Link Building for Small Businesses

Local Marketing Strategies

Think Local, Act Local

Link building is considered the second most important aspect of search engine optimization for local businesses because Google and other search engines consider inbound links to be very important factors when ranking your website for search results. Only Google My Business signals are believed to be more important than inbound links for local businesses.

This isn’t just theory, by the way, Google has already acknowledged that links are among the two most important factors for search engine rankings. The more high-quality links you have, the better your ranking will be, so make sure you pay close attention.

For national or international businesses, links can be just as important, if not more so. No matter your business, website, or goals, inbound links are essential because Google sees them as proof of the quality of your website. Generally speaking, high-quality websites will only link to other high-quality websites, so if you get links from high-quality websites, Google will know that your website is likewise probably of high-quality and trustworthy.

How Do Search Engines Even Find Back Links?

Google and other search engine companies use an army of bots or crawlers to “crawl” through web pages. These bots are scanning countless pages each day and Google is aware of at least 130 trillion web pages; yes, trillion and these numbers are a bit old, so they are almost certainly higher now.

SEO largely refers to making your website attractive for these search engine crawlers. Link building is one of the most important aspects of SEO, but it is not the only aspect as there are many other factors that go into SEO optimization.

So How Does Link Building Work?

For local businesses, inbound links from high-quality websites can be especially helpful, even if in small numbers. Let’s say you own a restaurant and this restaurant happens to sell the best gyros in town. Let’s say Zagat, a popular restaurant review website, gives you a rave review and selects you as one of their “Zagat Rated” restaurants. On your restaurant’s Zagat Rated profile page, they will place a link back to your website.

This is very important because Google’s crawlers will see this link, linking back to you from Zagat, and recognize that your website and restaurant are highly regarded. Google bots will crawl your website as well to determine what type of food you serve and know that that you serve award-winning food.

So long as your website is set up properly, Google will recognize that you’re a gyro shop, and next time someone in your area searches for “best gyro in town,” there’s a good chance that your website will come up on the first page, and perhaps even on top of the search results.

Search engine rankings are very important. When someone conducts a web search, they will be displayed with a number of results called organic searches. The search engine results display organic results, while ads display non-organic, paid results. Searchers are more likely to click on the top few results and very few will click on to the next page.

Backlinks can improve your search engine rankings and the above is true for both national and local results. If your local business is frequently linked to from other websites and especially highly relevant websites, think Zagat for restaurants, your website is more likely to appear on the first page of Google searches.

 Inbound links from high-quality websites can be especially helpful to your SEO. Click To Tweet

How Do You Build Links?

Links can be acquired through a variety of methods. Simply by providing high-quality content, you may be able to acquire links from other bloggers and websites as they use you to cite facts and points. By selling great products, such as good foods, you may find your business featured and linked to from local review blogs as well.

Sitting around with your fingers crossed, however, is not the best way to drum up backlinks, you can also be proactive. Even something simple, like setting up a blog, can generate backlinks and there are other steps you can take as well.

Link-Building: A Quick Guide

Enough with the theory and background information, by now you probably recognize that backlinks are important. However, how do you actually build backlinks? Let’s dig in.

1. Create Compelling Content
We already touched on this, but content is absolutely vital for backlinking. If you produce great content, you will generate backlinks over time, because people will read your website and appreciate the information that you provide and when they produce content, they will provide backlinks back to yours.

People will also share your content on social media and usually such shared links are “no follow,” which signifies to the bot not to count the link as a backlink, but it still counts as relevancy (there is debate over how bots treat these links). Regardless, these links will help spread word about your business.

2. Market Your Content Online and Offline
You should proactively market your products in the local community. Let’s say you own a local car wash, so you publish some tips for keeping cars and trucks clean and rust free and then you contact the local car dealerships to let them know about the blog post. Maybe you email a few of them and call up a few of the sales reps you know or perhaps you go further, offering to hold training workshops for the staff or free wash coupons for new customers.

Now you have the dealers’ attention, so they start to share your content and mention it in their own blog posts. They talk about the tips you share and the free wash that comes with a new car and soon other dealers, car enthusiasts, and other parties are seeing your content, so they start sharing it as well. Google’s crawlers will take note of all of this.

3. If You Want to Grow Local, Think Local
SEO specialists dream of the golden links. Zagat, CNN, Time Magazine, the biggest, grandest, best names. Fact is, it’s hard for businesses, and especially small businesses, to get backlinks on such websites. Impossible? No. However, it may take a long time to build up the credibility to land on such a site.

On the other hand, there are often a number of smaller bloggers who are more accessible. Let’s say you run a local nutrition and natural foods store. There are probably a number of local yoga bloggers, vegan cooks, and other people who, like you, are trying to build an audience. Reach out to them! Offer the vegan cooks some free sample foods, share a post of theirs, and ask if they would do the same in return and maybe offer to set up a community board for the yoga instructors! So many opportunities!

Conclusion: Be Organic, Be Natural, Be Dedicated

Generating backlinks isn’t easy. If you want high-quality links, you’re going to have to dedicate time and effort to build up relationships with other websites, blogs, and publications. Consider the perspective of the people you are reaching out to, what might they want and how can you help them? If you can help them, they will be more likely to assist you by providing backlinks. Building up links can take some time and effort, so be prepared to make efforts over the long haul.