So you want to build links?
If there is one thing small business owners get frustrated when it comes to SEO is- ranking their business websites for their desired keywords.
And, to rank websites, you still need one thing.
Links; lot of high quality links.
So, for all you DIY small business owners out there, here is a detailed guide to aid you in your link building efforts.
How to Develop the Mind-set of a Link builder?
Before you dive into the link building opportunities, it’s crucial that you get into the shoes of a link builder and develop a link building mind-set.
#1: Accept Link Building is Hard
It’s hard; Very hard.
If it was easy, everyone would be doing it quickly and would be ranking for all the keywords they want to rank for.
This is precisely why SEO consultants charge an arm and a leg to get your rankings up.
The first step to approaching your link campaign is to accept the reality and be ready to fight the odds.
#2: You Should Have a Strategy
Imagine you want to cook a pie.
Unless you get the right ingredients in the right proportions, you are not going to make an awesome tasting pie.
Similarly, link building needs to be planned and executed. You need to know what you are aiming for; quantitatively as well as qualitatively.
#3: Provide Value to Build Links
Just because you have a website, people are not going to link to you.
You need to provide immense value for someone to link to you. Make it a win-win situation for people and you have a website that attracts tons of links.
#4: Get Your SEO Basics Right
Unless you have your search engine optimization foundation right, you are not going to achieve tremendous success with your link building efforts.
Ensure that your foundations are strong before you start to build links.
#5: Stay Up-to-Date
With Google releasing updates like Panda and Penguin (and more to come), you need to be on top of your link building game to achieve SEO success.
There are always some new link building strategy that works tremendously well; until Google finds people starts abusing the opportunity and de-valuing such links (Article directories, profile links, directory links, etc. are very good examples).
#6: Focus on Building Relationships
Your main focus, when you reach out to other website owners, should be to build a long lasting relationship which could turn out to be lucrative link opportunities.
Forget about quick wins. You could score a quick link by commenting on a website once and forgetting about it. However, if you are a valuable contributor who regularly contributes to the community, chances of the blog owner linking to you, when you reach out to them, is high.
Right- Now we can move on to the interesting part- securing links and link opportunities out there.
33 Ways to Build Links to Your Small Business Website
#1: Your Own Website- Internal Links
I am amazed at the fact that most people simply ignore internal links when it comes to link building.
All other sorts of link building are not directly under your control. However, when it comes to your business website, you are in total control. You decide which page links to which other page and what anchor text you should be using.
In no other link opportunity do you get such level of control.
Start identifying key pages on your own website and start interlinking them. Optimizing navigation bar, sidebars, and footers are easy places to start with.
Even though internal links do not carry the same level of authority as external links, you can still optimize them and rank pages for low competition keywords solely by improving internal linking and perfecting on page SEO.
#2: Local Business Profiles
These are easy wins.
You can create profiles for your business on a variety of websites online.
The beauty of these profiles, in addition to the fact that they send customers your way is, the link juice they provide.
With Google integrating local results very much into their search results, some of these business profiles such as in Google+ page is becoming mandatory.
Here is a list of sites where you can create profiles/listings for your business: source.
#3: Blogging & Content Marketing
I am a huge fan of content marketing (otherwise why would I dedicate my whole blog to the topic?)
Not only is content marketing helpful in building trust, it also helps gather links naturally.
If you write good content for your business blog, chances of users picking it up and linking to it are huge.
And it’s far easier to get links to an article on your website that talks about “top 10 toy gifting ideas” than to get links to your toy e-commerce website.
An added benefit to blogging is that the more content you create, the higher the number of web pages Google can index and send traffic to.
You might want to give my article on business blogging mistakes to avoid a read before you start your blogging efforts.
Do you have an alert set up for your business name on Google so that you get notified whenever someone mentions your business name on the web?
If not, go do it now!
These not only help you monitor brand reputation, these are also link building opportunities.
Most people who refer to businesses, don’t actually link to them for a variety of reasons. If you spot such opportunities, why not reach out to them and request for a link?
#5: Utilize Social Media
So you have a business presence on Facebook and Twitter?
Good. It’s time you start using them to gather links to your website.
Have you utilized the opportunity to link to your business website from Facebook page and your twitter account? If not, go do it now. It can’t get easier than this.
Now, why don’t you explore social media sites outside of the popular networks?
Pinterest, MySpace, etc. are some of the social networks you can get links from.
Just because you opened a social media account does not mean that you scored an easy one. Be active and engage your audience.
You’ll gain brand recognition and might as well gather links at the same time.
#6: Guest Posting
Guest posting is hot now- probably for a very good reason; it works!
It’s one of those link building opportunities that can give you tremendous value over time. Not to mention the additional traffic and leads it can send you if you choose the right blogs.
Choose high quality blogs that are relevant to your business when trying to build links via guest posting.
Here is an excellent resource list to securing links via guest posting.
Remember: Too much of anything, when it comes to SEO, can be dangerous. Don’t risk your website by focusing only on guest posts. It should be a small part of your overall link building campaign.
