Are links from governing bodies or industry associations useful?

Yes, links from governing bodies and industry associations are useful, of course they are. But getting links from them isn’t always easy. This post is less about how to get them, but more about how to get the right ones and make them useful.

Costs

Sometimes these types of sites charge you an arm and a leg to join, many use a charging system based upon turnover. The more you turnover the more they’ll charge you for a yearly membership. Others use employee numbers and some use a mix of both. You do find the odd gem that just charges a reasonable flat fee for membership, these often have different levels which give you varying benefits.

Getting a link

Once you’ve decided to join, you’re normally allowed to include a link to your business website in a profile. There will be the odd governing body or association that doesn’t allow links – being a member of this type of organisation can still be useful, don’t discount them just because they don’t give you a link. Remember that no one else in the same organisation will have a link, so just having a listing or profile could still be beneficial in the long run. If people use the organisation to find businesses, you’ll still be found which is great.

Problems you might encounter

Many organisations hide their members directory behind a search or login screen, not because they want to, but because they’re unaware how Google and other search engines crawl. An example of this is the British Association of Removers, they provide a search page only which brings up a list of removers but actually doesn’t provide a profile page at all. Boo.

Some do provide entire member profile lists that Google can crawl. If yours does then put your feet up and grab yourself a nice beer/coffee/other beverage. If not, read on…

Revealing a hidden link

Depending on how these work you can sometimes reveal your link to search engines. For example, if the organisation allows you to search based on keywords or location, perform a search to find your company in the results. Visit your profile page and copy the URL. Close your browser and try to view it in a new browser window, Google Chrome incognito mode is good for this.

If you’re taken to your company profile page, that’s great, you can potentially take some steps to let search engines find this page. Check that it isn’t already indexed first, no? Ok, now check the robots.txt file to make sure search engines aren’t blocked from viewing the directory that your profile page lives in, i.e. /members/profiles/. Check the profile page doesn’t have a meta noindex tag – if it does there’s not much point trying to get Google to index it.

So, if search engines aren’t blocked from viewing the page and it doesn’t have a meta noindex tag, you’re good to go!

Getting your profile link indexed

The easiest way to get your profile link indexed is to link to it 🙂 You can do this from a page on your own site (maybe ‘Company History’ or ‘About Us’) or from another profile area on a different site. you could even link to it in a tweet or a Google+ post. One good way to link to this page is to write a blog post about your inclusion in the industry association or governing body.

If you can get that page indexed then Google should be able to see the link to your site too. Sounds like a bit of work to get this done but sometimes these sites are well liked and trusted, whilst the page itself might not have a great deal of trust or link power yet, the domain is likely to have a tonne – it’s all about signals and every little helps.

Remember that Google getting better at this all the time, it does seem to use some web forms, typically those with dropdown boxes full of options (i.e. locations or services) that don’t require a keyword search as well. Here’s an example, Google’s indexed profile pages on the British Art Therapists site – there’s no links to those page so Google’s using the web form to discover these pages.

For the forms Google won’t or can’t use, try the method above.

I suppose this would work with any type of link that Google can’t navigate to on it’s own, maybe even some sweet .edu or .ac.uk juice to be had out there 😉

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