Not too long ago, when I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed right out of graduate school, I was ready to take on the world with my newfound marketing knowledge. “I’m so hirable! I’ll just go and fling endless copies of my resume into the internet ether!” I thought. Needless to say, resume reading algorithms ignored me for months, despite careful iterations worked through with the career counselor. I finally got noticed by employers after I put in the extra effort to attend networking events and reach out to people I knew.
This is a story we’ve all heard and experienced ourselves. But what about your website? If your website is feeling a little…ignored…even if you’ve exhausted all SEO optimization tactics, maybe it’s time for your website to do a little bit of “networking” of its own.
Put Yourself Out There
For an introvert like me, I’m just as comfortable networking as a polar bear hanging out in sub-Saharan Africa. However, who you interact with and their perception of you have a huge bearing on your success. In an increasingly socialized world, major search engines do take into account social signals for organic search rankings. Make sure to set up and maintain a Google My Business account, where businesses can manage Google products attached to their business, including Google+. Gaining 100 Google+ followers can increase rankings by up to 15 percent,1 elevate the chances of your business being found via Google Maps, and boost organic search engine result page (SERP) real estate on branded searches – all to increase website traffic. You’ll need to put some work into making sure you’re set up for the right people to find you.
Have Something Memorable to Say
Now that you’ve shown up, the next step is to be memorable. Customers are inundated with choices every day; what makes you the one they want to choose? Content development is more important than ever; customers want to know that the businesses they decide to purchase from are trusted authorities in their industries. Creating memorable content that people will want to share and promoting it in your established social circles will benefit not only brand awareness but also your industry authority.2 In addition, circulating memorable content increases the likelihood that others will want to cite it themselves, which results in increased external link count. All of this will help your organic rankings (and traffic) in the long run, not to mention referral traffic from these external sources. People remember interesting people with original ideas; businesses are no different.
You are a Whole
I happened to strike up a conversation with a stranger about food once (I’m a bit of a food experimentalist and Instagrammer), and it resulted in a work opportunity. It’s easy to forget that what you do outside of your work life can sometimes help you secure that connection with somebody. Businesses can benefit by remembering to comb through all activities, no matter how unrelated they seem, to discover how these activities can help drive traffic to the site. Does your business have a sponsorship program for educational institutions? Does it have leaders who speak at industry events often? Make sure these other websites are linking back to your site, and strike up lasting relationships with them. You’ll increase website traffic, and you never know if a potential lead can come to your site via referral traffic.
My eyes have since gotten duller with age and my tail is now lasered off, but my efforts paid off when I landed this sweet gig. Optimizing every page element and aspect of your site is definitely a core piece of the puzzle, but don’t forget these “networking” tips to help your site’s traffic get to where it needs to be.
2 External link count is the number of follow links that point back to your site. Google uses this as a measure of credibility; the idea is that, the more people link to you, the more authority you have on the subject.