With most businesses turning to guest posting as a way to build links, it’s only a matter of time until Google catches up with the guest post spam and devalue links you get from low quality and less relevant sites.
So, always target sites that publish high quality content, has strict editorial guidelines, and which are relevant to your business.
#7: Request Links from Customers
Do you have a great product that your customers absolutely love?
There is a good chance that a small percentage of them would have a blog or other sorts of web presence.
Request your customers to link to your business website. In exchange you could give them a small incentive- like a 10% discount on their next order.
That’s a win-win. You get a link as well as the next order while your customer gets a bargain.
#8: Request Links from Your Vendors or Partners
Most businesses have some sort of vendors or partners. And these partners and vendors might have websites as well.
Look closely as to whether they link to their existing customers from their website. Check for client pages or partner pages. If they already have such a page, it would be an easy link opportunity you have up for grab.
#9: Create a Tool or a Web App
People love tools.
Create a relevant tool that people would find useful.
If you are a real estate firm, you could build a tool that helps people calculate their mortgage payments and plan their future.
You could even build a web app that helps them keep track of their payments, with additional features like email notifications, automatically syncing to the bank to download mortgage payment details and so on.
Tools are extremely useful to people and hence it’s easy to get links to them. So if you don’t have the resources to build such a tool, you could always outsource it to sites like oDesk.
A side benefit of using tools is that they can help you generate business leads as well. Check out the marketing grader app from Hubspot. It’s a useful tool and also a lead generation machine for Hubspot.
#10: Design Galleries
Do you have a site which looks awesome? Then submit your site to design galleries which feature good looking websites. It sends traffic to your site as well as provides quality links.
Here is a list of design galleries you can submit your site to: http://www.beautifullife.info/web-design/100-best-website-galleries-to-submit-your-creative-design/
#11: Referral programs/Affiliate Programs
Nothing like sharing your profits with someone who sends leads your way, right?
You could set up referral programs (affiliate programs) and get people to link to your site.
Note: If you are using third party sites like shareasale to track affiliate commissions, then you’ll lose ink juice you get from affiliate links.
Everyone loves bargains. Some people are obsessed with it.
The rise of coupon sites is a proof of the market size. So why not provide a deal to your customer, make extra sales, and at the same time earn some links from these coupon sites?
For a list of coupon sites, refer this article.
#13: Hold Contests
Contests are a smart way to get links to your website. Even though sponsoring contests is not a very good idea as stated in my article on how not to build links, running a contest can be a good way to gather links.
It’s a value add to your readers and you get compensated for it with links.
Note: The easier you make it for your readers to participate in the contest, the more entries you’ll receive. And never ask people to link to your website with anchor texts. Usually contests work well for businesses with an established audience.
#14: Give 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 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.
#15: Press Release
No, I am not talking about writing a press release for the sake of getting links and submitting it to 100 PR distribution sites.
Google has already clarified that links from press release websites are treated differently compared to normal links you acquire/earn.
When you think about press release, think about putting a news angle to your story. What will make reporters want to cover your story and link to your site?
If you don’t have anything newsworthy to say, better not do press release.
You could also use HARO to secure links by responding to requests from journalists. Sign up for alerts relevant to your area of expertise and pitch your ideas when something relevant turns up.
#16: Niche Directories
I know I said directories are not worth it. But sometimes local, niche directories can add value to your link building diversity.
Some local directories relevant to your niche can even drive quality traffic toy our website.
Here is how you can find relevant directories
- Go to Google
- Choose a keyword combination from the list below
- Sort and filter relevant directories
- <keyword> directory
- <keyword> directory <state>
- <keyword> directory <country>
- <country> directory
- <state> directory
If you run a real estate business in Hawaii, then you’d choose
- real estate directory
- real estate directory Hawaii
- real estate directory USA
- USA directory
- USA small business directory
Some of my best clients have come from forums which I have been part of.
Forums are a great way to share knowledge, attract customers, and gain some links.
Forum links usually come from signatures as most forums do not allow users to post self-promotional links within forum posts.
Note: Google has started devaluing forum links. Use it to diversify your link portfolio and try to avoid using anchor links when linking to your main site.
#18: Blog Commenting
Blog commenting is one thing. Comment spamming is something else.
If you comment to build relationships, you gain to stand future link opportunity, traffic, as well as a link in the comment section.
When you comment, never use keywords for links. Blog owners do not like people who comment for links and even if the comment is genuine most of them will mark you as spam.
#19: Q & A Sites
Ever participated in Yahoo Answers or Quora? These are Q & A sites where users can join and share their knowledge.
It’s also worth noting that Q&A links are higher quality links than comment ones since most of them allow in content links for citing sources.
If you provide in-depth answers, there is a good chance that you can drive traffic to your site as well.
List of Q&A sites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_question-and-answer_websites
With YouTube and other video sites exploding in popularity, videos have become mainstream.
With videos showing promise of gaining up to 1 billion views, imagine the kind of popularity your brand can get from video marketing.
