Believe it or not, you don’t need a computer to improve your SEO.
Back in 2006, former Googler Matt Cutts claimed that there were over 200 ranking factors that contribute to your website’s SEO. In reality though, that number is a total crock of crap. The general consensus is that there are way, way more than 200 ranking factors. In fact, there may even be a few that you can influence offline, without a computer.
What is Offline SEO?
Offline SEO is exactly what it sounds like: it’s the process of getting more and better organic traffic to your website without using the internet directly. While all of these options do ultimately rely on the internet, they can all be done by a business owner with absolutely no internet access.
Trust me, it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Let’s dive in.
1. Get more reviews
Getting more reviews is one of the best ways to market your business, period.
Growing your reviews on Google can directly and dramatically improve your SEO. It can also make your business more clickable in search results and help convert shoppers who are already looking at your business.
Generally, reviews on Google and Yelp carry the most weight, but other websites may matter more depending on your industry and geographical area.
The hard part is getting those first few good reviews—especially if you’re not in a glamorous industry. Try asking for a review as soon as you finish up with a customer, send them links to your profiles, and make sure it’s easy to find links to your Yelp, Google my Business, and other profiles on your website.
- 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Google Reviews
- The 5 Worst Ways Contractors Try to Get More Yelp Reviews
- Monitoring your online reputation
2. Join a Chamber of Commerce
If you’re a local business, joining a chamber of commerce can have a pretty dramatic effect on your SEO.
First off, the chamber will typically add you to their business directory, along with a link to your website. This isn’t a link from just any old directory: it’s a link from a business association that’s probably been around for a few decades, probably has links from all sorts of local associations and government institutions, and is generally well respected in the community. That link alone can quickly supercharge your other SEO efforts.
But that’s not all you’ll get. Most chambers will also list your business’s name, address, and phone number. We nerds call that a “structured citation,” and when it matches the info on your Google local listing, Google will have much more faith that your info is accurate. As a result, they will show your listing just a little more often, or rank it just a little higher for competitive searches.
Of course, you can also use your membership to network with other local business owners. If you meet a real estate agent who might be willing to recommend your real estate business, you might be able to turn that into a link from their website.
3. Get a billboard
How can getting a billboard help your SEO?
Well, Google’s relationship with brands is pretty tricky, and we don’t know with absolute certainty how that relationship works.
Best case scenario, more people will search for your business by name, which shows Google that you’re important in the real world, and that alone will boost your rankings for all sorts of valuable keywords. Worst case scenario, the billboard will help people recognize your brand when they see it in competitive search results, potentially skipping over other companies that they haven’t heard of before to click on you.
That’s the tip of the iceberg, though. Boosting your branded searches can also help get you more links, grow your shares on social media, and make all your other SEO efforts work just a little better.
For more on the relationship between branding and SEO, check out this video.
4. Sponsor a charity
Whether you sponsor a local charity, one related to your industry, or one where you have a real connection outside of business, there’s a good possibility it can help your SEO.
First, you’ll often get a link from the charity’s website, which carries a lot of the same benefits as joining a chamber of commerce.
Second, you’ll typically get a lot of branded benefits. If your brand appears on some of the charity’s signage, expect some of the same benefits as sponsoring a billboard, except with more goodwill from potential customers. Many charities also have social media followings that are much larger than followings of comparably sized businesses, which means your brand can quickly tap into a large, established audience.
But SEO aside, more and more consumers want to support socially conscious companies. According to Grade Custom Ingredients Group, 84% of consumers seek out responsible products whenever possible, and 90% boycott companies with irresponsible business practices.
While supporting a charity won’t magically make your corporate responsibility problems go away, it can help tip the scales. That’s especially true if you pick a charity that is in line with your company’s actual values.
5. Over deliver on everything
Have you been to The Halal Guys this month? No? Well, what are you waiting for?#TheHalalGuys #WeAreDifferent pic.twitter.com/DdGG1BOwPs
— The Halal Guys (@HalalGuys) August 22, 2017
One of the best ways to get more links and reviews, without asking for them, is to go completely above and beyond while doing your job.
Not too long ago, I checked out The Halal Guys in San Francisco. Since my SEO skills are a little more developed than my sense of balance, I managed to immediately spill a tray full of food right in the middle of the dining room.
Without skipping a beat, the guy at the counter waved me over, asked “what did you order?”, and made the order again.
I was so floored that I gave them 5 star reviews on Yelp and Google before I even left the restaurant, and their director of operations left me a couple great replies on both platforms. They also just got a pretty decent link from this blog post, and now you’re probably being exposed to their brand for the first time too. Not too bad for the cost of a couple of combo plates, right?
6. Become a source for reporters
Local news outlets are always hungry for more content, and often they’re happy to hear from local business owners. Just offer to share insights about small business ownership in your town, about your industry, or about anything else you might be qualified to talk about.
If the publication is only in print, you’ll still get some of those billboard benefits. If the publication is online too, you should hopefully get a link out of it.
If you wanted to take this tactic online, there’s a site called Help a Reporter Out where you can offer to be a source for bloggers and reporters all over the country. Oh, and it’s free. You can check out my guide on using HARO for link building to get started.
When using this approach, just be sure not to over-define your area of expertise. For example, Commercial Locks and Doors is a door, lock and access control system contractor, so you might think that’s all they’re qualified to talk about.
In reality, they’re also qualified to talk about:
- Being a small business serving B2B customers
- Life and work in the San Francisco Bay Area
- Working with subcontractors, and as a subcontractor
- Working with municipal clients vs. commercial clients
- Small business security
- Their own HR, marketing, and operational stories
- And more
So don’t overlook good link opportunities because you think you’re not a legitimate source. Often, all journalists and bloggers are looking for is someone with a specific perspective to contribute to their larger point.
7. Do something newsworthy
Getting covered by local news outlets is great, but what if you wanted national coverage?
Doing something truly newsworthy is the quickest way to get links, exposure, and a ton of new customers. You could be like this roofer who gave away a free assault rifle with every new roof, this DUI attorney who offered a scholarship for underage drunk driving, or this restaurant that turned their insanely hot wings into a competitive eating challenge that landed them on Food Network. The sky’s the limit. Just remember: if your stunt works and earns you a ton of coverage, your business will be tied to that stunt forever. So, keep that in mind before you decide to do anything too polarizing.