Over the past week I have had many questions sent to me from small businesses asking me about link building and how difficult and time consuming it is. I even had one person say I was mis informing the visitors who come to my site by saying that link building strategies are mandatory to your sites overall SEO health and growth. So I dusted myself off and figured I would talk more about it and convenience this one visitor on how building links is necessary to their small business success on the Internet.
So why build links?
- Boosts your rankings by what other people say (link). Search engines give more relevance to what others says about your site over what you say.
- You drive highly qualified traffic to you site. These visitors are pre qualified and are in a good frame of mind to react to your product or services. Links are not just about rankings.
- They build trust. Any link from a trusted site will make your site more trustworthy. This is a real good thing as for every trusted site there are hundreds that are not trustworthy.
- They connect you to the authoritative people and sites within your industry. Kind of think of it as the original LinkedIn.
- Links attract more links. Kind of think of it as the rich get richer!
- They position you as a leader in the space or industry. They also make you harder to move out of the top search engine spots and make it near impossible to receive top placement if you don’t have them.
How to find inbound links?
Let’s talk about the challanges before we go into how to find quality links. The challanges are:
Finding quality sites is not that hard really but it is time consuming and this is what trips people up. Start with competitor sites and use tools such as Yahoo’s SiteExplorer and SEOMOZ’s Open Site Explorer to find the sites you may be able to get a link from. This types of sites linking to them would be:
- Business Partners
- Trade Associations
- Paid Links
- Guest Blogs
- Article Marketing Sites
- Product Description Sites
- News Sites
- And More.
The goal is to find relevant and authoritative sites, not just any site to get a link from. They key is to find links from different domains giving you a diversified linking profile. This is what the search engines want to see. Remember, it’s about the number of different domains linking to you not the amount of links. Another good way to find good linking opportunities is to perform keyword searches on your favorite search engine. This will give you sites that have generated a diversified linking profile and in the search engines eyes are highly authoritative. People love to write and link about high authoritative web sites!
Link building is about good links. What is the difference?
- Is it related to your industry?
- Is the links followed by the search engines? Links that are no followed are just not as good as followed links. There are many tools out there to help you find no followed links but one I like is the SEO Book and SEOMOZ’s toolbars that incorporate this feature.
- Are the pages with the outbound links indexed in the major search engines?
- Does the site invite guest articles or blog posts?
- Does the site itself have a good linking profile?
- Has articles from the site been published anywhere?
- Does it have quality content?
- Does the content attract comments?
- Are the links within the body copy of the article?
- Do the links go away or are removed?
Sounds to good to be true right? Well, honestly it is not quantum physics but there are plently if things that can trip up the link builder such as:
- Reason for linking not strong enough – you have got to get personal with your requests. Canned requests get you no response and no responses will burn out the people link building.
- Not enough time researching link prospect – does the link builder real researching the site to see if it is owned by a sister company that shows the link as a backlink? I see this happen a lot.
- Not linking to relevant websites – many link builders get see a directory or a form and run to fill it out without seeing if the linking site is a industry fit for your site.
So what does link building mean to your small business SEO?
Everything really as good rankings start and end with links and how your link profile is seen by the majority of search engines. The number and quality of links pointing into your website is one the most important factors in your online success. While on-page SEO, good spider crawl-ability, and quality content helps, it is the links that ultimately matter the most.
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