If you’re a small fish in a big pond, getting noticed (ranked) by search engines is never easy. Common businesses such as car dealerships, real estate agents, lawyers, restaurants or doctors have a hard time showing up in search engine rankings. This is because you’re not only competing with hundreds of other businesses just like yours, but when it comes to link building, each business is trying to optimize for the same keywords.
Unique, well-written content will attract natural links that can help balance out low quality directory links, blog comments, and spammy article marketing. But where do you start and how do you make your business stand out?
The world only needs so many mortgage or car payment calculators. I'd like to offer a few tactics to get you moving (and thinking) in the right direction.
Many businesses are afraid of user-generated content. They think the worst – negative comments, brand-bashing, or customer service horror stories. Unless your company really has unhappy customers who would do this sort of thing, (in which case SEO is the least of your troubles), the fear is generally exaggerated. It is possible to use UGC and still control the message.
A good medium for that is your Google Places page. It allows for customers to leave their feedback and rate your business for other users to see. Why not ask your happy customers to go in and rate your business? Do this consistently and by the time you get 1 negative comment (trust me, it will happen), you’ll have so many other success stories for people to read that the negative comment will be overshadowed.
This is another spin on the car dealership idea. If you're a restaurant, you have no choice but to deal with customer reviews. These comments really can make or break your business, similar to word-of-mouth marketing. Especially now that there are entire websites dedicated to flooding the internet with positive (or negative) reviews.
Why not ask for feedback from your happy patrons in a way that naturally spins positive? For example, add a feature to your website where you ask people to post pictures of their favorite dish from your restaurant. No one will post a picture of something they dislike so naturally the haters will not participate. Meanwhile, you’ve turned your happy customers into brand evangelists who will love seeing their photo posted online and will naturally tell their friends about their experience.
Real estate websites have a tendency to be generic. Each one talks about why it's time to buy, how to find a decent interest rate, etc. They’ll usually allow the user to search for homes near them using the MLS. This type of site (albeit done well) is fine, but you’ll need something more to stand out when you’re saying the same thing as 1,000 other real estate websites.
To combat this, focus on the local angle. Think more broadly than just real estate. Talk about the benefits of the neighborhood or city you’re selling in. Are there parks nearby? Are there good schools? What kinds of recreation activities are close? Skiing? A lake? Don't be afraid to get a little personal. Especially because real estate is such a personal and emotional industry to sell in.
Lawyers, like realtors, face the problem of how to say the same things as everyone else and still sound unique. Again, focus on your own niche and draw in the local angle. Talk about local stories and how the laws in your state/city affects your area. This could include crime stories to civil suits. Discuss these stories in the context of your practice and how you’ve helped. You could even have fun with it – talk about weird laws in your state or city, for example. The advantages?
If there's a theme here, it's that you can't be afraid to start getting creative, even if you think you're in a "boring" industry. Think about what got you into your business in the first place – there's always a story, and the more you put your own spin on content, the more authentic and unique it will naturally become. Say something that no one else is saying, and natural links will create themselves. Feel free to contact us if you need help with getting creative content on your webiste.