There are two groups of marketers when it comes to link building: those who love doing it and those who hate doing it. Link building is not easy and if done incorrectly, can cause more harm than good. That’s why you might get a deer in the headlights look when you ask your marketing person about link building, or even a physical shudder. So, what’s a small business owner to do to get quality links back to their site? We’ve pulled together a basic beginner’s guide to link building to help you out.
What is link building?
Basically link building is the process of getting other websites to link back to your website. All marketers and business owners should be interested in building links to drive referral traffic and increase their site’s authority. Why? Backlinks remain an important factor in how search engines determine which sites rank for which keywords in search results. There are two fundamental ways that the search engines use links:
- To discover new web pages
- To help determine how well a page should rank in their results
Building quality links is one of the many tactics used in SEO because links are a signal to Google and other search engines that your website is a quality resource. Therefore, sites with more backlinks tend to earn higher rankings.
Quality link building is not easy
Link building is hard, but not impossible. Organic link building is a difficult, time-consuming process. A link from an authoritative website like the Wall Street Journal will have a greater impact on your rankings in the search results than a link from a small or newly built website, but high-quality links are harder to come by. Finding good sites to get a link from takes an enormous amount of time. Researching can take forever and taking time to establish a working relationship with those can be highly frustrating. The key is to start with the basics, learn as you go, build good relationships with quality sites, and don’t give up. While there are entire marketing agencies dedicated to link building services, a small business marketer can build links too; just keep it simple! This basic guide to link building is a good place to start.
There are simple ways anyone can build quality backlinks
Yes, we DID just say link building could be hard. Burnout, lack of creative thinking, lack of patience and just not knowing what to do are several reasons people hate to build links, but there are a few simple ways to get started. If you’re a beginner to link building, try these few steps to get started:
Leverage content on your site worth linking to
Good links will occur naturally if you have quality content on your site, but sometimes those links need a little nudge. Before you start any kind of outreach, take inventory of what content on your site is link worthy. Just ask yourself which pages on your site offer enough value for another site to link to it. Typically, these pages are:
- Blog posts or articles
- Free guides
Depending on the sites you reach out to, these pages may also be valuable:
- Product pages
- Service pages
- People pages (bios)
Now, for each of those pages, list a couple keyword phrases that are directly related to that page. For example, if you want to promote marketing strategy creation, these phrases may be applicable: “marketing strategy”, “marketing strategy creation”, “marketing strategy creation services”, or “marketing strategy services”. Make a list and keep it in mind; you’ll need this when you start your outreach.
Start looking for link building opportunities
When you start looking for link building opportunities, it’s all about quality, relevancy, and user focus. Don’t try to get links from spammy or inappropriate sites. Only get backlinks from sites that are relevant to your website (if you sell airplane parts, don’t reach out to a dog food site for a backlink). Keep in mind that linking between sites is to help with user experience so find sites where there’s a natural connection between their site and yours.
Here are five types of link opportunities to keep in mind when researching websites:
- Reciprocal links – These can be fairly easy to get if you follow the three conditions above, just don’t overuse this tactic! As long as you don’t do reciprocal linking excessively and these reciprocal links are on topic and make sense from a user standpoint, link exchange is not something bad. It’s a nice way to get your feet wet but again, use this technique sparingly!
- Guest blogging – Seek out industry sites that would be open to accepting a quality guest post from you. Not only does it help establish you as a subject matter expert, you can get a nice link back to your website.
- Featured article – Get a feature article about you or your company posted on a 3rd party site. If you do any guest speaking, a speaker bio is an easy way to get a link back to your site.
- Web directories – There are still quality directories out there that you should try to get your website info placed on with a link back to your site. Don’t use the mass directory submissions; again, the key is relevancy. Look for high quality industry directories that allow you to showcase your company’s service or products with a nice backlink.
- Company mentions – If you have been around awhile, chances are that your company has been mentioned somewhere on another site; whether you were a guest speaker, volunteer, sponsor, etc., find those mentions and ask for a backlink. TIP: set up Google Alerts so you know whenever your company is mentioned online.
Continually build new quality backlinks
These are some basic ways to start dipping your toe into link building. When you’re ready to dig deeper into link building, there are many fantastic resources for how to get more quality backlinks, but hopefully following this super easy guide to link building will get you comfortable with the concept of building quality backlinks to your site.