Third-party credibility is not only important for your brand and overall reputation, but it’s also becoming increasingly important to your firm’s search engine optimization (SEO) efforts as well. For those of you who do not know much about SEO, or need a refresher, SEO is the process of getting web traffic from the “organic,” or “free” search engine results. In other words, SEO is all about improving your search engine rankings and getting your website to appear at the top of that Google search result. In years past, you could hire an SEO firm to trick Google into determining your website to be relevant through methods like keyword stuffing and spammy link-building schemes.
But, times have changed, and Google has caught on. If you’re caught implementing these deceiving methods, your site could get penalized—or even worse, your site could wind up getting removed from the search index altogether. If someone ever tells you they can outsmart Google, be concerned.
As the saying goes, cheaters never win, and winners never cheat. Rather than trying to trick Google and cheat your way to the top of those alluring search results, you should focus your efforts on revealing your true relevancy to search engines; all while earning third-party credibility, too!
The Importance of Local SEO
Local SEO, like the name shows, is simply a form of search engine optimization for a local reach. For small to mid-sized businesses who serve a local or regional clientele, Local SEO is your best-friend; it’s one of the most impactful digital strategies! If you haven’t realized by now, Google tracks your location in order to give you the best search results at any given time. With that being said, Google will give preference to business websites local to the user. By understanding local SEO and strong SEO practices, your firm can begin competing to appear on the first page of those local Google searches.
Having the ability to secure a spot on the first page for key search terms in your area can open a new sales pipeline for your business. Today, more and more businesses and consumers rely on a Google search to find out more about local professional service firms. To put that into prospective, let’s say you’re an accountant in Pittsburgh, and you want to show up on the first page of results for “accountants in Pittsburgh.” If you don’t appear on that first page of results, the likeliness of people discovering you and generating search engine leads become slim.
With our current on-demand and instantaneous culture, it will only continue to drive prospective customers to Google search as a means of identifying and researching businesses and professionals. In simpler terms, if a prospective customer cannot find you in a simple search, you do not exist to a growing segment of the population. When you start to rank on the first page of search results, you will have a distinct advantage over each competitor you outrank.
What Google Wants
When you’re searching for relevant information, Google is searching for signs of relevancy for each site in its index. Google looks at technical factors like site speed, quality of coding, user experience factors (i.e. ease of navigation, mobile optimization), and the quality of the site’s content and how often it’s updated. These potent factors are essential in gaining relevancy to your site, but they also go hand-in-hand with establishing third-party credibility.
Earning backlinks from high authority websites can have an enormous impact on your overall SEO success. For example, let’s say you are a regular contributor to a popular website, and each article you submit includes your bio and a link to your website at the bottom. With this tactic, each article you publish will give you a new backlink from that website; resulting as an endorsement for your site. On top of the SEO value they provide, those backlinks will also drive referral traffic to your website from interested readers who click the link.
High quality, high authority links are hard to fake, and that’s why Google values them as an indicator of a site’s relevancy. Earning these top-quality back links cannot be done without a solid public relations plan. Many SEO specialists have a hard time earning these links because they typically do not have relationships with media producers, editors and reporters that are needed to generate these high authority backlinks on a steady basis. Public relations is needed for that job to be successfully done.
Want to learn more? Download Turning Press Into Profits: A PR Guide For Professional Services Firms today!
Leah Hillegas is a current Advertising Major at Temple University interning at Flackable, a national financial public relations and digital marketing agency. Learn more at www.flackable.com. Follow Leah on Twitter at @leahhillegas.