The greater your company's visibility is online, the more links your site will get. People link to sites they know or have heard a lot about. The more a person is exposed to your company name, the more familiar it will be to them. That equals more links and more direct sales.
Here are some methods to build brand awareness and exposure online.
I'm not talking about submitting an article to 1,000 article directories. I'm talking about the more traditional marketing strategy of getting published. These articles could be how-to, advice, or opinion columns. Target all kinds of sites in your vertical and places your customers would frequent. These sites could range from nonprofit organization, to hobbyist, to newspapers.
Want to get interviewed by the press? There's a great likelihood they'll contact you if your company has good online exposure. Just make sure it's easy for them to contact you by phone. Often the media is just looking for a comment to add into their piece. That goes to the first person who answers their phone call.
One way to speed up this process is to start networking with colleagues to get an introduction to people in the press who cover your industry. LinkedIn is an excellent tool for this.
Forums & Discussion Groups
Those signature links have little value in terms of search engines -- yet they can do wonders for building your company's reputations. Keep in mind many bloggers are in forums looking for topics to write about. Either answer questions or contribute to the discussion.
Put together a list of the most influential blogs for your industry and audience. Then have someone contribute to the discussion in the comments. Expand on the topic that was written about and even point out additional resources. Make sure the comments are insightful and non-promotional.
Gather a list of sites where people commonly post questions about your industry or product. Then be the first or second person to provide the answer. Just don't be promotional.
There's no need to worry about social media anymore because the rumor is Twitter is replacing all social media. Read one of the thousands of blog posts written in the past day about Twitter for more information. To quote the Borg from "Star Trek," "Resistance is futile."
If you don't believe the hype, then be brave and get involved in social media sites. You'll find that they're still vibrant and growing, and that there really is more to social media than Twitter. Many sites have groups dedicated to specific topics, such as travel, fashion, or careers. If there's no topic for your vertical, start one today! Even better, get creative and start a better group with a unique perspective.
The trick with any of these strategies is to have the people in place to handle the workload. It takes dedication because this isn't a one-time process.
An example would be having a person dedicate an hour each day to answering questions on forums. Another example would be to hire someone to handle your online public relations from social media, to getting your company published, to discussion forums. That really depends on your company's needs and budget.
The important thing is to set up a regular schedule. Remember, good link development is just good marketing.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!