Backlinks are the 3rd most important ranking factor for Google according to SearchMetrics’ 2014 Ranking Factors Study, right after quality content and website performance.
A good backlink profile makes your website more authoritative as this means that your pages are relevant enough for other sites to link to them.
So, the more links you get pointing to your website, the more authority it will have, right? Well, that’s no longer the case.
People who think of quantity over quality usually fall under black-hat tactics to get links in an attempt to tweak their organic rankings. Search engines like Google are aware of these practices and have developed penalty algorithms to flag those websites and remove them from search results.
Yes, creating a good backlink profile is hard but is not impossible. Here are a few things you can do to start building earning links for your business and not getting banned by Google.
Don’t Get Links Just for the Sake of Getting links
Even if you see your competitors ranking better than you, that position won’t last long. Again, it’s not about quantity but quality and search engines know that.
For instance, say you are an attorney and you are looking into your competitor’s backlink profile using Moz tools and you see tons of links from different sites.
You know they are using that “SEO ranking tool” you found thanks to an article written six years ago. You follow the herd. A few weeks later, you find out that your competitors are gone from search. Right after, you receive an email from Google Webmaster Tools saying that some unnatural links were found pointing to your site, and unless they are removed, your pages will not show up in search.
1) Look for Local Influencers and Befriend Them
This one could be challenging but is definitely worth it. Note that this approach is not meant only to earn a link but also to create a connection with a potential business partner. This connection has to be real.
Influencers are always looking for new and unique content to share with their followers through social networks, magazines, newspapers and any other medium they have available, why don’t you give them a hand? Look for those who relate to your business and let them know you can be of help. Build a relationship with them and enjoy the benefits.
Example: This journalist posted an article in the newspaper and in her fashion blog wondering about the new trends for this summer while your clothing store is waiting for a new summer collection. You get a chance to meet her at a convention and offer full access to that exclusive collection for her to write about it. Most likely, you’ll win a link but you’ll also have a contact to reach out to when you want to promote your next clothing selection.
2) Talking About Influencers – Sponsor a Local YouTuber or a Blogger
No, I am not talking about those ads that come up before your YouTube video plays. Those bloggers and vloggers can help you promote your business. Give them something valuable in return.
Example: Send a message to that guy that streams himself playing video games every week and give out some of your new Super Mario Bros. printed t-shirts in exchange of just a few seconds of fame in that 5K views channel.
3) Reach out to Your Manufacturer or Suppliers
If you are a retailer, your manufacturer might want to know where consumers can find their products, and that’s where you come in. Go to their website, look for a store locator and send an email with your business information, if they don’t have a store locator, ask if they are willing to build one.
Example: If you are the only retailer for Serta mattresses in your area, tell Serta you are there. Just don’t forget to give your business name, address, phone number and website.
4) Build Relationships With Complementary Businesses
You know your market and you are aware of what else is out there. Find other businesses that complement what you do and help each other out. Most businesses are willing to provide a link. Just like I mentioned before, you are connecting with a potential partner.
Example: You are a metal parts manufacturer who offers finishing services. The finishing machine retailer you got your grinding equipment from does business nearby. Look for their website and offer your partnership, you might get a new friend… and a link or two.
5) Help the Environment and Get a Link in the Process
Going green is very important, at least for some people out there. If you are into recycling programs or following green standards, feel free to submit your business to eco-friendly directories. You might be surprised with the number of clients this could get you.
Example: Your LED lighting company just launched their online campaign. Since your business is green by nature (no pun intended), submit your website and business information to Green Pages or Green Directories USA.
6) Support a School, That’s Worth a Link
Educational (.edu) websites usually have the domains with the highest authority level and for local businesses, pure SEO gold. Show your support by making a donation to your local school and/or by sponsoring one of their events.
Example: If you want to improve the rankings for your school supply store website, reach out to that academy and donate some of your articles as prizes for their summer contest. Keep going and you could earn a sponsor badge in their website with a link to your own site.
7) Get Listed on Your City’s Website, Host a Community Event
Take a look at upcoming celebrations and events in your area or even make up a relevant event to your community and get the town (and the local news) on board.
Example: In an effort to prevent identity theft, a local accountant organized a small shred-a-thon that turned into a bigger outreach when charities and other industries lent a hand.
8) Give Special Benefits to a Specific Audience
Target a popular business, organization, local group or club. Reach out to them and give out a special and exclusive bonus they can post on their website and share online. With this, you are not only earning a link but also getting business directly from these groups.
Example: Your fleet of taxicabs have little work by 10:00 pm but a renowned gym within your service area finishes their most crowded pilates class at that same time. Attract more customers by giving a 10% discount to the members. Let the owners know so they can post it in their website to link to yours.
9) Back to Basics: Create Valuable and Unique Content
It might seem cliché, but that’s the way Google wants you to do it. Make shareable content that can be spread through social media. Just make sure you are giving something valuable to your targeted audience.
Example: A gold buyer can write about all the things you need to know before you start selling your gold regardless if they do business with them or don’t.
10) Be the Best, Say It out Loud and Be Recognized for It
Reviews from local listings like Yelp or Google+ are a great way to say you are good at what you do, so are the testimonials in your website, but you can do better. How? Do a research on relevant awards in your area and submit a nomination form from the ones you want to apply for.
Example: Earn an A+ rating in the BBB or win a Certificate of Excellence in TripAdvisor for you wine tours operator service.
11) Take Someone off the Unemployment Seat
If you are in need of a new employee, kill two birds with one stone and get a job listing website informed about your posting linking to a landing page in your website with the entire job description.
Example: If you need a teacher, create a job listing in USA Jobs or Jobs Listing USA with both your business info and the job offer.
12) Do Good Marketing and Publicity to Get People Talking About You
A solid and strong marketing strategy can definitely get you links in a natural way. Explore additional exposure channels your targeted audience has access to.
Example: Advertise your local department store on TV, radio, and billboards, make sure your business is perfectly sold on them. Gain the trust of your audience and they will link to you.
13) Do Not Believe This
I stumbled upon this comment while doing some research to write this post:
A lot of search engine marketing analysts, strategists and specialists agree with the fact that SEO has changed and those “old-school” tricks that once worked, now have no more value.
Not being open to the mindset of change, especially in SEO could determine the success of failure of your entire marketing strategy.
To learn more about other outdated SEO practices check out this post:
14) Recycle Closed-Businesses Backlinks
Closed businesses can get you new links. Look for businesses in the industry that are no longer operating. They most likely had a website. Take a look at their backlink profile and reach out to the websites that linked to them.
15) Keep Recycling, Review Business-Related Blog Posts
Look for backlink opportunities right from the page you want to get linked from. If you find a broken link for information your website already has (or can be served by your site), have the blogger update the link with your content.
16) Put Yourself Ahead of the Competition. Sponsor Organizations That Are Not in Actual Need of Sponsors
Local groups, events or hobby sites don’t necessarily ‘advertise’ the need for sponsors, but they might be open to someone sponsoring them or their event to cover operational costs, etc. However, make sure you personally know these organizations and work with the ones you can trust.
Every Link Earned is Unique
There is no one-and-done way to earn a good link as every industry is different. Each backlink depends on many factors, getting them takes a lot of time and the experience might be disappointing in some cases because it’s not simply getting in contact with a website owner or a webmaster and ask for a link. But the whole effort is definitely worth it and these tips will help you make it.
Do you have any link building ideas? Join the conversation and share them.