If you are here to learn how to grow your online presence by increasing the organic traffic to your site from search engines like Google or Bing, and you are a small business owner or a freelancer without the online marketing budgets of the ‘big boys’, then this post is definitely for you.
This post will give you actionable Do It Yourself Link Building Tips for your website in 2016. In most ‘lack of resources’ situations, how we compensate is with much more of our personal time & energy put in since we are unable to outsource this.
Let’s do a quick introduction to a few basic elements of Link Building before dishing out some advice to kick start your digital marketing!
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What is a Link?
A link is usually a highlighted text link that you click on a webpage that takes you to another page on the same site or to an external one.
Links on your pages allows you to:
1. Internal Link - direct your visitors to related topics on other pages in your site to expand on the subject you are writing about in more detail.
2. External Link - direct your visitors to a resource that is external to your site, to another site, which backs up the point you are trying to make or again providing a more complete explanation of what you are talking about. An External Link from another site to yours is a BackLink for you.
This results in:
1. your visitor having a good experience engaging with your content and
2. helping the search engines understand what you link to is about, by following your links with their crawling technology.
What is a Backlink and what can it do for your site?
A backlink refers to a link back to a page on your site from another site (See example above of an ‘External Link’). In Google’s and other search engines’ eyes, a backlink to a page on your site is a vote for your site’s importance or relevance to the topic.
If you have many votes from sites that have more authority than your site (their higher “Domain Authority” is achieved from having more quality links to their sites from many different sites), and the votes for your site are from sites that are related to your site, then this gives your site legitimacy. Otherwise, why would sites not owned by you link to or reference you?
For an illustration example, you are a snow plowing service and get a link from the following:
● the Snow Plow Association of Canada, that’s good (Don’t bother Googling this; ).
● the Better Business Bureau, that’s good.
● a Snow Plow manufacturer that you use, that’s good.
● a small business services directory in your city, that’s good.
● a neighbourhood Little League sports site that your business sponsored, that’s good.
● a local news site with a post about how your business saved the neighbourhood in the recent snow blizzard, that’s good.
No value or worse:
● a Mommy blog post talking about kids toys, but there’s a link to you because it’s your cousin’s blog. Or any example like this that the post is not about your business and comes from an unrelated website.
● a directory that lists businesses in the USA, but you’re a Canadian business.
● a global generic business directory that lists you.
● a global business directory in categories not related to your industry, but lists you.
6 DIY Link Building Tips on a Budget
Now that we understand the basics of what are links and why we need them, then let’s move on to the where to look for opportunities and how to start your link building.
1) Start With Your Sphere of Influence
Do you know any customers, business contacts, acquaintances, friends or family members that own a website? Based on proximity and relationship, can you reach into their spheres of influence? Does your cousin Tom, have a few friends in industries that may use your product or services? Make a big list. It is always about ‘The List’.
Does their website have some relevance to your business? For example, if you have a landscaping business, is their site about landscaping or a broader topic like gardening?
If it’s not related and can’t be remotely bridged to your content, then a link from their site will probably not give you any value from the search engines’ standpoint.
What you’ll have to do to get that link is up to you, just be helpful and give more than you get in return.
2) Are There Mentions of Your Brand That Don’t Have Links Pointing to You?
Google your brand name within quotations and see which sites are mentioning your brand. If you have different ways of writing your brand, then repeat with each version.
Then go to each mention of you and see if there is a link to your site and if not, then contact that site and ask to kindly link to you since they are mentioning your brand anyways.
3) Leverage Your Existing Service or Product Suppliers
Which companies do you use their services or their products? Make a list and reach out to them to start a conversation.
If you use certain tools (physical or software) for your business, then ask that supplier if you could write a review of using their product and would they link back to your site from your review?
What you use for your business is usually related to your industry, so a link from them would be valuable. It’s also a win/win situation since every business likes to get testimonials on their website to help sell their products or services.
4) Can Your Expertise Be Leveraged in a Guest Post?
Can you find sites with a little research that are in your industry and yet don’t directly compete with your business? Can you find sites that are on topics that use your products or services at one time or another? Can you reach out to them to write a Guest Post that benefits their audience and that can provide a link back to your site?
For example, at Powered by Search, a Toronto Digital Marketing Agency, we use Positionly’s software for tracking local and organic rankings of target keywords for all our clients, projects and prospective clients, and I simply asked if we could contribute a guest post written for Positionly’s target audience.
5) Can Your Products or Services be a Resource to Another Organization?
Which organizations would need and benefit from using your products or services? Are their associations that are important to belong to in your industry? Brainstorm a list, then Google ‘your keyword + resources’. Make a list different associations, organizations, companies and industries that can use your business offering. Ask them if you could be on their website’s resource page so that you can be a benefit to their members or staff, or if it’s an industry association, you may have to pay a fee to be listed on their resource page.
6) Who Are the Common Sites That Are Linking to Your Organic Competitors?
Your main keyword is “Storage Rental”. Google in a private browser window to see non-personalized results and see who your organic competitors are. Repeat with multiple keywords related to your offering.
Use a backlinks analysis tool like Positionly to enter these competitors’ sites, to find out how many sites are linking to them and what they are.
