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Social media is a great tool for marketing, but it can also be a great tool for link building. The whole purpose of link building is to increase the number and quality of links to either your website or your social media accounts so that your audience can take whatever action you desire. For the most part, each link that points back to your website will help you come up higher on search rankings which will increase the chances that your audience will convert into customers. Needless to say, links are important, but all links are not built the same. In order to clear up some misconceptions, we decided to give you these 7 facts about links in marketing to help you structure a smarter, more effective link building campaign for your website. However, if you’d prefer to have someone else do this for you, Socialdraft’s managed services could be just the thing.

7 Facts About Links In Marketing

When we talk about links, we talk about Google. Why? We’re not purposely ignoring other search engines, but Google dominates when it comes to search. Why? Let us take a look at the top 5 search engines according to usage:

  • Google: 70% of the searches happen on Google & 85% of mobile searches happen on Google
  • Bing: 25% of searches happen on Google (it powers Yahoo)
  • Baidu: 75% of China’s searches are conducted on Yahoo
  • Yahoo!: 3% of searches happen on Yahoo
  • Yandex: 65% of Russia’s searches happen on Yandex

How Do Google Search Rankings Work?

How Google's search algorithm works

Google search results rankings are influenced by links. However, links are not the only factor Google looks at when deciding what to show you for your search. The Google search algorithm is complicated and secretive since many people would love to dominate in search and manipulate rankings. Google has become very sophisticated with link analysis and punishes offenders by removing or suppressing web listings.

As a result, Google places a high value on legitimate links and assigns the most value to links that originate from real, bona fide endorsements that are the product of quality web content. Links from .edu and .gov websites pack a higher punch when it comes to link value. Paid links are of lower value, and link farms (websites that are known for overlinking) are valued less.

Although the significance of link building has begun to decrease, a basic understanding of how Google works and how links can drive traffic from search engines to websites can benefit online marketers.




Link Building Tips

Links increase ROI

No matter what type of business you have, you cannot ignore the benefits of link building. Think of link building as a way to build roads to your brick and mortar. The more roads and the better structured they are, the more easily people will be able to reach you. Think of link building as an online PR campaign. Each link is an opportunity to get exposure…and if the link is coming from a related website, to get exposure from an audience that has higher chances of converting into customers.

Link building can result in an increase in referral traffic to your website from relevant websites. For example, say you are an electronics store and your CEO answers a reporter’s questions on the latest on drones. The website for that newspaper quotes your CEO and links to your website. This is a simple door that allows people who are vetted – people interested in drones – an item you sell – to click through to your website so they can either complete a purchase OR so you can capture their information and remarket them at a later time.

Links on other websites also let your audience know that you are a valued source of content, someone to be trusted. Think of these links the same way you’d think of a review in a local magazine. These links act as an advertisement from your local paper.

The better quality website that links to your website, the more value it will have in Google’s algorithm. For example, a link from a local blogger is not as powerful as a link from a university or a national newspaper.

Think of Links as Votes

Link is a vote

Looking at links as votes. Each time a website links to yours – be it a local blogger, a newspaper or an industry publication, they are casting a vote that tells Google to send traffic your way. Each of these votes helps you rank higher in the search.

Follow vs. NoFollow Links

NoFollow versus DoFollow

Some links are more powerful than others and there are two ways websites can link back to you:

Follow: This is the type of link you want. A follow link tells Google and other search engines that they fully vouch for the quality of your website when linking to you and pass on all that delicious link juice. A follow link looks like this

<a href=”http://www.YourWebsite.com”>Text</a>

No Follow: This type of link tells Google that while they are linking to you, but not to pass on any delicious link juice…that you’re not all that important. It literally tells search engines NOT to follow the link.

<a rel=”nofollow” href=”http://www.YourWebsite.com”>Text</a>

The reason Google created this type of link was to devalue certain types of links such as paid links and comment spam. Is a “no-follow” link of no value…if it drives traffic to your website, it still has some value…just not as much as a follow link.

Anchor Text

Anchor text are quality links

Anchor text is super important when it comes to ranking signals. This is the actual text that the link lives on. So…if a review website links to a French restaurant and the anchor says ” Pierre’s French Restaurant” it sends signals to Google that it is a French restaurant. If the anchor text is the restaurant’s name, search engines will then give weight to that search term. If the anchor text says “click here”…the signals aren’t the best…Which do you prefer? I know that I’d prefer “Best French Restaurant” since that term would give me the most opportunity to rank for that as a search term. Sure, your restaurant’s name would be good, but you want discovery by new patrons. That should be the goal in this case.

Brand Mentions

Brand mentions and associated keywords with brand names are influential signals for rankings these days. This has reduced the emphasis on using exactly matching keywords in links.

Quality over Quantity of Links

Quality over Quantity of Links

It makes sense that after reading this you’d want to get as many links as possible…but this is not always the best strategy. Back in the day, webmasters would buy links all over the place. This led to literal link farms which were sites that sold links. Google and the rest of the search engines got smart and went beyond ignoring link farms to penalizing the sites they link out to.

What is important is the quality of links. For example, let us say you are an accupuncturist. Google wants you to earn organic links from other quality websites in your space.

A few good examples of great “neighborhoods” to link to that acupuncturist’s website would be:

  • Organizations like the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
  • An acupuncture school in your state
  • A local magazine that featured your latest meetup event

Quality definitely trumps quality when it comes to link building. Low-quality links will end up hurting you in the end.

Penalties

Google doesn’t just ignore sites that break the rules…Google penalizes them. For example, they put out an update called Penguin which penalized spammy link building. These websites took a hit in rankings and some completely dropped out of search rankings. This is an algorithmic penalty. There are also manual penalties. If you want to know if your site has a penalty, log onto Google Webmaster tools.

Social Media Links

Use social media for links

Do a quick search on Google for a brand. You will notice that their site probably comes up first (if not – they need to hire an SEO stat), then probably a few directory sites, and also social media sites.

You should begin to think of Social Media as a great way to build links and increase exposure…but most importantly as mini search engine themselves. If you are not talking as your business on Social Media, you are not giving the people who use those networks the opportunity to be discovered. You’re also allowing the competition and angry customers to control the conversation around your brand…that’s one of the many reasons that when it comes to SEO and link building, Social Media should not be an afterthought.

How to Manage & Grow Your Social Media Accounts

Once you’re all set on SEO and link building, you’ll need a strong social media and reputation monitoring strategy. Socialdraft is your all-in-one tool for Social Media management. Socialdraft allows you to:

  • Schedule posts to multiple social media accounts including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram
  • Schedule content in bulk via CSV
  • Duplicate posts
  • Create recurring posts
  • Have multiple people create and post content (with permissions set by you)
  • Pull Reports
  • Engage
  • and much more

If you’re curious about how Socialdraft works, take us for a risk-free trial.

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,

Stay Up-to-Date

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.

Forge Relationships

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

Citations

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 Post

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.

Testimonials

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.

Create Videos

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.

Job Boards

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.

Classified Sites

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
  • Engage
  • and much more

If you’re curious about how Socialdraft works, take us for a risk-free trial. Have questions?