Before search engines, digital marketers didn’t worry about what another company thought about the way that they included keywords in their posts.
Instead, they would go out into the community, interact with those in the industry and drive traffic to their website the good old-fashioned way.
As paid ads and SEO have become more popular, traffic generation via community participation have begun to dwindle. Fewer marketers than ever seem to be interested in getting their hands dirty and driving traffic from the community.
Well, in this post we’ll be showing you why participating in your online community is vital, and why it’s the most important thing for any digital marketer or local business owner to be doing.
In the world of offline business, we all recognize the impact that powerful relationships can have. They might bring a huge client to you by way of association, or they could help you to cut your costs drastically.
For some reason, this hasn’t translated to the online world. Website owners don’t seem to be as interested in networking and finding mutually beneficial ways for them to work together, which is a huge shame because there is so much potential.
One of the best reasons to network with other websites in your industry or local area is for cross-promotion. This is where you promote each other’s websites and businesses to your corresponding audience.
This works best with another company in the same industry but with a slightly different target customer. For example; you could run a lawn cutting service, and the other company might do landscape design.
Both of your customers are people interested in improving their garden, but you each offer different services, this way you don’t cannibalize your sales.
Guest Posts and Features
Once you’ve participated in the community and networked with other blog and website owners, you’ll be able to have the chance to guest post on their website or feature your content. This is a fantastic link building method because it’s like guest posting on steroids.
These are real relationships, and that means that rather than just guest posting once you can continue to contribute over and over. This is particularly powerful for building links to pages that you’re struggling to rank.
These featured articles are going to drive targeted traffic directly to your website, converting into paying customers, but they’ll also include links that will boost your rankings. Win, win!
One of the most undervalued aspects of community participation is the opportunity to attract freelance work. Although this isn’t what you might want to be doing, it can potentially be very lucrative.
We know people that have been offered hundreds or even thousands of dollars to write articles for well-known newspapers and publications. Not only is this a great opportunity for you to build your brand and potentially score a link back to your website, but you’ll also get paid!
This type of freelance work is available in almost every industry. Even if you work in an obscure niche like waste removal or industrial building, there’s bound to be industry magazines or online publications that hire writers.
Small businesses often make the mistake of thinking that brand awareness is an issue that only big companies need to deal with, but they couldn’t be further from the truth.
When you compete in a smaller, local market, brand awareness is even more powerful because it’s easier to dominate the mind space of your potential customers. This way, you can earn more business just by being more visible in the community and being the first company that comes to mind when they need the service or product that you offer.
Participating in the blog comments section or on industry forums might seem like a waste of time, but it can help to generate traffic and also small links that can be relatively powerful.
If your business is in an industry where the average customer is worth a significant sum of money, community interaction can generate some serious cash for your business. But even if you’re not, the links alone are worth it.
While a single forum link might not be worth a lot, the links in your forum profile can be. As you post more in the forum the strength of your profile will increase drastically as the internal links on the site add ‘link juice’ to your profile page.
Overtime these profile page links can become surprisingly powerful, and when you’re working in a local niche, a single powerful link can have a huge impact on rankings.
Create Lifelong Fans
Finally, community interaction is an easy way to create long term fans. If you can answer a few messages each week on a forum, then you’ll easily be able to attract fans.
These people will feel indebted to you for the help that you’ve given them, and this makes them far more likely to share your content and buy from you in the future.
Think of community participation as an investment in the future of your brand.