Are you a non-profit organization, an affiliate or networking group, or even a local government? Listen up!

Your website is a place for your members to go to for community or organization information. You host events, provide education, and post important notices.  You want the people you’re doing this for to be able to take full advantage of your efforts. In todays electronic world, you need online visibility! What makes this difficult sometimes, is that one of the most effecting tool in boosting Search Engine Optimization (SEO) may not be the most effective for you. I’m talking about Local Listings.

google-listing-sls

Example of Google Listing

Local Listings are directories where business owners can create an online profile detailing your name, address, phone number and more. But in most cases, to do this – you need a LOCATION. Some groups do, but a lot of them don’t. Many Associations meet at other local businesses, restaurants, meeting halls, etc for their monthly meet-ups and don’t have an actual physical address that would make sense for their group, or that isn’t already claimed by an established brick & mortar local business.

Now, that being said, just because you don’t have your own location – doesn’t mean you’re at a disadvantage for SEO! There are other ways to build links – and these practices I am about to suggest is arguably MORE effective than what a local listing service could provide.

Listings and directories are really about one thing, reputable link building. Years ago, people would buy links for their website on what were called “link farms.” All these pages did was create more links back to your website, tricking Google into thinking your site had really great, high-demand content. Google, of course, got smart to this practice and effectively shut it down, by penalizing businesses’ search rankings who had links coming from these farms. Confused? Don’t be. What matters most, is that this policy enforced a reward system to websites who built QUALITY links to and from their website.

From your website:

Link building from your website has two main parts.

1) Include links to your members websites, or better yet – create a directory of members! Wolf River Builders does a great job housing a directory of all of their builder members, linking the page up to their websites. And, any other associates that you are affiliated with, or – like NEW Business Success Summit – event sponsors,  should also be listed and linked.

2) Include links throughout your content. Linking to sources and supplemental information is a great way to build a link network with other trustworthy websites.

To your website:

Best ways to build links to your website

1) There are many people who use Blog Comment Linking as a way to build links to their site If you have any type of blog – judging by all of the “spam-like” comments you receive, you can tell that it is practiced pretty heavily. So does it work? According to Matt Cutts, former head of Google web spam team, it’s perfectly fine. His tips for this are to leave topically relevant comments on topically relevant websites – add value to the conversation – not just a link to your website. Also, post from your name, rather than your business or website name, for will have a better response rate.

Layout 12) Finally, ask your members to link back to you! Whether its community businesses or members in a networking group. Let your businesses show their pride in their affiliations. Many times, as a web designer I have to go seeking out logos and artwork to share my clients associations. Shawano Country Chamber does an amazing job of reminding it’s members to share their affiliation and the benefits of doing so. Each year they email a dated membership logo and with a call to action for their members to use their logo on their website and within their marketing materials.  All networking, chamber, government, affiliate and non-profit groups should be doing this. Companies love to show what organizations they are in support of, and its a win-win for both of your search rankings!

In conclusion, there are many good link building practices out there – no matter what type of organization you are. Put some extra attention on your content and how you may be able to link that out to available resources for your visitors and cross-link with your affiliated members and groups whenever possible. Your analytics will thank you.