Link building is a very vital part of keeping a balanced SEO breakfast. As an SEO engineer, I understand I might be slightly biased when I say: it’s probably your most important food group.
Google’s search algorithm calculates ranking on a whole mess of factors. Say your website is an omelet; you’ve got your eggs, onions, peppers- your whole wheat toast on the side, your glass of orange juice. After Google’s algorithm has digested all this, at the end of the day your greatest source of nutrients came from link building.
I want to focus on what Google wants 6-11 servings of a day- the vegetables, the natural proteins. As important as the Omega 3’s and the pasta maybe, those belong in the 2-3 servings a day food group and were going to save those for another occasion.
To further the analogy, you would not feed a baby the same foods or in the same way you would feed an adult. Link building tactics differ depending on how well established your brand and your site is on the internet. Because in my most previous blog post, I covered link building tactics that well established companies should engage in, I would like to cover some tactics and tips for those running their website from their computer at home, or brick and mortar store.
Covering the basics internally
Allow people to link to you with ease
Before you start your outreach and your external link building efforts, you should cover your bases internally. What I mean by this is you should start by creating content on your website that will give people incentive to link to. For example, if you have multiple locations, create a store locator. If you have a contact us or about us page create a “link to us” widget. Here is an example of one I thought was well done-
Obviously having a widget like this won’t flock people to your website, but it is an open invitation for only good things to happen to your page. This also helps the less HTML savvy folks who are looking to link to you do so with ease.
Creating crawlable HTML
Another basic tip that many website owners will overlook is creating Google friendly HTML. Google crawls the HTML of websites and certain aspects of the HTML will make your site easier or harder to find. For example if your site is covered in flash content it will be difficult to crawl. Whereas on the other hand, say you are using H1, H2, and H3 headers on your pages appropriately. This tactic is an example of something that will make it easier for Google when crawling your website.
There is a lot of jargon when dealing with HTML so I apologize if this all sounds like crazy talk. The following blog explains how to make your website easy to crawl in a somewhat understandable fashion- http://upcity.com/blog/2011/02/seo-basics/
Covering the basics externally
Ask for links
The first and best place you could start- is with the resources you already have. Hopefully in the creation of your business you built some relationships along the way. Utilize these! Utilize the relationships that are even totally external to your business. If your niece has somewhat popular fashion blog and you sell cutlery try to find some way to get a relevant link from her.
Link building will teach you a lesson on dependency because you cannot do this successfully without other people’s help. Give up the idea that you can do this by yourself and get uncomfrtable by asking those you know with websites to give you a shout out.
Competitive link building
This is the ultimate “touché” link building tactic. Instead of conducting lengthy research as to where your link could be placed, your competitors have already done it for you. You may not have very many links, but you probably have a decent amount of competitors.
Using tools like Ahrefs, or Open Site Explorer you can see where your competitor(s) have successfully built links. Just put in the URL of their website and download their back link history to a CSV file.
As you scan your competitor’s back links you’ll find some of these links may be duds and may be very difficult for you to attain yourself (news articles, press releases). However, there will also be some gems like niche directories, .gov or .edu websites that link to places that endorse your service. Piggy backing off a competitor’s success will make you feel like a freakin’ ninja. Competitive link building is essentially the only legal and ethical form of robbery so hop to it.
You must give to receive
The only people left who are still willing to give you something and only expect a “thank you” in return are your parents. Don’t anticipate to successfully build links by just asking strangers to link to your site; they have 0 incentive to do so.
If you are dealing with being in the beginning stages of SEO and link building- reciprocating links is a great place to start. This tactic should not be used in excess; it will make your site look spammy so once again… balance your breakfast.
The trick to this is not to just reciprocate links with just anyone, but those who have a higher domain authority than you. I recommend you download the Moz toolbar. This will tell you the domain authority of each site you visit.
First, examine what your domain authority is and then only ask website owners with a higher domain authority score for a reciprocating link. Many small business website owners are unaware of their DA score or even what DA is. Also don’t receive the impression that to have someone with a low DA score linking back to your website hurts you; it just won’t pass as much link juice as website with a higher DA score. As long as the link is relevant, it is helpful. So even if the individual you are asking for a reciprocating link is conscious of the consequences of DA, they are not that likely to reject your request solely on grounds DA.
A word of caution…
Keep in mind that Google’s search algorithm looks for quality of links, not quantity. Beware of any link building or SEO service that claims it can guarantee you a certain spot in Google’s organic results. Thousands of business have been penalized by Google for their purchase of inorganic low quality links. So remember- quality over quantity.
As a small business owner you may be barely keeping your head above water and thinking, “I hardly have time to sleep, none the less do SEO work.” However, In an ever internet based world, SEO might be the flotation device you’ve always needed. If you have already have begun to engage in SEO as a small business, I tip my hat to you and remind you to continue eating a well-balanced breakfast.