Have you ever noticed a similarity amongst your SEO contacts?
A simple thing, actually.
They are in your same niche or industry.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a blogger, an agency, a business owner or a content marketer—that still holds true.
Partnerships are at the core of successful B2B, that’s almost a given.
Who Are Your SEO Contacts?
Your SEO contacts may also include:
Why Keeping in Touch Is Important
You SEO contacts are the life and bread of your online marketing efforts. Without them, it’s harder to get the word out about your blog or business, or to get any Web mentions, or social media or search engine traffic at all.
Basically, this is team work.
Competitors? Nope, Partners
I know it’s easier to think of your SEO contacts as competition – maybe they get more blog readers, clients or leads than you do! However, your relationship with these people can actually turn into fertile ground for long-lasting partnerships.
If you play out the communication game well (and keep it genuine from both sides), the relationship can lead to great opportunities to help each other in your branding and marketing, as well as SEO efforts.
1. It’s all about building relationships
Whatever the niche or industry you blog or work in, you will be going nowhere without solid relationships.
Every successful blogger or entrepreneur out there owes most of his success to the relationships he built with other people in his niche or industry and the strong network he built around his core message that eventually became his platform.
This is especially true for partnerships, where you and the other person are no longer competitors, but reciprocal helpers (and equals).
This is how Christopher Jan Benitez of ChristopherJanB.com works with SEO contacts from his database.
Say the SEO contact’s specialty is link building, and so I place him/her under the link building category.
Also consider the sites that led you to be in contact with the person, i.e. blog, social bookmarking, online group/community, etc.
Ultimately, the endgame is to consummate the relationship by interviewing the person or getting a guest post published on his site. Also, you can collaborate on a project using both your services on a client to further your working relationship. Much more important, the relationship should be an ongoing thing — always keep in touch with the contact by retweeting his/her posts, commenting on blogs, reaching out for tips and advice, etc.
Patricia Weber also highlights the importance of nurturing relationships with your SEO contacts:
In some cases it’s been followers of my blog who comment and share my blog posts: they have bought my book, they have featured me as a guest blogger, we have moved the online conversation to either Skype, Google hangouts or the telephone. In one case, because of traveling, we were able to meet in person.
The best thing someone can do is focus on the other person first, and sincerely want to get to know the other person and what he needs. I’ve always been this way as an introvert because it’s just easier.
I’ve recently been invited by the most visible introvert author to be one of many who help with creating content for her new launch.
The main thing in being an active-giver is to also know what you want to receive from your contribution.
2. Co-opetition Rather than Competition
“Co-opetition” is a term that stands for “cooperative competition” and it applies to individuals, businesses and organizations who choose to cooperate with their competitors instead of trying to surpass each other’s rank in the economy.
This is a game theory based strategy – you don’t just look for the best outcome for yourself – you look for the best outcome for yourself and your business partners.
Tom Shivers from Exploit Online Demand:
There are so many different facets in the SEO world today, so you can establish your business as the leader in just one of them. It doesn’t mean that you can’t provide the other SEO services but when you talk to other companies who also provide SEO, lead with your strength and learn how they are doing in that area of SEO.
One of my strengths is Ecommerce SEO and I have many clients that fit my ideal profile for a client in that area. So when putting together a webinar for new prospects I reached out to other SEO pros and asked them to review my slides for input. Many of them did and provided good advice on how to improve my presentation. And for some I referenced the source of the tip or advice in my presentation and made sure my SEO buddy knew about it.
When it came time to promote the webinar, I reached out again to those who gave advice and asked if they would help promote it. A win-win for both me and my co-opetition.
3. Work Together on a Common Cause
Do you and your SEO contacts share an interest in a cause, be it related to your niche or of educational or humanitarian nature?
There’s plenty of ground to work together on a common cause and build a partnership that will not just benefit both of your businesses or projects, but it will get you into a more profound relationship on a human level, too.
4. Share Relevant Business Contacts with Each Other
If you and your SEO contacts are both active within the same niche or industry, chances are that you will have built a strong database of business contacts over the years.
Some names in your database will be more relevant to your SEO contacts; others in their database will be more relevant to you and your business.
To share relevant business names, work with the most powerful (and proven) marketing techniques of all time – referrals.
Both of you should make sure to mention your contact’s name in the messages you send to the people you will get in touch with, as well as to highlight why it’s reciprocally beneficial that you get a chance to work together.
5. Notify Your Partners of Web Mentions
From time to time, it will happen that you find your SEO contacts mentioned in other blog and social media posts.
Whenever you run into these mentions, email your SEO contacts and let them know. A simple template could be the following:
Hi Full Name,
We just found you mentioned at Great Niche Blog — here’s the URL: http//urlhere.com/post/
You can setup a Google Alert or a Mention.net email notification for every time your SEO contacts get mentioned on a blog, social media or other online publications.
6. Don’t Forget Your Human Side
You’re going nowhere in partnerships if you forget your human side.
Your SEO contacts, just like your blog readers or your clients, are much more than business names. They’re human beings like you, with needs, feelings, emotions and a family waiting for them at the end of the day.
Be there for them when they need a touch of human kindness. It might not bring more traffic, money or success to your table right away, but it can strengthen the partnership and especially trust in each other.
Bonus Tip: Always Seek Mutual Benefits
Follow the earlier mentioned game theory strategy. Seek benefits for both of you, especially mutual benefits.
Cormac from My Online Marketer shares his experience as a link builder who sought the help and partnership of other SEO companies:
I build a lot of links, in fact we even offer a link building service here. As we all know, it can be a time consuming and expensive job.
I often find that other companies offering similar services get in touch to outsource this part of their process.
The point is that I’ve built numerous long standing relationships with other SEO businesses or link builders who might want a link now in turn for one at a later stage on a different site.
It works out well for both parties.
Additionally, there’s a number of sites I’ve guest posted on for years. Taking time to do so well results in your placement on their site and new content that generates shares and links for theirs.
A Final Word of Caution
It can be tempting to treat partners as disposable assets when you are focused on the benefits you will get in the long run. After all, once a partner doesn’t bring in more money, traffic or success, it might feel like that’s the right time to drop the partner.
However, as someone who doesn’t neglect human ethics in the business environment, I would recommend against such a practice. It wouldn’t just cause unnecessary stress to you and your partners (or, at worst, drama), but it might hinder any future opportunities to build partnerships with other businesses. Negative experiences go viral easily and you might end up on the ‘wall of partnership shame’ somewhere.
Not a wise idea, if you care about your reputation.
If you find out that a partner doesn’t bring you more benefits, get in touch and talk it through. You might find a solution together. If nothing works out, then you can separate on good terms, without hurting each other’s reputation.