Building links is one of the tasks where small businesses can take the big step toward organic traffic or the final step on the precipice of Google penalties.
Today we are going to see how a small company can work with Link Building safely and effectively.
Link Building & SEO
The hardest part of SEO for most small businesses is building consistent, authoritative links to their website.
Keyword Search, OnPage Optimization, Local SEO, even web design to improve navigability… all doable for a small business, and to a certain degree are mechanical jobs that can be taken on “In-Company”. But raising your authority through good link building work? Not that much.
While the importance of links is clear, Google’s information is confusing and useless. We are told to “make sure other sites link to yours” while at the same time “avoid link building as it can do more harm than good”. So, what’s a small business to do?
In this article, I’m going to take a quick look at why links influence results and then describe a simple link building strategy. The goal is to help small businesses build authority and target business search terms that interest them.
There is still a necessary creative element here, but my goal is to provide a simple strategy that small businesses can use to help build their authority and improve their visibility on the Internet.
Are links to your website important in 2022?
I hope you have read the factors that influence the ranking of search engines, if not, it is a good place to start in optimizing your website to improve positioning in Google.
Domain-level linking characteristics and page-level linking characteristics remain the top two ranking factors.
Keywords and content factors are not far behind, elements that are directly under your control are much easier to come by.
There are some other factors that you need to consider for your local business, and they come under the heading “Local SEO”.
Address, citations, NAP consistency, Google My Business….
However, links are still the second most important factor after OnPage signals, and yet these links are considerably harder to come by.
Penalties, Spam And Link Quality
I really don’t want to go too far into this but considering the rewards that come with search engine visibility, soon there were people who reverse-engineered their way to the top of Google, without deserving it, so when Google changed its algorithms to “catch” (us), sanctions and all kinds of problems for “SEOcheaters” arrived.
I’m not 100 percent convinced that Google has fully solved this problem yet, however, focusing on the relevance and quality of the links you build is crucial to the long-term success of your internet business.
This means building real links, from real sites that convert into real search results and are read by real people. Do you get it?
Local SEO is the cornerstone of organic visibility for most small businesses. Things have become more competitive with many small businesses entering the scene using Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) and Adwords Express advertising. That said, local SEO is today, where the battle of small businesses is being waged at the local level, the battle to appear in searches that we have already told you about before in this blog, suppose a very high number of transactional searches at the local level, that is “pasta in the pocket” of the small local business at the end of the month.
If you want to know more about Local SEO, I invite you to read this other post where I expand more on this topic: Definitive Guide To Local SEO.
On Page Optimization
OnPage optimization is like adjusting and tightening the nuts and bolts of your website optimization.
If you are a local business, with this optimization you will practically cover all your local SEO needs. If your scope is a bit larger, or you cover a wider geographic area, you’ll want to make sure that your domain-level and page-level optimization are set to maximize results.
Google’s own SEO guide is a good place to start. The document explains optimizing page titles, meta descriptions, site structure, URLs, and navigation. It’s an “oldie”, first published in 2008, but it covers the basics, which is enough for a small local business.
Leverage Existing Assets And Relationships
Many small businesses just need a couple of really good links. Do you have links from your suppliers? Do you have links from organizations relevant to your business? From major directories like Yellow Pages or Yelp? From portals or directories specific to your market?
Get together in your office and do a quick brainstorm of where you could get links, your sales team may have great ideas on this.
Guide To Create Links In Small Businesses
The strategy outlined here is designed for small businesses. It is an approach that I have used often, this is the last big push when everything else is already done in SEO.
This strategy will help you develop anchor text that includes your main keywords, do it in a way that is natural and doesn’t upset Google.
This will help you build more organic traffic and create general authority for your website. Most importantly, this approach will allow you to rank for those Keywords that you know your potential customers are using and customer inquiries that will make your business flourish with the help of the internet.
This approach works as a “single” strategy or can be repeated and scaled. It is also based on delivering value and has a creative element, so it cannot simply be copied by a competitor. That also means it’s not easy, but it’s strategically sound.
Philosophy Of Link Building
Before we dive into this, we must be clear about the philosophy of the link. The biggest problem with link building for small businesses is the mindset with which they are approached. If you can change the way you think about link building, you have a strategic advantage that will leave your competitors seeing your digital trail receding.
- First you need to create something worth linking to.
- Then simply connect what needs to be connected.
We are not trying to fabricate links and artificially inflate your authority. We are trying to create something that your competitors don’t have and gain links naturally.
Remember, we want links from high-quality and relevant sites, as these links are more trustworthy and add more value. Real websites only link to other real websites, hence the key to this strategy: build something worth linking to.
See what Google Search Console Help has to say about this:
Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote by page A for page B. Votes cast by pages that are “important” weigh more and help make other pages important.
The approach I propose works like this:
The First Step Is To Create Something Of Value For Your Target Audience.
You must create something of value for your target audience. This is often the hardest task. Ideally, this will be something that can be integrated into your overall marketing strategy. Something that in itself will help you generate more business. In an ideal world, all digital marketing works in synergy (rather than silos). This isn’t always possible, but if your marketing assets can be multi-use, then you’ll get better performance overall.
