10 Surefire SEO Tips for Direct Sellers – Guest Post by Brett Duncan, Mannatech

From Jennifer: I am thrilled about today’s guest post, as it was a special request I made to my friend Brett Duncan over at Mannatech, which he very kindly agreed to write.  You see, I get asked a lot about SEO (Search Engine Optimization.)  The problem is, it’s a sticky subject for direct sellers.  Our policies and procedures are not always clear about what you can and cannot do with regards to SEO.  And quite honestly, to keep things fair for everyone and transparent for the consumer, we want our companies to have the top position in search engine rankings.  This makes things pretty tricky.

Fortunately, Brett (who is the Senior Director of Online Global Solutions at Mannatech) understands all the dynamics at play here perfectly, which is why I am thrilled that he was willing to share practical SEO techniques you can use for your direct selling business, while still complying with your company’s policies and procedures.  Now while most of this applies to consultants who are allowed to have their own blogs, do keep in mind that you can have some success with customizable pages on your replicated website and through indexed status updates as well (such as on Twitter.)

Many thanks to Brett for sharing this with us today!

10 Surefire SEO Tips for Direct Sellers

by Brett Duncan

There are light bulbs going off above many a direct seller’s head these days. With web publishing being easier than ever and new social networks popping up daily, network marketers are realizing there is more than just their personal network they can put to good use today. Along those same lines, many direct sellers want to take advantage of good search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. Unfortunately, many are either failing miserably or getting a slap on the hand from their company for not following policies.

Fear not: there are easy ways for you to make the most of the content you produce that even the most conservative of policies should allow for (and if they don’t, you should have a talk with the powers-that-be; or even better, let Jen Fong do it for you!). Being a corporate stickler myself, I must stress the importance to follow your company’s policies; no one likes a policy maverick. However, based on my experience, the ideas listed below should fall well within compliant policies for most companies.

The ideas in this post focus solely on organic, or natural, search engine optimization. In other words, these are ideas to put in place for Google to find you that doesn’t require their AdWords advertising campaign (the sponsored links on the side of search engine results pages). That’s a whole other post.

Also, there are some basic SEO principles to follow that you should probably check out beforehand, just to make sure we’re all on the same page. Good search engine optimization is just as much art as it is science, so there’s a good chance some of you will disagree with my ideas below. That’s OK: the key here is to find what works for you and keep doing more of it.

SEO Tips for Network Marketers

  1. Don’t count on your company-provided website. It’s great that most direct sales companies provide their distributors with a website template these days. I feel like this tool is foundational for any distributor’s success today, but it won’t help you with search engine optimization (at least not much). Google views any pages under the same domain as one website. Most companies set up their distributor sites under the same domain name and then allow for a different sub-directory. For example, your site may be www.yourcompany.com/yourname, while a colleague’s would be www.yourcompany.com/their name.While you may have a page or two on these sites that you can personalize, it really won’t get  you much in terms of SEO. If you want to take advantage of some SEO techniques, you’ll need to create your own unique site. Try using Blogger or Posterous to get started. They’re very easy and most have a free option. Make sure, though, that you read through their policies so you’re clear on what you can and can’t do on the free versions.Here’s a great link that explains duplicate content. The third point specifically calls out replicated sites.
  2. Use approved content already provided by your company. If your company has produced content, then you know they don’t have a problem with it. As long as you remember to add any trademarks or disclaimers, then you should be good.“But Brett,” you say. “Didn’t you just say duplicate content is a bad thing?” Yes, I did (thanks for paying attention). Which means you need to get creative here. If you have three or four different pieces of content on a single product, for example, mash it all up by taking bits and pieces from each article and making it one. The trick here is to make sure the finished product makes sense (never write for search engines alone; make sure it makes sense to people). Of course, you may need to throw in your own writing here and there to help it make sense.Also, many companies will produce great print materials and then never use that text on their website. Which means you can use it and it’s not duplicate content. Make sure every single word of your company’s print materials are online somewhere. If they don’t do it, then you should.
  3. Keep it local. In my opinion, distributors can benefit most by concentrating on their local scene. The many local search capabilities now make this very easy. Tons of people already search with geographic keywords, and search engines are finding more and more ways to personalize and localize search results. By concentrating on a smaller area, you can make the most of your efforts. Plus it makes sense when your online relationship goes offline (and it should) and you’re nearby to get your new prospects and team members involved.So how do you take advantage of local search? Here are a few ways that are easy to implement:

