Internet-savvy small businesses know that to get customers, they need to be found on the web. They know being ranked high by Google means they will have more people viewing their website and marketing materials. Then, it’s just a matter of converting them. The trick is getting found.
Google doesn’t make it easy for small businesses. The company has strict algorithms for how they rank businesses locally and nationally. Like the dogs at the circus, Google expects companies to jump through hoops to have a high ranking. While you, as a business owner, have to do a number of things to be found, one easy one is link building. For those who are less Internet-savvy, link building is having your website link on some other site where visitors can click on your link. This brings you visitors from somewhere else and boosts your ranking.
What You Don’t Want to Do
Be careful with link building exercises because if you do it incorrectly, Google will strike it against you and lower your rankings. These are definite No-nos.
- Submitting dozens of press releases that link back to your site. This doesn’t mean you can’t send press releases, but you should be selective in what you are sending. This practice also will get you more media attention too.
- Adding your business to random web directories; particularly those that aren’t vetted by human editors. These probably aren’t effective for marketing your company anyway.
- Buying links or participating in old-school link exchanges or linking schemes. When websites were first launched, marketers told you to put your link on someone else’s site and add that person to yours. This link exchange isn’t as popular today, but some people still do it. You want to avoid this practice as much as possible.
- Submitting guest posts to dozens of low-quality blogs. Although having your company name on a blog helps to get people to remember you, it counts against you for Google and searchability.
What Are the Link Strategies?
To be effective with link building, you want to follow the advice of search engine optimization experts. They list these strategies as the most helpful and easiest to do.
- Guest posting on high-quality niche sites — Although guest posting is becoming passe, you can use it to build your brand, go beyond your customer base, and build a reputation as an expert in your field. Adding a link in your bio is still okay and still counts as a link. The problem comes up when you aren’t choosy on your blog sites. Links from low-quality sites could lead to your site being demoted in ranking. Ask whether the bloggers are well-known and high-calibre people or if the site is relevant to your industry.
- Give testimonials on authoritative sites — While this strategy isn’t 100 percent effective, when it works, it works well. Pick those business partners that you have used and offer a testimonial. You get exposure and a link to your site. The other company gets a usable testimonial for its site. The trick is to put the testimonial on a site in your industry. If the business partner wants to use it on his or her site, the person will ask you.
- Get local links — Many small businesses don’t need to be searchable nationally. They only need to be found in their corner of the world. To get local links to your site, have people review your business on Yelp or Angie’s List. Customers can talk about you on Better Business Bureau or Craig’s List. This will help you to be found locally. When submitting to these sites, make sure you are consistent across the board with your name, address and phone number. Inconsistencies will lower your rankings.
- Use free public relations — You want to put your name and company on a free account with Help a Reporter Out (HARO). This site matches up popular media with quotable sources and establishes you as an expert in your field. When you register, you’ll receive three daily email digests that give you questions you can answer. When you find one where you can provide expertise, send a note responding to the specific questions. If the uses your quotes, you might have received a link from a high-quality and reputable site.
- Social sharing provides you some — Previously, we thought that social media were the solution to everyone’s problems with link building. Now, we know that isn’t the case, but you still get benefits when people share your posts. Google looks at the number of bloggers who contacted you by finding your post on social media.
- Content is king — You want to write comprehensive and evergreen content. When you create content that other bloggers want to reference, you become an expert in your field and you get your links posted on high-quality sites without you doing anything. Your goal is to issue posts that provide all angles of a topic and remain relevant year after year. Others will look to your site as a resource.
Follow these six and you are bound to improve your rankings and get the links you need.
Cynthia Witson is a professional article writer and expert social media marketing strategist. She loves exercising, headsets, computer, internet, fruits, shopping online (http://www.matchzup.com/) and traveling all around the world. Connect with her Google+.