Ideally, this content will be something your target audience is looking for, such as a resolution to a specific problem.
Let’s see it from the perspective of my business (Stealth SEO Solutions) as SEO for local businesses and small business… it could be:
- Guide to SEO for small businesses.
- Small business guide to link building.
- Small business guide to keyword research.
They are all relevant to the services provided by Stealth SEO Solutions and contain a relevant keyword. They are also (assuming they are well put together) solid resources where it is much easier to put a link and that it is well justified.
No one is better equipped than you to determine what this content should look like. What questions do your customers ask? What are the common problems you face? What are your goals here? Is it new business? Upselling to existing customers?
Create the content that will help your audience and you put yourself on this path of your customer until the purchase of this service is halfway there. Look at some practical examples:
- Guide for small consultancies.
- Agriculture Small Business Guide.
- Local SEO Guide for Real Estate.
- Did your bank deceive you? Everything you need to know to Claim Clause Floor.
- DIY Plumber – How to fix a leaky faucet.
- DIY electrician – How to change a plug.
- Toothache – Do you really need to go to the dentist?
One key point is that, where possible, your content should include the transactional keywords you want to rank for. We’re trying to help Google understand what we’re doing by creating relevant content for our services and then generating links with descriptive anchor text that relates to the target article.
This is not an exact science. Create an article that is relevant to the issues your audience is facing and, where possible, include the term that best describes the main service your potential customer will want to find.
You want this content to be good. Good enough to enrich another article by linking to them. But if you’re a local business, you don’t have to create the World’s Best Article About Your Product, you just have to provide value.
If you have multiple services, this approach could be scaled, at Stealth SEO Solutions, we provide SEO, PPC and Content marketing so, we do articles on all these topics. If your service is monothematic (plasterer, plumber…), then it is even easier.
Once created, this article must be published on your own website and is what I refer to as our “linkable asset”. This is a piece of content on our site that makes good sense for someone to link to.
The Second Step Is To Promote This Content On Relevant Sites
Now that we are going to create high-quality, relevant articles, and how we should link our article with descriptive anchor text.
A key point here is that the content you create and post on another website, directory or social network should be enriched and enhanced if you link to your article. This is essential to ensure that the link is natural and there for the reader, not purely for SEO purposes. Sure, we want the link, but we have to do it in a way that makes sense in the real world.
The details of this approach depend on the content you’ve created. However, a simple strategy that we have had success with is:
- Create a “linkable asset” on a broad topic (such as: SEO).
- Next, create a series of smaller articles in subsections like keyword research, on-page optimization, link building and so on.
- Link to the linkable element of your articles using descriptive anchor text.
- In many cases, you will also have a branded link to the home page, for example in the author or bio box.
Strategically, this is something quite simple and easy to execute. We’re not trying to put some unnatural anchor text links to our home or service pages in an article that the editor of any quality site is going to “annihilate” in a second. Instead, we are offering value to the reader and linking them to a resource that is a natural expansion on the same topic.
Using the example of this very article on link building for small businesses, and assuming that Stealth SEO Solutions already had articles on Link Building, in this article we published you could easily fit a link in the following way:
This is not manipulative. It is useful. We are primarily interested in building links to influence our authority and visibility, but a secondary benefit here is that we can build positive referral traffic. It’s a win-win. You who read this get more information about this topic and I who write this get relevant traffic with a link to content that enriches this post, this is cool for Google.
Link Building Tactics
All the specific tactics you can use, to find link opportunities I think would not fit in this article, we will leave it for the next one.
However, if you are looking to dive in and dive into this topic to create your first “linkable asset” to build some links back to your website, I would suggest investigating the following tactics.
- Guest blog posts. Finding sites in your category should be relatively easy. Remember to focus on quality and think of this as digital PR (Digital Public Relations) that builds awareness and credibility.
- DigitalPR. Tools like Semrush can help you identify link building opportunities, but it will be your ability to build relationships online (just like you do offline) that will determine the success of your strategy.
There are a million tactics to create links, here is a video that I think explains these tactics very well:
You must focus on quality. You should only look to post on sites you are proud to appear on. real sites. Read by real people. Think more PR (Public Relations) than SEO.
Any popular link building strategy will be heavily exploited, from directories to guest posts. When link quality suffers, and the link exists only for SEO, then you’re on shaky ground. Focus on quality and think of this as the Public Relations of your company on the Internet and as in the offline world, this public relation can positively or negatively affect your reputation if you do not bet on quality.
If you own a small business you should not need tons of Links. Try doing one of these per month for example. Again, look at it from a PR point of view, exposure helps you improve your organic visibility.
Link Building is where it is most easily seen how small businesses hit an SEO “brick wall”.
It is too easy to fall into the world of Toxic links, which can lead your project to serious problems.
A simple strategy that starts with a “linkable asset” and later a campaign to promote this asset avoids these problems if done with robust quality control.
- Create something of value for your target audience.
- The title of that content should include your business keywords.
- Guest posts to link to your post.
- Use descriptive anchor text that contains the target Keywords.
- Measure the results and do not get carried away.