The #1 question we get at Main Street ROI is: “How can I get my website to show up in Google?”

Well, over the past month or so, Google rolled out a new algorithm update that has a lot of people scratching their heads.

So I figured it was a good time to review some SEO best practices and share what we’re recommending to our clients, Inner Circle members, and customers.

But before we talk about the update, here’s a quick primer about how SEO works, to get everybody up to speed.

Here at Main Street ROI, we teach that there are 3 basic steps to get ranked in Google:

1) Research: Finding out what keywords people are searching.

2) Relevance: Making edits to your website so it’s relevant to your target keywords.

3) Reputation: Building the reputation of your website in Google’s eyes.

  • If you want to rank in Google Places, then you should focus on building citations and reviews.
  • If you want to rank in the Top 10 results, you should focus on attracting links from other websites to your website.

What You Need to Know About ‘Penguin’

The big news about the recent Google update – codenamed “Penguin” – is that Google has re-evaluated the way they look at links. Google has started penalizing websites for building junky, low-quality links.

Huh? At this point, you may have no clue what I’m talking about. Don’t worry about it.

Here’s what you need to know: Now, more than ever, quality is more important than quantity. Building junky links to your website isn’t going to help you.  In fact, doing so can hurt you.

I’ve been studying SEO for about 8 years, and this Penguin update doesn’t really change the game all that much. It’s always been important to build high-quality links to your website.

The bigger problem is that many small business owners don’t know how to build high-quality links.

So in today’s article, I want to share some recommendations.

4 Ways to Build Links After the ‘Penguin’ Update

These are the 4 strategies we rely on and are recommending to our clients, Inner Circle members, and customers…

1. Create Great Content

In reality, all Google really wants you to do is create awesome content.

Google doesn’t really want you to go out of your way to attract links to your website. They just want you to take a “build-it-and-they-will-come” approach to SEO.

Remember, Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information.

In other words, Google says that if you build great content, bloggers and other website owners will naturally want to link to it. And then you’ll be rewarded with top Google rankings.

Here’s Google’s verbatim advice, from their Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide:

Interesting sites will increase their recognition on their own.

Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here. Users know good content when they see it and will likely want to direct other users to it. This could be through blog posts, social media services, email, forums, or other means.

Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build your site’s reputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes without quality content.

Now, this is all true, but I wouldn’t bet on a purely “build-it-and-they-will-come” approach. I’m too impatient for that — and you should be too.

If you want to maximize the amount of traffic you get from Google, then you shouldn’t just create great content and sit back. You should also promote your content so that people will be likely to link to it. And that’s where creating a social media following and relationships with bloggers can really pay off.

My advice: If you’re committed to positioning yourself as an expert in your field, then you should be publishing expert content on your website (blog) on a regular basis. But I wouldn’t rely on that link-building strategy alone… And that’s why I’m recommending 3 more strategies today.

2. Guest Posting

Another great way to build links to your website is by contributing expert content to other websites.  That could mean authoring a blog post on another person’s blog. Or maybe you get a column on your local newspaper’s website or on an industry association’s website.

There are two great benefits to guest posting.  First, you’ll usually get a link — typically a byline link on the top or at the bottom of your article. But even more importantly, you’ll also get your message in front of a relevant audience.

(SEO isn’t everything… referral traffic is valuable, too.)

The only downside to this approach is that it doesn’t necessarily scale very well. It’s time-consuming. Each website will want really high-quality, unique content.

But remember what I said earlier? Focus on building quality links. It’s worth it.

3. Directories

If you’re a Local SEO Formula customer, then  you already know how important directories are for building citations and improving your Google Places rankings.

We recommend that you get listed in 3 types of directories:

  • National directories – Such as Yahoo Directory, Best of the Web, etc
  • Local directories – Business directories for your city and state
  • Niche directories – Directories for your type of business. For example, if you’re a chiropractor, you’d want to submit your business to chiropractic directories.

4. Press Releases

Press releases are one of our favorite methods to build links, and many businesses don’t take advantage of this channel.

Now, the links you’ll get from press releases aren’t the highest quality. They aren’t as good as links from an influential blog or editorial news website.

However, these links are relatively easy to get, and they definitely won’t hurt your rankings in Google.

Also, press releases can  drive traffic to your website. The main way that press releases drive traffic is through search engines. If you use the right approach, your press releases can get ranked in Google’s main search results and in the Google News results.

How to Use Press Releases to Improve Your SEO

Recently, I’ve spoken to some business owners and recommended that they incorporate press releases into their SEO strategy. And they’ve looked at me with blank stares and asked how to go about it.

Questions include:

  • What should I write a press release about? What are some ideas?
  • What’s the best format to write a press release?
  • Where are the best places to submit press releases?

I have answers, but this article is already getting really long (over 1,000 words), so instead of answering them all here, I’m creating a new special report for Main Street Inner Circle members.

The new report – “How to Publish Press Releases That Get Picked Up, Get Links, and Get Customers” will go in-depth into our press release best practices and answer all of these questions, and more.

If you’re not already an Inner Circle member, you can learn more about membership and sign up here:

(I’m just putting the finishing touches on the report, and it’ll be up in the members’ area over the weekend)