    1. Page navigation and copy. Add a page to your site titled “Your Company Texas” (or whatever state you live in). Write 300 – 500 words on the page, making sure your state and company name are used at least three times or so throughout the page. Obviously, you can localize by city instead of state if it makes sense.
    2. Local search engines. Register your site with at least Google local and Yahoo local. It’s free for both search engines. You’ve probably seen this before. Many times when you Google something like ‘handyman,’ a map will pop up showing you some local providers. Now, that could happen for you when people search your company.  Sign up now for Google Local and Yahoo Local. Google Local also gives you some pretty powerful analytics with your listing so you know exactly how well it’s working.
    3. Local and relevant content. It really doesn’t matter how small your town is, people are Googling something. You know what’s going on nearby; find ways to include that content in your own articles on your site. Just make sure it makes sense; no one wants to read about your healthy protein shake when they were searching for “best ice cream in town.” But if there are events related to your company or products in some way, leverage it.
  4. Leverage endorsers, celebrities and big names. Your corporate office has probably fostered some relationships with some popular people. Whether they are athlete endorsers or celebrity spokespeople, those people get searched. Make sure you’re peppering your site with plenty of mentions of these people. Show people what products they use, quotes about your company they’ve said and anything else that relates. AdvoCare® has hit a gold mine this year by having Drew Brees as an endorser. I’m sure winning a Super Bowl has increased searches for him. Your company may have similar big names you can take advantage of, too.
  5. Leverage events, causes and campaigns. Similarly, companies are organizing campaigns and events all the time to generate energy in the field. The good news is that can also generate lots of searches. Stay on top of this by adding a post or two to your site about these events. Usana® really made the most of the Winter Olympics this year. Mary Kay® is a huge supporter of empowering youth to end domestic violence. Mannatech® partners with MannaRelief to address malnutrition in third world countries. Use what your company is organizing to its maximum by loading all of the info onto your site. Also, realize most events and causes address a much larger issue, which means there are people looking for related issues specifically.
  6. Keep an eye out for press releases. If your company does a good job of sending out regular press releases, then you should give the PR Director a big hug the next time you see them. Yes, I know some press releases can spark a big “who cares,” but from an SEO standpoint, it’s fresh content. And fresh content is key. Be sure you know when releases go out, and then find a way to use the content on your site. You could either write an opinion piece that references some of the quotes from the article (just don’t break any policies here), or copy and paste parts of the release into your post. Just be sure to change any links so that they go back to your personal web page to make sure you get all the credit from orders, etc.
  7. Leverage product names. Here’s a tip: don’t chase keywords like “weight loss” or “home-based business.” It’s too competitive, and you’ll never see any progress. Instead, niche down on your keywords. One way to do this is to find people who are already looking for what you’ve got. Yes, there may be lots of people looking for “protein shake,” but you’re likely to get more clicks and conversions from people looking for “your company protein shake.” I’m a big fan of making sure the people who are already looking for you can find you, so target them rather than the masses.
  8. Leverage ingredients and patents. I bet your company has some pretty unique product ingredients, patented products or even trademarked techniques. If it’s unique, then it’s begging you to use it for SEO. For example, most nutrition companies can boast several unique ingredients. Write about them, and optimize your site and pages for them. Even some of the less unique, like “glucosamine supplement,” can still be powerful. You’ll be shocked by how many people are looking for that goofy little ingredient in your product. Make sure they can find it. Write a quick blurb about the ingredient, and then end with mentioning your company’s product.
  9. Leverage each other. OK, the key to making the most of SEO is to have plenty of fresh content. And since we know Google doesn’t like duplicate content, that means you’re going to have to create it. Which can be quite a chore. Unless you spread it out, of course.Here’s a thought: if there are four or five folks in your downline who want to get in on this ‘SEO thing,’ too, then get everyone to contribute to the same site. Now, if you each post at least every two weeks, that’s a new post every three days or so. And it doesn’t burden anyone. Sure, there are details and logistics you’ll have to figure out. But the benefits could be huge.
  10. Don’t forget inbound links. As much as we’ve been talking about what you can do on your own site, the real goldmine for SEO is in how many other websites link to your site. Which you only have limited influence over.However, you may have more influence than you think. If you upload YouTube videos or photos on Flickr, then you get the chance to add a description to each entry. Search engines see these as other sites (and very powerful ones at that), so leverage the text you add and make sure you add the full url of the page or site you want to reference. This can get a little overwhelming, but if you’re up for it, it’s definitely worth it. Here’s a video on inbound links that is helpful.

