SEO for Chambers, Part 3: Inbound LinksThursday, August 16, 2012
Your 10-year-old neighbor Bobby sets up a lemonade stand one sunny summer afternoon. At first, passersby are skeptical of the boy’s lemonade. But you know Bobby is a trustworthy kid, so you purchase a cup. When you exclaim how delicious it is, a passing jogger hears and comes over to purchase a cup. The news of Bobby’s great product eventually spreads throughout the neighborhood, and now dozens of people are lining up to buy the 10-year-old’s lemonade.
Bobby owes his success to two factors:
1) He served delicious lemonade.
2) His customers vouched for his credibility.
Your chamber website’s success is directly related to how many websites are vouching for your credibility – or, in SEO-speak, how many sites are providing inbound links to your site.
WHAT ARE INBOUND LINKS?
An inbound link occurs when another website publishes a link to your chamber website. For example, a local bank might write a blog post about small business loans, and link to your chamber’s Small Business Workshop event page.
HOW DO INBOUND LINKS AFFECT SEO?
The benefits of inbound links are based on two variables – not just the quantity, but also the quality of the inbound links.
The quality of an inbound link is determined by the relevancy of the linking webpage to your chamber webpage. (For example, a link from a fellow chamber site is much more valuable than a link from HarryPotterFanClub.com.) Extra ranking power if the link comes from an industry authority site like USChamber.com. Links from websites with the .org top-level domain are also considered by Google to be highly credible inbound links.
The more high quality inbound links you have coming to your website, the better you will perform in search engine results. You can use SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer to determine who is linking to your site.
So, how do you earn inbound links? The same way Bobby earned his customers – by serving up some delicious, fresh-squeezed content.
5 WAYS TO EARN INBOUND LINKS TO YOUR CHAMBER WEBSITE
No matter what aspect of SEO you’re talking about, the strategy always comes back to content. And the best way to generate fresh content on a regular basis is to blog.
To use your blog as part of your inbound link strategy, create remarkable content – content that makes people want to discuss and share it (in other words, link to it).
Write with your audience in mind. Provide answers to common questions, analyze valuable data, and share innovative ideas or best practices. Make content that’s link-worthy.
2) Comment on other blogs.
Look for opportunities to share your links on other blogs within your industry. In the comments section, share your opinion or answer a question, and then link to one of your own blog posts in a way that adds value to your comment.
To find commenting opportunities, use an RSS reader like Google Reader to create a list of blogs related to your industry. For chambers, these could be other chamber blogs, local business blogs, business news blogs, etc. Spend a few minutes every day perusing recent posts.
3) Maintain a dynamic media room.
An up-to-date media room will encourage journalists to link to your web content when they need sources for stories. Be sure to include a variety of different mediums – for ideas, check out these 10 online media room must-haves.
4) Use social media to push out your content.
As you publish content, whether it be on your blog or media room or somewhere else, promote it on social networks to help it spread. Share blog posts on Twitter and Facebook; videos on YouTube; podcasts on iTunes; and presentations on SlideShare.
Also be sure to include social media share buttons on every link-worthy item of your website.
5) Provide members with a website badge.
Let members proudly display their chamber affiliation with a website badge that links to your chamber website. Simply design a .jpeg or .png image, develop a linked code, and encourage members to embed it in their webpage! For a great example, check out the US Green Chamber member badge.
The process of generating inbound links is an intensive, time-consuming process – but it’s well worth the effort. If at any time you begin to feel overwhelmed, just remember the key to building inbound links is really quite simple – just try to create content that people will want to share.
I hope you have enjoyed Parts 1, 2 and 3 of SEO for Chambers! For the past three weeks, we have discussed how to get your pages indexed, how to choose and use keywords, and, today, how to earn inbound links.
And if you ever find yourself overwhelmed by all the “rules” of SEO, take a deep breath...and remember these two simple steps – be authentic, and create valuable content!
HOW ARE WE DOING?
We have a few more weeks left of the Summer of Search, so I thought it might be a good time to ask for some feedback. Have you found these posts to be useful? What other aspects of Search Engine Marketing would you like to see discussed here? Please leave a comment below or email me at Jeff@jeffklineonline!