Having spent so much time over the past year reading about SEO, in an effort to figure out the best-practices of great SEOs; I have found one principle that comes up time and again: Symmetry. I think great SEOs look for single tactics that provide a turn-on for the site’s visitors and the search engines.
The simplest example of this would be… to state what the site is about in clear writing and then highlight it in some fashion, the h tags are mentioned quite a bit. This will help search engines to know what the site is about, while preventing folks from hitting the back button because they weren’t sure they were in the right place. However simple that is… I think that is an SEO best-practice.
But what about link building…? Can I find symmetry for a local service business?
In an article, co-authored by Eric Ward, Robin Nobles and John Alexander titled Over 125 (Legitimate) Link Building Strategies, written over 5 years ago (I think), it states:
â€œOur position is pretty straight forward…it’s not the technique that we are concerned about, it’s the intention.â€
What this quote means to me is that I should not try to get links to the site with the sole “intention” of ranking the site. That, I should instead, find some legitimate business reason for that site to link to mine and then my site will naturally move up in the serps. In other words: find symmetry.
The symmetry that I find most referred to in link-building is to find links from topically related authority domains that will provide high quality traffic. It is difficult to argue with this tried and true method from the traditional-link-building-vault: except that it really won’t work for a local service business.
Why? Because the best traffic producing links for a local service business are from Internet Yellow Pages, but they won’t help a website to move up naturally in the serps. (I recently made the mistake of trying to explain to someone that links are an important part of ranking on Google, but IYP links don’t count; I thought their head was going to explode).
Of course, the local service business should still get links from IYPs, paid or otherwise, depending on ROI, traffic needs etc., but where does that leave us with respect to the symmetry we seek.
Are there other sites in such a geographically narrow space that I could rely on for quality traffic? I’m sure there are, but I might need to begin measuring conversion rates in years and decades instead of weeks and months.
What is the very best link building strategy for a local service business?
Here is what I believe to be the answer to that question:
In the same way that the best links for traditional websites are those that help with traffic, the best links for a local service business are those that provide help with conversions.
I have seen empirical evidence that the mention of associations to which the business belongs in print ads can lead to more phone calls from that ad. The Better Business Bureau is the most obvious example of this type of association, others are chambers of commerce etc.. But I think there are even better ones. Most preferably, they would come from organizations that have huge barriers to entry and are topically related to the service provided by the business.
They are the ultimate spamguard for search engines because no spammer is going to study Landscape Architecture for 4 years just so that they could get a link from the American Society of Landscape Architects. So, they should provide an advantage over other types of links in ranking, while at the same time make a visitor more likely to hire such a business when that membership is displayed prominently on the website.
That feels like the link building symmetry for a local service business that I’ve been seeking.
Any membership or association that would help a visitor decide to do business with that business qualifies.
Multiple associations and memberships displayed prominently on the site raises the credibility of the business owner. And this could create a predisposition to hiring the business with less sensitivity to price. Which is the basic symmetry of all advertising.