“‘Tis better to give than to receive.” It’s a favorite refrain this time of year. Cynics might call it a clever advertising ploy cooked up by retailers to encourage consumer spending, but in general it holds true that making someone else happy makes us feel good.
When it comes to the World Wide Web, generosity can mean real benefits for your business–even better than higher levels of dopamine! The spirit of giving can lead to:
Links to your website
Higher search engine rankings
Positive associations for your company
And most importantly, more business!
It’s important to remember that quality content, and incoming links that point to that content, are the two most important components of the ranking algorithms at Google, Yahoo, and the other search engines. Many of the ideas below help with those pillars.
But the additional value of goodwill for your company in the age of social media and user reviews cannot be overstated. Traditional media outlets are increasingly known to scour social media websites like Digg, Reddit, and other locally-relevant portals, for interesting content on which to report. And word-of-mouth is every bit as important online as it is offline.
So with that in mind, here are just a few ideas to inspire your spirit of giving this holiday season (and beyond):
Help Those In Need
Look around for people with questions, and answer them. I mentioned in last month’s article that search.twitter.com was a tremendously valuable tool for getting ideas for content. It’s also a great way to find out what people are struggling with. This time of year, all kinds of “Tweeple” are bound to be asking about where to find the best deal on Tickle-Me-Elmo (or maybe this year it’s the talking Eve toy), best Christmas trees in your town, etc. Answering these questions quickly and honestly is a great way to build a base of followers that you can leverage for all kinds of future promotions.
Thinking of giving to charity this season? If so, see if that charity’s website has a sponsors page and ask to have your company’s contact information listed there. If you’re a locally-focused business, these kinds of references, even if they don’t contain a link to your website, can make a major difference in your Local rankings.
Check out Yahoo Answers, one of my favorites. There are plenty of great examples of small business owners who have figured out how to use Yahoo Answers to great effect.
Give Stuff Away
Another of My favorite secrets for small business is to give stuff away, though this same concept can be applied to Craigslist and other classifieds websites. Just by giving away your “junk” with a well-branded email address, and asking people to pick it up at your place of business, you’re going to raise community awareness of your company. You could even take it one step further and host some sort of toy drive for kids and families who can’t afford toys for the holidays-the kind of event that local media love to cover.
If you’re a retailer, think about creating a contest where the winner receives one of your products (this could work equally well with services, depending on your industry). You can ask people to submit funny pictures with your products, stories, poems, etc., and then involve your customers even more by asking them to vote on the submissions! These contests often get plenty of buzz (and links) in the blogosphere, and even if they don’t, you’ve built a little brand loyalty for your company.
And now for the easiest strategy to implement on this list – “give away” links from your blog or website: write about other businesses (though probably not competitors) or holiday events in your area. Not only will readers see you as a resource hub for your community, but the businesses you’re writing about may see your story on their own blog dashboard or in a Google Alert for their own names, and read and promote YOUR content in return.
And don’t forget the most valuable “gift” of all – great content. The possibilities for “great content” are endless, and won’t be specific to any industry or any one business. But if YOU can give the internet, and the world, a truly exceptional piece of content this holiday season, you’ll be rewarded literally a thousand times over in the form of incoming links, positive user reviews, higher search engine rankings, and recognition of your business.
Happy Holidays to everyone!