Backlinks still remain an important factor that Google considers when ranking a website.
In 2015 Searchmetrics conducted research into ranking factors and found a strong correlation between the number of linking domains and keyword rank:
The red box indicates that the number of linking sites has a very positive impact (2=strong, 0=no effect, -1=negative effect) on a website’s ability to rank.
However, the wrong type of links can harm your website and even get you de-indexed by Google. Not good if your business relies on the internet!
Gone are the days when you could buy £100 worth of links and watch your keyword rankings rise whilst you relax with your feet up. This tactic will almost certainly get you penalised today.
Nowadays link building is hard work but the reward for your blood, sweat and tears is long term search engine visibility.
The other way to get search engine visibility is to pay for it. However, once the PPC meter runs out, you lose visibility.
Now we know why links are important, here are 15 small business link building tactics that won’t get you penalised – as long as you don’t overdo it!
Alchemy Magic – Judge a link not only on its ability to help your site rank, but also on whether it will help deliver traffic likely to convert into customers
Link Building Ideas for Small Businesses
Using Existing Business Relationships
A good start when building links to your business site is to simply ask for a link from any partners and suppliers you have relationships with. Many businesses have a ‘partners’ page, so this tactic could be a quick win for you.
Submit to Industry Directories
Link building from generic directories was pretty much rendered useless after Google implemented the Penguin Update in 2012.
However links from specific industry directories still count because they are relevant to your business.
If you’re a plumber, of course you want to be listed on a local plumbing directory. This is a highly relevant and valuable link for you.
Here are a few searches you can copy and paste into Google to find these kinds of directories. Simply substitute industry for whichever one you work in:
inurl:submit + directory + industry
inurl:add url +directory + industry
intext:submit a link + directory + industry
Links From Industry Bodies & Associations
Is your business a member of any industry specific bodies? These types of organisation often have high authority websites so links from them will certainly help raise your keyword ranks and give you exposure on a very relevant website.
Local Business Directory Links
Local business directories are still a valid type of online directory to acquire links from and will help with local SEO.
Use the following Google search to find a list of local directories in your town or city:
intext:add site + business directory + town
This is an effective link building tactic but be careful you don’t overdo it. If you are guest blogging on a website that is related to your business in some way, this is fine. You get exposure on a website to a new and relevant audience and also acquire a new link.
However, you may attract the attention of Google’s Web Spam Team if you’re an electrician and you regularly guest blog on a health food site.
Here are a couple of Google guest blog searches to get you started:
Inurl:submit guest post + industry
Inurl:contribute + industry
Build Relationships with Influencers in Your Industry
Influencers have a wide audience reach on social media and are trusted members of a community or industry. As a small business owner, it is worth your while spending time building relationships with these people. A chance to contribute on their blog will not only get you a valuable link, but it will also raise your profile and trust amongst a very relevant audience.
Image Link Building
If your business website uses imagery to convey its message, you may consider offering these images to bloggers in return for a link via an embed code or attribution. For example, many travel businesses have stunning imagery to entice people into buying a holiday.
There is always a high demand for good, free images from bloggers.
Start a blog
This is a long term link building strategy. However, if you regularly post high quality content and market it on relevant social media channels, you will attract links naturally. It is hard work and takes a lot of time and resources, but content is the heart of any digital marketing strategy and it inextricably connected with links and traffic.
Setup Google Alerts for Your Brand
Do you want to easily find out who is talking about your business online? If they are mentioning you, would they possibly link to you?
Setting up Google Alerts is easy if you have a Google Account. Simply go here and add your company name.
If you are lucky enough to get a good mention on a blog somewhere, contact the owner and ask for a link. They normally oblige as a link in this case often adds to user experience ie the reader is often curious to see the website of the business being discussed.
Forum Link Building
A somewhat under-utilised link building tactic, forum marketing can be an effective way to get a valuable link (from your forum signature) and drive relevant traffic to your site.
Forums can offer you a very targeted and relevant audience that is interested in your product or service. If you use forums to help other members, you will soon build up trust amongst the very people that might be interested in your goods and services.
Broken Link Building
It is hardly surprising that broken links are created as the internet evolves and grows. Broken link building involves contacting sites that link out to pages that no longer exist and offering them a solution; linking to your page or resource that has similar content.
A great tool to get you started with this tactic is Check My Links; a Chrome plugin that highlights all the broken links on a web page.
Link Building Through Blog Comments
This tactic is often regarded as ‘black hat’ as it was used to death before Google cottoned on to it. However, if the comment adds value and the addition of a link will help convey the comment’s message, then that is perfectly acceptable. Just avoid this type of affair which I’m sure you will!
Quora & Other Q&A Sites
As a small business reliant on the web, you want to be in the places where people go to search for answers related to your product, so Q&A sites are a valuable place to get exposure.
On Quora for example, you can search out a topic that you may be able to answer with your content:
Then write your answer in the box provided, linking to a resource you have on your website if helpful.
Thinking beyond the link gained, this tactic will also give you valuable exposure to a relevant audience.
Competitor Link Building
Going after the links your top ranking competitors have is a proven tactic and works on the ‘what’s good for them will be good for me’ principle.
You will need a decent backlink tool in order to work out what sites are linking to your competitors. Open Site Explorer and Site Explorer are two excellent tools that you can use to do this, and both have free versions you can use to try them out.
Link Building Using Infographics
Does your business site have any good infographics you could use to attract links? People love graphics that explain complex concepts visually so infographics tend to attract links naturally, provided they are unique.
Visit Venngage and you’ll be able to begin creating your own infographics for free.
I hope this has given you some new ideas on how to build quality links to your website. It is important to always be thinking beyond what the link may do to benefit keyword rank, and consider how the link will help deliver relevant traffic. Bearing this in mind will help ensure that your small business website has a natural looking link profile and isn’t in potential danger from future Google updates.