Among the many promotional strategies involved in marketing a small business on the web is link building. But before we discuss link building strategies, let’s explore the nature of links and link building. In the context of our discussion, a web “link” connects a piece of text or another item in an electronic document to a specific company’s website or social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.
Link Building Strategies For Small Businesses
In the field of search engine optimization, link building describes actions aimed at increasing the number and quality of inbound links to a web page in order to improve a business’s search page ranking. The higher your search rankings, the greater the chances consumers will do business with your company. Let’s break down everything you need to know about SEO and link building in real people speak, so you can put these link building strategies for small business in place asap.
What is Page Rank
PageRank is a link analysis algorithm that assigns a numerical weigh to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents; the algorithm is used to evaluate the importance of website pages. According to Google, PageRank counts the number and quality of links to a page to determine how important the website is.
PageRank is not the only algorithm used by Google for search engine results, but it’s the first algorithm used by the company, and the most well-known. Google rankings continue to be influenced by links, but the fact is, Google uses many additional factors to determine webpage rankings.
And since many people have attempted to manipulate Google with linking schemes, such as purchasing keyword domain names, and spamming links in forums or blog comments, Google has become very sophisticated with link analysis and will penalize those who try to trick Google by suppressing listings or have them removed from Place Search or Maps.
As a result, Google places a high value on links that occur through natural growth. Search engines seek links that name or reference a company in a blog or web post. In other words, in the overall scheme of things, the most valued links are links that originate from a real endorsement of your business. And business endorsements are achieved by focusing on a quality product and outstanding web content rather than the typical “link building” per se.
The first and most important step for small businesses is to create an online presence with business listings in all of the major online business directories — such as Google’s Places for Business, Yahoo Local, and Bing — and, of course, with local search engines. Then utilize email marketing and social media to further expand and solidify your company’s online presence, to communicate with customers, and to network with other business owners. Let’s break down the 14 link building strategies geared toward small businesses
Provide Value to Build Links
Other webmasters, bloggers, and reporters will link out to you if the content on your website is of value. This means that your content should match what their audience likes, be relevant and that your site needs to be bug-free. If you create useful, valuable content, it will make it easier for others to link to your website.
Learn Your SEO Basics
It does not matter how good your content is if your website is not properly structured and optimized for SEO. Ensure that your foundations are strong before you start to build links,
Google is always releasing algorithm updates (they’re usually named after cute animals like Panda and Penguin – but there’s nothing cute about them), so you need to be on top of industry news and your analytics. Set an alert for Google algorithm updates and keep an eye on your traffic to see if you have been affected.
Be smart about building relationships with those in verticals that have an audience that could also convert for you. Build strong relationships with them in order to secure links. This is not about a one-off hit. Think of ways that you can collaborate with them in order to earn those links. Here are a few ideas:
- Collaborate in non-profit events with your chamber of commerce
- Run a yearly scholarship contest for students of the local college
- Collaborate to run events in tandem with other local businesses in the area
There are some awesome reputation management tools out there you can use…but even if you have no budget, you need to be on top of what is being said about your brand and business online. If you don’t have a budget for a fancy reputation management tool, simply set up Google Alerts for your business name so you know whenever you are mentioned online. Check these and see if the person mentioning your business has linked out to your site. If they have not, reach out and ask. Then, go ahead and share their content on social media so more people can be exposed to this content.
Guest posting works – for now- but you need to be careful about this. Google is really working to give less weight to unnatural links so guest posting only works when it is done with strategy in mind. When done properly, it can drive vetted traffic that converts and sends great signals to Google that your site is of value to the people who are searching. HARO is a great resource to find this kind of opportunity.
Did you use a product recently and absolutely loved it? How about giving the business a testimonial? Most businesses will gladly accept your testimonial and might even consider putting your testimonial on their website with a link back to their site. Don’t think that just because you love the Google search engine, if you send your testimonial, you’ll get a link from Google. Reach out to local small businesses that are more likely to publish your testimonial.
Put Out Press Releases
Before you get out there and put out press releases for everything your company does. STOP. Google is not that easy to fool. Links from press releases have much lower standing when it comes to SEO. The reason you want to put out a press release is when you have something that is actually newsworthy when you have a piece of news that others will want to write about and link to.
Video marketing is fantastic. Video used to be for YouTube alone, but now video is all the rage and has tons of benefits. Among them is that with each video you produce you can add a link back to your site like YouTube or Facebook or Twitter. Videos also get embedded and shared which has significant benefits of its own…so stop hesitating and start making videos now.
Procure Product Reviews
If you are selling a product or service, reach out to bloggers, press, and others who are willing to write an honest review. A great way to find these people is to look for the people who have already reviewed your competition and linked out to their sites. Make sure that when you collaborate with a blogger or writer for this sort of link building tactic, that they are following every letter of the law to avoid getting in trouble. As a reminder – if you don’t already know it – buying links is against Google’s Terms Of Service. If you do so, you risk getting banned. So NEVER pay people for writing about you.
Create PDFs & e-books
Creating PDFs & e-books that include your links is a great link building tool. There are websites that will host your valuable content in those formats…which will include your links.
Sponsorships & Non-Profit Collaborations
A great way to earn links is to collaborate with local charities and organizations. Sponsor events for organizations your target audience is engaged with. Most will have websites and link out to your website when you collaborate with them on non-profit incentives, sponsorships, or events.
All businesses need employees. When you are looking for your next hire, post the job listing to job boards and websites. Most of these sites will allow you to include your link. On top of this, there are aggregator sites that scrape these job boards and republish their content – which also includes your link.
These are highly undervalued SEO tools. Keep sites like Craigslist and Gumtree in mind – particularly if you are working to reach a local audience. Post job openings, events, ads, and these sites will help you to earn more links to your site.
Stay Active in Social Media
Social media sites can be huge referrers of traffic. They also expose others to content you have created that they may then share and link. When it comes to referring web traffic, Facebook and Pinterest are incredibly powerful…and if you are a smart marketer, you will look at each and every social network as its own search engine that allows you to have more of a chance to be found by your target audience. It is very easy to forget about social media, so use a social media scheduling tool like Socialdraft to schedule your links ahead of time. This is easy to do AND very effective.
How to Manage & Grow Your Social Media Accounts
Socialdraft is your all-in-one tool for Social Media management. Socialdraft allows you to:
- Schedule posts to multiple Social media accounts
- Have multiple people create and post content
- Pull Reports
- and much more