As local search heats up, the competition for the top organic spots becomes keen. This will only intensify as more local businesses enter search marketing, thereby increasing competition for organic results and the cost of an effective PPC campaign.
As the cost of PPC rises, more people will turn their attention to organic search. Additionally, we have all those national and international sites to compete against. In order to maintain your current rankings or even gain rankings, it is important to be proactive in link building now. It is much easier and less costly to maintain your current rankings than to try to catch up once you have slipped to page three, or seven, or 15 in search results.
The Link Building-Public Relations Connection
The beauty of link building for a company targeting geo-specific terms such as Orlando Resorts, Las Vegas Real Estate, or Miami Plastic Surgery is that it blends very well with marketing strategies such as public relations. If your company currently does not have a strong marketing department, consider hiring a skilled public relations consultant. With a little education on the power of links, your consultant can really get the attention of the right people.
This past July, I spoke at SES Travel about combining link building with online reputation management and public relations. To continue along this theme, I have put together some strategies to utilize your local presence in the community to build positive public relations and additional links at the same time.
- Donate Coffee and Food: For those in the hospitality industry such as resorts and hotels, utilize your down time resources to help your local community. Send hot coffee and food to a local fire department or a community outreach program. When a fire or other life-altering event strikes, use that event as a vehicle to help your community and gain public exposure at the same time. This is a perfect example of where the public relations person can step in and make sure the right media sources are aware.
- Schedule Speaking Events: Have members of your management team and top sales people speak at various events throughout the year. This could range from Chamber of Commerce events to economic development projects to college events. The idea is to get involved, seeking out those events that the media will most likely cover.
- Sponsor an Event: An event could range from Sunday music in the park to a job expo for returning veterans. Yes, your first thought might be, "that'll be expensive." However, if you find the right idea that benefits the community, it will be easy to team up with other companies and organizations to spread out the cost. Contact the mayors' office, business development corporations, non-profits, and most importantly, local media. Getting the local media involved will guarantee major coverage for your business and promotion of the event.
- Host Discussions: If you have access to conference or meeting facilities, host a discussion to help resolve issues that affect the community. Topics could range from reducing crime to how to keep talented students in the area once they graduate, often referred to as brain drain.
Taking the brain drain example, it is important to maximize media exposure to gain those links. This can be accomplished with a panel of well-known local leaders such as the CEO of a major corporation, a distinguished college professor, or political officials from local government. If you can get a senator or congressperson on the panel, that would be ideal since they generally have better public relations people than your local government officials. Include two college students who are about to graduate on the panel. This will provide a wide array of opinions and promote active discussion. Have each person speak on the topic for five minutes and then let him or her discuss the issue. For the last part of the discussion, invite questions from the audience.
- Present Awards: Give an award for the best teacher, firefighter, police officer, or any of the other underappreciated professions that are vital to our society. Get the local community involved by asking for nominations. Lower your cost by teaming up with another company. An example would be a general contractor teamed up with a travel agency to offer a vacation to Costa Rica as the prize.
These are just a few ideas I came up with off the top of my head. The opportunities are infinite, and you can brainstorm many more. Simply approach it as relationship building with your local community. The links will follow, especially if you have a good public relations person. Remember to make sure the person handling the publicity side of the operation is well versed on the value of links.
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