10 Link Building Strategies for Small Businesses
Update (June 2015): Many of the points covered in this post have changed since it was written, so while some of the ideas are still worth exploring, others have moved from sitting in a grey area, to becoming more black-hat. For this reason, you may want to read through to see how link building has evolved in recent years.
Not every website is the same, thus not every website’s link building strategy should be the same. To come up with your strategy you can study the link profiles of major competitors that established themselves in the niche before you did.
Below is a sample backlink analysis from a WooRank Website Project that shows backlink information in the form of a page URL, page title and linking anchor text.
The following are some legitimate link building strategies that have been tried and tested for small businesses:
1. Get a Blog:
Using a blog for link building is one of the latest trends in SEO. What makes you stand out in your niche is the quality of your content and the topics of your blog posts. Informative blogs on ‘useful tips’ and ‘lists of useful tools’ are usually a hit and creating blogs on controversial topics once in a while will grab the attention of fellow bloggers. Your blog page could invite both positive and negative views from experts in your niche, with the goal of setting you apart from all your blogging competitors. Writing on controversial topics may generate a buzz in your niche; ideally the content will then get shared on social media sites and receive many comments from readers. This increases the popularity of your blog. Read more about Blogging for SEO in one of our previous posts.
2. Internal link building:
Having a blog page associated with your website as either a subdirectory (www.yoursite/blog), a subdomain (www.blog.yoursite.com) or a separate domain (www.blog.com) gives you plenty of opportunities to link your content with your main site or link your blogs with each other. This internal link building is completely under your control, where you can choose your own anchor texts. This strategy also helps to promote your site for the targeted keywords found in the anchor texts interlinking your blogs.
3. Promote your blog’s RSS feed:
If you have a blog, you must have an RSS feed for it. Distribute your blog’s RSS feed in the following directories for free and earn links in return:
4. Guest Blog:
Update (June 2015): In January 2014, former head of Google’s Webspam team – Matt Cutts, published a blog post about guest posting and why it should no longer be part of your online marketing strategy. However, as long as you’re not doing it too often and for the sole reason of building links, it can still be a great thing to do. Just make sure you’re it doesn’t appear unnatural, and consider the other benefits of guest posts, whether you’re writing the post to gain more exposure, or you’re accepting a post to help with your content strategy.
When you have your own blog it becomes easier to approach owners of other popular blogs in your niche, in order to gain guest blogging opportunities. Guest blogging is here to stay, as building links is not easy and this is a natural way to do it. Once you have built an initial reputation with your blog, you could showcase your expertise by sharing the link to your blog with webmasters you would love to guest blog for, thus gaining a link back to your website. Having your own blog also creates opportunities to exchange posts, thus building a mutually beneficial relationship.
5. Blog Commenting:
Update (June 2015): While some SEOs continue to build links through blog comments, this was a technique that was hugely overused, so should be done with caution. These days, most blogs add the “nofollow” attribute to links with the comments, so this prevents PageRank from being passed. If you’re still looking to use blog comments as part of your link building strategy, consider the following:
- Don’t use keyword rich anchor text – linking from your name to your website is much more natural
- Make sure your comment is relevant to the blog post – be thoughtful and avoid being too generic
- Avoid adding comments to blog posts that already have blatant comment spam
With Google Blog search you can find bloggers in your niche that share the same interests as you. Make a habit of leaving relevant comments on their blogs, in the form of praise or suggestions, in order to gain exposure in your niche community of bloggers. You can also occasionally drop a link in their comments, suggesting similar content featured in your own blog. Note: Dropping a link that connects to a content page is better than leaving a link back to the main, sales-driven part of your website. This can increase traffic to your blog and eventually increase link juice to your site as a whole.
6. Article Sites:
Article directories were penalized as content farms when a lot of webmasters submitted the same low quality content to hundreds and thousands of article sites. The trend of mass article distribution is outdated but with a blog page of your own, you own the copyrights to your article and can syndicate shorter versions of your article on these article sites. There are some high quality article sites on the web where you can distribute segments of content from your original blog posts, written as teasers, and providing a link to your blog in the resource box to encourage visitors of the article sites to read more of your content.
7. Document Sharing:
Share content on document sharing sites. This is not limited to blogs but includes other promotional content that your company has produced as well, in the form of whitepapers, e-books, PDF’s, case studies or even restaurant menu cards. Drop a link in these shared documents, add relevant tags, give an apt title and description containing your target keywords and, on some sites, you can even write transcripts of your document with relevant keywords inserted in them.
Some of the popular online document sharing sites are as follows:
8. Press Release Marketing
Feature in Google News by releasing news about your company, product or service. You could also write a press release on a trending topic. Create a buzz at the right time by keeping an eye out for trending keywords on Google Trends. Press releases are often featured in the ‘News’ section on the first page of Google search results:
After you have created a press release, submit it to press release sites to gain links from them. The following are some reputed press release sites:
Although small businesses may not have time to strategize with content by planning designs for infographics, they can still use services offering free infographic templates. If you have some useful industry statistics or if you have data from conducting your own industry survey, do not bother explaining it in a boring, text-only blog. Use free infographic templates and offer your audience a colorful representation of the statistics. You can then post the infographic to your blog. Anyone else choosing to use your infographics can do so by embedding the code you provide, thus automatically producing a link back to your website. Here is a great post on the Top Three Infographic Tools for small businesses, all offered at no cost. You can gain more links by distributing these infographics to directories, such as:
10. Get Social:
It is essential for every small business to have a blend of social media links in their link profiles because social signals play a very important role in boosting your search ranking. This is because social media involves real people and becoming popular among real people requires effort that is recognized and rewarded by search engine crawlers. There are many ways in which you can gather social signals. Some of them are listed below:
Social bookmark your blog or website on the following sites:
Create a brand page on the following sites:
Get links from your Twitter profile by submitting it to Twitter directories. These sites are as follows:
Here are some other miscellaneous social media sites where you can create a link back to your website from your profiles: