A Small Business Guide to Link Building
Link building is a basic but necessary strategy for small business websites. When done right, link building boosts organic SEO efforts to keep the site competitive and attract new customers.
One of the biggest marketing challenges business owners face is attracting visitors to their website. Most small business marketing campaigns start with word of mouth recommendations and simple traditional print marketing strategies such as postcard mailings and flyers.
However, sooner or later, business owners learn that these efforts can only fuel some growth. That’s when they look for other marketing methods such as social media, paid advertising, and directory listing optimization.
Small business owners realize that the key to success is to work smarter, not harder. And that extends to the digital world through search engine optimization (SEO), content management for on-page SEO, automation, and other strategies that create better value- price.
These initiatives also include website structure optimization, meta tags, and off-page strategies such as link building, all of which leverage behind-the-scenes technology to attract a wider audience and drive site visits. website.
Overview: What is link building?
Link building is one of the fundamental strategies used to improve the ranking of websites in organic search engine results. In its simplest form, link building refers to using other websites and online outlets with higher page rankings to link to your website.
The ranking of the other website (in terms of popularity and visits) can impact your site’s ranking by association. This website linking gives your site a boost as Google “crawls” the web and applies its algorithm to give sites value.
How Does Link Building Benefit Your SEO Efforts?
Google has confirmed that high-quality content and inbound links are among the three most important ranking factors for SEO. So while you want to focus on high-quality on-page content that targets competitive keywords and long-tail phrases, you also want to work on building effective links from high-quality sites.
Let’s run through a quick example using a small make-up business called Justin’s Fitness Studio for Kids.
Justin has a small fitness studio, and during the pandemic he’s running some great virtual classes to keep kids active and less likely to bomb their parents’ work meetings. A local TV station discovers Justin’s work and films a segment for its small business series.
After the story aired, the station posted the video on its website. The story comes with a link to Justin’s studio website (an inbound link, also known as a backlink) so viewers can get more information about his company.
When Google indexes Justin’s site and detects a new inbound link from a more prominent website, the algorithm assigns greater importance to Justin’s site through the link association. Thus, the television report helps Justin’s company increase brand awareness in the community, and his site receives a pat on the back from Google thanks to the inbound link.
As a result, Justin’s site may end up with a higher page rank, which will hopefully boost the site’s search results by a few points. This is ideal since every business wants one of those coveted first page search results listings without having to pay thousands of dollars to make it happen.
Another consideration for SEO is Google’s EAT guidelines. EAT stands for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness – characteristics that Google’s algorithm uses to assess quality, which is factored into the ranking of a site’s pages. Quality inbound links can help fulfill every aspect of the EAT guidelines for a site if the linking sites also meet the EAT criteria.
Here’s what you need to know about EAT.
Your site must demonstrate a level of expertise. You can achieve this by understanding how to communicate your knowledge in a way that engages your audience. You need to know what your audience wants and how to deliver that information effectively.
Do this by:
- Understand what your audience wants to know through keyword research
- Respond to search intent (i.e. the questions your audience asks Google)
- Create great expert content and display it throughout your site
Showing authority is where inbound links and an effective link building strategy have significant impacts. When your site receives links from relevant and authoritative websites, it shows a higher level of authority and can be a substantial improvement in your site’s ranking.
Sites with existing authority in your area of expertise that link to your site serve as third-party endorsements demonstrating that they support your purpose and expertise. In addition to links, mentions on these authoritative sites can also prove beneficial for SEO.
Reliability is arguably a feature that can make or break your brand. It is expected to carry a bit more weight on your site’s SEO than the other two. Regardless of one’s relative power, it’s still important to be perceived as trustworthy.
A great way to build reliability and gain valuable links is to get positive reviews on third-party sites like TripAdvisor, Trustpilot, Facebook, and Google My Business. These sites award stars and collect customer reviews, reflecting your reputation and how Google ranks trustworthiness.
How to Develop a Link Building Campaign for Your Small Business
When focusing on a link building strategy, first determine what you really want to accomplish with your efforts and how you will get there. Then consider different ways to get high quality links.
Follow these steps to develop a link building campaign.
1. Set your baseline
At the start, know your site’s current stats regarding ranking, search engine results, and keyword optimization. Figure out which marketing metrics matter to your efforts and identify your benchmarks so you can define your goals and determine feasibility.
2. Determine your resources
Knowing who can help with your optimization and what SEO and link building tools – free or affordable – you can use to help you identify the best strategies and track progress is critical.
These helpful sites and tools include link building features, SEO tips, and general education on effective link building.
Use these resources to help you determine keywords, competitor sites, and high-ranking authoritative sites, as well as ways to creatively pitch sites to give you a link.
3. Formulate and execute your strategy
Armed with your goals, your budget, your resources and your tools, define your strategy to move forward. Determine how much time, effort, and budget you plan to allocate to these efforts with the goal still in sight.
Implement your strategy and stay on top of changes or pivots to ensure your strategy stays on track. Also stay informed of any changes in Google’s algorithm that may impact the ranking of your site or other targeted sites.
4. Be creative
There are plenty of ways to get links without appearing to be spammy or pushy. However, sometimes it takes a bit of creativity to get there.
One way is to set up Google Alerts for your business or brand. If you receive an alert for a mention of a quality site that does not include a link to your site, ask for it. Contact the site owner and offer a direct link to your site. To get your SEO backlink, request a mention update that includes your link. This application may seem a bit advanced, but you will be surprised how often it works.
5. Maintain, review and reactivate your strategy
Finally, it is essential to know that link building is not just a one-time effort. Maintaining quality inbound links requires continuous monitoring to observe the impact of inbound links and possible adjustments to your on-page SEO to maximize benefits.
SEO and link building continue to be codependent
Just like couples who can’t live without each other, SEO and link building are intertwined and will be for the foreseeable future. So if you want your SEO to be effective, focus on grabbing those high-quality links and get creative to make it happen.