Real World SEO : Motivate Your Customers to Link
Yesterday I made a guest blogging post at the V7N Search Marketing Blog on how a local business can motivate its customer base to write about the business and link to the business through promotions and incentives.
Membership driven businesses, like video stores or health clubs, have an advantage over other businesses as they keep detailed records of their customers, their shopping, demographic or psychographic behavior, and their contact information. For an example of mobilizing a customer base to do your organic site linking for you, I used a health club as an example. The gym industry jargon could however be easily replaced with that of a video store, doctor’s office, chiropractic clinic, or coffee shop with a member’s program.
According to Dave Sifry’s State of the Blogosphere, blogging is growing at a phenominal rate, with the blogosphere that Technorati tracks doubling about every 6 months. The rate of active bloggers is also growing, with 55% of all new bloggers still making regular posts after their first 3 months.
Chances are that you have some rather active bloggers as customers and don’t even know it. Heck, you may even have a Jeremy Zawodny, Darren Rowse, Nick Denton or Steve Rubel doing their sipping, shopping or power squatting in one of your franchises or locations… the power that can be harnessed by your customer base is surprising at almost any level.
So, back to SEO and linking : Here’s how a business can get its customer base motivated to get linking and blogging:
1. When collecting information from new club members, along with phone numbers and email addresses, be sure to ask them if they have a blog (web log, or online diary) or personal web site. Add their blogs to your database.
2. Email the blog owning list with a coupon for a $20 membership fee credit (or a free t-shirt – which should be free anyway, or a free bottle of protein drink or whatever) if they blog a review about the club and link to the gym’s web site.
3. Mirror the promotion in the gym : put up signs on the front door, in the locker room, near the car key basket and above the urinals and water cooler. Anywhere from 10% to 50% of your members could be blogging. If you have 3,000 active members, the promo could easily result in links to your site and reviews of your gym on the blogs of 500 members.
4. Set up a user PC in the gym. When members see that they can save $20 by spending 5 minutes to access their blog and write about the gym, they won’t think twice about blogging then and there. The PC will also be a way to view member sites to make sure that the links are live and active.
5. As an extra bonus, include the blog promotion in the current print advertising campaigns which are going out to local newspapers and mailbox flyers. New members who blog about the fitness club get the discount or free item, make sure to add that this promo is also open for current members.
6. The new member promo will attract active older and younger blogging potential members to the club, possibly being a deciding factor during their decision making process.
7. The more people blog about your club, the more citations and links you receive, the higher your rankings will become in normal and LOCAL search results = which are the Yellow Pages of the very near future.
Better yet, these bloggers are using natural language to describe your business, its location and your products or services. The end result is a semantics goldmine of long tail content and diverse anchor text driving users to your business.
8. The end result will be more traffic to your site and more importantly, through your front door. Now, just get started addressing your site’s usability and overall image.