If you’re a consultant or heading a small consulting business, it’s no longer enough to have a web presence. That’s just the first — and most basic — step for generating business online. Next, you need to join social-networking sites to help establish your “Google credibility.” It’s a critical element in your online marketing efforts.
“G-cred” is the information (links, images, and other data) about you that people receive when they search Google for your name, business, product, organization, and whatnot. These results provide a measure of legitimacy and influence how seriously potential clients, vendors, and employees take you.
Marketing expert John Follis invented the term “G-cred” several years ago to emphasize how creating online content can place you and your consulting business in a favorable light. “Good content is information, in any uploadable media form, that helps communicate whatever it is that you want to communicate,” Follis notes. “The better it does that, the better G-cred you’ll have. So, it’s not only about quantity, it’s also about quality.”
For consultants who want to attract new clients online, Follis and other Google search experts suggest a complete LinkedIn profile as the best starting point. Even if you have a website, if you’re doing business under your name, your LinkedIn profile is often the first thing to show up in a Google search. Every profile should include:
- Accurate, detailed title (the more keywords, the better);
- Numerous, enthusiastic professional recommendations;
- Links to your website and Twitter feed; and
- Regular updates featuring your latest blog posts and tweets.
A thriving blog that relates to your area of expertise also boosts your G-cred. These days, it’s easy to get a business blog up and running. Sites like Tumblr let you compose your own posts, while also enabling you to “reblog” (share posts, photos, quotes, and content you find elsewhere online), so generating ongoing content doesn’t have to swallow up a lot of your time.
The best part is, potential clients can quickly assess your expertise and legitimacy by reading your posts and seeing how deep and wide your specialized knowledge is.
Another way to build credibility is by guest blogging. Contact colleagues in your business network and offer to write a blog post or newsletter article for them. Chances are, many people will jump at the chance to use your fresh, expert content. Any links between your site and theirs boost your G-cred, too.
Beyond that, you can build up G-cred by creating:
- A strong Facebook business page;
- A useful, effective email signature (include Twitter and Facebook links);
- Videos (that drive web traffic); and
- Press clippings (excellent third-party endorsements).
Like it or not, when potential clients want to learn about you and your area of expertise, their first step is to conduct a Google search. (After all, isn’t that your first move when seeking information about someone else?)
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