The best thing about videos is that you can re-use the same video on multiple sites. And each of the video sharing sites will allow you to post links in the description.
List of video sharing sites: Wikipedia
#21: Product Reviews
If you have a product that people might love to review, why not reach out to them and offer your product or service in exchange for a review?
You could also search for people who are writing reviews about your competition and reach out to them for reviews as well.
When you approach people, you must always have in mind a win-win scenario. What do bloggers and site owners receive in exchange for the review? Is it affiliate commissions, free product sample, remunerations, or something else?
Buying links is against Google TOS. You risk getting banned. So never pay people for writing about you. If you do, ensure that these links are no-follow.
#22: PDF/e-book Hosting Sites
There are numerous sites that allow hosting PDF’s or e-books.
If you use Microsoft Word 2007 or later versions, you can easily convert word documents into PDF’s. If you don’t already have the save as PDF option, install the plugin for this functionality.
You can re-use the PDF’s for multiple sites.
Can you sponsor your local college events or a local meet up?
Most of these meet ups and colleges would have websites which you can leverage for links from the sponsor section.
#24: PowerPoint Hosting Sites
You can use Microsoft PowerPoint to create power point presentations related to your business and host them on PPT sharing sites.
Create useful PPT’s that solve a problem and not just an advertisement for your company. This will ensure that you get visitors from your presentations as well.
At the end of the presentation, ensure that you have a strong call to action to your site.
Bonus Tip: If you create PPT’s you can convert them to videos from within Microsoft PowerPoint. Use the save as video option. You can even add voice over to make the video more useful.
#25: Link Outreach
Do you know where your competition is getting links from? (Hint: use the SEOmoz Tool, Opensiteexplorer).
You could reach out to the sites linking to your competition and request for linking to your site.
Here is a very useful guide on link outreach: http://searchengineland.com/link-building-outreach-5-steps-to-maximize-the-value-of-every-opportunity-24687
#26: Buy Existing Websites
This is a very solid link building strategy.
Find websites that have been around for a long time and are no longer actively maintained. You could find these sites for sale on forums like digital point or flippa.
You could also reach out to these sites via contact form or whois data if you come across sites relevant to your business.
Do you have talented designers in house who can convert complex topics into easy-to-understand infographics?
Even if you don’t have in-house designers, you can always use web apps like visual.ly, infogr.am to create beautiful infographics with little or no design knowledge.
Provide an easy option easily embed the infographics on third party sites. Remember to give credit to your business on the infographic as well as link to your site below the image via the embed code.
Webmasters are much more likely to share/link/embed infographics that are useful rather than linking to commercial websites or even articles.
#28: Web 2.0 Sites
Blogger, WordPress.com, Tumblr, LiveJouranl, Squidoo, Hubpages, Weebly, etc. are all examples of web 2.0 sites that help you establish your online presence without the need of spending any money.
The beauty of these sites is that not only can you create good looking websites in a matter of minutes and be online, you can also create content and build links to your business website.
Web 2.0 is regularly used by black hat marketers to boost link authority to their main sites. Instead of misusing the service, provide genuine value by participating in the community.
Write good content, have a persona for each web 2.0 site you create, and even build links to these web 2.0 sites to increase their authority.
#29: Daily Deals Sites
Heard about Groupon- a daily deals site?
Similar to coupon sites, daily deals are also a great way to attract customers. You could provide a deal a day and attract lot of traffic to your business website. An added advantage to these is the ability to build links and citations as well.
#30: Event Listings
Are you conducting an upcoming event?
List them on event listing sites. These are good places to gain additional exposure to your event as well as build some links.
#31: Job Portals/ Job Boards
As your business grows, you’d need more employees to handle your business.
When you hire, why not post job listings on all the job portals and build links to your site at the same time? The benefits of such job postings are that there are a lot of sites that scrape popular job portals and re-post the jobs on their own site.
Now, that’s an unexpected bonus.
Tip: Don’t put your email address out in the open. Your inbox would be flooded with resumes and you’d take weeks or even months to sort out those resumes and find the few good candidates from the lot.
#32: Classified Sites
There are numerous classified sites out there like Craigslist, gumtree etc. that cater to a local audience. Why not tap into the classifieds sites to get links as well as traffic to your website?
When you have job openings, or other requirements, post on the classified sites to get backlinks to your business website.
Remember not to spam these sites. Keep renewing your classified ads (most are free to renew/re-post) if they are providing good ROI.
#33: Broken Link Building
This is a very powerful (but time consuming), method of building links to your site.
The basic idea is you find pages that link to your direct or indirect competition and if the links no longer work (your competition changes their website, goes out of business, etc.), you suggest changes.
While you request for changes, you can also plug your business and request for link to your site.
Since you helped them out, there is a good chance that the site owner will honor your request.
If you are looking for a guide on broken link building, refer this article.
Over to You:
I have obviously left out a lot of spam methods of building links like wiki blasts, tired link building, private blog networks and so on. If you have any genuine white hat link building opportunities, do share with me via the comment section.