Then you can assess what kind of sites these are, why they are linking to your competitors and if you can approach those sites and get a link for your business. You also can use the lists of sites as a brainstorming starter, and come up with ideas similar to those sites.
That’s Six Do It Yourself Link Building Tips that only require some elbow grease, but what if you are a business offering services locally?
Here are 5 Bonus Tips for Local Link Building
Marc Nashaat, Digital PR Team Leader of Powered by Search’s Link Building Division says this about link building in 2016:
In today’s content marketing environment, small businesses really need to rely on local search - This is especially true if they are competing against national players.
When investments in content marketing aren’t feasible, then the most impactful link building activities will be hyper-local. Chambers of commerce and other local businesses are great examples of some of the links these businesses might want to pursue.
For instance, a restaurant might want to offer up free meals to local bloggers for them to review on their sites. Offering exclusive promotions to other businesses’ customers is another great way to do this.
For example, a home cleaning service might want to offer an exclusive promotion to customers of a local realtor.
Search results are now frequently geo-centric, especially in the realm of mobile search and sending signals to Google about your local relevance can often be more important for a small business’ ability to rank for key terms than investing in a content marketing strategy that may not necessarily generate new revenue.
1) Which Business Directories Are Common to Your Competitors?
Search on Google your keyword + local city modifier and the businesses listed in the three pack local business section just under the Adwords ads are your local organic competitors. Click under the three pack on “More Places” and you will see the list of your top local competitors.
Use BrightLocal’s citation finding tool to uncover your competitors’ common citations. If three or more of your top 6-7 local competitors have a citation from their XYZ Directory, then maybe you should check out XYZ Directory to list your business. Most directories will allow a link back to your site, so you’ll get a citation and a backlink.
Directories related to your industry or in your city give weight to your online business’ legitimacy. You are a doctor or lawyer? There are directories that only list certain professions. There are directories that only list businesses in that city. Relevance and Proximity are good signals to the search engines of the type of business you are.
What is a Citation?
A citation acts like a link in local search marketing (votes to your local business) as it is a mention of your business name, business address and business local phone number, often referred to as your “NAP” (Name, Address & Phone).
2) What is the Most Important Authoritative Citation?
The very first place to list your business’ NAP info is on Google My Business. This is the anchor to all your citations. Make sure that:
- all your business information is correct
- do not add keywords to your business name
- you select the correct category for your business
- add a link to your website
- fill out the listing as much as possible, logo, cover art, all the fields, upload images, etc.
- write a business description that is useful in describing your business offering to visitors of this listing and full with target keywords
- Then repeat on as many trustworthy/quality citation spots as possible with the exact NAP info you listed on Google My Business.
3) What are the Citation Sources That Google Likes for Your Keywords?
Search keyword + location and mark down every directory or local site in first three pages. Repeat process for another two main keywords.
Mark down which is a directory and which is a regular site. There will be some overlap with #1, common citation sources of competitors.
Then go to those sites and submit a listing with your correct NAP info and add a link to your site.
4) Sponsor a Local Event, Little League, etc
What local organisations or events have a website that you’d like to help out with because you admire what they are doing? Give back to your community with a donation of money or products/services, and get a link back to your website under their “Our Sponsors” section. You’ll also get more positive publicity and more business from locals.
5) Encourage Your Happy Customers to Leave You Reviews
Encourage happy customers to leave you reviews on your Google My Business listing, and do everything in your power to find your unhappy customers and make it right with them before they jump on their smartphones to leave you negative reviews that cause you to lose business.
This is not so much a Local Link Building tip, however, citations and reviews are the two top factors in local rankings, so needed to be mentioned.
Armed with these six Link Building and 5 Local Link Building Tips, you can now start your research that is specific to your business situation.
Put these 11 tips into a list and prioritize based on your time available and knowledge of your niche. Then schedule these Link Building strategies into as a series of tasks that you will work through every week.
These tips will only be impactful to your business, if you put in the time and effort to follow through. If you do, then your competitors are going to look to your site in curiosity and annoyance in nine to twelve months as you will rise into top rankings.
Here’s a final bonus tip on Internal Linking. Internal links are good for user experience to give visitors to your site a chance to follow your highlighted links to a page within your site that expands on a point you are backing up or a topic that is explained in more detail.
Internal links have great value in showing the search engines which are your most important pages. You have a service page about helping people with Driving Under The Influence (DUI) cases with your law services. There are other related topics you can write about, and can provide more depth to that topic that you can internally link back to that service page. Helping that page rank for its’ target keywords.
If you have any feedback, then please feel free to add your comments below.
For Link Building Resources:
Google and Read anything to do with these experts. Not in any order of importance because that would not be possible. All four are the only people you need to follow for Link Building Strategies & Tactics.
Tools for Competitive Analysis:
Track your site(s) and all your competitors’ local and organic keyword rankings & backlink information with Positionly.com - 14-day free trial
Analyzing Your Competitors’ Local Citations BRIGHTLOCAL.com - 30-day free trial
Want to discover more about SEO & understand how you can benefit from an SEO-friendly website?
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