phoning up and having a nice chat and taking an interest and then asking is enough. But it’s much better if you have a really good motivation for calling. Have something to share with them. I don’t care what you say or do or decide to share with them. Just come up with some bait.
Pro Tip: If in doubt, do something good.
With the tree surgeon it was a petition to save an old tree. There really was an old tree which needed saving. It’s just nobody had yet thought to save it yet. I didn’t grovel at all for those links. I gave those website owners all a really good reason to link to particular pages on the tree surgeon’s website. It turned out everyone who answered the phone wanted to save the old tree. In total it took two hours of work. Four links! You’d never get four quality links like that in the same time working online!
So that’s it boys and girls! Lesson over. Time for lunch. That’s killer offline SEO on a budget. People pay a lot of money for this stuff. And it ain’t technical or complicated but it sure works!
So get ten targets, come up with some link bait and get on the phone. Do it today. If not today, tomorrow. Do it every week. Even if you score one out of ten it is totally worth it. Trust me. If you are a local business and you keep doing this you will toast the competition in Google.
So there’s another middle finger to those who say you need a large budget to get your startup business off the ground.
Pro Tip: Once they’ve agreed to publish a link then email them the link to use on their website. Give them the HTML if possible. Include keywords in the anchor text which align with the title and content of your page. Try to use a slight variation for each one and not make them all the same. I will write another article soon on anchor text to help with this.
Do that a few times and be clever about the landing pages and keywords and you will be soaring up the Google love charts. Trust me. That is a killer tactic. But it can only really work if you have Killer Content.
2 Get on the Stage
Giving a talk is another killer way to score some high quality links. It’s not for everyone but if there’s someone in your team who just loves to talk, let them!
You need to think about who might be interested in listening to begin with because not everybody finds your business that interesting (sorry). But there might be some really cool industry talks coming up where people would be genuinely interested in what you have to share. Why not contribute? Why not give a talk to university students?
You need to make sure that the event organisers have a decent website which is ranking well for something vaguely related to what you are doing.
Then you need to come up with a good idea for your talk and pitch it to them. Sell it to them. If they say “no” then ask them politely to put you on the list for next year and try someone else. There’s a serious shortage of people in the world who are willing to go up on stage and share their knowledge. Doing so is not only great for PR but if you’re smart it can be great for SEO.
Well, to start, ask the organisers if they will put a profile and a link on their website so that people can get to know your business before the event. Give them the HTML and make life dead easy for them.
The next thing you need to do is come up with a good talk which is both interesting and relevant. I don’t care what you talk about or what your subject matter is. They are your audience. You will know what they like. Engage them.
The aim of the game is to get people in the audience to link to your website. If it’s a big event you can be sure that a few people are blogging it. And probably quite a few more in the audience have some involvement in a website somewhere.
So you need to give these guys a reason to link to you. You need to come up with some more link bait on your website before the event. It doesn’t need to rock the room but it needs to be very good to attract links. Then you need to prompt people to link to it. Ask if anyone’s blogging in the room. Find out who the publishers are. Make friends with them and get their telephone numbers to follow up!
Ideas for link bait include: new research, new products, new tools, new ideas, something for charity or something that’s just funny!
Are you seeing a pattern here in this offline SEO strategy?
The big question will always be: can you be bothered to do it? Most people can’t.
Until next time…