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. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Ask for reviews
Did you know that having great reviews online is a ranking factor?
Not only do great reviews help you get more reviews, but having a lot of reviews on the most popular platforms can also help your website rank better for competitive searches.
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, and make sure it’s extremely easy for them to find the link to your Google listing, Yelp page, or other platforms.
5. Over deliver on everything
— 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.
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.