OK, ready to take on the world? One thing to remember is that success in your business is based on selling product and recruiting new distributors. In other words, you aren’t an SEO expert. The good news is you don’t have to be. Just be sure you’re balancing these marketing efforts with the core actions that really move the needle in your business.

Here are some additional resources that I’ve gotten a lot out of. Of course, keep reading Jen’s blog and you should be just fine.

  • FrankCBarnett.com: Frank is a friend of mine and he really knows his stuff. He also does a good job of simplifying SEO techniques.
  • Copyblogger.com: This site concentrates more on the writing side of SEO, which, in my opinion, is the side worth concentrating on anyway. Tons of good resources here.
  • SEOmoz.org: OK, this is the motherload of SEO resources online, and it could take you overboard very quickly. So read with caution.

Brett Duncan loves figuring out how to make the web work for direct sellers and small business owners. He currently serves as the Senior Director of Global Online Solutions for Mannatech®, Inc. He blogs often at MarketingInProgress.com, a site dedicated to “making sense of the blur” that is today’s marketing landscape. He also offers a free marketing newsletter, sent out every three to five weeks. Follow him on Twitter via @bdunc1.

8 Responses to 10 Surefire SEO Tips for Direct Sellers – Guest Post by Brett Duncan, Mannatech
  1. Becca Parks
    July 17, 2011 | 10:58 pm

    Thanks for the Tips, I plan to put in ideal 3A very soon — Hadn’t thought about that one!

  2. Brett Duncan
    March 31, 2010 | 7:36 am

    First, Jen, thanks for coming up with a great topic. It was a real pleasure to write about it.

    Julie Ann – Much like social media, SEO can get overwhelming fast. I think the main thing to keep it from getting there is to remember is not interested in people cracking their content, but rather in finding good content. So write good content often, and it’ll work out.

    Tim – Thanks, man. If distributors could realize just how much content the company produces and leverage it to the absolute max, they’d be amazed how much it can get them. I know this is a constant challenge on our side: to get our distributors the tools they need to be successful. Unfortunately, too many distributors are one-trick ponies when it comes to tools they like, when the web makes it so easy to use all of it in some way or another.

    Janette – great tip on ezine sites. “Article marketing” (I hate some of these terms) is getting more and more important, and it’s especially effective for direct sellers, cuz it’s so dang easy to do. As long as you can keep it somewhat objective …..

    bd
    @bdunc1

  3. Janette Stoll
    March 30, 2010 | 4:16 pm

    FANTASTIC tips!! Leveraging your team’s efforts and leveraging product names are excellent tips. Leveraging on a team’s writing efforts is less work and you can benefit from the collaboration of the group. Excellent post! I’ve also found leveraging established sites like ezine.com for article writing is a great way to get your blog or web site online, especially if you have a new blog.

    A huge thanks to Brett (and Jen, as always!) 🙂

    Janette

  4. Tim Haran
    March 30, 2010 | 11:47 am

    Brett,
    Amazing tips! I admit, I’m not well-versed in SEO so this is a huge help.

    It’s good to remind distributors they don’t need to re-invent the wheel when it comes to this stuff (and in many cases, they probably shouldn’t). I know our creative team spends a lot of time and effort producing print and web content, sales aids, etc. and we hope our distributors are sharing that information (with their unique perspective) on their individual sites.

    Thanks for a great post!
    Tim

  5. Julie Ann Jones
    March 30, 2010 | 9:19 am

    These are some awesome tips. I love “how to” lists like this when it comes to huge topics like S.E.O. It can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re just getting started, but this list simplifies it and makes it feel much more doable. Plus, these are strategies that any direct seller can use, no matter what their corporate policies regarding social media dictate. Thanks Brett (and Jen).

    Julie Anne Jones

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